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post #11 of 26 Old 11-18-2016
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Re: SPOT 50% off sale, MESSENGER & all others

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Originally Posted by Arcb View Post
Do you have an opinion on durability?
Electronics will generally have two temperature ranges: operational and storage. LCD screens are particularly vulnerable to extreme temperature excursions. I haven't been in the kind of cold temperatures you describe in many years, and then our electronics where all in climate controlled spaces.

Consumer electronics don't give you meaningful temperature ranges. There are cumulative effects within the range due to cold soaking.

The SPOT is an electrically simpler device. Unless there is a particularly sensitive component it should be more robust in very cold conditions than the DeLorme InReach. The batteries will go first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
I would much rather have a DeLorme with me in a liferaft than a vhf radio.
No No No NO NO NO!

Your #1 priority in the life raft is an EPIRB. SAR starts moving when a signal is received in parallel with confirmation contacts to your emergency points of contact. There is no way faster to get SAR to you. If you text someone who calls the USCG there are lots of manual steps that cause delay and can cause error before your distress call gets into the system and resources start to move.

Your #2 priority in the life raft is a handheld VHF. When SAR shows up it helps to coordinate the rescue effort. They are still going to put a swimmer in the water who will make his own assessment but it helps a lot to be able to talk ahead of time so you know what to expect.

Your #3 priority is replaceable batteries or other charging mechanism for the VHF. A dead radio is useless.

A very distant #4 priority is two-way long distance communications like a satellite phone or messaging device. The only value something like the InReach has in your life raft is to support morale in the raft. There is no meaningful contribution to SAR if you have the EPIRB and VHF you should have. It only serves to make you feeel better.
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Last edited by SVAuspicious; 11-18-2016 at 10:00 AM.
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post #12 of 26 Old 11-18-2016
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Re: SPOT 50% off sale, MESSENGER & all others

[QUOTE=SVAuspicious;3733650]LCD screens are particularly vulnerable to extreme temperature excursions.

QUOTE]

That has been my experience, while mountaineering and sailing are different sports, they are closely related and mountaineering is a great way to gauge the real durability of equipment that might also be used for sailing.

I was staying a couple of nights at a beautiful old tea house in a village called Samdo at just over 12000 ft. We went out for an acclimation hike and spotted a herd of blue sheep on a ridge above us. So we started scrambling up a steep slope and gained a solid 1000 ft or more of altitude in fairly short order. It wasn't all that cold, maybe around freezing. My climbing partner took his fairly good quality submersible camera out of it's case and the LCD screen had completely shattered. No bumps, no bangs- just altitude and moderately cool weather.
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Re: SPOT 50% off sale, MESSENGER & all others

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Originally Posted by SVAuspicious View Post
No No No NO NO NO!
One No would do, because I just disagree more when repeated.

I fully stand by my quote. I would rather have a Delorme than a VHF in a liferaft, which was the confine of the comparison. This did not presume one even has an EPIRB, it's just the sole comparison of the two. The Delorme is going to be able to reach help from anywhere, it's affirmative confirmation of distress and its batteries are likely to far outlast the VHF, which you indirectly acknowledged. VHF needs to be in range of someone to hear it.

Quote:
Your #1 priority in the life raft is an EPIRB.
This I agree with, however, its extraneous to the comparison I was making. Most have nothing but a VHF, if anything.

Quote:
There is no way faster to get SAR to you. If you text someone who calls the USCG there are lots of manual steps that cause delay and can cause error before your distress call gets into the system and resources start to move.
This I disagree with. Both would be nice (as is actually the case with me). Triggering an EPIRB does not immediately launch rescue assets. As I understand it, they first use the database contact info to attempt to determine the validity of the alarm. I've even heard ch16 broadcasts, asking vessels in the area, if they can sight the distress.

The DeLorme has an SOS button and you can describe the problem. They have 24/7 resources waiting to coordinate. You don't text your wife, who starts researching phone numbers. When Delorme gets an affirmative message to the USCG that you are in your raft, or in a life threatening situation, the USCG will leave immediately, without finishing their phone calls. An EPIRB alone does not transmit the degree of the threat, nor can it clarify a false alarm, which seems to be why they begin an assessment first. I've been told it can take hours. You may have triggered it yourself, simply because you're seasick or your boat may be on fire. No way for them to know, with just an EPIRB.

