monitors the surroundings of your boat
STS is an electronic device that monitors the surroundings of your boat. To some extent, it does that better than you can. You don’t believe us? Can you watch the seas carefully for hours and hours? Really? And can you perform a full 360 degree scan every few seconds? And constantly pay attention to little objects right in front of your boats’ bow? And simultaneously track all the visible targets? Of course, you would have to do it while using less than 5 watts of power to beat the STS. Typical human brain consumes some 10+ watts .. 😉
Even an entry level STS can spot a stationary small boat at a distance of over 350 yards (300+ meters).It can even see a small buoy or human head in the water (8 inches or 20 centimeters wide) at over 60 yards (50+ m). Although human eye have better visual acuity than entry level STS models, STS scans full 360 degrees around the boat and it does that constantly. STS is also very good at detecting small immovable low contrast object – something a human eye isn’t particularly good at.
STS consumes tiny amounts of energy. Energy efficient small RADAR will consume tens of watts while working, while STS typically needs less than 5 watts. RADAR needs a display that also consumes some power. STS needs only a smartphone, smartwatch, tablet or laptop that spends most of its active time in power saving sleep mode. Even taking into consideration typical power losses due to electrical power distribution on a boat, basic STS model will consume less than 12Ah@12V/day if it is fully active for 24 hours a day – no power saving mode, no sleeping. No RADAR can do better.
RADAR is a really great collision avoidance system. Yet, in order to use it efficiently, you need to learn how to use it. STS is extremely easy to use – you simply turn it on and forget about it until it alerts you. STS is also a completely visual system – it warns you to an object by pointing at it on a picture taken by its camera, which is much easier to understand than typical RADAR screen. See Monitor devices for description of STS monitor devices.
STS can even see certain types of obstacles that RADAR can’t. Certain materials make lousy RADAR targets. Small plastic buoy in front of the boat or almost fully submerged container make very difficult target for RADAR to spot. But STS, being a visual system, easily spots them because it sees everything a human eye can see.
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Can you keep your vigilance for a long time? For 45 minutes? For hours? Really?!? Well, we admit that we can’t.
Studies have showed that vigilance decrement becomes significant within the first 15 minutes of attention. Maybe you can’t feel it, but it is happening. Unfortunately, it’s a scientific fact that you can’t keep your vigilance for long (try Google search on “vigilance decrement”).
Neither of us is a superhuman, no matter how one feels. Regular breaks can improve vigilance, but anything can happen in a minute or two you’re taking a break. A boat moving at a speed of 30 knots will be half a nautical mile closer to you after that minute. Have you spotted it a minute ago while it was half a mile away?
OK, if this is true, why isn’t there many more accidents?
The main reason is skipper’s sustained concentration (vigilance). Vigilance decrement happens, but most of us are pretty good at watchkeeping. But then there is statistics: sea is big. Really big. And boats are small. Your chances of hitting another boat are slim, even if you’re not keeping watch at all.
So, wouldn’t you feel safer if you had someone or something by your side that can keep its vigilance for days? STS can not replace you – it is not designed to do so. It is designed to supplement your efforts in watchkeeping, in order to improve your boat’s safety.
You can keep a proper watch and make your boat safe. Maybe, after some time, you’ll even feel that STS can keep a proper watch and make your boat safe single handed. While that may or may not be true, only a vigilant skipper can make a boat safe. An active STS can make a boat being safer.
After all, COLREGS requires that you keep watch by all available means. You ARE one of those means, and STS is available. 🙂
STS is a good observer. It won’t see a dark blue boat far away in a dark blue sea, but neither will you. It WILL see pretty much anything else.
Let’s not forget that STS has a good memory. Unlike humans, computers don’t find it hard to remember multiple things for a long periods of time. For instance, smaller boats are hard to spot in rough seas and it is even harder to keep track of them all – they are not visible all the time. If there is only one boat around, no problem. But five or ten of them could present a problem for a human brain, even an experienced one. Computer doesn’t care if there are five, fifty or five hundred boats in the vicinity, as long as it has enough memory to “remember” them all. STS can track upto 1024 potentially dangerous targets on the water simultaneously. And if you ever find yourself surrounded by 1025 or more floating obstacles, well… Get an STS.2 or STS.ship. They can track 2048 targets. 🙂
STS is basically a computer with attached cameras. It doesn’t get tired. It doesn’t have a problem with a vigilance decrement. It works at 100% efficiency all the time.