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post #11 of 22 Old 03-20-2012
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Re: Epirb quandry

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Originally Posted by peterchech View Post
according to the company selling them, they work great! JK

thanks, I really don't know which brands are good or not. That satisfies me, I think I will get one of those for sure. Almost can't go wrong for $200...
I am a bit more comfortable with the dedicated for SAR, government-run, free to the user system that PLBs and EPIRBs depend on, than the commercial system that charges $99 a year.

However Spot has some extra cool features.

I do have a McMurbo Fastfind 210, and all I can say is I HOPE it works!

Even the prices of EPIRBS are coming down - $450 for an ACR. That makes it cheaper than a SPOT after 3 years.

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post #12 of 22 Old 03-20-2012
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Re: Epirb quandry

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I am a bit more comfortable with the dedicated for SAR, government-run, free to the user system that PLBs and EPIRBs depend on, than the commercial system that charges $99 a year.

However Spot has some extra cool features.
...
Even the prices of EPIRBS are coming down - $450 for an ACR. That makes it cheaper than a SPOT after 3 years.
I considered getting the SPOT. It never occurred to me to use it as a PLB or as an EPIRB replacement, really. I consider it another fun toy. I thought it would be cool to give John's family a way to see where we are on the boat as they're very excited about the whole thing. However, for another $49 beyond the $99 to enable the tracking feature that they can view on a website, I decided to just stick with my blog for their updates.

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post #13 of 22 Old 03-20-2012
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Re: Epirb quandry

What I found fascinating about the Spot was it provided a very accurate fix to my location that everyone on my email list could follow. I don't use the constant tracking feature, therefore I place the Spot on the steering console, and while moving I press the OK button every hour or so to let everyone know that I'm OK and where I'm at.

I use the Basic Service and not the constant tracking for a specific reason. Constant tracking is neat, but when you're moving an average of just 5 MPH all those dots tend to connect together and form a long, orange worm across the Google Map. I figure for the $100 it costs me per year, it's a real bargain. Additionally, there are lots of places on Chesapeake Bay where cellular telephone service is just not available. The Spot provides me with the ability to communicate via satellite and let everyone know I'm still alive and kicking without paying a huge Sat-Phone bill every month.

When you're in the ocean, you don't have to go very far offshore to be out of cell phone or VHF radio communications range. The Spot will work just fine throughout the world.

Cheers,

Gary
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post #14 of 22 Old 03-20-2012
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Re: Epirb quandry

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Originally Posted by peterchech View Post
That looks great, but an epirb, even a "personal" one, for $200 just seems too good to be true. Are there real life instances of these things actually working?

Apparently 238 people were "saved" by them in 2008 alonehttp://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories...satellite.html. Not bad eh?
Welcome to the wonderful world of Moore's Law: Moore's law - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Electronics get cheaper and smaller.

This is what they cost these days. 1 year ago they were $300. 3 years before that they were $600. 10 years ago it was hard to find one under $1200, and those didn't even have a GPS!

Testing of the above named Epirb by an independant source:New McMurdo Fast Find PLBs – Smaller, Lighter & Cheaper | Doug Ritter’s Equipped.org Blog


There are also others to choose from at the same price point:
Sneak Peek – ACR ResQLink PLB – Smallest PLB Yet | Doug Ritter’s Equipped.org Blog
They Keep Shrinking: Smaller & Lighter PLB From DME | Doug Ritter’s Equipped.org Blog

My only worry is that these things will become so commonplace that the number of false activation will cause the "cry wolf" effect and delay rescue when really needed.


Enjoy!
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post #15 of 22 Old 03-20-2012
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Re: Epirb quandry

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The SPOT models are almost all under $200 as well. The simple fact is that the equipment inside these devices costs about $20, and several companies have realized there is a market for people who don't want to be lost at sea but aren't rich either. Because of these companies, very soon you will see even the high end mountable/self deploying/floating GPIRBS come down significantly in price. I'm guessing a $600 GPIRB will be halved in price in two years.

In the meantime, people use these PLBs all the time. If you are really worried about battery life, just bring spare batteries! A benefit of these PLBs is that they use regular off the shelf batteries, so you can keep plenty of spares on board. That being said, the previous owner of my boat had a SPOT, and he reported monthly battery changes because he has the tracking feature constantly on.

I'm ordering a spot. For $169, you can't go wrong. Yes, there is the obligatory service contract, but for a lot of people it's more affordable to pay a little bit at a time. Also, I guarantee I won't be keeping it ten years. Within a few years something better and probably cheaper will be available, and I'll be upgrading.

