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Old 26-10-2012, 21:26   #16
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Re: S.P.O.T. Messenger or PLB

Practical Sailor had a great Article about different Alarm systems. I recommend reading.....Saying so, I would never depend on a SPOT, even having one, which I may not extend as well, it was used more for showing the trip to friends.

I use an EPRIB and a PLB. The main difference between them is the use (depend by manufacturer)" A EPRIB can be water/pressure activated, will send normally up to 48h and most importend swims with the antenna upright. As soon deployed no human interaction needed.

A PLB is normally not swimming and sending as the antenna needs to be unfolded and pointed upwards by the user. Battery last up to 24h. The advantage is, that you can carry it with you as well on watch, so in case of an over board it may help. In anyway better than a spot from survival perspective.

Another comment, even PLBs can be programmed with an Address/Name or an MMSI Number - and thats true even in the US. Westmarine said no, but McMurdo US programmed my PLB without a problem with the MMSI. I prefer an MMSI Number as think its the proper way for a boat. And you can use it as well for all the other stuff like DSC on the Radios, AIS and so one. Thats a standard you can count on while on the water.

Yes a name programmed PLB may be used as well for a trip in the mountains. But I'm a boater right?
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Old 26-10-2012, 21:52   #17
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Re: S.P.O.T. Messenger or PLB

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Originally Posted by Dsanduril View Post
EPIRBS frequently have room for larger antennas, but with modern antenna technology that's not as big a deal as it used to be.
Sorry but this is wrong and therefore dangerous: As mentioned above: ACR and MCMurdo, two of the main producers of PLB's state clearly that PBL's need to be held out of the water, preferably above the PFD in a proper way (CHECK MANUAL) to send strong. Not the case with an EPRIB which they recommend to float in the water while in a live raft or so.

I do not know how strong you are, but I'm sure I can not hold my arm several hours out of the water.....so even if I think a PLB is a great thing - its not a EPRIB and saying so is misleading. Yes, sometimes size does matter
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Old 26-10-2012, 22:17   #18
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Re: S.P.O.T. Messenger or PLB

Also SPOT coverage is poor near Hawaii and South Pacific areas as well. But Battery is long lasting, floats, can program two different mssgs, 1) Standy by I have isssues 2) Call the Cavalry. Each 24 hrs period you must re boot the unit in tracking mode or it will stop pinging. I get the SPOT on line stuff and has saved MANY a life on ski slopes, mountain tops, rivers and our seas. Have tried it out many times. Would NOT suggest you link one of the 911 or SOS messages to go directly to SAR. Much better to have someone you can trust relay your distress and then they will send the SPOT link to the authorities to locate you. Just sayin'...
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Old 26-10-2012, 22:38   #19
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Re: S.P.O.T. Messenger or PLB

I bought a SPOT to use in the Sea of Cortez last year and was thoroughly disappointed in both the product and more importantly the customer service.

Before I bought the unit, I spoke in depth with a sales person (in Israel I might add) who assured me that the unit would store my way-points (from Check-In) for the duration of my subscription (12 months at a time).

Turns out that they only last for 30 days. I was told that I should "Log-in to the SPOT website, copy the GPS data from the last post, go into Google maps... and record the point myself".

Now I know that this is different than an argument than about emergency response (We have an ACR GPS-ready EPIRB as well) but the OP did mention about the usefulness about the 'bread-crumb' effect of the SPOT trail on say... a cruising blog.

The info I was told by SPOT was ridiculous. I already have 4 GPS's on board and none of them cost $150 per year to get a location coordinate... and if I had access to the friggin' internet I wouldn't have used the SPOT in the first place.

I think that the SPOT company is second rate and that I could have easily saved the $150 for the unit and the $100 (cost last year) for a yearly subscription to the service). Perhaps if I was skiing in an avalanche area every day it would have been more useful... but since the OP referenced the Sea of Cortez (where internet is much more freely available than most people think) I believe my position to be relevant
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Old 26-10-2012, 22:51   #20
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Re: S.P.O.T. Messenger or PLB

The Aegean, on this years Ensenada race, used SPOT tracking and one family member sent the link to CG and that led to the conlcusive fact that they ran in to north Coronada Island. Direct hit.

