We are on our way into the Chesapeake, off Virginia beach, in the dark, in heavy squalls. The rain comes down in buckets. We have several AIS targets but most are not a concern. We hear a "securite" call on the VHF. A research vessel is doing some type of survey, gives a course, location and references several buoys. We are not too far apart, about 4 miles, we see the vessel on the AIS and watch it as it closes on us. The beauty of the AIS is that not only do we see the nice little green AIS image on the radar but when we cursor over it the vessel name & details show up, even after the squall hits and we are "blinded by the rain"! No radar image just a big yellow screen of "snow" with an AIS image. I hail the boat on the VHF. Immediately the captain replies, I tell her of our course and intentions. "No problem captain we have you on the AIS. We'll be doing a 180 before R4, maintain your course, no conflict".
I have had some discussions in the past with other boaters. Some felt the benefit of a Class B AIS was minimal as they did not feel commercial traffic would pay any attention to Class B recreational traffic.
On this particular night, with this particular vessel I was glad I was "broadcasting". After the radar the AIS is my favorite tool. I'd rather be NORDO than be without the radar & AIS.