Quote:
Your #2 priority in the life raft is a handheld VHF. When SAR shows up it helps to coordinate the rescue effort.
The VHF is smart to have for onsite coordination, but has no usefulness if you're out of range to get them to respond in the first place (ie no EPIRB).

Quote:
...The only value something like the InReach has in your life raft is to support morale in the raft. There is no meaningful contribution to SAR if you have the EPIRB and VHF you should have. It only serves to make you feeel better.
As stated, I disagree. The device will advise SAR as to whether they should respond with a 90 min cutter or 10 min helo, if not help them make a decision to send anyone right away at all.


Personally, I have an EPIRB, DeLorme, cell phone, SSB w/distress and multiple VHF w/distress, including a dedicated one in the ditch bag. I wasn't advising to only have a DeLorme.
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post #14 of 26 Old 11-18-2016
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Re: SPOT 50% off sale, MESSENGER & all others

We use the Delorme primarily for offshore fishing trips. When we do these we are out for 12 hours or so, and beyond cell phone range and frequently beyond VHF range to the CG shore facilities. Yea, we take an EPIRB and a raft and a host of other emergency equipment too. Yea, and I'm much more comfortable on the sailboat offshore, not only is it more sea worthy but it has 2 forms of propulsion...but back to the Delorme.

The advantages of the Delorme IMHO are as follows:

1. It can be programmed with a low cost plan to provide unlimited position reports every 10 minutes and post these to a web site. Whoever has our float plan on land also has access to this. We appoint a competent person in this role. The local coast guard SAR assets, some who are good friends, love the idea that they would get a plot of our position over time from the caller in an overdue situation (along with a host of other information about who's on board, the boat, what equipment we have, etc. etc which we leave with the shore person).

2. It provides 2 way texting. This year, one of our friends was caught offshore fishing in the canyons (about 120 miles S of me) when NOAA mis-forecast a NE gale. A 5 hour return trip turned to 10 hours. His Globalstar sat phone would not work in the conditions. The Delorme allowed him to contact his float plan holder with their position, and their situation as they fought their way back in. This was serious but less than full mayday situation, a situation where the CG would have gotten an overdue call and unnecessarily deployed SAR assets. The land crew knew where he was on 10 minute intervals. And yea, he has a raft, survival suits, and an EPRIB too.

At least so far (luckily) all the offshore situations we've encountered are not mayday worthy. When you activate the EPIRB, the calvary is coming, and you don't always want or need that. A text and a position communicated to competent land person can handle our most common situation which is "all is fine, we are on fish, and we'll be 2 hours later getting to the dock than planned." Or we are having motor problems and limping in. Or in the case of an offshore passage, we are all fine, wind went light, so expect to be in tomorrow between 2-6PM.

3. Subscription is cancellable on a month by month basis, as Mini has mentioned. Great for us seasonal boaters up here.


The user interface leaves a bit to be desired, but I see this device as clearly useful. Our offshore stuff is limited to northeast US, and usually no more than a few days offshore....which is where I think this technology shines. And at least in one case, the text messages worked when sat phones didn't.

IMHO this device is a great augment to a float plan.
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post #15 of 26 Old 11-19-2016
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Re: SPOT 50% off sale, MESSENGER & all others

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
One No would do, because I just disagree more when repeated.
Sorry. I was worried about you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
I would rather have a Delorme than a VHF in a liferaft, which was the confine of the comparison. This did not presume one even has an EPIRB, it's just the sole comparison of the two.
If you are offshore you should have an EPIRB (part of GMDSS). Satellite messengers like the DeLorme are not part of GMDSS - they aren't life safety devices.