Found this, not sure how accurate it is:

"The unit requires three AAA lithium batteries that should last for several years in a stored SPOT 2. ... if left in tracking mode, SPOT 2 will work for about 8 days. In the SOS mode that you would use for a real emergency, it is specified to work for about 6 days."
I think this part in bold needs to be clarified for the group. I don't believe the SPOT is a PLB for one. The true PBLS like the ACR and McMurdo and Astronics use proprietary batteries much like today's EPIRBs. I don't believe they are user replaceable.

The good news is that they are all good for 5+ years and 24hrs++ of transmit time at 5 years. In reality if it's not -40F and one day before your 5 years are up, the battery life is much longer than 24hrs.

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post #16 of 22 Old 03-21-2012
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Re: Epirb quandry

Peter-
"That looks great, but an epirb, even a "personal" one, for $200 just seems too good to be true."
An EPIRB is, at heart, just a 406MHz 5-watt radio. Half a radio, actually, because it just transmits and doesn't receive. When you consider that $100 will buy you a ham radio (both halves, tx/rx) from China and that's got more do-dads than an EPIRB has...Yeah, you're paying the other hundred bucks for the lithium battery and the waterproof case and hopefully, maybe, some better components. Heck, $200 will buy you a 24" flat panel HDTV. You think that's a whole lot simpler than an EPIRB?

The only thing holding up EPIRB pries has been the limited market, the low volume, the "well gee, it's mandatory safety equipment" market.

I don't think $200 is unreasonable or miraculous at all. And I'm really glad to see their prices have come down below the pain point.
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post #17 of 22 Old 03-21-2012
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Re: Epirb quandry

I have an ACR Aqualink. It is registered through the Canadaian beacon registry to me personally, not a vessel as would be an EPIRB. It does float, unlike the $200 one.

I use it offshore - approx 100 miles.

On ocean trips we use an EPIRB.

I would not consider a SPOT as a rescue device. A real PLB and an EPIRB send their messages to a Rescue Coordination Centre. All the Spot does is track you for your friends. BTW the 406link service will allow occasional tracking with a PLB using the test function.

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post #18 of 22 Old 03-22-2012
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Re: Epirb quandry

jack-
"It is registered through the Canadaian beacon registry to me personally, not a vessel as would be an EPIRB. "

In the US, it is also possible to register an EPIRB to a person rather than a vessel. There's no special "portable" designation the way there is for a ship's station license, but they will accept the registration to a person, so you can take your own EPIRB as delivery crew, etc. from boat to boat.

Needless to say, if you're going to do that you want your contacts kept up to date about where you are and what you'll be on.
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post #19 of 22 Old 03-22-2012
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Re: Epirb quandry

Jack,

The Spot was originally designed to be a rescue device and from everything I've read the latest model, which is the Spot II, has better signal characteristics and provides broader coverage throughout most of the world. Here's some excerpts from the User Manual:


From the S.O.S. feature: Messages scheduled every 5 minutes until cancelled (or batteries are
depleted) with updated location to GEOS Rescue Coordination Center.
- Message scheduled even if GPS location cannot be determined.
- Overrides Check-In/OK, Custom Message, and Track Progress.

From the combined S.O.S. & Help: - SOS messages scheduled every 5 minutes to GEOS Rescue Coordination
Center until cancelled (or batteries are depleted) with updated location.
- Help messages scheduled every 5 minutes for one hour with updated
location to your contacts.
- Message scheduled even if GPS location cannot be determined.
- Overrides Check-In/OK, Custom Message, and Track Progress.
Note: SPOT strongly recommends that you do not utilize Combined Help and
SOS mode, as your friends and family could interfere with rescue efforts;
see additional warnings in the FAQ section of SPOT SATELLITE MESSENGER :: HOME PAGE.

Check out their website and you'll find all the features available.

As for EPIRBs, I had two during the past 20 years, both of which were very expensive, required frequent, and very expensive battery changes, and eventually, were no longer supported. Hopefully, much of this has changed. I had more than $1,000 tied up in those EPIRBs, both of which are now buried deep in the county landfill. If I were young enough, and single, and was seriously considering world-wide cruising, I would have both an EPIRB and Spot II Messenger. For coastal cruising along the U.S. East Coast I sincerely believe the Spot II is all that's necessary.

Cheers,

Gary
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post #20 of 22 Old 03-22-2012
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Re: Epirb quandry

International Emergency Rescue Coordination Centre (IERCC) based in Houston, Texas is a private company.

A PLB or EPIRB contacts the Coast Guard RCC through the GMDSS system.

I think I will stick to my floating waterproof $400 PLB, which has no additional costs (other than my 406link which is optional) for coastal and near offshore.

I am doing a delivery from Maui, which does not have spot coverage, this year. We will have an EPIRB. The boat is an ISAF Category 1 race boat.

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Last edited by jackdale; 03-22-2012 at 12:26 PM.
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