What Our Customers Are Saying...

Got the WatchMate and hooked it up. Fantastic! My first reaction was dismay at the fact that you don't include a written manual and instead just the one on the CD that came in the box. The last thing that I want to do off-shore is boot up a computer to look something up! But, in the long run, it is so intuitive that a manual is not really required. Great, great job! Congrats on a great product.

Jim Forrest & Jeanette, "Dancer", Palau

Subject: Musto = Must have ::: AIS = Priceless

In December I made the passage from Hilo, HI to San Diego. Being my first single handed passage in over 45,000 cruising miles I had many concerns. My old foul weather jacket was just inadequate, so I replaced it with a Musto MPX, which has proven to be a great choice. Comfort and dry seemed to be top priorities when thinking about what would make the passage safe.

The most important change has been the addition of an AIS system. The Vesper Marine WatchMate is no less than magical. The second day out I got my introduction as I had three targets on the AIS at once, two of which came within three miles, one never came over the horizon. None of these caused an alarm, which is set at a two mile CPA for offshore. I continued to "see" traffic on the AIS and grew to appreciate the design work that must have included someone with offshore sailing experience. When there are no targets the display waits a minute or so and simply goes blank. This is perfect for when you are laying in the bunk at night. If the display is on there is traffic in your area, if dark you're safe to sleep. As the second cold front of the trip passed, at 0200, the wind in the rigging woke me.

After I got things reefed down I noticed that the screen on the AIS had turned on. The bulk carrier SD Progresss out of China en route to Panama was 22 miles away, but the bad news was our closest point of approach was 0.15 miles! Since I had plenty of time to deal with it I just sat and watched. The weather outside was pretty thick, about two miles visibility. The alarm went off as it was supposed to when we were 20 minutes apart, it's 95db, loud enough to wake a tired sailor. Fifteen minutes later I was within two miles of THE spot, and I could finally see Progress, and yup we would have been real close. I simply stalled the sails for 10 minutes while the big guy passed about 3/4 of a mile safely in front of me.

Paul Moore, enroute Hilo to San Diego

We have used the WatchMate system at sea for the first time, on our trip down the Malacca Strait from Phuket to Malaysia. It is great!!

Bill Robinson & Marlyse Bodmer, "Jenain", Malaysia

I purchased an AISWatchMate about 18 months ago when they were first released. I still get a kick out of tracking ships on it as we travel around the coast and back in to Auckland Harbour but have had 3 instances now where the WatchMate not quite saved our bacon but certainly took all the stress out of the situations (and isn't that what cruising is all about?)

The first was on a trip back from Great Barrier Island when the alarm went off twice within a couple of minutes. Although I initially thought it was a repeat of the first alarm, I quickly realised that it was in fact 2 separate ships, one heading north and one heading south. And by sheer bad luck we happened to be smack in the middle of them when they passed each other. If it wasn't for the fact that I could see each of their tracks on the WatchMate and our relative position to them, it would have been a worrying 15 minutes wondering how close they would come.

The second was on a trip from Rakino Is to Gulf Harbour Marina when the alarm went off and I looked in the direction of the bearing and picked up the ship still a long way off. Amazingly I then saw for the first time that I had a CPA of 0.00. Not good but because I new this in plenty of time I was able to change direction and slow down which enabled us to casually watch the ship pass by at a safe distance and then carry on our way.

The third occasion was one evening just on nightfall as we passed Devonport wharf on our way back in to Auckland after a weekend away. With no wind and motoring in the middle of the harbour, the engine alarms sounded and I had to shut down the engine which was overheating. Directly in front of us was a black hulking outline and red & green navigation lights coming straight at us. Luckily the WatchMate alarm had already sounded and I was able to identify the ship as the Golden Bay and had a VHF call sign as well. Without any drama I was able to call the ship on channel 16 by name and got an immediate response from it's bridge. I advised them of our position and predicament and after confirming that they could see us, they advised that they would alter course to starboard to avoid us. Having the identity & call sign of the ship made the communication of our position so much more straight forward and removed any sense of panic from the situation.

Colin Courtney, "Pheonix II", New Zealand

It was absolutely fantastic for getting us across the Thames Estuary, down Dover Strait, and across the English Channel to Guernsey. We love it!!!!

I wish I could have gotten a photo while we had more than a hundred targets while crossing the Channel, but we were pretty busy.

All in all, it's a great system. Since we don't have radar, it's given us much peace of mind. We will be using it all of the way back to California.

Cindy Holmes and Faith Tamarin, "Carmen Miranda"

I've put a few miles under the keel, and the WatchMate has always done what it was supposed to, it sits in the corner of the navigation area and makes a noise when a ship comes too close. Big deal, it works.

BUT, now I'm at 07.58S / 74.57E, 14 days out from the Sunda Strait on a 4000 mile singlehanded passage to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania. I've come across the track that all the big boys take between the bottom of Africa and Singapore, and have had up to 14 ships within my 6 mile guard zone for the last day or so. The WatchMate got me through the worst of it without any stress, and I thought I had seen the last of them, so had gone below for a rest. Then along came 'LIBRA MEXICO', 261 Meters long and traveling at 19 Knots, the WatchMate knew this one was different, and gave me an alarm even before the 6 mile zone, I guess on Time to CPA. It was obvious that this one needed to be watched closely, as the CPA was varying between .04 and .01 miles either side of me, way too close. I watched until "LIBRA MEXICO" was two miles off, when the WatchMate screen changed to "COLLISION WARNING". That's when I knew it was time to talk to this monster and work out a plan, and very professionally the ship's officer queried my status, power or sail, and advised me he would turn to starboard and give me one mile clearance. All very nice.

I have no way of knowing how this would have all worked out if I had not been given that initial warning and come on deck for a look. Maybe the 'LIBRA MEXICO" would have missed me, or maybe they would have eventually seen me on radar, but then again, maybe not. All I know is that in my mind the WatchMate paid for itself in that one short twenty minute encounter.

It's a nice bit of gear to have, and if it was made mandatory for offshore yachts I would not complain.

Lindsay Walkley, "Avolare", Indian Ocean

The WatchMate is the most cost-effective marine safety advance in decades. Given a choice between AIS and RADAR, I'd pick the WatchMate, at a fraction of the cost.

Cap'n Gary "Fatty" Goodlander, Editor Cruising World Magazine

On starting up WatchMate for the first time has been a real revelation.

All the data I need to keep Skoiern IV my family, crew and I much safer is well organised and at hand.

A new world of experence has opened up for sailing.

Once, I was only a few boat lengths from being rundown on my 2 am watch.

The night was clear but there where about 20 ships anchored outside the harbour. As we were making our way south down the coast. On board were my son and daughter in-law fast asleep recovering from a few days of heavy weather fast coastal sailing... little did they know being fast asleep the close call we where experiencing..

The ship just missed us coming out of Newcastle harbour in NSW. it was so close as it passed my bow I could not read the name. Now that's too close when you can't read the name as the lettering and the side of the ship was...just passing my bow.

Now with your WatchMate, shipping and a maze of crowded harbour lights one can pick out who is steaming and what ship is not. To ones tired eyes moving masses of steel now have names and direction and clarity.

Clearly for me WatchMate is a real boon, and to anyone who wanted to stay well away from shipping. I can tell it has been designed by a sailor.

Normally I'm a private person, for reasons of safety you can use this letter on your website that's how highly I think of your achievement, really amazing piece of gear.

And many thanks for your great service and support advice.

John Majewski, "Skoiern IV", Australia

Thanks again for your great support! I hope we'll get an "eyeball" when next we sail down to New Zealand. I'll be very happy to sing the praises of both the WatchMate as a product and your service which was above and beyond the call.

The WatchMate is absolutely magical! It routinely provides 20 minutes or more warning of potentially close situations offshore. With the Watchmate we can make small course corrections to get comfortable CPAs while the target is still well beyond RADAR range. The WatchMate provides target names and call signs which makes calling them on the radio easy. Even for targets that are no threat it is fun to know who they are and where they are going. For years we've watched traffic on the horizon and wondered who they were and where they were going. With the WatchMate we know.

Tom Webb and Maryann Barnett, "Linda", La Paz, Mexico
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