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landofrainandgray
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We had a sailboat race this weekend in the PNW where a boat capsized and three people went into the water. A front came in fast and hard causing them to go over. 2 were recovered. Sadly, one was not. His body was found 24 hours later.

It's got me thinking about PLB's. While we race and cruise, I'm wondering about the response time with ACR ResQLink, or others. I've spoken with the ACR company who reports anywhere from 2 mins to 20 mins depending on location. In the PNW, every minute matters.

Ideally, the perfect device would be activated quickly (that means it should be small and located in an accessible area of the lifevest). The location accuracy is equally important.

We don't plan to fall off our boat but I'm stunned to lose a fellow sailor and want to prevent a future loss. Any advice out there fellow sailors?
 

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Our crew on watch wear personal AIS transponders. When activated they ring an alarm on the chart plotter and the plotter even 'asks' if we want the autopilot to go straight to the MOB.

We tested them and they have a range of about 3 miles. Weakness is that they are not automatic and must be manually activated.

Lifejackets and tethers are mandatory at night and anytime the skipper calls for them. One crew member wears his all the time.

We do not have personal EPIRBS.

All new crew members get 4 hours of MOB drills.

SafeLink R10
 

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the pointy end is the bow
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I looked at the personal AIS responders a couple of years ago at the boat show and thought they were a great idea. There's a device marketed to SCUBA divers even better IMO. It's called Nautilus Lifeline. It's a VHF radio with personal AIS in a small waterproof case. We have them on the work boat for dive operations. It's on the list for the wife and I on board Nikko.

https://www.divegearexpress.com/tools/lifeline.shtml?gclid=CPLgl624z8ECFQqEfgodUxQAcA
 

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landofrainandgray
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies- those nautilus devices look like what I have in mind. I'd like to see some reviews.

I'm surprised that there aren't more simple, clip-on, affordable tags to quickly locate someone, such as on an app onboard. I just saw an ad for a device to put on your keyring to locate your keys.
 

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I looked at the personal AIS responders a couple of years ago at the boat show and thought they were a great idea. There's a device marketed to SCUBA divers even better IMO. It's called Nautilus Lifeline. It's a VHF radio with personal AIS in a small waterproof case. We have them on the work boat for dive operations. It's on the list for the wife and I on board Nikko.

https://www.divegearexpress.com/tools/lifeline.shtml?gclid=CPLgl624z8ECFQqEfgodUxQAcA
That device appears to use DSC, not AIS. So it's a personal VHF with DSC distress calling.
 

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I have a PLB that I use when I am within 150 miles (GMDSS area 2).

I think the AIS system is a better choice as the boat, off of which you just fell is close by. They are more expensive.
 
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I have an ACR ResQLink PLB that I keep on the PFD/Harness when I am sailing solo. Not much point in AIS if no one else is aboard.

I have also thought about a handheld VHF but there's only so much stuff you can attach to a PFD without starting to feel like its always in the way.

It would be great if someone could combine a PLB and VHF in one small product.
 

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Closet Powerboater
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The PLB is nice because satellites can tell someone at a rescue center on the east coast where you are, anywhere in the world.

Personally I'd prefer a waterproof handheld VHF with or without DSC and GPS. Especially for our local waters, the coast guard will always be able to hear you from their towers and they have a history of taking verbal "MAYDAY" calls much more seriously than DSC or PLB alerts. This is likely due to all the false alarms.

Also, you really want to be able to talk to your own rescuers and the boats nearby, which the VHF allows you to do. It's extremely difficult to locate a bobbing head in the sea, but that same bobbing head can easily locate the boat and direct the boat to them.

If I went overboard in a PNW race, I'd want a VHF with DSC, GPS and AIS. Such a thing doesn't exist, but the scuba VHF radio is about as good as you're going to get. There are also plenty of waterproof offerings from ICOM and Standard Horizon.

Which race did this happen during??

