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Old 11-10-2015, 16:21   #1
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Best PLB to buy for offshore racing.

Hi Everyone,

I did a search on cruisersforum and the internet that was not very helpful so thought I would put it to the collective minds of Cruisersforum. The technology is constantly changing also.

Skipper has told me I need to buy the thing pronto and register it etc before this Saturdays race.

Not looking for bells and whistles. Must be waterproof, probably should float and have a GPS fitted. Looking for value as I am not too flush with $$$. Size is important to me and in this case smaller is better. Battery quality, capacity and efficiency?

Thanks,
Anthony.
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Old 11-10-2015, 17:45   #2
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Re: Best PLB to buy for offshore racing.

ACR ResQLink+. Meets all your criteria, 5 year battery life, no frills. It's small enough so I can keep it attached to my SOSpenders life jacket.
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Old 11-10-2015, 20:44   #3
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Re: Best PLB to buy for offshore racing.

I have been planning on getting the RescueMe PLB its about $300 and is the smallest plb on the market.
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Old 11-10-2015, 20:45   #4
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Re: Best PLB to buy for offshore racing.

I stick with ACR.
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Old 11-10-2015, 21:02   #5
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Re: Best PLB to buy for offshore racing.

+1 on Ocean Signal RescueMe. Under $300 in US. It really is small enough to keep on your person all the time. Seven year battery. Practice how to unroll the antenna and turn it on. Would be hard to figure out in the dark.

PLB1 - Ocean Signal

Ocean Signal also makes a tiny AIS transmitter that might be a better idea than a PLB if this is just for man overboard.

Finally, if the boat already has an EPIRB and the skipper says OK, consider a Delorme InReach for the same price. It gives you two way satellite communications to a 24/7 emergency center or SMS messages to any phone or email. Useful for just staying in-touch with friends when out of cell phone range on land or water. Also gives you a way to communicate with the CG in situations that don't warrant a Mayday like overdue or a medical emergency. You can turn the $15 monthly charge off when you aren't traveling. I always carry mine when offshore even on other people's boats.

DeLorme inReach - Two-way satellite text messaging, tracking and SOS anywhere in the world
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Old 12-10-2015, 04:26   #6
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Re: Best PLB to buy for offshore racing.

We went with McMurdo Smartfind S20, which is an AIS beacon. If the boat your racing on has AIS, they can see you on their chart plotter and pick you up easy.

If you'd rather wait for the USCG helo or the boat doesn't have AIS, go with the mini-EPIRB PLB
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Old 12-10-2015, 04:58   #7
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Re: Best PLB to buy for offshore racing.

FWIW, all Aussie PLBs float (by regulation) unlike some other countries requirements.

The Ocean Sea PLB1 is the smallest AFAIK but the KTI SA2G is also pretty small and AFAIK, somewhat cheaper than the Ocean Sea unit. Both are GPS embedded.
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Old 12-10-2015, 10:08   #8
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Re: Best PLB to buy for offshore racing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by giant View Post
Hi Everyone,

I did a search on cruisersforum and the internet that was not very helpful so thought I would put it to the collective minds of Cruisersforum. The technology is constantly changing also.

Skipper has told me I need to buy the thing pronto and register it etc before this Saturdays race.

Not looking for bells and whistles. Must be waterproof, probably should float and have a GPS fitted. Looking for value as I am not too flush with $$$. Size is important to me and in this case smaller is better. Battery quality, capacity and efficiency?

Thanks,
Anthony.
Anthony,

I am assuming you are only asking about a PLB [like a personal EPIRB] per your subject line and not lumping other MOB signaling devices under that acronym. [e.g., AIS/DSC signaling devices.]

Therefore I will discuss our PLB choices [which we also carry on land expeditions] and I will also mention our MOB alert choices as well just in case that is of interest.

PLBs:

We started with ACR ResQLink+ [floating] units on our offshore harness/vests. They are very sturdy [i.e., it would be difficult to break it under normal circumstances...] and are easily deployed [i.e., they don't require much thinking if one is in a jumbled state-of-mind or injured...] These have a 5 year battery life.

We find we need to keep the ResQLink+ in a tight fitting neoprene case because it is easy to accidentally deploy the antenna. This adds one more step to the activate process: remove from case first.

We had one of our ResQLink+ PLBs vacuum packed with the liferaft and replaced it with a PLB1 from Ocean Signal because I liked the smaller form factor and the 7 year battery life.

The trade-off for the PLB1 is it must be 'wearing' the included neoprene case in order to float, and one must remember to manually deploy the antenna. [simple- like pulling out an 8 inch measuring tape...] The point being you must remember to do so or the signal won't have an antenna to transmit from...

The PLB1 does not need to be removed from the case to deploy the antenna.

Bottom line: If I didn't have a PLB I would buy the PLB1 for the form factor [when attached to our offshore harness/vest combos. We use an add-on Spinlock pocket attached to our Spinlock vests to hold the PLB.]

