A PLB for the Chesapeake Bay? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 74 Old 03-26-2019 Thread Starter
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A PLB for the Chesapeake Bay?

Title says it all: I usually single-hand in the Chessie and like everybody I am concerned about ending up in the drink. I religiously wear a PFD, I have a light attached to it as well as a whistle. Nearly always (ie except if I forget) I have a floating handheld VHF on my belt. And of course the Chessie is a relatively benign body of water, with lots of traffic (recreational and commercial).

But what if? Should I consider buying a PLB and attaching it to the PfD? They are in the $300.- range, not cheap, but if I ended up swimming would I regret not have spent the money?
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Re: A PLB for the Chesapeake Bay?

Honest question; what would a PLB do here that a handheld VHF with DSC+GPS wouldn't? Such as this; https://www.westmarine.com/buy/stand...61?recordNum=5
I got that on sale for $150 and personally consider it enough for now, but also don't single hand or go out in rough conditions so your need are probably different.

edit; should note that I'm thinking specific to the Chesapeake, where as far as I know you'll always been within range of coast guard with that VHF?
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Re: A PLB for the Chesapeake Bay?

When I became concerned about going in the drink while single handed, I bought a harness and a tether and I use them. Ounce of prevention worth pound of cure, say Confucius.
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Re: A PLB for the Chesapeake Bay?

Your range on the VHF might be a little limited from a height of about 3" above the water. I have never tried it, but, I'm guessing it would still work. I think most single handed sailors consider their boat as a really tall building. If you fall off you are dead. Being that you are actually within range of help, it is prudent to have a few options. Personally, I would be comfortable with the PFD and VHF. I also try to keep it in my head-space that it does not necessarily take storm conditions to throw you off the boat. Just a passing motor boat could do the trick.
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Re: A PLB for the Chesapeake Bay?

Would get a beacon. Probably not AIS if you single. Firmly attached to your PFD unlike a vhf. Requires just pushing a button which maybe key if youíre hurt or have your hands full staying afloat with the waves hitting the back of your head instead of swallowing them. No issues of remembering to keep a full charge on it.
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Re: A PLB for the Chesapeake Bay?

Hey,

Good question. I'm in the same boat. I sail on the Long Island sound - never more than 10 miles from shore, usually less than 5 miles from shore. Usually a decent amount of marine traffic is in VHF range.

I also wear my PFD and carry a HH VHF- mine is the Standard Horizon HX870 model with integrated GPS, supports DSC, etc. If I run (fall) into trouble I can just press the distress button.

I also have a SPOT GPS tracker that I almost never use. I do take it for longer trips, but then it's usually on the boat broadcasting my position. If I'm singlehanding I probably should put that in my pocket as well. I plan on replacing the SPOT tracker with the SPOT X messenger. Maybe I'll remember to keep that on my person.

In all likely-hood none of this will ever be needed but I do like electronic gadgets.

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Re: A PLB for the Chesapeake Bay?

I wouldn't count on much transmission range out of a VHF while treading water. I wear my 406 PLB all the time, even kayaking on small rivers. It's so easy, just flip the cap open and hit the button.

PLBs aren't limited to Man Overboard situations, you can use them for any kind of life threatening distress; your boat is sinking and you're busy bailing, you are in medical distress, you have gone hiking ashore and broken your leg. You can even take it in your car, hiking, skiing, if you have a long winter drive and you are worried about getting stranded, take your PLB. An EPIRB is registered to a boat, but the PLB is registered to you.
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Re: A PLB for the Chesapeake Bay?

Couple of additional considerations.....

I have a Standard Horizon VHF/GPS/DSC radio in my ditch bag. I understand, once you press that DSC button, you don't have very long until the batteries are dead. I keep a sleeve of spare batteries in my ditchbag too.

The one downside to a PLB is that I do not believe they make hydro activated models. That's probably because you wouldn't want one triggered simply by getting wet, if you take some snot in the cockpit. IOW, you have to be conscious and be able to physically trigger the PLB. Painfully, the reason you're in the water could include an injury.

So, my answer, a standard VHF (longer battery life) and a PLB. If not a VHF, an InReach could do. Again, you need to be conscious and dexterous.

I assume the Chessy water gets cold in the shoulder seasons. That works on you fast.


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Re: A PLB for the Chesapeake Bay?

If the cold water is what scares you, try a dry suit. I've done 6 hours in 32F water in one for a test--my body temperature actually went up.

Or use a tether/jackline religiously.

But generally I just try to be careful. The F-24 is hard to fall off.

In the winter season, A PLB isn't going to matter. Even this Sunday, which was really nice, we only saw a few boats. The water temp is about 45-50F now.
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Re: A PLB for the Chesapeake Bay?

In the winter it's a dry suit AND a PLB for me, as well as a VHF.
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