MedSailor
 

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Rocket Scientist
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My wife got me the Standard Horizon HX851 handheld VHF with integrated GPS and DSC specifically for this purpose. I registered the MMSI number in my name instead of my boat's name since I also take it with me when I'm racing on other folks' boats up and down the Chesapeake.
 

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landofrainandgray
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
@MedSailor- here's the link to the race:sailboat racing death

@CapnRuss-I have that handheld but it's bulky. I'd like a small device with GPS and one button emergency, and night led strobe. The criticism of the Nautilus device is that it's not usable at night.

Thanks for all the ideas--keep them coming if you have them.
 

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landofrainandgray
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Just for clarification: I'm not suggesting this device would have saved this man's life, but it's got me thinking about safety in general and for me, what I take on the water here may make a (small or big?) difference.
 

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Closet Powerboater
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@MedSailor- here's the link to the race:sailboat racing death

@CapnRuss-I have that handheld but it's bulky. I'd like a small device with GPS and one button emergency, and night led strobe. The criticism of the Nautilus device is that it's not usable at night.

Thanks for all the ideas--keep them coming if you have them.
Thanks for the link. So sad...

If you like small push button options with a strobe, and you do like the PLB option this one might be for you. I'd caution you though to research the antenna. Mcmurdo has another PLB that has an exposed antenna that looks like this one that apparently doesn't work when in the water. A good reminder that PLBs are not only designed for us boaters.
OceanSignal rescueME PLB w/ GPS
Ea4Vo1gISQY[/MEDIA]

MedSailor
 

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After reading a post on SA from the skipper of the boat referred to by the OP here, the problem in this situation wasn't in finding the MOB, it was in getting him aboard quickly. Several boats responded to the capsize & turtling of the distressed vessel and saved two of the three aboard. According to the skipper, the crew member who was lost stuck with the boat until it sank, but was not wearing a life jacket. The cold water must have gotten to him quickly, and he drowned before he could be helped. The Coast Guard suggests having life jackets readily available. We need to put them on more.
 

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landofrainandgray
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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
@paul- yes, we wear and require PFD's on our boat. My question wasn't a judgement on the fatality that occurred, rather it had me consider other scenarios where locating someone might be aided by current technology which I am not [presently] familiar with. Just trying to reexamine and beef up our own safety protocol.

There have been some great suggestions made and I appreciate it!
 

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Hey,

When I race on OPB (Other People's Boats) I wear an inflatable and carry the HX851. If the weather is bad and / or I'm off shore, I also carry my SPOT tracker too.

I figure if I can float, communicate, and broadcast my position, I'm pretty likely to make it home.

Barry

My wife got me the Standard Horizon HX851 handheld VHF with integrated GPS and DSC specifically for this purpose. I registered the MMSI number in my name instead of my boat's name since I also take it with me when I'm racing on other folks' boats up and down the Chesapeake.
 

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I carry a belt attached McMurdo Fastfind Plus PLB. If I have to leave the boat for a life raft or overboard, it is always with me. A permanently attached VHF DSC will also go down with my boat if it sinks (God forbid). Also, my ditch box has my handheld ICOM M88 and spare batteries.
 

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landofrainandgray
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105 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Great products listed! Looking at the McMurdo or ACR Aqualink. The AIS alternative that Jackdale recommended makes sense if you have a crew that can pick you up with the boat you came off of, but I'm surprised at the cost of all the equipment needed, a big deterrent for most sailors. The initial equipment comes with 2 trackers. For a crew of 6, we'd be looking at close to 3-4K. But, in the interest of being self-sufficient, it may be an expense that is justifiable. Different angles to consider.
 

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Closet Powerboater
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I've seen this system on a few boats that have come over from France but can't comment on how well it functions. Raymarine LifeTag
In the case of the boat sinking the integrated system would be of little use...
Jacklines and tethers can be used to prevent many MOB situations, but in this case, it wouldn't have helped, and in the case of the skipper, it may have even drowned him.

Another important point was raised is the inability of rescue boats to effectively get someone aboard. Make sure you, and your friends have all the gear/training/practice to be effective rescuers yourself!

MedSailor
 
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