Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Tampa, FL
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Re: PLBs: AIS or GPS
The McMurdo SmartFind is not a PLB. It is a personal AIS transmitter. Really a different animal altogether, that performs a completely different function.
A PLB sends a "mayday" with your position to orbiting satellites, from which it is relayed to search and rescue resources (in the U.S., typically the Coast Guard). An AIS device sends out an AIS signal, which is VHF/line of sight, and will only be picked up by boats nearby who are monitoring AIS. Both can, and usually do, have a GPS receiver built into them.
The PLB is intended for general emergency signalling, when you want to call someone to come and help you. The AIS device is intended to help your own boat, or another one nearby, locate and rescue you if you fall overboard.
So, the question is, do you want to summon the Coast Guard, or do you want to help the person left on your boat find you when you fall overboard? The answer tells you which device you need. It would be nice if both functions were combined into one, small, reasonably-priced device. So far as I know, though, no one is selling such a device to the public as of yet.
Personally, I would get the PLB (and have, in fact).
edit: Ah! And I see that you did.
Last edited by denverd0n; 03-22-2013 at 02:14 PM.