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Old 05-01-2018, 17:28   #16
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Re: PLB Recommendations

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Originally Posted by redhead View Post
After searching this topic on CF the latest info I could see was from 2013 and I'm almost sure technology has moved on since then...

SO, I am seeking recommendations, damning tirades, pluses, minuses - give me all you've got.

We are initially doing coastal cruising in remote northern areas (upper BC and AK) and then heading south next winter.

As always, thanks.
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The PLBs will be our primary MOB device. One of our closest friends a retired Coasty was asked the question a while ago "If you could only have one MOB device, what would you choose?" Without a seconds hesitation he said "PLB, I want them to find ME, not the boat".
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There's a reason why plbs are so much smaller than Epribs. It's battery life.
If you are referring to an MOB situation, you are much more likely to survive due to an AIS Sart than a PLB. The response time to a PLB will typically be far too long to do an MOB any good - certainly in a remote area away from USCG helicopters. At least with a Sart you have the opportunity for your vessel to rescue you, assuming not single handed, and other vessels within VHF range.
Yes, assuming you are not single handed then what Paul L says carries a lot weight.

Technology has moved on and while I used to believe a PLB was a good (best?) MOB alerter a decade back, I would now prefer AIS / DSC beacon like the MOB1 MOB1 - Ocean Signal

Again it does assume the boat is AIS equipped with a suitable chart plotter and crew who can use it.

The nearest recovery asset will almost always be the one than retrieves the MOB and the nearest asset is almost always the vessel the MOB departed from. Of course, if your crew feel unable to assist, they can still use the ship's EPIRB to raise the alarm.

Using an MOB1 (or similar) alerts any nearby AIS or DCS equipped vessel, it also transmits the GPS position of the MOB. This is typically less than 1 minute.

A PLB only alerts the registered country RCC which has to go though a list of hurdles before arranging a SAR operation usually from the closest land based SAR base. A 20 minute response time would be fast, more likely much more (say 1 to 2 hours).

I reckon if you were to ask your retired Coast mate again and if he was aware of the latest technology, he might have a different answer.
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Old 05-01-2018, 17:37   #17
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Re: PLB Recommendations

We donít have a PLB, but do have AIS beacons and a VHF handheld on our vests.
My plan is if she goes overboard is of course to get her using the AIS, and talk to her on the VHF, if for some reason that doesnít work very quickly, Iím tossing the EPIRB in the water.
We will only be in warm water, but I donít like the odds of a single person in the water with just an inflatable vest and waiting on rescue via EPIRB or PLB.
I have contemplated a PLB and while she isnít stupid, I think maybe that just may be too many gadgets to remember which one does what in an emergency etc.
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Old 05-01-2018, 17:54   #18
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Re: PLB Recommendations

In the past, the first difficulty was locating the position of a MOB and retrieving the MOB. The PLB overcame both problems but with a long time delay.

An AIS / DSC / beacon removes the location problem and the time delay although does nothing for retrieval issues.
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Old 05-01-2018, 19:46   #19
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Re: PLB Recommendations

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I agree. However since our primary waters for the next year or so will be cold northern waters I expect the 24 hour battery life to be more than enough if I go overboard. We have gumbie suits, but most of the time will not have them on, so life expectancy in the water is significantly less than 24 hours.... this is somewhat of a panacea, since in those waters, either the one left on the boat will recover the MOB by visual or the officials will be able to locate the body. We are also ordering life raft and other mega $$ items, so I can choose either EPIRB or PLB - just can't afford both right now. We will have AIS also.
Given the state of relatively low cost technology today, I think you should separate the boat rescue situation from the Mob situation. They really require different tools.
An Eprib will summon aid for emergency events taking place on the boat or liferaft. They offer minimum 48 hrs, giving emergency personnel enough time to find a small raft in a big sea. They do little or nothing for an MOB situation. Even if you fall overboard in front of a Coast Guard station it would be much faster to use the VHF to summons assistance than a Plb.

In an MOB situation finding the Mob as quickly as possible is the key. An MOB at night offshore for a Mom and Pop crew typically means that there will be no recovery. If the Mob had an AIS style Sart, then it is relatively easy to pilot the visible back to the Mob location changing the odds radically. At the same time boats within AIS range are notified and can assist.

An Eprib for the boat and life raft emergencies. An AIS Sart for Mob. A Plb for hikers or perhaps to pack in the liferaft.

