Boatshed Dartmouth are pleased to make available to their customers a free AIS feed from an associate company, TerraMar Networks. The area covered by the free AIS receiver extends from Start Point to Weymouth, South to Cherbourg and West to Plymouth (the exact service area will vary according to climatic conditions).

Any AIS equipped vessel will show up on the Active mapping display on the free AIS website showing all information being transmitted by that vessel. AIS data received includes both Class A and Class B transponders. Class A transponders are mandatory for all vessels over 300GRT and are higher power than Class B, typically used by recreational craft. This particular feed shows both current and historical data so it is necessary to select a particular vessel to see the time of transmission.

AIS (Automatic Identification System) is the mariner’s most significant development in navigation safety since the introduction of radar. The system was originally developed as a collision avoidance tool to enable commercial vessels to ‘see’ each other more clearly in all conditions and improve the helmsman’s information about his surrounding environment. AIS does this by continuously transmitting a vessels identity, position, speed and course along with other relevant information to all other AIS equipped vessels within range. Combined with a shore station, this system also offers port authorities and maritime safety bodies the ability to manage maritime traffic and reduce the hazards of marine navigation.

The information received and transmitted by the two different Classes of AIS are set out in the diagram below. Without doubt AIS is a most valuable aid to navigation but most importantly ensures that any AIS equipped vessel will be able to ‘see’ you if you have an AIS transponder onboard. There is no airtime cost – once the hardware has been purchased there are no ongoing costs associated with AIS.

Part II of this article focuses on how AIS works and the benefits of AIS for seafarers.

To access the free AIS feed from Start Point click here.

About TerraMar Networks
TerraMar Networks are providers of asset tracking solutions for land, sea and air. The tracking platform ‘tracpoint’ is communications agnostic – this allows it to support almost any communications network including GPRS (mobile phone), satellite (Inmarsat / ISatM2M), Low Earth Orbit satellite (Iridium/Globalstar) or AIS in one web-based application. Thousands of assets are tracked worldwide by TerraMar Networks including some of the largest names in merchant shipping. For further information or if you have a site suitable for an AIS receiver contact us here or email

Please note that this free AIS service is provided on a non-commercial free basis and should not be relied on for navigational or other mandatory purpose

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