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Old 26-10-2012, 13:39   #1
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S.P.O.T. Messenger or PLB

Hello all.
I am preparing to go out for another 6 months of sailing in and around the Sea of Cortez.
I currently own a SPOT that I used last year. Pretty cool the way others can see a cookie crumb trail of where you've been/are.
I got it for last winters trip down from L.A. to Baja and beyond.
There was never a need to use the emergency aspect of it, and I don't expect to in the future, but sht happens.
I thought the renewal fee was $50.
It's $150 per year.
There are now $300 PLB's available.
I believe their is no annual fee.
What would you do? Use what you got? (at $150 per year)
Or, buy a new $300 PLB?
Or, do without any?
By the way, I live 3 miles off a plowed road, ski bike, and hike in and around Grizzly country, and I don't ever carry a cell phone, bear spray or PLB.
I do however; wear my seatbelt, use a transceiver skiing in avy terrain, and wear a life jacket when night sailing.
And, although fate would have it that I'm sailing on what i would consider my dream cat, I am on a super tight budget!
Thanks for any thoughts (positive ones...
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Old 26-10-2012, 14:05   #2
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Re: S.P.O.T. Messenger or PLB

What to do is ultimately a personal call, but I carry both SPOT and an EPIRB. SPOT is a fine little toy for updating friends etc, but if it really hits the fan I want the EPIRB option available.

Big Caveat: SPOT is not a substitute for a proper emergency device like an EPIRB/PLB. To their credit, SPOT does point this out in their literature.
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Old 26-10-2012, 14:15   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by belizesailor
What to do is ultimately a personal call, but I carry both SPOT and an EPIRB. SPOT is a fine little toy for updating friends etc, but if it really hits the fan I want the EPIRB option available.

Big Caveat: SPOT is not a substitute for a proper emergency device like an EPIRB/PLB. To their credit, SPOT does point this out in their literature.
+1 to Belizesailor on this.. if you want a container ship to come to your assistance or a helicopter overhead in a couple of hours then hit the button on the EPIRB.

The SOS button on Spot will inform the 'local' Police as to your whereabouts, as it was initially designed as a tracking device for hikers to levy the then near-defunct GlobalStar network.

The Spot's good for updating friends and family: i even use the smartphone messaging function on it, but the EPIRB will be the device that makes it off the boat in my grab-bag!
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Old 26-10-2012, 15:07   #4
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Re: S.P.O.T. Messenger or PLB

As mentioned the SPOT and PLB have two different functions.

With a PLB you can use 406link.com to send "I am OK" messages with lat and long. But it should be used sparingly to preserve battery life.

After the medical evacuation this summer I am now a fan of sat phones for situations that do not require triggering an EPIRB.

The Yellowbrick we carried was great for letting folks back home know where we were. Vic Maui 2012 Return - Powered by Yellowbrick Tracking
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Old 26-10-2012, 15:18   #5
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Re: S.P.O.T. Messenger or PLB

We have an EPIRB, as others have said, that's for emergencies and all the chips being down. It's not a gadget, it's expensive, and we would rely on it to help save our lives. Whole different class of gear.

We also have an Iridium 9555 cell phone that we download weather through. I wrote a tiny software application that lets me update our location on our website as well. It's sort of corny but it works.

We're headed down into Baja as well (going to La Cruz for a bit), leaving as soon as the USCG sends us a friggin piece of paper we need. Say hey if you're out there!
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Old 26-10-2012, 15:20   #6
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Re: S.P.O.T. Messenger or PLB

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Originally Posted by jackdale View Post
As mentioned the SPOT and PLB have two different functions.

With a PLB you can use 406link.com to send "I am OK" messages with lat and long. But it should be used sparingly to preserve battery life.

After the medical evacuation this summer I am now a fan of sat phones for situations that do not require triggering an EPIRB.

