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Old 05-05-2013, 10:08   #1
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Locating survival rafts after sinking

In the last 4 months two french boats which I know about did sink during long cruises.

One was doing her own Vendée Globe and sank south of New Zealand. The skipper was rescued but locating the raft was terribly difficult for the cruise ship that rescued her. They had an EPIRB, of course, but no SART and the guy did spend sometime in the raft.

The last one (a 10m yacht with a crew of 3) disapeared end of April, south west of the Azores on her way back from the Caribbeans to France. The EPIRB did work a few times (probably manual activation) but the raft was not located despite huge efforts. Apparently 2 cargo ships received the message from the MRCC but didn't react.

If you were to put together a list of "rescue items to have in the BIB" what would you put on it, focusing on "being located".
I tried to put something together on my blog.
It includes EPIRB, tracking devices, sat phones, SART and a few others.
Unfortunately it is in ... french but google gives an approximate translation.

Does any one has any experience with SART transponders, high power LEDs torchs or LASER Torchs as used by Pilots?

THANKS FOR ANY IDEAS AND COMMENTS;
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Old 05-05-2013, 10:49   #2
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Re: Locating survival rafts after sinking

I would include a EPIRB and a waterproof VHF handheld radio with a small solar panel for charging--if you can see a ship you can talk to it and direct it to you.
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Old 05-05-2013, 15:18   #3
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Re: Locating survival rafts after sinking

My list includes: the boat EPIRB, my own personal EPIRB, 2 Iridium phones with spare batteries, 2 VHFs with spare batteries , 1 GPS, a SART beacon, the boat tracking beacon, binoculars and a powerful LEDs Torch with batteries, all this in a waterproof container, plus all the usual if I can say (flares etc ... that come with the raft and an additional set) .
There is a handheld water maker too but that's not for locating the raft.
I forgot the solar panels ... Thanks for this one.
I am questioning the Laser Torch and I am surprised that, apparently, no one ever used or reported the use of helium filled balloons as they would be easy to spot ...
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Old 05-05-2013, 15:45   #4
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Re: Locating survival rafts after sinking

Don't forget a signal mirror. I also like the idea of the rescue laser flares that are available now but I've never had a chance to play with one.
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Old 05-05-2013, 15:55   #5
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Re: Locating survival rafts after sinking

We also carry a couple of parafoil kites.
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Old 05-05-2013, 16:25   #6
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Re: Locating survival rafts after sinking

In several rescues I have read of the thing that really worked was a handheld spotlight or even a flashlight at night to direct the searchers in for that last bit. So, I suggest bringing the rechargeable flashlight with you. By the way, if at all possible, stay with the big boat--it is a lot easier to spot visually and on radar, and chances are very good that despite your best laid plans you will lose some or all of your equipment either trying to get into the liferaft or during subsequent capsizes and immersions.
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Old 05-05-2013, 16:34   #7
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Re: Locating survival rafts after sinking

Anyone's who's worn night vision goggles knows what a strobe looks like. It really stands out especially when you're looking at something like the ocean or an open field. Did either of these guys have a VHF? I'm a little leery of saying everyone should have $10K worth of hardware in their ditch bags considering that $10K is some people's entire budget.

Packing up the handheld with some spare batteries and a gps receiver with the same sounds pretty easy. A few strobes with batteries and you're only out a few hundred bucks.
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Old 05-05-2013, 17:01   #8
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Re: Locating survival rafts after sinking

Quote:
Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
Anyone's who's worn night vision goggles knows what a strobe looks like. It really stands out especially when you're looking at something like the ocean or an open field. Did either of these guys have a VHF? I'm a little leery of saying everyone should have $10K worth of hardware in their ditch bags considering that $10K is some people's entire budget.

Packing up the handheld with some spare batteries and a gps receiver with the same sounds pretty easy. A few strobes with batteries and you're only out a few hundred bucks.
A DSC handheld VHF is even much better for this purpose. Can't think of any better way to alert vessels within a few miles of you, day or night. I keep a battery tray for mine, and a ziplock full of lithium batteries for it, in my grab bag. I do also carry strobes and flares, but plan "A" on my boat for near-range distress signaling from the life raft would be the DSC handheld.
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Old 05-05-2013, 17:06   #9
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Re: Locating survival rafts after sinking

5 pieces of equipment will do the job 99.99% of the time:

gps enabled EPIRB for 'long range' detection and for homing-in by SAR assets.

Iridium phone for talking 'long range' to SAR assets and explaining your situation

Mini-AIS for 'short range' homing by non - SAR assets (eg ships who cannot home-in on eprib signals)

DSC Handheld vhf for 'short range' talking to both SAR & Non-SAR

Chem light stick and/or strobe for extra night visibility

After being involved directly with several and studying many other incidents, what has struck me is how useful two way communication is with the SAR folks. Incidents with initial 2-way coms (iridium or much more rarely these days ssb) have a much higher (double) success rate than those with only one-way coms.
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Old 05-05-2013, 17:31   #10
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Re: Locating survival rafts after sinking

One other note: What are you going to store all of this stuff in?

Ziplock bags are far from waterproof (I know this first hand).

Some stuff will fit in an Otter Box, which is rated to a depth of 100 ft. Pelican cases aren't. Dry bags are also an option.

I'd hate to have the unthinkable happen only to find that your electronics and batteries are soaked in salt water.
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Old 05-05-2013, 17:31   #11
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Re: Locating survival rafts after sinking

Quote:
Originally Posted by hanami2 View Post
---"rescue items to have in the BIB" ---
What's a BIB?
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Old 05-05-2013, 17:53   #12
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Re: Locating survival rafts after sinking

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rescue laser flares
This is discussed on another thread . . . but just FYI, the USCG is NOT wild about the lasers. Their official policy currently is that if a helo is hit by a laser the pilot should abort the mission and return to base and is grounded until an eye exam. Unofficially the pilot has some discretion, but MUST abort if he senses any vision impairment at all (spots or dazzle, etc.).

With NVG gear they can find you just fine without a laser, if you watch the video of the USCG Helo's rescues in the middle of the night, the vision quality is astonishing. The USCG folks I have talked to would much prefer a simple chem light stick to anything more fancy.

Even ships, which don't have as good NVG gear, typically have quite excellent radar, and if they know they are looking for a small target can usually find it even with significant sea clutter.
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Old 06-05-2013, 06:23   #13
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Re: Locating survival rafts after sinking

Rather than a solar panel for keeping things charged, I think I would prefer something like this...
Amazon.com: Freeplay FreeCharge 12V Black- AK060: Home Improvement

(Though I don't think this particular model is waterproof, which I would want it to be.)
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Old 07-05-2013, 02:45   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FSMike View Post

What's a BIB?
A BIB is a word sometime used by UK folks for survival raft. I suppose it is an acronym but don't know what it stands for.
Won't use it any more.
Thx
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Old 07-05-2013, 02:50   #15
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[QUOTE="estarzinger;1228150"]

This is discussed on another thread . . . but just FYI, the USCG is NOT wild about the lasers. Their official policy currently is that if a helo is hit by a laser the pilot should abort the mission and return to base and is grounded until an eye exam. Unofficially the pilot has some discretion, but MUST abort if he senses any vision impairment at all (spots or dazzle, etc.).

Same in france as some teenager had fun close to Roissy airport aiming at landing planes and the pilots sometime could not land or did ssome 'touch and go' which is bad with commercial planes.
They located the guy and became very strict with lasers.
Hence it might be something you carry but use only if nothing else works in the conditions you are in: rain, fog, big seas, a circling plane or helicopter that can't find you.
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