However, one significant new technology from the past few years is AIS (automatic identification system), which utilizes VHF radio signals to identify the location, speed, and course of other vessels, and so we decided to partially update our electronics system by incorporating AIS. The heart of the upgrade is our new VHF radio, which has a built-in AIS receiver.
The VHF is located at our navigation station (desk) in the corner of the salon and has a small screen that shows the location of nearby vessels.
To further take advantage of this technology, we also bought a new handheld VHF with built-in GPS and DSC. The handheld VHF has its own MMSI, so if we get lost in the dinghy at night for example, we can use Sea Gem's MMSI to determine its GPS coordinates and navigate right to it using the handheld. Or, if someone with the handheld (which floats and is waterproof) falls into the water, whoever is on Sea Gem can use the handheld's MMSI to navigate to the person in the water.
The other new equipment, on the other hand, involved lots and lots of tiny wires. Specifically, 16 tiny wires that needed to be connected to the VHF, thread to various parts of the boat, and connected to something else (battery, speaker, computer, GPS, etc.). But, in the end, everything works, and we've breathed new life into our older electronics system.