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Discussion Starter #1
I am looking at a low(ish) cost messaging and/or PLB and put some thoughts in my blog.
Spot vs DeLorme InReach vs ACR ResQLink | Sailing With Kids
I'd love to hear of sailor's experiences with:
  • SPOT GPS Satellite Messenger
  • DELORME inReach 2-way Satellite Communication
  • ACR Electronics ResQLink+ Personal Locator Beacon
 

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S/V Lilo, Islander 32
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249 Posts
I recently bought an inReach, but haven't used it yet, so I can't give to many details. There are a few things I noted that are different then what's in the article you sited on you blog (could just be things have changed since it was written, or more detail then they went into)

The inReach can receive text messages as well, although it requires an android or ios device to do so. I liked that ability, good to know someone is listening to your call for help, get an ETA, etc. We also think it will be useful on an upcoming year long trip, to connect with several friends and family who are hoping to meet us on the way. Spot is cheaper to buy and for the service plan, but doesn't have any receiving abilities (yet, I'm sure they will soon).

With that receiving ability, the inReach can also give you a confirmation that your message was sent, the Spot can not. It just fires it off towards the sky and hopes it makes it. InReach will keep trying until the satellite responds confirming the message was received. Note, however, this is only a confirmation the message made it to the satellite, not to the recipient but that is usually the biggest failure. I know several hikers while spots who have issues when they send the "I'm OK" messages to their wives, they don't always go through and they don't know.

Hopefully next year I'll be able to tell you how it worked out on our trip :)
 

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Practical Sailor had an article on this recently.
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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We had a Spot and it worked for almost all of the Pacific and the Indian. Not a replacement for an EPIRB but useful. Not going to dump the Spot now, but it would be nice to have the ability to exchange text messages, not particularly for emergencies but just for routine, happy birthdays and the like.
 

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There is a thread on CF titled "missing skipper" you probably ought to read before buying a tracker as an emergency beacon. SPOT has all sorts of holes. I don't see PLB's and trackers as interchangable in any way. That's not to say I don't understand budgets and need to choose between apples and oranges -- just recognize that you are doing so.

Beyond that Delorme is on Iridium whereas SPOT is on the Globalstar network. You can research the coverage and reliability of each. I wouldn't want to count on either one in a life raft or, worse, in the water. I'd want a PLB or an EPIRB.
 

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SV Skalliwag #141
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I have an InReach. I used it on a trip from Beaufort to St. Martin. It was very cool being able to stay in contact with the wife by texting. I was also able to post my track to Facebook for friends to share. Only negative is it eats batteries for breakfast-lunch and dinner.
 

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I used an inreach on a trip to Bermuda last summer. It was a royal pain to set up, (took hours to get it to talk to my phone) had endless problems communication with my phone and went trough batteries like they were going out of style. You had to keep the phone charged to be able to do anything another pain. I complained so much when I got back they sent me a new unit with a 12 volt adapter but I decided to sell it rather than mess with it again. I had better communications and email with my ssb so will use that in the future and it is free. Have not used spot so cannot comment on that. A tracker is not a replacement for an EPIRB or PLB if given a choice I would get the PLB in fact on my trip I had 2 EPIRB and each crew had a PLB (3 total).
You can read an article I wrote for Southwinds magazine on EBIRPs here:Project Boat Zen - Boat and Yacht Repair and Restoration
 

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I'm in my 4th year of using SPOT every time we move our boat. I've loved it - I wouldn't rely on it like an EPIRB (which we also carry) but it's great to bring family and friends along for the journey. I often get email from people when they see us approaching - I've made our track available to everyone:

http://tinyurl.com/ActiveCaptainSPOT

There are some odd things about SPOT:

- It only saves the last 50 points
- All points time out after 7 days
- The capabilities of their viewer are fairly limited
- It is very easy to forget to turn it off thereby eating into the 50 point

Using it every time we move (we're out and doing coastal cruising for 9+ months every year) it goes through one set of batteries per year. I'm quite happy with that.

All in all, I've learned a lot from it. I think there are some incredible capabilities and I fully intend to continue using it in the same way ongoing.

I think the DeLorme product is mostly equivalent.
 

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美国华人, 帆船
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After reading the recent published book "A storm too soon", I have a better understand how unreliable of EPIRB is. The system is too behind time and needs severe update with the newer technology and more user friendly. Having said that, I will still carry one when go off-shore sailing. But I carry other alternative.

I have a SPOT II. It has been performed flawlessly. My wife loves it, because she knows exactly where I am and don't have to ask when I will be home. I just make sure I turn off my SPOT when I go to the Strip club.... hahaha. :) The reason I like my SPOT is it let me update the SOS message as often as I like. When I push the button, if the message is received properly, the SPOT tells me. I don't need to guess. The battery is user installed. I can have fresh battery every time I go off shore. It is just amazing how the little thing work to well.

Last year, while attending to "Safety at Sea" training , I asked the exCG commander, he said CG treats SPOT SOS in equal footing as EPIRB SOS.

Yes, SPOT has some areas that they do not cover, but my sailing area is perfectly fine. Within this last last year, there are a few come out of the market, I hope the competition will offer us better product and less cost.

But again it is always YMMV.
 

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the pointy end is the bow
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So we should be getting our InReach any day now. I was looking at the SPOT plans and reading some of the reviews when one of the folks commenting on SPOT said he dumped his and went with InReach. I'd never heard of InReach. Did some reading and decided that was best for us for now. We'll activate it for a month each summer when we head north and only pay that month's service instead of a whole year like SPOT. We'll be able to communicate both ways and get confirmation that any calls for assistance actually got out. We're taking the grand daughter up with us this year, so it will be a nice little way for her parents to see all the new places we'll be spoiling her.
 

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Freedom 39
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A vessel I was on crossing the Pacific had the InReach device on it and it worked flawlessly. The only complaint the owner had was that it was hard on batteries. I know nothing about the options but if one could be hardwired it might be a good option. Not knowing what exactly "hard on batteries" means either. Not very scientific.
 

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Old as Dirt!
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We bought a first generation SPOT in 2008 so we could follow out daughter's track/sail from St. Martine to Trini. It worked reasonably well (when she remembered to turn it on in "track" mode) and we have used it ever since to keep track of our own travels and to allow friends and family to see where we are and to receive "All's a Delight aboard HyLyte" messages from time to time. We've been pretty pleased with the device and the service is certainly inexpensive enough. (The SPOT Adventures site allows one to keep tracks of trips for as long as one might care to.) Note, however, we would certainly not treat it as a substitute for a GPEIRB (of which we have 3 aboard).
 

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We had a Spot and it worked for almost all of the Pacific and the Indian. Not a replacement for an EPIRB but useful. Not going to dump the Spot now, but it would be nice to have the ability to exchange text messages, not particularly for emergencies but just for routine, happy birthdays and the like.
Been using SPOT since their initial offering.
The 'new' Generation3 SPOT does have a function of sending text messages that you upload from your computer/iPad, etc.; also, allows adjustable hourly, etc. tracking and reporting; also automatically shuts down when not 'moving' so you dont 'waste' the batteries.

Also and applied to all SPOT offerings, the data is or can be stored by establishing a (free) SPOT 'adventure' account into which you can upload from the base data of approx. 30 days of data production. The downside to this is you need to be 'online' to do so.
Amazon.com: SPOT 3 Satellite GPS Messenger - Orange: GPS & [email protected]@[email protected]@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/[email protected]@[email protected]@51BxCZ0W5vL
 

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I have used the basic spot and have no complaints about it. It keeps everyone up to date on where I am when sailing, I bought it for my trip from Chesapeake Bay to the Keys. I can send the all is well message and people like that. In the end it is really for the peace of mind of others and works really well. Went though a set of batteries after 20 or so days of use with the tracking function, and I probably forgot to turn it off 5-6 times during that.
 

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Chastened
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A nice feature about the Gen III tracker, is the adjustable tracking interval. You can drop breadcrumbs every 2.5 minutes, which is helpful when analyzing your track for "lessons learned", such as after a race.

Not sure if InReach has a similar feature.
 
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