Class B AIS, now that Garmin owns Vesper

So, now that Garmin owns Vesper (oh how I wish I had known this before buying the XB-6000), what is my best Class B (stand alone) option for AIS?

Background: We had an older ComNav unit that was starting to act a bit flakey, and I wanted to get all the instruments onto NMEA2000, and the ComNav was the last thing on the network requiring 0183. So I decided that I would simply replace the ComNav, and pick up the Vesper XB-6000.
It installed easily enough, and once I got drivers for the USB-serial I was able to connect to the device, and configure my callsign, MMSI, etc.

With the device up and running it seemed to take a LONG time (20-230 minutes) to begin transmitting. After a lot of debugging I found that if the device had not begun transmitting after 15-20 minutes, connecting to it via usb-serial somehow kicked it in the head and within a few seconds it would begin transmitting.

Hmm.. wtf?

So I call up Garmin, sit on hold for 40 minutes, and get connected to someone who essentially does what I have been doing for the past 2 days, and reads the manual to me.

I ask if there is someone with actual expertise in this product that can assist (given that the manual is shite), and they basically said they have no idea what Garmin's plans for the product are and explain that support is limited to the product information they have, which is basically the manual.

Well, I know how to read, and I can see where the call is going, so I ask, 'Am I supposed to plug in a laptop each time I power on the AIS? What are our next steps here?' The response is that there must be something wrong with the unit so they want to exchange it. Hmm.. do I want this saga to continue?

Do I want to put up with Garmin? Answer is no, not any more than I want to drive a nail through my big toe. So.. who should I be looking at for top tier Class B AIS now that Vesper is essentially out of the market?


Westbrook CT
If you just want a basic AIS transponder with N2k support, I think there are many options. It seems that what differentiates them are the extra features... do you have a separate antenna splitter?
i have a XB-8000. If I had to do it again i'd skip all the extra bells and whistles and go with the higher power SOTDMA 5w versions. if you don't have a splitter if you already have a splitter
Thanks @SimonGH, I have both the Vesper splitter, and the Vesper tuned antenna. I'll look at both of those. I had been considering Thrane & Thrane, and Furuno, given that we sail in places where help is a LONG way off. We need bullet proof.
I was not aware of SOTDMA, and it looks like Furuno has all the options we're looking for, SOTDMA, plus the quality build/reliability we're looking for.

The only remaining consideration is low power consumption, which was one of the key considerations when choosing the Vesper unit.

Any other players to consider?


Super Anarchist
FWIW, I don't think Garmin has had the time or the inclination to screw up Vesper's build quality yet so if you can get this unit or its warranty replacement working, you probably won't have to worry about it again for 10 years.
Most likely any Vesper on a shelf is still Vesper, but it really blows that Garmin has them, they had excellent customer support and made great products, like everything else Garmin gobbles up it will soon turn to shit. Horrible company. I'm guessing the two below are no longer active? [email protected]
+64 9 950 4848

Guessing you have already tried but using the watchmate app can sort out issues as well, I know baud rates etc can mess things up if not right, you should have access to most settings on the app. Our N2K port started acting up a while ago and I just ran direct 0183 to plotter, not sure if they had issues with the card the N2k port uses, needed to get to service center but never did just left it as is.

not a sock

New member
I have this one from Si-Tex. works well with the rest of the N2K stuff and seems powerful enough


New member
I bought a vesper XB 8000 earlier this summer and it basically bricked itself after I changed some settings via the app. I had a fruitless and aggravating back and forth with garmin support, but then I reached out to milltech marine (where I bought it) and they were able to get me in touch with a vesper person who was knowledgeable. Ended up getting a replacement unit which has been working so far, although I'm reluctant to change any settings after my previous experience.

So if you have issues, I'd recommend seeing if your dealer has contacts rather than trying to go through garmin.


Sorry to tag onto this thread ..... I'm in the process of procuring an AIS and was previously leaning towards Vesper.
With these bluetooth/wifi enabled AIS units is there a useful "anchor watch" app available for a smartphone, similar to what Vesper has?

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