Vesper Marine Customer Update - 2012 Newsletter

Welcome to the New Year and our 2012 newsletter.  Topics covered this year include ways we are improving navigational safety, WatchMate's new Digital Selective Calling (DSC) feature, Quick Tips, new products coming soon, how to stay connected to Vesper Marine and more about our partnerships.

We hope you enjoy this latest edition.

Vesper Marine Team... ...




Branching Out to Offer Improved Navigational SafetyDS Antenna

Using our core AIS technology Vesper Marine has deployed a Virtual Aid to Navigation at the entrance to Doubtful Sound, a fjord in New Zealand’s South Island.

The 80 cruise ships entering and exiting the beautiful Doubtful Sound each summer need to be able to identify a very dangerous underwater obstacle known as Tarapunga Rock.  This rock lies just below the surface, close to the entrance to Doubtful Sound. In the past an isolated danger buoy had been moored at the rock’s location; however as the swell could exceed 7 metres at times the buoy broke up and had to be removed. 

Vesper Marine provided a Virtual Aid to Navigation system that enables proactive electronic visibility of Tarapunga Rock for all vessels using AIS.  A Virtual Aid to Navigation (VAtoN) is created by sending a signal from one location (point A) that marks a remote point (point B). This virtual mark, point B, is displayed as a navigational hazard on a ship’s chart plotter, AIS display or other receiving equipment when within range of the transmitting equipment installed at point A. A ship’s onboard equipment is also able to alert crews if they are on a collision course with the marked navigational hazard.DS Map

The VAtoN system was installed at an existing navigation light stationed on nearby Secretary Island.  The location of this light is so remote it can only be accessed by helicopter and has to be solar powered. 

Despite the remoteness and rugged landscape the installation is proving to be successful and it is achieving good coverage.  Ships entering Doubtful Sound can now identify Tarapunga Rock from as far out to sea as 10 nautical miles (nm).

This has been a fantastic project to work on and the ease and relative low cost of deployment gives us confidence that many more navigational hazards can be marked in this way improving environmental and passenger safety for any coastline. 

Aid to Navigation VideoView our short YouTube video of the installation and spectacular scenery at the site here


New Products On The Way For 2012

We have recently announced our product line up for 2012 with two new products being added to the WatchMate family.  The first is the WatchMate Vision™ which is a Class B transponder that will appeal to power boat owners and those inshore sailors with less need for minimum power consumption devices.  The second product is the XB-8000 WiFi Transponder, this is a “black-box” device and it is already gaining interest from power and sail boat builders who are installing chart plotters to display AIS information.

WM FamilyWatchMate Vision will be the world’s first dedicated Class B AIS with touch-screen control and WiFi and the new XB-8000 will offer skippers and boat builders a display-less Class B AIS transponder option with complete wireless control.

WatchMate Vision and the XB-8000 are designed to operate as a WiFi Access Point, or as a wireless client allowing AIS interaction throughout a boat using iPhone’s, iPad’s or other wireless devices. Several iPhone aps will also be made available to monitor AIS information via either of these new products.

Anticipated release date for the WatchMate Vision and the XB-8000 is early Q2 this year.  Look out for more announcements to come on our FaceBook page and Blog site.




Quick Tips for WatchMate Users

How do I connect an external alarm or buzzer?

You can easily connect a 12 volt buzzer or indicator to the external alarm port. The AISWatchMate 670 and 750 can switch any device that draws up to 2 amps without the need for an external relay on its external alarm port. The AISWatchMate 850 provides a control signal on its external alarm port, designed to drive a low power buzzer or indicator or an external switch or relay. The wiring diagrams for each model show how to connect an external alarm, buzzer or indicator.

Do the settings in the WatchMate 850 Transponder setup control both the USB and NMEA output?

No. The settings only affect the NMEA ports. The USB port on the AISWatchMate 850 is a virtual COM port and always runs at 38,400 baud. All AIS and GPS data received by the AISWatchMate 850 is sent to this port.

AIS Antenna Selection & Installation Tips Check out our Antenna Selection blog here   


More answers to Frequently Asked Questions can be found on our FAQ page here




Introducing the New Digital Selective Calling (DSC) WatchMate Feature

If you have a DSC capable VHF Radio, or you are thinking of getting one, you will want to know more about this latest WatchMate feature. WatchMate firmware upgrade is now available and it includes DSC calling capability allowing you to connect to a DSC compatible VHF radio.

DSC RadioUsing the DSC function from your WatchMate allows you to initiate an “individual station call” to vessels that are displayed on your WatchMate screen. This feature makes it easy to call nearby boats with a menu option on your WatchMate that automatically request them to switch to a specific channel for a VHF call.

As with all Vesper Marine firmware upgrades this release is free; you can request this new firmware as an upgrade here or at this link It’s available for the WatchMate 850, 750 or the 670. Sorry it can’t be made available for the older WatchMate 650.

WatchMate DSC Screen ShotWe have verified this feature works with several ICOM radios and we expect this feature will also work well with other brands of DSC enabled VHF radios that accept the NMEA-0183 DSC sentence. We are interested in learning which other VHF radios support this capability. If you have tried this feature and found it to work, please tell us by contacting [email protected].  We'll publish an updated list of radios on our blog.


Behind Vesper Marine’s Doors

We have continued to expand our distribution network in 2011 with many new Dealers coming onboard in the past 12 months. We are now in 28 countries with well over 250 retail outlets where Vesper Marine products are available for purchase.  We are always looking to expand our distribution network with more good quality outlets, feel free to recommend any that you think would be great resellers of WatchMate’s.

JB&TP AstrataThe company has also been working with commercial clients in the oil and gas industry to help them understand how they can solve tracking and communications issues in remote marine based areas of operation using AIS based systems.  Vesper Marine has also partnered with Astrata Group who provides complete fleet tracking solutions.  This partnership gives our customers the opportunity to deploy a single vessel tracking solution that includes both onshore and offshore technology in one system.

DSIf you are a customer of Vesper Marine there is a good chance Deirdre Schleigh has dispatched your products, answered your calls and possibly even provided a little first line technical support.  Deirdre is our Operations Manager and does a wonderful job of taking care of our supply chain, dispatch and accounts teams.



























Stay Connected to Vesper Marine!

AIS Vesper Marine FacebookWe are now using Facebook as a regular way to provide quick informal product and company updates so please like us on our page at  We also post regular articles on our blog where we provide more in depth information about changes to products and other AIS information of interest.

For those of you interested in Mini650 racing; this year we are also moderating an AIS technical forum on the site, this will be worth keeping an eye on.




Check out Vesper Marine's YouTube channel here or jump right to the Anchor Watch video here





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