Yes, you have to download the messages(tracks) within the 30 days or they are gone. I use it and give the link to the owners of boats I deliver and they love to see where their boat is 24/7. When they are aboard, thier family LOVES it.

I always give my tracking link to a land based, (recently retired) experienced weather guru and ex racer/delivery captain of some 300k miles ( my mentor years ago of 45,000 nm). He is always following me and updating weather changes to me via sat phone(which I also carry) as many delivery boats don't get weather off shore.

I know people who have issues with the functionabilty and I can't figure out why. Oh and only use Li Ion bats!.
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Old 26-10-2012, 22:58   #21
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Re: S.P.O.T. Messenger or PLB

Quote:
Originally Posted by swisscraft View Post
Sorry but this is wrong and therefore dangerous: As mentioned above: ACR and MCMurdo, two of the main producers of PLB's state clearly that PBL's need to be held out of the water, preferably above the PFD in a proper way (CHECK MANUAL) to send strong. Not the case with an EPRIB which they recommend to float in the water while in a live raft or so.
It's not the smaller antenna that is the problem, it is the location. A smaller PLB antenna can be just as successful, it just doesn't work underwater (or deep in some canyons with no clear view of the sky, or in other similar situations). Neither does an EPIRB antenna . The EPIRB is designed to float with the antenna above the water, and the PLB is not, but I think that difference has already been covered. The EPIRB is intended to be somewhat autonomous after activation (and may even activate itself depending on type), the PLB is not and needs human attention.
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Old 26-10-2012, 23:45   #22
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Re: S.P.O.T. Messenger or PLB

Used a SPOT on my solo to Hilo to keep my wife informed of my position. Lack of two way communication turned out to be a great cause of worry. I had to turn back the third day out because of self steering issues. Kept sending SPOT position reports so she knew I'd turned around but didn't know why. Got orders from wife not to bother leaving SF again unless I had two way communication abilities as there would be no place for me stay when I got home without it. Still used the SPOT for twice daily updates on the trip but emailed her daily with the Icom 716 and Pactor modem.

Biggest cause of concern with my wife was I didn't send a SPOT position message the morning I crossed under the Bridge. Got so involved in finding a slip and working on the boat that I didn't send a SPOT position or call her till about 11am. She'd estimated I pass under the Gate very early in the morning and had woken up at 5am Hawaii time expecting to hear from me. Her imagination ran away when she didn't hear from me. I purposely didn't call her 'cause I didn't want to wake her because of the time differential between Kona and SF. Not the best move on my part.

If SPOT is going to be your only means of contact suggest you work out some codes for a basic message. Something like 3 location updates in a 1/2 hour or so to say you have a problem but are okay, etc.
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Old 27-10-2012, 00:13   #23
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Re: S.P.O.T. Messenger or PLB

Good plan on the code! Why wasn't your able to communicte to you via email? Or didn't you tell her via email why u were turning around. My SPOT unit has both 'help' and '911' buttons. Both send messages to two people. Help is to advise I have issues but all is well for now. 911 means time to call authorities and SAR number is on that message. Yours must as well. Just need to set up the button functions
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Old 27-10-2012, 00:56   #24
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Re: S.P.O.T. Messenger or PLB

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Originally Posted by solarbri View Post
Well that gets me to thinking I should just have an emergency sat phone instead of either the spot or the PLB.
Doesn't the new iridium extreme have an emergency button?
Does it work just like a PLB?
The emergency button on the Iridium Extreme does not work the same as a PLB. It is much like Spot: it calls up a private company (GEOS Travel Safety Group LTD). I believe this is the same outfit that Spot uses. I'm sure they are good at what they do, but this is definitely not the same as what happens when you activate a PLB or EPIRB.
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Old 27-10-2012, 01:07   #25
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Re: S.P.O.T. Messenger or PLB

