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post #11 of 25 Old 10-16-2017 Thread Starter
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Re: Personal Locator Beacons, PLBs

The boat in question is a beach cat. The area's I sail are mostly areas that are unaccessible to or untravelled by most AIS equipped boats. For example, nobody, has AIS on the Ottawa River, but I could pitentially be a very long walk to the nearest pay phone or cell coverage area.

The scenario I'm imagining is a trainwreck. The boat is smashed up in a pitch pole or has the bottom torn out on a rock and is unrecoverable or something.

I am either alone, or with one other person who is also in the water.

So maybe I can make it to shore and sit down on a beach somewhere or maybe an island or maybe on one of the upside down hulls.

If I start at a remote boat launch in the bush somewhere, and sail for 4 hours, I could very easily be 40 milesfrom where I started. That's a lot of bushwhacking home through Canadian shield while my wife freaks out because I said I was going to be home by dark. I also do multi day camping "cruises" with it.

That's why I'm thinking PLB. Seems like the best tool for the job. I was just wondering if somebody recommended one above another, or if anybody knew of any good bargains.

Yes, I agree, the more advanced systems sound like good options for people on yachts in areas that are travelled by other yachts.
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Re: Personal Locator Beacons, PLBs

Arcb,

For your scenario I'd consider an in-reach (formerly Delorme) mentioned above. We use it for off-shore fishing (day trips) where we are out of range of cell phones. It does 3 things, one is there is an call in the calvary button. Two is it can be set to up load waypoints every 10 minutes or so to a web site where your family or someone not on the trip can track you. Three is it does 2 way satellite texting.

We've found this very useful for day trips fishing. Someone ashore knows were we are every 10 minutes. We leave a float plan, but sometimes we find fish late in the day, chase fish someplace we didn't plan on, and/or overstay our plan. Rather than either come back unnecessarily to meet our return time or have the calvary alerted and start a unnecessary SAR when overdue, we text our shore crew and tell them what's happening. They acknowledge our text with one back, then we hang out and catch fish till the new overdue time.

We got convinced on this one when caught out in an missed forecast, this thing worked when sat phone didn't. Saved a SAR operation as we fought our way back slowly (overdue) against some weather.

And yes, we carry an EPIRB too, but I've found the In-Reach useful in situations when you are out of cell phone range. It covers a wide range of problems, while an EPIRB is effectively MAYDAY or nothing. You can also cancel service month to month for offseason, cheaper than Sat phones and at least in our experience, more reliable in bad WX.

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post #13 of 25 Old 10-16-2017 Thread Starter
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Re: Personal Locator Beacons, PLBs

Thanks Capecodda, that looks like a slick system.

I already have a Gen 3 SPOT. It has some, but not all of the functionality of your Delorme.

It has the tracking capability, every 10 minutes or so that any one with the web link can follow my progress with.
-It has a custom preset message, that is basically an I'm okay button.
-It has a non emergency assist button, that I could maybe use if my boat was wrecked, but I was safe and sound on a beach somewhere, send a float plane or a boat in the morning.
-It has a Mayday button. The down side here, is this talks to a 3rd party SAR service provider, not directly to government.
-What it lacks, is custom messaging and more importantly, it cant receive messages.
I think Delormes are great, but I already have a SPOT.

I want the PLB as an additional safety feature in addition to the SPOT, because I can wear it directly on my life vest, and it talks directly to Federal SAR in case I'm in some deep trouble. I think of it as an extra layer on the proverbial onion.

Sailing is a hobby of mine, but it isn't my only hobbie where a PLB might come in handy. I also enjoy white water canoeing and mountaineering, also activities where I couldn't use an EPIRB or AIS capability. While I guess it would be nice to have specialised gear for each hobbie, that isn't my financial reality, so I try to get gear that is effective for multiple sports.

I guess since I'm on the topic of defending my choice, I think what some of the more oceany sailors didn't get (twice) is, like probably %90 of the actual real boaters in Canada, I am on a small tailerable boat inland or far from main stream yacht traffic. There is no AIS there.
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Re: Personal Locator Beacons, PLBs

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
I may be wrong, but I've been researching PLBs myself and only know of two kinds, EPIRB and AIS.

Here's an article you might find useful.

Tested: AIS MOB devices ? Yachting World
This was a good article. Thank you.

I did some more research on the PAB (Personal AIS Beacon) vs the PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) and found the differences are more substantial than I originally thought. The two devices are not really interchangeable.

The PABs described in the article are miniature wearable AIS transmitters and work on VHF technology, which means any boats within maybe 10-15 miles of the PIW will receive position data, but, SAR is not notified. Most of these models are activated either by seawater or when an inflatable life vest goes off, with the exception of the diving model, which would be the best fit for me. As a dinghy sailor and white water paddler, I do capsize and I don't normally need help self rescuing.

