Changing the Face of Ocean Safety with PredictWind’s Over the Horizon AIS

By Brianna Ruelas Brianna Ruelas has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on February 27, 2024

When sailing or spending time on the water, having a clear view of what is happening around you is crucial for a safe and comfortable journey. While effective passage planning is critical before setting off, prioritizing the visibility of other boats in your vicinity is essential for safe navigation once at sea. 

An average-height person can see up to approximately 4.5 kilometers (2.8 miles) at sea level under optimal conditions, such as a clear day with good visibility. However, visibility is influenced by various factors, including atmospheric conditions, observer height, and the size and height of objects being observed.

For this reason, Automatic Identification Systems or AIS have become commonly used in the maritime sector to enable vessels to see each other using their onboard navigation systems or chart plotters. This extends visibility beyond line of sight, enhancing safety at sea and mitigating collision risks.

More recently, the experts at PredictWind have introduced an enhancement to the standard AIS for private and commercial vessels. Its Over the Horizon AIS (OHA) offers impressive functionality and compatibility with existing navigation systems, marking a significant advancement in the visibility of other boats while on the water. 

What is the Automatic Identification System (AIS)

The Automatic Identification System (AIS) has undergone a transformative journey since its conceptualization in the early 1990s. Initially considered a crucial tool for vessel identification and tracking, AIS gained international recognition when the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a UN agency regulating global shipping, adopted it as a standardized system in 2000.

The IMO’s decision marked a significant milestone, obligating vessels of a certain tonnage and all passenger ships to implement AIS. This mandate aimed to enhance maritime safety by enabling vessels to automatically broadcast key information such as identity, position, course, and speed. AIS transponders, utilizing VHF radio frequencies, became widespread on vessels worldwide with Class A transponders for larger vessels, offering frequent updates and an extended transmission range, and Class B transponders for smaller vessels.

Shore-based AIS stations receive and process AIS data, contributing to effective maritime traffic management and monitoring. The integration of AIS with onboard navigation systems, chart plotters, and radar displays has provided mariners with comprehensive situational awareness, ensuring safer navigation.

PredictWind’s New Over the Horizon AIS (OHA)

Curious about how PredictWind’s latest system surpasses existing AIS models? Unlike standard AIS with a range of up to 40 nautical miles (nm), OHA represents a significant advancement, providing enhanced visibility up to 300 nm. This extended range seamlessly integrates into onboard chart plotters or navigation apps, offering a substantially broader visualization of vessels within your sailing area.

Solo sailors needing to keep a vigilant watch on shipping movements to time their sleep schedule or offshore cruisers looking to stay connected with buddy boats can especially benefit from this extended range.

Powered by its own DataHub system, which offers superior GPS tracking, a range of intuitive safety alerts, offshore messaging, data logging, remote support, and the ability to receive data over WiFi, the system can access global AIS data as well as OHA data, refreshing every minute and transferring the information to navigational displays. 

To access OHA’s improved navigational data, you need to be subscribed to PredictWind and have a DataHub

Staying Safe with Greater Visibility

With this latest technology, you get exceptionally greater visibility than with standard AIS. You will see all OHA-equipped vessels within a 300nm range, marking a huge step forward in terms of navigational capability.

But what does this mean in real terms? Well, if you’re cruising at 10 knots and a container ship is coming directly towards you at 25 knots and you’re both using regular AIS, you will have approximately 8.5 minutes to alter your course. Yet if both vessels are utilizing OHA, with its 300 nm visibility, you would now have 8.5 hours to change your course to avoid a collision – an unmatched tool in the maritime industry.

Backup for Standard AIS Failure

Onboard a vessel, numerous components and electronic systems are susceptible to failure due to the harsh conditions at sea. From communication devices to electrical systems, the relentless exposure to saltwater, humidity, and the overall harsh marine environment poses a constant threat to equipment integrity.

To address this, the OHA can be used as a backup for a standard AIS system in the event of an AIS malfunction. This redundancy is essential for maintaining a continuous flow of real-time information about vessel positions, courses, and potential intersection points, particularly during critical situations, such as rescue operations, where the failure of the primary AIS system could have severe consequences.

Access Data Faster

Leveraging DataHub’s robust capabilities, it downloads OHA data roughly every minute, encompassing positional details for vessels utilizing both standard AIS and OHA systems. OHA transforms this data into NMEA format and seamlessly shares it with your vessel’s instrumentation through Wi-Fi. This Wi-Fi data transfer proves revolutionary, and the OHA data is accessible through satellite or cellular internet connections. 

Notably, in cases where a vessel is identified through OHA and traditional VHF signals, only the VHF data is displayed to eliminate redundancy.

The Global Effect of Improved AIS

Accelerating the adoption of advanced solutions like PredictWind’s Over the Horizon AIS is crucial for enhancing visibility throughout the marine community. While some may stick to the standard 40nm visibility or operate without AIS, a swift embrace of cutting-edge systems leads to improved visibility for everyone. The majority of users prioritizing advanced solutions contribute to safer waterways, emphasizing the collective benefits of upgraded visibility in navigating the seas.

By Brianna Ruelas Brianna Ruelas has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Brianna Ruelas is a Dallas-based account executive and news desk editor at Grit Daily. She is also a motivational speaker and singer, creative cultivator, and bestselling author. Reach her at [email protected].

Read more

More GD News