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Old 20-09-2013, 14:38   #1
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PLB Yes or No

I recently write an article in which I mentioned unique features of a Personal Locator Beacon and the editor asked for a rewrite, eliminating mention of a PLB because this sounded "too alarmist". I'm a great fan of EPIRBS for boats but there are so many reports of rescues credited to a PLB. Unlike cell phones they don't require a monthly fee and they work almost everywhere. Would it make sense in your cruising life to carry a PLB with you when you're ashore? Why or why not?
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Old 20-09-2013, 14:41   #2
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Re: PLB yes or no

Personally I find the reality of wearing something the size of a 1990's cell phone on me, all the time for days or weeks to be fairly remote.
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Old 20-09-2013, 15:50   #3
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Re: PLB yes or no

I did a Google of PLB rescue.

First point of interest was the large number of false alarms caused by unregistered PLBs.

In Australia we have hundreds of bushwalkers rescued each year when they get lost or injured. More than a few die when they cannot be found.

To me it makes a lot of sense to carry a registered PLB when going to remote areas on land.

Not so much on water though. The chances of someone finding you if you fall in the water before you die or the battery on your PLB runs out must be pretty small. My opinion is that the money and effort would be better spent making sure that you stay on the boat.

EPIRBs are different in that they have a much larger battery and are designed to be used on a boat. Most remote areas it could be days before any search and rescue can get to you so the big battery is a must. My opinion is that a cruiser going to a remote area should carry two.

The other big point is about registration, whether PLB or EPIRB. Someone in search and rescue central is going to have to decide to spend many thousands of dollars and to activate dozens of personnel on a rescue. If it's just a signal and there is no registration or contact information then chances are they'll wait until they get a much stronger indication that a rescue is necessary.

I'll also be trying to carry a satellite phone if I'm anywhere seriously remote. Making sure that the rescue people are fully informed is going to make their job that much easier if I were to need help.
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Old 20-09-2013, 16:41   #4
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Re: PLB Yes or No

I keep my Iridium phone with me (and a handheld) when in bfe. There are some great AIS transmitter / PLB's out there on the market which make you an AIS target and would trigger (I guess?) some alarm on the boat's AIS receiver; fancy stuff.

Between PFD's, beacons, handhelds, whistles, and a PLB, all of them should be on a person at all times underway but seriously. Every time you drive in a car you should probably wear a five point crash harness, a Nomex fire suit, and full face helmet.
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Old 20-09-2013, 16:46   #5
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Re: PLB Yes or No

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Every time you drive in a car you should probably wear a five point crash harness, a Nomex fire suit, and full face helmet.
and you get to walk out of a high speed collision just like the F1 guys, rather then swept up in a bag of the road.

I see several brands of PLB aimed at hill walkers, good ideas, outside that cell phones are properly best.

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Old 20-09-2013, 16:55   #6
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Re: PLB Yes or No

What's that about unregistered PLBs? If you get a PLB you should register it. The registration process gives the rescue authorities an emergency contact phone number which can help them determine whether there is an actual emergency. Sometimes the phone call resolves nothing, but other times it is a big help. This is also the case with EPIRBs.

PLBs have a minimum battery life of at least 24 hours, and some are rated for 48 hours. EPIRBS batteries last at least 48 hours. Other than that, and the flotataion/orientation issue, the PLB is identical to the EPIRB.

I think the PLB is an entirely practical emergency beacon, almost as good as an EPIRB. Whether you choose to carry one is up to you, but mine easily fits inside my auto-inflate PFD (along with other safety/signaling gear).
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Old 20-09-2013, 17:27   #7
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Re: PLB Yes or No

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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
and you get to walk out of a high speed collision just like the F1 guys, rather then swept up in a bag of the road.

I see several brands of PLB aimed at hill walkers, good ideas, outside that cell phones are properly best.

dave
My point being the next time you, me, and everyone else, gets into a car they'll be wearing cotton and nylon, clicking a basic seat belt, and happily driving away.

I'm not anti-safety, but a lot of the gadgetry is just this creation of market share. It's so easy to say "this makes you safer, so if you don't buy it, you are less safe."

That's a lot different than identifying a real need and addressing it.
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Old 20-09-2013, 17:36   #8
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Re: PLB Yes or No

PLB is EPIRB you can wear. It comes with a belt. A least the older ones like the one I have.
They are relatively cheap, I have seen outdated, fully functional models going out for $200.
I keep it registered and I make sure the contact info is correct.
I sail solo and i do some of adventure races. I feels like having life insurance. For coastal cruising it is better fit than the EPIRB, because I can force a crew on watch to wear one.
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Old 20-09-2013, 17:37   #9
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Re: PLB Yes or No

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this makes you safer, so if you don't buy it, you are less safe.

