There are several websites where anyone can see the current position of vessels.
To appear on these maps, a vessel must:
- be using using AIS (Automatic Identification System). This includes all large commercial vessels and a growing number of yachts.
- be within range of a reporting station. AIS is designed for collision avoidance at sea, and is short-range. There are shore-based AIS receivers too, and that is why you will see lots of reports from harbours and coastal waters. Commercial vessels and large yachts may also transmit their positions to satellites, so you will see some reports from vessels in deep water.
Our favourite site is vesselfinder.com (shown above), but you might also like to try: