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  #11  
Old 10-29-2012
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Re: hand held radio for man overboard

I have one of these (HX851):
Welcome to StandardHorizon.com
Has GPS with DSC so using that with your on board VHF (with DSC) they will know where you are.
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Re: hand held radio for man overboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by casey1999 View Post
I have one of these (HX851):
Welcome to StandardHorizon.com
Has GPS with DSC so using that with your on board VHF (with DSC) they will know where you are.
That looks like a good choice, having the GPS and location transmitting functions. I'm surprised I haven't seen more talk about carrying a radio like this. What good is an EPIRB if the crew on your boat doesn't even know that you're missing!

A VHF handheld will only work a 1/2 a mile away? No way! A 2W signal would probably work 15 miles over open water to a mast top antenna. VHF signals are well suited to these sorts of conditions.

It doesn't matter if the boat can see you. What matters is that you can see the boat that you fell off of and you can direct them back to your location. With DSC features, things are even better.

Why does everyone feel compelled to change the subject and talk about avoiding falling overboard? Yes, I know you shouldn't let yourself fall overboard, and I know that generally it is considered sure death. Why not use your time to go on a health forum and tell all the people who are getting cancer screenings that they need to work on better health and avoid all the toxins and modern medical practices which cause cancer?
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Re: hand held radio for man overboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by steel View Post
That looks like a good choice, having the GPS and location transmitting functions. I'm surprised I haven't seen more talk about carrying a radio like this. What good is an EPIRB if the crew on your boat doesn't even know that you're missing!

A VHF handheld will only work a 1/2 a mile away? No way! A 2W signal would probably work 15 miles over open water to a mast top antenna. VHF signals are well suited to these sorts of conditions.

It doesn't matter if the boat can see you. What matters is that you can see the boat that you fell off of and you can direct them back to your location. With DSC features, things are even better.

Why does everyone feel compelled to change the subject and talk about avoiding falling overboard? Yes, I know you shouldn't let yourself fall overboard, and I know that generally it is considered sure death. Why not use your time to go on a health forum and tell all the people who are getting cancer screenings that they need to work on better health and avoid all the toxins and modern medical practices which cause cancer?
This radio has a 1 watt and 6 watt output switch, definitely the range would be more than 1/2 mile.

Yea everyone says stay on the boat. I single hand a lot and am normally clipped on and use jack lines. But I could still go over the side or my safety equipment might break allowing me to go over. I also carry the VHF in my pocket and am looking into maybe getting the small ACR PLB (Epirb) that I could also carry. With the VHF I could try to contact a nearby boater or Coast Guard and with the Epirb I should be able to get help withing 24 hours. I like to have back up plans. It makes me feel safer and with that feeling, I am probably less inclined to make a mistake as I am concentrating on the task at hand instead of worrying about what if this breaks, or this happens.
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Re: hand held radio for man overboard

I keep an IC-M34 on me at all times. My harness has a slot for the clip. not sure if it will save my life or not, I hope to never have the need to find out
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Re: hand held radio for man overboard

I just carry a remote for the auto-pilot.
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Re: hand held radio for man overboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by Siamese View Post
I just carry a remote for the auto-pilot.
Curious what the range is for that. In doing MOB drills, the boat really moves away from the MOB quickly. FWIW, when alone I wear an inflatable PFD AND a belt-pak inflatable PFD just in case. On the belt is a pouch with the submersible VHF as well as handheld aerial flares and a whistle. Even with all that, the most important thing is to stay on the boat at all costs.

Mike
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Old 10-29-2012
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Re: hand held radio for man overboard

Steel,

Yes, I believe your idea would work just fine and I have gone down the exact same line of thinking you have, even to the point of originally selecting the same radio. Here are my thoughts on the subject:

The adage that if you fall overboard, you are dead is there because of many years experience and still holds true. I do believe that technology and innovative ideas could start to change that.

I believe the main problem as to why the MOB is likely to die is because they are difficult to find, and find quickly. Recovery is another issue, that could be addressed with readily available gear, but honestly I haven't read too many accounts of people drowning beside the boat. They are usually never found, or drowned when found (ie it took too long to find them).

I think that the problem of trying to locate the MOB has been backwards for some time. A MOB pole is nice, but it takes a race crew to have the spare people to launch it. Often the MOB can't swim to it either. Dye markers, strobes, reflective tape etc, make the needle in the haystack a slightly larger needle. I think this is the wrong approach the MOB will always be low in the water and usually hidden by swell, and thus impossible to find. I've been on a boat offshore in Hawaii looking for a 5'diameter yellow buoy before and we were darn near on top of it before we saw it. Even though it was big and yellow and had a flashing yellow light, it was only 5' tall and we were in 3' chop mixed with swells.