You can't go wrong either way from my experience.

I should mention our PLBs are for worse case scenarios in a MOB situation. [e.g., You wake up floating in the water and there is no other vessel in site...]

Other devices we carry on our offshore vests:

In addition to a PLB we also each have a portable DSC VHF Radio and auto-activating AIS MOB transmitter attached to our vests. Everything is waterproof and has built-in GPS.

Philosophically, we don't intend to have batteries replaced in our PLBs or AIS transmitters when they expire. We think of these items as disposable technology that will be replaced by the next, smaller, better, device(s) with more features in one form factor. [e.g., VHF DSC and AIS is already available in one unit in the MOB1 from Ocean Signal, and without hesitation this is what I would buy today to replace our AIS only MOB alert devices.]

Therefore to be fully covered, today I would buy these two items: a PLB and a DSC/AIS MOB alert device.

For us a VHF radio is also a requirement as communication with the rescue party is typically lacking, and can be very useful if conditions permit. It is also a 3rd MOB alert device...

Have fun on your adventure, and be safe!

Cheers!

Bill
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Old 12-10-2015, 17:03   #9
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Re: Best PLB to buy for offshore racing.

I just ordered the McMurdo Smartfind S20. I am hopeful this is the same unit as the Kannad R10?
I have a Vesper Watchmate 850 and a Garmin 741xs as receivers.
I hope this can be attached in some sort of installation to a Mustang PFD?
I also am in the market for a PLB.
Hearing a lot of good things about the Rescuelink+.
If anyone knows much about these units, I would appreciate your opinions.
Sorry for all the acronyms!
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Old 12-10-2015, 17:08   #10
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Re: Best PLB to buy for offshore racing.

Thanks for all the great responses.

PLB 1 looks very attractive because it is small and easily activated, comes in at around $350 (au).

AIS with the PLB would be the best but the McMurdo Smartfind S20 device looks a bit big, and doesn't seem easily obtainable here in Sydney also they are about $450 (au).

I need to buy this thing tomorrow probably in order to get all the paper work done asap.

Any comments on the McMurdo Fastfind 220 PLB (with GPS)?
It is the least expensive retail $279 (au).

Or other sugestions?
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Old 12-10-2015, 17:30   #11
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Re: Best PLB to buy for offshore racing.

Landfall has the Smartfind S20 for $270, and if you buy two you get the second one for half price. Not sure if that helps you outside the US though.

It's not very big, about half as wide as a smartphone and 2-3 times as thick. They have a list of PFDs that they can be setup to automatically activate on their website, but they must be "professionally installed". I didn't find any info on the web when I tried googling it. I ended up putting it in the pocket and tying it to the harness d-ring.

I was a little disappointed at the lack of storage on the mustang pfd with harness. I guess we could sew so more attachment points on, but it only has the one pocket. Not sure what that velcro on the side is for?
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Old 12-10-2015, 19:31   #12
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Re: Best PLB to buy for offshore racing.

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Originally Posted by autumnbreeze27 View Post
Landfall has the Smartfind S20 for $270, and if you buy two you get the second one for half price. Not sure if that helps you outside the US though.

It's not very big, about half as wide as a smartphone and 2-3 times as thick. They have a list of PFDs that they can be setup to automatically activate on their website, but they must be "professionally installed". I didn't find any info on the web when I tried googling it. I ended up putting it in the pocket and tying it to the harness d-ring.

I was a little disappointed at the lack of storage on the mustang pfd with harness. I guess we could sew so more attachment points on, but it only has the one pocket. Not sure what that velcro on the side is for?
Thanks autumnbreeze27 for the information on size and price of the S20 unit.

The Smartfind S20 seems to be the best option with the AIS feature.

Sadly I cannot wait for one to be delivered.
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Old 12-10-2015, 23:51   #13
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Re: Best PLB to buy for offshore racing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by giant View Post
Hi Everyone,

I did a search on cruisersforum and the internet that was not very helpful so thought I would put it to the collective minds of Cruisersforum. The technology is constantly changing also.

Skipper has told me I need to buy the thing pronto and register it etc before this Saturdays race.

Not looking for bells and whistles. Must be waterproof, probably should float and have a GPS fitted. Looking for value as I am not too flush with $$$. Size is important to me and in this case smaller is better. Battery quality, capacity and efficiency?

Thanks,
Anthony.
Hi Anthony, I have been using the Kannad Marine Safe Link Solo for 2 years and it has stood the test thus far. $340 in Australia.
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Old 14-10-2015, 22:49   #14
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Re: Best PLB to buy for offshore racing.

I had the chance to ask a coast guard rescue swimmer this question and his answer was and I quote: "ACR and ACR only" needless to say I bought an ACR
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Old 14-10-2015, 23:02   #15
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Re: Best PLB to buy for offshore racing.

Bought the PLB1 smaller than the ACR, hopefully I will never need it.

Thanks for all the feedback.
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