My ACR EPIRB was new in 2009, I had the battery changed and the hydrostatic release changed in 2015, to the tune of almost $500.
I am in The Netherlands
and the authorized service center gave me some blah-blah that the lithium battery had to be shipped from the US to The Netherlands
About the SPOT...I had a crewman for an Atlantic crossing
in 2009 and his wife didn't want him to go. She made him take a Safety-at-Sea course, buy a deep sea diver's suit for weather
gear and buy a SPOT.
The crewman thought it was a great idea to log our positions with our loved ones at home during the crossing, but he didn't read or understand the manual for the SPOT device.
Here is the tale of what happens with captains allow unauthorized devices on board: After finishing some minor repairs
, getting the spinnaker
pole jaws to work on Thursday, June 11th, we had nothing further to do than leave.
It took us a day and a half to reach the Southwest corner of Newfoundland
called Cape Race
. The southern shore of Newfoundland
is high cliffs and no beaches. We were tacking into shore and then out again.
Around 4pm under a strong south wind
and cloudy skies, I noticed a black twin engine
plane with yellow stripes on the wings flying over us.
What a pretty plane I thought.
When the plane circle around and headed directly toward us, I knew something was up. I wanted to point at our US flag, but realized that the flag was GONE!
The pole must have jumped out of its
holder. Where I had no idea.
I yelled into the cabin
and asked Ben to turn on the VHF
and talk to that plane. We should have had the VHF monitoring channel 16 all the time anyway. Ben spoke to the plane, who patched us through to the Canadian Coast Guard in Halifax
It turned out that the Canadian Coast Guard had been searching for us since noon!
Now about that SPOT device that The Mate had brought along...
Skylark had a brand new correctly registered EPIRB in our ditch bag. The Mate’s wife after realizing she couldn’t stop her husband from fulfilling his life’s ambition, insisting that he take the “Safety at Sea” course, buy the deep sea diver’s suit and demanded that he buy this new contraption called “SPOT”.
This electronic device is essentially a GPS
with the capability of transmitting the position of the device to a satellite
. Once the satellite
receives the signal from the SPOT, it sends a signal to a terrestrial base that sends out an email
to a predetermined list of 10 email
There are three buttons on the device.
Button number “1”, sends a prepared text message, “We are OK and we are here.” giving the
latitude and longitude. Button number “2” sends the message “We are NOT OK and we are here.” The message doesn’t say what is NOT OK. One could be out of fuel
, out of beer
, whatever. Button number “3” says, “We are here and we need HELP”.
Well, around noon on June 12th, The Mate who had assumed duties as communications
officer, downloading weather reports and graphics, sending and receiving emails, using the SPOT device to send OK signals with our position so our families and friends could follow our progress on Google Earth
, decided that since it was cloudy, the Iridium phone
wasn’t going to be able to send and receive emails. So he pushed button number 2 thinking that would mean that our families would not be getting an email from us. The Mate didn’t read the manual for the SPOT.
When his twin brother sitting in his office in Cincinnati, Ohio
, received the “We are NOT OK and we are here.” message, and took a look with Google Earth
at the SPOT reported position, he saw that the latitude/longitude position put us right on the rocks of the south coast of Newfoundland.
The twin brother called the Canadian Coast Guard. The Coast Guard officer in Halifax
took the call and after listening to the twin, the officer said that he had no reports or EPIRB signals from any ships in that location. How did the twin know that his brother was in trouble. The twin explained that he had the “Help” message from the SPOT device and from the location given, Skylark was on the rocks near Cape Race
. The officer explained that a search and rescue
operation costs upwards of 125,000.00 loonies.
The twin said, “Do a search!”
Luckily for us, the SPOT device was so new to the market that the Canadian Coast Guard had never heard of such a thing. We weren’t going to be charged with a false EPIRB signal. But in the meantime, my wife and all the rest of the SPOT message recipients had been receiving the back and forth emails between the twin and the Canadians.
Under the Doghouse
My German wife was furious. She had been against the renovation
of an old US boat. She had been against me being away for almost three months that the final renovation
and crossing was taking. She was sure that SHE was going to have to personally cover the 125,000.00 Canadian dollars that the search and rescue operation cost.
She didn’t communicate with me until I reached The Netherlands a month later. She was still mad four years later.
No bill has ever arrived.
I was ready to keel
haul The Mate.
OK, he was a scatterbrained artist, who never had a pot to piss in.
OK. That I had to go against his wife’s wishes and loan him the money for his airfares, feed and water him so he could live his life-long dream, but not being aware of the operation of a non-essential piece of equipment
that caused an unnecessary search operation was unforgivable. I was the captain
. I was responsible for the safety
of the crew, the ship and liable for any misuse or mistakes
. Luckily there was no cat o’ nine tails on board.
excerpt from "Renovating a Sailboat and Crossing the Atlantic" by George DuBose available on Amazon ISBN-13: 978-0988923485