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EPIRB and a sat phone. Use the sat phone as a modem to hook into a computer for email, weather (gribs), etc..
Yes, We have this format on the boat I raced to Hawaii and Mexico this year and last. Emails are super cheap. The GRIBs take longer to download and can cost a few dollars per request. Can rent Sat Phones. Don't forget to pre program the Sat phone with all emergency and family/friend's numbers. No 911 with sat. lol
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Old 27-10-2012, 13:28   #26
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Re: S.P.O.T. Messenger or PLB

Didn't have reliable HF radio when I left. The radio would intermitantly not send the tune signal to the antenna tuner. Of course, the radio decided to mostly not send the signal to the tuner as soon as I hit the ocean. Didn't figure this out till I had an electronics guy go through the radio set up when I got back to the Bay. A new SGC 230 tuner that tuned from the radio rf output, not a separate tune signal from the radio, cured the issue.

I'm not big on talking on the radio. Bought my first vhf a couple of years ago and almost never turn it on. Basically it's useless down below where I can't hear it from the cockpit. Shoiuld have bought a cheap handheld that could be kept where I'm at.

Email, grib files, etc are free through the ham radio network. Once I had the radio up and working, kept daily check in with the Pacific Maritime net on 14.300mhz and of course the email function through Winlink software. Anyone going offshore who wants 2 way long distance radio capability should definitely get there Ham Radio General License. Now that the code requirement is gone, it's easy to do using the online test guides. Ham radios are way cheaper than marine radios, work better, and open a world of free world wide radio communications and it's all free.
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Old 27-10-2012, 18:13   #27
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Re: S.P.O.T. Messenger or PLB

The advantage of SPOT, which is less than InReach in features and price, is that it allows for multiple overwatches by other folks on land. If you are sending position reports hourly and one of your overwatches sees that you haven't sent a report in 24 hours...Maybe it is time to make a call on your behalf, asking vessels in the area to look for a possible missing vessel or wreck. (Yes, the spot could just be broken, that's all to be considered.)

Used to be that if you left a float plan and said "We'll be there in ten days, two weeks at the outside" someone would do the exact same thing on the 15th day. Call in a SAR alert for an overdue or missing vessel. Not a distress call--but a call for all vessels to be on the lookout for you.

Having the distress button makes for a nice backup. So if you figure the backup is worth $75? You're paying another $75 for the overwatch. It's your budget decision.
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Old 27-10-2012, 18:17   #28
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Re: S.P.O.T. Messenger or PLB

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The advantage of SPOT, which is less than InReach in features and price, is that it allows for multiple overwatches by other folks on land. If you are sending position reports hourly and one of your overwatches sees that you haven't sent a report in 24 hours...Maybe it is time to make a call on your behalf, asking vessels in the area to look for a possible missing vessel or wreck. (Yes, the spot could just be broken, that's all to be considered.)

Used to be that if you left a float plan and said "We'll be there in ten days, two weeks at the outside" someone would do the exact same thing on the 15th day. Call in a SAR alert for an overdue or missing vessel. Not a distress call--but a call for all vessels to be on the lookout for you.

Having the distress button makes for a nice backup. So if you figure the backup is worth $75? You're paying another $75 for the overwatch. It's your budget decision.

Indeed hellosailor!
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Old 27-10-2012, 18:31   #29
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As a writer getting ready to embark on a two year circumnavigation of the Pacific, I plan on carrying something like the Spot to keep those interested in my location, to write the occasional Tweet and to keep my Facebook account and website updated. That said, I will also carry an EPIRB for that voyage-ending emergency... It will only get used when I swim to my life raft.

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Old 27-10-2012, 18:50   #30
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Re: S.P.O.T. Messenger or PLB

As I said, JB, the 'bead-crumb' of your location only lasts for 30 days and the SPOT satellite dies about halfway between Mexico and the French Poly and doesn't kick in again until just before Australia... not much use for a So. Pac. trip.
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