If you can only afford one, I'd go with an Eprib. Either way, emphasizing the procedures to stay onboard and have a safely setup boat for crew security comes before all these electronics.
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Old 05-01-2018, 20:14   #20
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Re: PLB Recommendations

Hadn't realized this was for MOB purposes. I use the ACR 2886 AIS/DSC beacon. It's fitted to activate when the lifevest it's attached to inflates. I chose this one because it included DSC and the lifejacket activation system (while a little hokey) seemed reliable. I've also fitted an extra one of these into a "throwable" package of a belt inflatable PFD that can be thrown from the helm and auto inflate when it lands.

I'm also waiting with interest to see more reports of the CrewWatcher. It activates the moment you leave the boat. Evidently, they are working on an improved version that is in "pre-order".
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Old 05-01-2018, 20:35   #21
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Re: PLB Recommendations

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.....j

I'm also waiting with interest to see more reports of the CrewWatcher. It activates the moment you leave the boat. Evidently, they are working on an improved version that is in "pre-order".
The Crew Watcher does not provide the current position of the Mob, so I don't think it is near as good as the AIS Sarts.
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Old 06-01-2018, 13:22   #22
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Re: PLB Recommendations

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Sorry, Redhead, I am short of tirades, but I am happy share what we have chosen to use in our higher latitudes escapades- with links to blog posts [with more links and details] explaining why if you want more details...

I'm going to include PLBs, MOB beacons, and EPIRBs since these often get lumped together under this topic...

Excerpts from these more detailed blog posts: [Which we update as needed...]

For PLBs, [defined as a COPAS-SARSAT capable, and MEOSAR compatible device registered to an individual- not a vessel. See this brief article.] we prefer the PLB1 from Ocean Signal because I liked the smaller form factor [see photo at end of this post] and the 7 year battery life.

For MOB beacons we prefer the Ocean Signal MOB1 since it broadcasts the AIS MOB alert, and has VHF DSC alert capability as well.

For EPIRB [COPAS-SARSAT/MEOSAR device registered to the vessel...] we await the impending AIS/EPIRB units. Until then, we are using an Ocean Signal EPIRB1 mainly for its small form factor, 10 year battery life, and competitive pricing... [Watch for special pricing and rebates on all these devices...]

Note: All EPIRBS acquired in the US are manually and water activated [e.g., in an extreme emergency, you can just toss them overboard if you don't have time to fumble with pressing buttons, etc...] Other countries [notably Australia] allow the purchaser a choice of water activated or manual only. The manually activated models are often somewhat cheaper, but cannot be registered in the US due to its requirement for water activation... This may change in the future...]

While we are on the topic of individual survival electronics, I should mention we each also carry a third electronic device on our PFDs: a DSC VHF radio [waterproof, that turn on when they get wet... SH 870HX was our choice] so we can converse with the mothership- or any vessel for that matter... [Denali Rose, Swimmer 1; please don't let anyone eat my lunch...]

One final note: All of the above devices have their own internal GPS receivers and transmit their position automatically. [Using DSC and/or polling on the VHF.]

Best wishes deciding what best suits your needs...

Cheers! Bill
After reading some of the great discussion on this thread, I thought it might be worth sharing a bit more detail as relate to my original response, above.

I didn't ask Redhead what the intended use cases for the PLB were, but anticipated some of the follow-on cases with the additional electronics I included.

I am writing this to mention we each carry all of these items on our person whenever we are wearing our PFDs. [Sans EPIRB; we carry PLBs instead...]

We have outlined use scenarios and their related sequence of events [both automatic and optional] our the page we maintain about our choice of PFDs. [For those who may be interested, scroll about halfway down that page to the section entitled Do we carry anything else with our PFDs besides the MOB beacon?

In case this is useful to anyone.

Cheers! Bill
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Old 07-01-2018, 10:58   #23
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Re: PLB Recommendations

Well, I've learned a lot.

Unbeknownst even to myself, I was lumping a MOB and ship's emergency together in my mind. Not so, right? EPIRB, PLB applicable to two different events..

The learning curve from being an East Coast coastal sailor to being a northern West Coast sailor in cold waters in unpopulated areas is much steeper than I imagined (she said humbly), and I am constantly reminded that I have a lot to learn.

Back to the books........ thanks.
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