That's a lot different than identifying a real need and addressing it.
Could you identify specific items you feel are extraneous

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Old 20-09-2013, 18:14   #10
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Re: PLB Yes or No

I don't yet have an EPIRB on my boat. Where I sail, VHF DSC covers everywhere, and I also have HF DSC. But of course as soon as I sail to Iceland or cross Biscay, I will buy one. I just don't want to make the expense and have the expensive battery running down before it's really necessary.

I do keep a PLB lanyarded to my lifejacket, however. And I think it could save me life in a MOB situation. The rescue services over here can have a helicopter overhead in minutes, but how to find the victim? With a PLB, it's simple. Mine is an ACR Resqlink, which is very compact, fitting easily into the pocket in my lifejacket. Of course it is registered.

For anyone crossing oceans, I think a PLB is the perfect backup to the regular EPIRB.
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Old 26-09-2013, 09:33   #11
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Re: PLB yes or no

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Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
Personally I find the reality of wearing something the size of a 1990's cell phone on me, all the time for days or weeks to be fairly remote.
Look up PLB. This is a very small device.
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Old 26-09-2013, 09:38   #12
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Re: PLB Yes or No

Janet, we share your "alarmist" sentiments -- anyone off the boat in the ocean has to assume they are dead -- but we have opted for the Kannad ResQlink because it sends an AIS message to the boat, not a location to a satellite. We assume a mon overboard won't be heard by the person on the off watch, but on awaking, the chartplotter will signal where the COB is. Trouble is it only works four miles, even we sail farther than that on a watch, but we hope we can back track until the signal is picked up. Fair winds, Hannah
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Old 26-09-2013, 09:43   #13
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Re: PLB yes or no

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boracay View Post
To me it makes a lot of sense to carry a registered PLB when going to remote areas on land.

Not so much on water though. The chances of someone finding you if you fall in the water before you die or the battery on your PLB runs out must be pretty small. My opinion is that the money and effort would be better spent making sure that you stay on the boat.

EPIRBs are different in that they have a much larger battery and are designed to be used on a boat. Most remote areas it could be days before any search and rescue can get to you so the big battery is a must. My opinion is that a cruiser going to a remote area should carry two.
A PLB is just as suitable for use on the boat, or in the liferaft, as a regular EPIRB. They are really exactly the same thing, except a regular EPIRB is much bulkier, maybe has a better antenna, and the battery lasts for 48 hours instead of 24 hours.

I think 24 hours (minimum; tests show they usually last much longer) is enough if you're not crossing an ocean. Certainly in European waters you are never, even in the middle of Biscay, more than several hours from helicopter rescue, so 48 hours is really overkill for around here.

The advantage over a regular EPIRB is that it is much more portable. And so easier to make sure you have it on you if you have to abandon. I keep my PLB in the pocket of my lifejacket, with a lanyard to keep it firmly attached to the lifejacket. So if I have my lifejacket, I have my PLB, no need to get to it on a checklist.

I don't know why you think it is just for MOB.
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Old 26-09-2013, 09:46   #14
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Re: PLB Yes or No

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hannah on 'Rita T' View Post
Janet, we share your "alarmist" sentiments -- anyone off the boat in the ocean has to assume they are dead -- but we have opted for the Kannad ResQlink because it sends an AIS message to the boat, not a location to a satellite. We assume a mon overboard won't be heard by the person on the off watch, but on awaking, the chartplotter will signal where the COB is. Trouble is it only works four miles, even we sail farther than that on a watch, but we hope we can back track until the signal is picked up. Fair winds, Hannah
This is a neat system, especially in chilly waters, your boat is going to be the only hope of finding the MOB.
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Old 26-09-2013, 09:56   #15
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Re: PLB Yes or No

Another safety item...SCUBA Dive Masters carry with them a foldable, light weight, fluorescent red-colored air tube. It can be inflated by mouth or by using the air tank; it requires just a few puffs of air. At water surface, it sticks out like a red sore thumb standing about 3-4 ft tall. Boats who see this floating air tube, slowly approach it to determine if there is any need for assistance. It is primarily used to signal an idling dive boat to come and pick up its divers who completed their dives; used with a high pitched whistle, attached to the BCD to get attention. This air tube is easily seen from air, as well.

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