The MOB on the other hand can see a 30, or 50 foot mast much easier. And if the MOB can see the mast, and has a way to talk to the boat, he can steer the boat to him.

For those that don't think that the VHF in the water has much range, consider this. VHF is line of sight right? So if you can see the mast (which is presumably where the receiving antenna is) you can talk to the boat. Or put another way, how far away have you been able to spot another boat's mast? 5 miles? 10? 15 miles? If you can see the mast, you can talk to it.

The formulas for how far a mast can transmit or receive are easy to find on the web. A 50ft mast has an approximate transmit/receive distance of 10 miles to another antenna which is 0 feet above neutral, and a 30ft mast is just over 7 miles. As for power, have any of you ever tried using the "low power" button on your VHF? It transmits at 5 watts (which is what most handhelds are) and it transmits really far. Try it some time.

I don't think there is any advantage to the HAM radio that you've picked out. As you mentioned, the protocol would be to have the mother-ship monitor 16 with the volume tuned up. So all you need is a radio that transmits on 16, which a handheld VHF can do. As mentioned by another poster, a handheld WITH DSC will be able to not only communicate with the mother-ship, it will be able to, at the push of a button, transmit your GPS coordinates to the mother-ship. Have you ever been aboard a boat that has a DSC radio and has received a DSC distress signal? It sounds like a smoke alarm!

I wouldn't think that the HAM would have any benefit above and beyond a marina VHF. You won't last long enough to have SAR come and get you even if you could contact them on land, and I doubt you could. If nobody is within your 10mile VHF range, then nobody is there to save you.

If the plan goes like it should I could imagine a scenario where you fall overboard and the other crew is sleeping, but the mother-ship's DSC capable VHF is on. You push the DSC button and the klaxons wake up the off watch. The off watch enables the mob function of the radio and an arrow points to your location. The off watch steers by the arrow to your coordinates.

Meanwhile, or once the boat is turned around and close to your position, you can see their mast and are able to communicate to the boat. "400 yards off your port bow! Turn a little. OK now I can see both red and green at the top of the mast so you're headed right for me. Hurry up I see a dorsal fin! Okay you're almost at me, do you see my strobe yet?"

In a different scenario you fall overboard and the off watch is asleep. You activate your strobe, blow your whistle, and activate your PLB. The off watch doesn't hear the whistle and the location of your drowning 40 minutes later is recorded by the SAR authorities a continent away.

I think it's an eminently practical idea and as a side benefit the radio you buy also functions as, well, a raido. The PLB doesn't do much else.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Siamese View Post
I just carry a remote for the auto-pilot.
Now there's an interesting idea...... Are you serious or kidding?

MedSailor
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Last edited by MedSailor; 10-29-2012 at 11:52 PM.
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  #18  
Old 10-30-2012
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Re: hand held radio for man overboard

OK, all those who have spent time in open water, not flat water but with at least a good chop, please raise your hands?

My time has been spent as a diver who sometimes popped back up a couple of hundred yards, or even just a hundred yards, from the boat. And I'll tell you, the folks who say "carry a whistle" can stick the whistle where the sun don't shine, because there's no whistle on this planet that can be heard 100 yards upwind.

Now, if I'm the MOB? Something I've managed to avoid but will admit have had some close calls with? I could be in that same scenario, 100 yards from the boat in whitecaps or 4' seas, and I can see the boat but the crew can't see me at all. Damned straight I think a VHF or even an FRS radio would be enough to let them know "I'm over HERE DUMMY". EPIRB? PLB? No, really, I don't want a massive SAR effort, I'd rather keep it small and quiet and just say "OVER HERE".

Alerting the crew, if I'm solo deck watch? No problem. For $50 you can buy a luggage theft fob, clip the fob on you, put the alarm below. If you get 50 feet from the alarm, it goes off. If you fall in the water and soak the fob and ruin it, the alarm still goes off. Fancy marine grade? No, and not a "locator" either, but it sure is a cheap way to let folks know Elvis has left the building and isn't happy about that.

There ARE solutions to a lot of this stuff. Yes, a nice IP-rated marine combo would be nice. Meanwhile, you can do some pretty fancy things on a budget that will give you a good chance in a simple MOB situation.

