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Old 29-04-2018, 05:27   #1
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Electric Flares

The pyrotechnic flares on Sequoyah are about to expire. I'm considering ordering one of the electric (electronic) LED distress signals instead of more big matchsticks, which I consider hazardous. Has anyone had experience with the LED devices? Opinions on them as either supplements or replacements for the pyros?
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Old 29-04-2018, 05:48   #2
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Re: Electric Flares

I purchased 1 about 3 years ago fo the same reasons you mention. Every year I replace the 3-c cell batteries. I have kept the old flares on board. The thing is very brite...blasts out a continous SOS. Never needed it, but does seem to be a better answere than the 3 second flares. Bob
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Old 29-04-2018, 05:49   #3
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Re: Electric Flares

I purchased a couple, mainly because they fulfill USCG requirements and never expire. However if I really needed to signal for help I would still want to have SOLAS parachute flares and/or regular launching flares. Hard to beat a few hundred feet of altitude for long range visibility.
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Old 29-04-2018, 05:53   #4
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Re: Electric Flares

We purchased one of the Weems & Plath LED ‘flares’ at the boat show in Annapolis last year. Since it legally meets the USCG requirement for conventional flare replacement, it seems like a no-brainer. We have not needed to use it in an emergency but we’ve never had to use the conventional type of flares in an emergency either. In my way of thinking, modern marine electronics eg AIS and GPS, are much more likely to get you help quickly than a flashing light or old fashioned flare.

Fair winds and calm seas.
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Old 29-04-2018, 06:07   #5
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Re: Electric Flares

Wish there were a way to hang and store it where it was secure and easily available. Such as a fire extinguisher.
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Old 30-04-2018, 13:01   #6
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Re: Electric Flares

It arrived today. It's the Weems & Plath "SOS" signaler. Appears exactly as advertised, came with a plastic distress pennant to use in daylight.

First impression: good. Very good, in fact. It's bright enough to shock your eyes and flashes in the Morse SOS pattern. They say it'll run for at least 60 hours, which beats a 3-minute flare by just a tad. You can haul it up the mast, too, not the best of ideas with pyros.

There's a flotation collar on it that just pulls off when unneeded. The handle is sized to fit in a rod holder if you want. It has two bungee-like straps for fastening to anything handy. The Coast Guard citation is printed on its body, I suppose for the convenience of Coasties who might otherwise doubt it's regulation.

I think I'll not buy any more of the big matchsticks.
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Old 30-04-2018, 13:06   #7
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Re: Electric Flares

Assuming say a five year life for the LED device, how do the economics look?
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Old 30-04-2018, 13:19   #8
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Re: Electric Flares

Not bad. I paid $90 for it, plus 3 C batteries ($5). Replacing the batteries annually gives an annual cost of $23, ignoring time value.

An Orion 12-guage kit is $70 at West Marine, with more flares $35 every three years, for an annual of $21 over that same time, declining after if the pistol holds up.

Orion hand flares are $35 every three years, or $12 a year.

I'll be happy to pay the premium, assuming the timeline is good, to avoid stowing pyrotechnics on my boat.
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Old 30-04-2018, 13:59   #9
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Re: Electric Flares

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Originally Posted by Attikos View Post
Not bad. I paid $90 for it, plus 3 C batteries ($5). Replacing the batteries annually gives an annual cost of $23, ignoring time value.



An Orion 12-guage kit is $70 at West Marine, with more flares $35 every three years, for an annual of $21 over that same time, declining after if the pistol holds up.



Orion hand flares are $35 every three years, or $12 a year.



I'll be happy to pay the premium, assuming the timeline is good, to avoid stowing pyrotechnics on my boat.


You can get 3 Duracell Lithium "C" for $8 - the shelf life should extend greatly, saving a pretty penny!
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Old 01-05-2018, 04:16   #10
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Re: Electric Flares

It seems the electric flare’s primary purpose is to keep the USCG off our back.

When Ocean sailing far from support, SOLAS seems a better solution.
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Old 01-05-2018, 04:25   #11
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Re: Electric Flares

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It seems the electric flare’s primary purpose is to keep the USCG off our back.

When Ocean sailing far from support, SOLAS seems a better solution.
Absolutely. Keep the electric flare on hand to comply with regulations but when going offshore I'll gladly buy new flares.

The LED is very bright but you're using it at deck level which will severely limit the range that it could be seen by another boat.
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Old 01-05-2018, 04:33   #12
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Re: Electric Flares

With distress signalling, there are two aspects to consider, both important. One is compliance. The other is utility in an actual emergency.

For compliance, I have the electronic flare mentioned upthread.

Now, of all the stories, all the rescues, all the losses, never have I heard of an event where a visual distress signal was, or could have been, the sine qua non of salvation. Because this is 2018. We have radios and GPS, as does any likely rescuer. And the radios are handheld and run on their own batteries.

There are plenty of stories out there where someone tried to use a flare or smoke to get attention and couldn't. They have simply never been that effective. As recently as 1970, when good marine radios weren't widely installed on small craft, it was all we had.
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Old 01-05-2018, 04:38   #13
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Re: Electric Flares

Cavalier sez: "You can get 3 Duracell Lithium "C" for $8 - the shelf life should extend greatly, saving a pretty penny!"

The manufacturer discourages using lithium C's. AA lithiums with a C adapter would work, one trial reports.

captstu sez: "When Ocean sailing far from support, SOLAS seems a better solution."

I see your point. With my little coastal cruiser, I don't feel much concern over that, though, and hope I never have occasion to learn otherwise. Zealous regulations, exorbitant fines & punishments, and the enforcers of it all pose a greater clear and present danger to my immediate interests, or so it goes in the contrarian view of this antiestablishmentarian Southern boy. No offense intended to those of a different persuasion.

And I really hate having pyrotechnics aboard.
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Old 01-05-2018, 05:06   #14
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Re: Electric Flares

Electric flare is battery powered. If you want higher visibility, just raise it on a spare halyard, tying off top and bottom to control it. Should work okay.
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Old 01-05-2018, 11:01   #15
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Re: Electric Flares

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Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
With distress signalling, there are two aspects to consider, both important. One is compliance. The other is utility in an actual emergency.

For compliance, I have the electronic flare mentioned upthread.

Now, of all the stories, all the rescues, all the losses, never have I heard of an event where a visual distress signal was, or could have been, the sine qua non of salvation. Because this is 2018. We have radios and GPS, as does any likely rescuer. And the radios are handheld and run on their own batteries.

There are plenty of stories out there where someone tried to use a flare or smoke to get attention and couldn't. They have simply never been that effective. As recently as 1970, when good marine radios weren't widely installed on small craft, it was all we had.
Raises the question of why our legislators and regulators don't update the laws, rules and regulations to achieve a balance ie. why not just frame the law as "an effective means of signalling distress".
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