The Yellowbrick we carried was great for letting folks back home know where we were. Vic Maui 2012 Return - Powered by Yellowbrick Tracking
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?
Of course its at least $1000.
My girlfriend does work from the boat and those few times where she HAS to have reception and we are out of cell range or wifi, this could work.
I remember thinking this through earlier this summer... I got to the same $1300 question, freaked out and put it on the back burner.
Now its time to put it on the front burner again.
I'm only getting one.
Thoughts now?
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Old 26-10-2012, 15:25   #7
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Re: S.P.O.T. Messenger or PLB

EPIRB and a sat phone. Use the sat phone as a modem to hook into a computer for email, weather (gribs), etc..
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Old 26-10-2012, 15:26   #8
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Re: S.P.O.T. Messenger or PLB

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We have an EPIRB, as others have said, that's for emergencies and all the chips being down. It's not a gadget, it's expensive, and we would rely on it to help save our lives. Whole different class of gear.

We also have an Iridium 9555 cell phone that we download weather through. I wrote a tiny software application that lets me update our location on our website as well. It's sort of corny but it works.

We're headed down into Baja as well (going to La Cruz for a bit), leaving as soon as the USCG sends us a friggin piece of paper we need. Say hey if you're out there!
I'll be driving down to San Carlos (Mainland) next week. There we'll work on Cat2Fold for about a week then launch her and hope to be down in Banderas Bay by the first of December.
We'll be there most of the month then head further south (maybe up to Zihuat or Acapulco). We'll be back in Banderas Bay by March and then back to San Carlos by May.
While in B.B. we prefer anchoring out at Punta de Mita.
We'll be the cat with 2 masts. Easy to find...
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Old 26-10-2012, 17:39   #9
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I heard that the Spot coverage in Mexico is kind of spotty (no pun intended) so we went with an InReach instead. We love the 2-way texting.
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Old 26-10-2012, 18:36   #10
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Re: S.P.O.T. Messenger or PLB

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Originally Posted by SV_Inspirare View Post
I heard that the Spot coverage in Mexico is kind of spotty (no pun intended) so we went with an InReach instead. We love the 2-way texting.
Just looked at the InReach product on-line. Pretty cool. Sort of like what SPOT should have been in the first place. And, since it is based on Iridium and not GlobalStar it has real global coverage.

Certainly looks like a much better product for cruisers.
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Old 26-10-2012, 18:45   #11
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Re: S.P.O.T. Messenger or PLB

As a SAR pilot I would recommend an EPIRB (W/GPS) first, SAT Phone as a nice extra and a SPOT or equivalent as a neat gadget. As I get close I would like a call on channel 16 which I will direction find your final position.
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Old 26-10-2012, 18:54   #12
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While racing a decked canoe I had a SPOT fail on me. It did not go under water or suffer anything more than being on the deck 24/7 for about 20 days to track my progress during a race. While I still own the SPOT, I don't like using it. If your wife or NOK is using it to make sure you are okay, when it stops working they will fear the worse.

As others have said the way to go is to carry an EPIRB, or if you are cruising coastal a PLB. ACR makes a plb that uses the sat system to send a limited number of OK messages.
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Old 26-10-2012, 21:05   #13
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Besides a longer battery life and an automatic switch, what is the difference between a PLB and an EPIRB?
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Old 26-10-2012, 21:19   #14
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Re: S.P.O.T. Messenger or PLB

Have EPIRB and love my SPOT. Love the 24/7 tracking feature. Updates every 10 minutes. Owners and friends. Love that the 911 button send message to two family members and mssg includes search and rescue number. I am more than content I have an additional emergency devise that connect to my people with lat/lon and updates! Call the Cavalry!
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Old 26-10-2012, 21:26   #15
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Re: S.P.O.T. Messenger or PLB

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Originally Posted by solarbri View Post
Besides a longer battery life and an automatic switch, what is the difference between a PLB and an EPIRB?
Technically, no difference between a PLB and a Class II EPIRB. Class I EPIRB has automatic activation. All comes down to individual features, which are pretty much the same across the product lines. EPIRBS frequently have room for larger antennas, but with modern antenna technology that's not as big a deal as it used to be.

Registration is different, for a PLB it is registered to a person. You can add "additional data" in the form of text. For an EPIRB it is registered to the vessel, and the registration includes significant detail on the boat. Size, color, type, etc., all of which is supposed to help SAR personnel identify you.

Maybe someone with SAR experience can answer on how the PLB "additional data" transmission to SAR assets compares with the EPIRB vessel data. Registration as an EPIRB defines it as used on a vessel, which in turn indicates the type of SAR that might be expected, while a PLB is a little more guesswork based on location.
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