Let's consider two scenarios:

1. GMDSS. Something bad happens to your boat (flood/fire/collision/a splinter in your finger/whatever). You trigger the EPIRB by flipping one lever. The signal goes to a satellite that captures your exact position and forwards the emergency to the USCG Mission Control Center. Based on position it is immediately forwarded to the cognizant Rescue Coordination Center (RCC). The watch officer gets the alarm and people start moving. They call your emergency point of contact in parallel with alerting SAR resources. 5 minutes. Meanwhile you launch and inflate the life raft. Confirm that it is time to get off the boat. Move everyone and your ditch bag and your childhood teddy bear into the life raft. The light on the EPIRB blinks reassuringly but you still have an overwhelming desire to DO SOMETHING. You pull your little solar panel out and tie it to the life raft canopy and run the wire to your VHF. The sea anchor holds you steady and the water bags fill. It still isn't any fun in there. In a couple of hours the VHF crackles to life as fixed wing SAR overflies and the USCG checks on health and welfare of all aboard. They fill you in on the recovery plan. Three hours later a USCG helicopter that refueled on a Navy amphibious assault ship that had diverted to a rendezvous circles. The VHF crackles to life again and the USCG fills you in. They drop a swimmer who joins you in the life raft. There is now water everywhere. *grin* One by one they move you into the water and the recovery basket (life jackets, yadda yadda yadda).

2. Consumer stuff. Something bad happens to your boat (flood/fire/collision/a splinter in your finger/whatever). You find your smartphone and your InReach and text someone ashore that you are in trouble. Launch and inflate the life raft. Confirm that it is time to get off the boat. Move everyone and your ditch bag and your childhood teddy bear into the life raft. The signal strength bars on the InReach looks good. You send another text message that you have abandoned ship and really need help. Meanwhile ashore your point of contact has been in the grocery store. He sees your message when he gets to the car (you just lost 45 minutes). He looks up and calls the local USCG phone number. Coast Guard Station Wherever answers the phone and has to look up the procedure because boats in trouble offshore are not in their job jar. He calls the appropriate RCC (unless he doesn't in which case after getting your position which was read to them over the phone by someone who read it to them over the phone (remember the telephone game) they transfer the call). Lots of reading and questions and repeats. Realistically figure 30 minutes to an hour. They are still going to run through some confirmation that the call is valid. More time lost finding emergency contact information. SAR resources start moving but another 10-15 minutes to validate the call. Meanwhile you pull your little solar panel out and tie it to the life raft canopy and run the wire to your phone to charge it and then your InReach; at least it gives you something to do. The sea anchor holds you steady and the water bags fill. It still isn't any fun in there. In a couple of hours a fixed wing plane overflies. Did they see you? Are they even looking? Eventually (one to two hours - they have other things to do to save you) you get a text message from the RCC after they hear back from the deployed assets. Three hours after the airplane overflew a USCG helicopter that refueled on a Navy amphibious assault ship that had diverted to a rendezvous circles. They drop a swimmer who joins you in the life raft. There is now water everywhere. *grin* They have no idea what is going on and you don't know what the procedure will be. An extra fifteen minutes to get everyone on the same page. One by one they move you into the water and the recovery basket (life jackets, yadda yadda yadda).

In the end, using a satellite messenger will take anywhere from an hour to four hours longer to get you help. Again, all it's really good for is morale. That's why they are priority 4 on my list.

We haven't even talked about drowning your phone (Lifeproof case? oops - you were charging) or the InReach (not nearly as waterproof as they seem). We haven't talked about queueing the SMS in the satellite constellation. We haven't talked about all kinds of failure modes of something not designed for life safety.