PLBs (what I am looking for) are miniature wearable EPIRBs. Their small size means shorter battery life and fewer features than a full sized EPIRB- but they are wearable. This is a satellite based technology, so does notify SAR. It might be more effective in certain situations, namely, where AIS equipped vessels are not common place (which is a lot of places).

I thought I should make the distinction in case any one else is researching a wearable PLB or PAB (including maybe yourself).

Here is an article that does a pretty good job of distinguishing the two technologies. A combined unit would be nice, maybe there is one out there, don't know. But it might be relatively big and expensive if there is.

Personal Locator Beacons, EPIRBS and AIS Responders for Sailing | Cruising World
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Re: Personal Locator Beacons, PLBs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arcb View Post
The boat in question is a beach cat. The area's I sail are mostly areas that are unaccessible to or untravelled by most AIS equipped boats. For example, nobody, has AIS on the Ottawa River, but I could pitentially be a very long walk to the nearest pay phone or cell coverage area.

The scenario I'm imagining is a trainwreck. The boat is smashed up in a pitch pole or has the bottom torn out on a rock and is unrecoverable or something.

I am either alone, or with one other person who is also in the water.

So maybe I can make it to shore and sit down on a beach somewhere or maybe an island or maybe on one of the upside down hulls.

If I start at a remote boat launch in the bush somewhere, and sail for 4 hours, I could very easily be 40 milesfrom where I started. That's a lot of bushwhacking home through Canadian shield while my wife freaks out because I said I was going to be home by dark. I also do multi day camping "cruises" with it.

That's why I'm thinking PLB. Seems like the best tool for the job. I was just wondering if somebody recommended one above another, or if anybody knew of any good bargains.

Yes, I agree, the more advanced systems sound like good options for people on yachts in areas that are travelled by other yachts.
I'd agree...in this case, you should look at a PLB. Its such a niche use case though. Most cruisers would benefit with a PLB or EPIRB for the boat, and an AIS beacon for themselves
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Re: Personal Locator Beacons, PLBs

I've found that thegpsstore.com seems to have the best prices on PLBs. I don't know how they do it, but their prices are significantly cheaper than even Defender and other marine online retailers.

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Re: Personal Locator Beacons, PLBs

I have a Rescue Me plus from the GPS store. The battery is about to expire and I got a PLB1 from Ocean Research. The new one is smaller and the battery has a longer time to expiry. They will both do the job. You may be able to purchase directly from Ocean Research. At least they will direct you to a dealer. For the equivalent of 50 bucks a year, you will have certain back up.
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Re: Personal Locator Beacons, PLBs

Mark-
As a foreigner, you might not know the US also uses the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) as a SAR resource, often co-ordinating with the USCG for larger search areas and extended searches. "Because unless it's a Coast Guard boat/helicopter no one has a 121.5 homing signal receiver." CAP also uses the aviation emergency frequency of 121.5. And, pilots in general (even private pilots) monitor 121.5, as do a number of folks who monitor radio scanners.
I'm not sure what they do in the Great White North (where I'd be a foreigner too) but 121.5 ain't dead yet. FWIW.
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Re: Personal Locator Beacons, PLBs

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Originally Posted by Tuna Driver View Post
I have a Rescue Me plus from the GPS store. The battery is about to expire and I got a PLB1 from Ocean Research. The new one is smaller and the battery has a longer time to expiry. They will both do the job. You may be able to purchase directly from Ocean Research. At least they will direct you to a dealer. For the equivalent of 50 Buck's a year, you will have certain back up.
That PLB1 is nice looking unit. 7 year battery and smaller than the competition. I hadn't come across this one in my research.

Good tip.

Going to check out the GPS store too.
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post #20 of 25 Old 11-04-2017 Thread Starter
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Re: Personal Locator Beacons, PLBs

I just thought I would circle back on this thread because I selected a unit this morning.

The unit I purchased was a McMurdo Fast Find Ranger PLB. It was the best bang for the buck I could find. 6 year battery life for $295 CDN (That's about $231 US). I tried to get one from my local Chandlery, because they are awesome and I like to support them, but the closest they could come to this unit on price was over $400. So I purchased this unit at Mountain Equipment Co Op.

It definitely isn't the smallest unit on the market, but its the best value I could find for a full featured PLB. It transmits both on 406 and 121.5, for 24 hours, no subscription required, talks directly to the national SAR agency (since I am Canadian, that's the Department of National Defence for me).

My life jacket has a pretty good place for it. I have it opposite my sailing knife, vertically above my hand held radio. I don't find the bulk to be excessive, but I wouldn't be surprised if folks who didn't wear PPE on a regular basis found it a little bit bulky.
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