Like putting the MOB pole on the BACKSTAY so the helmsman can lift it and toss it without any help, without taking his eyes off the MOB if necessary. Poles aren't perfect but they sure beat the hell out of trying to paint a big red "X" in the water to start your search grid around.

I also keep meaning to pick up a dive sausage. Small packet, clips onto your shoulder. When inflated it becomes a dayglo tube about four feet tall and a couple of inches wide, which is MUCH easier to spot than the head in the water beneath it.
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  #19  
Old 10-30-2012
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Re: hand held radio for man overboard

Luggage tag FOB. I like the way you think HelloSailor. I've looked at the marine man overboard equivalents and disregarded them because of cost and how new they are to the market.

I can raise my hand to your question and I'm also a SCUBA diver. I know damn well exactly how hard I am to see in the water, but I could usually see/hear the boat and the boat I could see didn't even have a mast! There are some interesting tests out there about using a dive boat to locate the diver. They're usually in calm water, and they find that it's damn difficult to find the person in the water.

The dive sausage is a good idea also that I have explored. Why have the rescuer take his eyes off the MOB in order to launch a MOB pole that the victime may not even be able to get to? Wouldn't it be much better for the victim to already have his own inflatable MOB pole? YES!


In the SCUBA world they're called Surface Marker Buoys or SMBs. They're great because they give you height and movement. Height you need to even be in the field of vision of the observer when you're bobbing amongs the waves, and movement attracts the eye. They also make a fine place to hang your strobe and often come with reflective tape. Another plus, is that they provide you with extra boyancy.

This one from the brand XS is the smallest, mouth inflatable (many use your scuba tank) most compact, and best unit I could find when I did my research.
Buy XS Scuba saftey sausage AC190 with reviews at scuba.com

BTW I also like your idea of using a waterproof radio bag over your waterproof VHF. Good belts and suspenders approach. Another option is to buy a VHF designed for scuba diving and rated to 425ft depth. I mentioned it here on SailNet a while back. Technology can aid safety....It has DSC also. Actually, now it looks like they're marketing it to sailors as well. Nice to get a nod from them.....

MedSailor
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  #20  
Old 10-30-2012
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Re: hand held radio for man overboard

Here was the test of scuba divers in the water trying to signal their boat. It's a test far above and beyond anything I've seen the sailing community do. Highly recommended reading for any potential MOB.

Gear / Accessories | Scuba Diving Magazine

I disagree with the last sentance of the quoted section below. An EPIRB will be of no use, while a VHF would be of enormous help I believe.

MedSailor

From the article:
Conclusions

While signaling tubes and audible signaling devices do dramatically improve your odds of being spotted, we were surprised at the limited range they offered, even in our relatively good conditions. In general:

Size matters. All signal tubes tested were visible at one-quarter nautical mile, and about half were still visible at the half-mile mark. As expected, the longer the tube, the greater the visible range. The largest tubes in this test were visible at the three-quarter mark, and only one was still visible at almost one nautical mile.

Color matters. We also found that fluorescent yellow was very easy to spot in overcast conditions while orange stood out in bright sunlight. Lettering on tubes was not particularly helpful, and the black webbing tape that trimmed the edges of most tubes only lessens the potential visibility at greater distances.

Audible ranges are limited. Whistles were effective only to about one- quarter mile, with a few discernible at a half mile, but all were still better than yelling, which could be heard only at a tenth of a mile. Of the two air horns tested one was stellar, blasting out its call up to one mile away.

Our findings suggest that you have a fairly small window of opportunity to be seen if you're being swept away from the boat in a strong current. If you surface in a two-knot current, for example, you will drift a quarter mile in only 7.5 minutes. Think of the boat with rings around it every quarter mile. Within the first ring you have a good chance of getting noticed with most signaling devices tested here, but once you pass the half-mile mark, the ability to be seen or heard drops off significantly. If you surface already a quarter-mile downcurrent from the boat, you only have a few minutes to deploy your signal tube, sound the alert and get noticed before you pass that second ring.

Your odds are better with a very tall signal tube (eight to 10 feet), which, based on our test, could make you visible up to nearly a mile away. The higher the boat deck or point from which the searcher is looking will also improve your odds of being spotted. If the searcher is using binoculars (7 x 50 is standard for marine use), your chances of being spotted double. But once you are out of visual and audible range, it's a big ocean-an electronic beacon or EPIRB (see "Electronic Devices") may be the only way to get found.
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