Feeling good about the SOS button? That goes to a control center that still isn't part of the GMDSS. There is no latency specification for that message. It rides on the tertiary control circuit and is last in line through the satellite constellation. To my knowledge the connection from Iridium (for the InReach) and Globalstar (for the SPOT) to USCG is still by phone into the MCC where someone has to type it into the system (did they get all the numbers right? more time repeating three times) before it launches. They still have to validate the call which means more phone calls to get the data and then follow up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
it's affirmative confirmation of distress
It isn't. It is a single distress call which SAR will attempt to confirm. The process is that SAR starts to move on receipt. The reality is in-system (GMDSS) is more credible (it shows up on the computer screen) than some voice on the phone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
its batteries are likely to far outlast the VHF, which you indirectly acknowledged.
Until you start sending tons of text messages because you can. Do you have the discipline to leave it alone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
VHF needs to be in range of someone to hear it.
That's what it's for - short range comms. Fixed wing SAR, helicopter SAR, commercial, USCG, military ships that heave over the horizon looking for you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
Triggering an EPIRB does not immediately launch rescue assets. As I understand it, they first use the database contact info to attempt to determine the validity of the alarm. I've even heard ch16 broadcasts, asking vessels in the area, if they can sight the distress.
It takes time to get on-duty people from the ready room to aircraft and the planes in the air. It takes time to work out refueling plans. It takes time to identify any AMVER assets in the area. Validation happens in parallel. Will they possibly hold up some expensive assets waiting for confirmation? Maybe. A text message from a satellite messenger is no more and possibly less credible than an EPIRB.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
The DeLorme has an SOS button and you can describe the problem. They have 24/7 resources waiting to coordinate.
That is a big benefit for hikers and such that don't have a global distress system like GMDSS. It is second tier for cruisers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
The device will advise SAR as to whether they should respond with a 90 min cutter or 10 min helo, if not help them make a decision to send anyone right away at all.
If you are that close you are in range of VHF on Rescue 21.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
Personally, I have an EPIRB, DeLorme, cell phone, SSB w/distress and multiple VHF w/distress, including a dedicated one in the ditch bag. I wasn't advising to only have a DeLorme.
I stand by my list of priorities. #1 EPRIB (or PLB if you don't venture far offshore). #2 Handheld VHF. #3 Extra power for VHF (replaceable batteries and/or solar panel). #4 morale support with sat phone or satellite messenger.

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Last edited by SVAuspicious; 11-20-2016 at 07:30 AM. Reason: typos
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post #16 of 26 Old 11-19-2016
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I think you both write good posts. I agree that EPIRB is likely to trigger an instantaneous response, while the RCC simultaneously looks for contact info.

I am still not sure I would put EPIRB at number one, depending on where exactly I was, it could be.

My number one rescue signalling device might be a box full of Type A rocket parachute flares. They don't take batteries, they don't require maintenance, their meaning is universal in the Marine environment, they are likely to trigger a response from most aircraft, people on the beach, in apartment towers and vessels in a fairly large radius without even needing to mobilise a government agency. Finding distressed boats after dark is a lot harder than people realise, even with all the fancy electronics in the world, flares take away a lot of the guess work. Most importantly (in my opinion) they cut out the middle man and signal every mariner and aviator; professional, government asset, hobbiest or otherwise in the vicinity.

Edit: if you were attacked in the street, like really attacked, some dude is high on PCP and wants to beat you to death with his fists. Would you quick dial the police on your cell phone, or would you scream for help?

20+ miles offshore, the EPIRB would start to gain points and eventually over take flares as my top priority.

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post #17 of 26 Old 11-20-2016
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Re: SPOT 50% off sale, MESSENGER & all others

I agree with you about the value of visual signal (flares, smoke, dye, etc). Personally I prefer the handheld SOLAS devices over flare guns. I do carry leather gloves to hold the flare with.

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post #18 of 26 Old 11-20-2016
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Re: SPOT 50% off sale, MESSENGER & all others

Quite a bit of gymnastics going on with the back and forth. I don't feel like taking the time to quote them all. Just a reminder that my original premise was between a DeLorme and and VHF in the raft, not an EPIRB. Although, the EPIRB founds its way in the reply in a big way. I do not disagree that an EPIRB is more important, it just wasn't the point.

A handheld VHF (in your raft) has very limited range, certainly not the extent of Rescue 21, which is 20+ miles. The comment about texting and using up it's battery is uninformed. You are likely to be texting from your cell phone. The DeLorme stays plugged in, which means it will now work for days.

Back to the EPIRB.......

An EPIRB signal alone has zero context, wherever it may be triggered. An EPRIB signal, along with an SOS confirmation from a DeLorme, which provides a description of the problem, is going to expedite the response, as necessary. ie this is actually the fastest response. Both. The Delorme adds way more value than a morale boost.

