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Old 15-11-2013, 21:45   #31
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"The device I would really like to have for my life jacket is a very compact (size of my PLB, with telescoping antenna and long-life batteries) VHF radio with DSC." ==> Perhaps a Standard Horizon HX-850S would come close? Waterproof, floats, flashes; probably a bit larger than you want though (because if floats).

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Old 15-11-2013, 22:25   #32
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I've got the Standard Horizon HX851 in my hand right now, and I think it is too big to carry 24/7. Something about half that size would fit inside my PFD.

The problem with these radios is that they don't automatically turn on. You need to press the "on" button, then wait for the GPS to lock in before your DSC message sends your position (of course you could still yell for help before the GPS warms up). The battery life is too short to let you keep the radio powered-up continuously.

But, "the perfect is the enemy of the good". If we wait for the perfect solution, we'll be waiting a long time. On my last big passage I crammed all this stuff into our auto-inflate PFDs: PLB, AIS SART, flashlight, laser flare, whistle, strobe light. All that was missing was a VHF, which could be the most important item. The downside was that the PFD was getting a bit heavy. We wore them at all times when topsides and nobody complained, but I would prefer a simpler and lighter solution. You might say that this was overkill, and I might agree with you, but we were sailing across an ocean for more than two weeks. Losing someone overboard, especially at night, would have been a very big deal.

Paul Elliott, S/V VALIS - Pacific Seacraft 44 #16 - Friday Harbor, WA
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Old 14-12-2013, 09:33   #33
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An update on the HX851: Beware, after a year's use, the battery now lasts less than 3 hours on standby. It won't get through an entire watch. So if, like me, you planned to use it as a device to be worn on night watches so a MOB can relay his coordinates back to the boat, the short battery life will leave you with a nagging worry. Apparently realizing they had a problem, SH now puts a longer-lived battery in the radio, but won't provide it to buyers of the weaker battery. They offered for me to ship mine back at my expense so they could "test" it, but doing that while on the go in Central America would be far too costly and troublesome. So if you planned to use it this way, be sure to get the better battery. For me, I will use my ICOM M92D, which lasts much longer, or a less bulky, non-GPS handheld and hope the MOB can see the boat's lights.

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