I've been pondering choice of MOB
devices for our family
cruising and would appreciate feedback and thoughts. We crossed the Pacific in 2011 and are heading out again long term cruising
in 4 months or so.
We still rely on jacklines
and harnesses to keep us aboard, but if it's a nice day we often don't clip in or wear the harness. Somebody might be in the cockpit
and somebody else may be inside reading a book or making lunch. We're a catamaran
so motion is generally less and heeling isn't an issue. In other words I feel less likely to fall overboard
on our boat than sailing on previous monohulls.
But we still approach walking around as "if I go for swim I will probably die".
Here's the choices as I see them:
1) MOB Alarm
. You wear a device that talks to the base station. It polls the device and if the device doesn't reply (out of range or in water) the Alarm
sounds. But doesn't give any indication of where
the MOB is located. Activates automatically (MOB doesn't have to do anything)
I think these have been superseded by better options.
Beacon. A new choice in the marketplace.
The MOB activates this once they hit the water
. It sends a AIS distress
alert out. Your AIS receiver sounds an alarm, and if it's got the right software
, the AIS target shows up as a different symbol (circle with an + in the middle). Our Standard Horizon GX2100 VHF
apparently will sound the alarm but the target will only show up as a standard AIS target due to old software
. Helpful for the crew left on board because they have a target to steer towards. Probably we would only get 1 and the person on watch would have it worn in a belt pack with a few flares and small waterproof light when changing watches. If both of us are on deck
it's unlikely that a MOB will occur and the 2nd person left aboard will not notice so I'm only thinking 1.
About $300 each
3) waterproof VHF
with GPS/DSC. Another idea to find the person. Again, the MOB activates it when they hit the water
. The MOB pushes the DSC
"Distress" Button and the VHF with DSC
on the boat alarms with a DSC distress
call. Our VHF gives the Lat/Long of the distressed person but doesn't give you a steer to waypoint until you do a few button presses but not too difficult.
If the chart plotter is on, it will also see the Distressed DSC person as a target (OpenCPN does this apparently). The MOB can give directions to the boat as the boat gets closer and discuss how to be picked up and steer them the last 100 m... Heck if the MOB acts quickly they can drawl "honey I'm about 1/4 mile astern, can you come and pick me up...."
4) 406 MHz PLB - forget about it. By the time a rescue
agency gets a fix the MOB has been in the water for some time and areas we are in there won't be a local coast guard to find them for any time.
In all these scenarios we assume we are far away from civilization, cruising in isolated areas or in countries where any CG is barely there if at all. Our PFDs are manually inflating so we assume if we are knocked unconcious, we're probably gone anyway so manual activation of a device is OK with us.
I am strongly leaning toward #3 as I can use the VHF on a regular basis to test it. And another waterproof VHF is a good idea if we ever have to abandon ship. The person on watch would be wearing it so it's likely to come along in an abandon ship situation.
I'd appreciate your thoughts.