No way they are going to put a helo, with refuel staging, in the air, without knowing if they even need one. If you are abandoning ship and there is an AMVER asset nearby, they aren't doing anything more than watching (listening to) it unfold. If a crew member had heart attack aboard, they might stage the helo recovery. For that matter, say you're 50 miles offshore. Confirmation of a heart attack will launch the helo asap. A EPIRB alone might divert the cutter to see if it's even legit.

So back to the original premise........

You are outside handheld VHF range of shore, with no other vessels nearby, nor near a shipping lane. It's unlikely you'll see another ship. You don't have an EPIRB (although you should). You are stepping up into your life raft. You can only have one messaging device, a handheld VHF or a Sat Messenger. You can't add more variables. Which do you want? My answer was the messenger.


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post #19 of 26 Old 11-20-2016
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Today I am going to Cabela's to check out both the SPOT and Delorme. Not only is the SPOT on sale, but the Delorme currently comes with a $75 mail in rebate. SPOT requires a subscription purchase, which is a hefty $149 minimum in Canada.

My break down, before going to touch and hold things which is an important piece of the shopping puzzle for me is;

SPOT $169 cdn+$149 cdn for subscription= $318+tax.

Delorme inreach SE $429cdn-$75 mail in rebate $354 cdn.

They are pretty close on price in my opinion, to the point of price not even being a relevant factor. I am leading towards Delorme.

My reason for buying one isn't necessarily safety related. It's a race requirement for an adventure race I am entering. I think it serves a dual purpose from a race perspective. Safety is a factor, but I think tracking race participants to ensure fair play is likely also a factor.

However, I have been thinking about getting one for years as a way to check in with the boss (the one at home) for safety and assurance reasons.

My hobies that would benefit from a tracking device are not restricted to cruising sailboat, although my cruising sailboat is my main reason for being on this forum.

Activities I would use it for are ;

Back country white water canoe tripping. This is a pretty dangerous activity that exists entirely outside of cell range. I do at least one trip a year in central-northern Ontario or Quebec. Trips could range 3-5 days, no recharging options.

Back country mountaineering/backpacking/skiing. Weight and battery life is absolutely critical for this activity because you are carrying the device, potentially for a week or more without charging.

Camp cruising. In addition to my cruising sailboat, I have a couple of small dinghy type sailboats I will take behind/on the roof of my car to explore destinations that aren't in reasonable range of the big boat. Again, no charging options in this activity.

Then there is my cruising sailboat. For the time being, I don't do any offshore sailing. I might do a 500 mile round trip to Toronto or Niagara Falls, but would never be more than 25 miles offshore on the entire trip.

Since a couple of guys did a very nice write up on their offshore communications equipment, I thought I would share my inland coastal communications set up;
-lots of flares, more than 2 dozen, a 12 gauge plastic pistol as well as a 10 gauge brass pistol. Rocket parachute, type B, handheld and die marker are all in my inventory. Plus a signal mirror and several strobe lights.
-DSC marine VHF with AIS receive only capabilities with spare antenna.
-2 hand held VHF's.
-currently no EPIRB, or tracking device.
-I feel confident with this set up in the context of the great lakes/St Lawrence valley.

Last edited by Arcb; 11-20-2016 at 08:53 AM.
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post #20 of 26 Old 11-20-2016
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Re: SPOT 50% off sale, MESSENGER & all others

In the spirit of @Arcb 's list mine is:

EPIRB (ACR on its second battery)
Icom M802 HF/SSB w/ DSC
Icom M504 VHF w/ DSC
Icom M32 (I think) handheld VHF (waterproof)
Standard Horizon 850 handheld VHF (waterproof, DSC, GPS)
Globalstar prototype fixed terminal (long story)
RedPort Halo WiFi range extender
Ubiquiti Bullet WiFi range extender
cell phone and cellular data USB stick
two "offshore" sets of SOLAS handheld flares, smoke, and dye

A cell phone booster is coming soon. Another long story.

sail fast and eat well, dave S/V Auspicious

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