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Watchmate 850


Vesper Marine is a New Zealand-based company that specializes in easy-to-use AIS equipment for recreational and light commercial craft.

Recently granted FCC approval, the third member of Vesper’s Watchmate range is the Watchmate 850, which has a built-in AIS B transponder and is priced at $1,099. While the transponder broadcasts details of your boat’s name, size, position, speed, and course over the dedicated AIS VHF channels, the built-in receiver picks up corresponding information from other vessels and displays it on the unit’s five-inch display, either as a radar-like graphic, a sorted list, or as comprehensive details of a single selected target.

The distinctive feature of all three Watchmate models is Vesper’s clever filtering system, designed to draw attention to collision risks by removing the clutter of targets that do not represent a real threat: It will ignore a large, fast-moving ship that is not likely to come within five miles in favor of a smaller slow-moving vessel that is likely to approach within a mile or so. Different parameters such as speed, range, and closest point of approach can all be individually adjusted by the user to give the best possible warning of potential hazards, without leaving the screen hopelessly cluttered or creating constant false alarms.

Vesper Marine
(+64) 9 950 4848.

This article originally appeared in the March 2011 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.