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Old 06-11-2013, 08:05   #46
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Re: Flares no longer needed?

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Originally Posted by CarlF View Post
Since the Titanic, the best distress signaling system is a radio -- and radios come in many flavors (VHF, Mobile Phone, EPIRB, SSB, SPOT). If you are worried about your radio failing, you are much better off carrying another radio (or two or three) than a pack of flares.

Of corse, the CG requires me to to carry flares and I do - but they're as outdated and useless as the 3 black balls I'm required to carry to display when aground.
I had a friend who lost her sailboat after striking a whale of the coast of Baja California... The boat sunk in less than 20 minutes.

She tried several times to put out a Mayday on both VHF and SSB without success... Later with hindsight, it was probably due to the battery compartment flooding causing loss of all 12v power.

She did activate her EPIRB and 2.5 hours later a USCG Helicopter arrived on scene and she contacted them by a hand held VHF.

The USCG helicopter asked that she deploy a flare or smoke, which she did and they were subsequently rescued.

Were the flares necessary? probably not, but it got the helicopter there a couple of minutes sooner in daylight and probably a lot faster had it been dark.
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Old 06-11-2013, 08:20   #47
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Re: Flares no longer needed?

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Yes I have seen one skip. One guy told the other to fire into the water, he fired just below horizontal and it bounced.

You can't soak them in water to dispose of them in the normal waste stream because of pollution, so the solution is to just fire them into the water to soak them and pollute the water you sail in instead.
The main ingredient in flares, the pollutant, burns out.
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Old 07-11-2013, 14:43   #48
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Seems to me after reading these posts is that the main objection to flares is the cost and the renewal times. Would this really be discussed if they were a lot cheaper and lasted a bit longer? No doubt the manufacturers play a significant part in this, as in when items are mandatory they can charge higher prices and if they can put a shorter expire date they can sell a lot more.
But to me flares are a tool and it should not be I'd rather have this one or that one. It's like saying sockets are the best and someone else saying no wrenches are the best. Then there's the outdated pliers or shifter wrench sitting not getting much use because the mechanic has all the tools in his arsenal but there are still those times when pliers will do or would be preferred. Flares have their place but I do believe they are overpriced and likely outdated too early and there should be a recycle program in place.
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Old 07-11-2013, 14:46   #49
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Re: Flares no longer needed?

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Originally Posted by mischief View Post
Seems to me after reading these posts is that the main objection to flares is the cost and the renewal times. Would this really be discussed if they were a lot cheaper and lasted a bit longer? No doubt the manufacturers play a significant part in this, as in when items are mandatory they can charge higher prices and if they can put a shorter expire date they can sell a lot more.
But to me flares are a tool and it should not be I'd rather have this one or that one. It's like saying sockets are the best and someone else saying no wrenches are the best. Then there's the outdated pliers or shifter wrench sitting not getting much use because the mechanic has all the tools in his arsenal but there are still those times when pliers will do or would be preferred. Flares have their place but I do believe they are overpriced and likely outdated too early and there should be a recycle program in place.
+1 Very well put
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Old 07-11-2013, 17:13   #50
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Re: Flares no longer needed?

Mischief,

To pick up you analogy, the Coast Guard advises and requires that every vessel carry a specific wrench that unfortunately doesn't fit many of the bolts on a boat. Some people go to sea thinking that this wrench alone is an adequate tool kit for safe operation.

The Coast Guard should update the emergency signaling requirements as it would save lives.
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Old 07-11-2013, 18:07   #51
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Re: Flares no longer needed?

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Originally Posted by CarlF View Post
Mischief,

To pick up you analogy, the Coast Guard advises and requires that every vessel carry a specific wrench that unfortunately doesn't fit many of the bolts on a boat. Some people go to sea thinking that this wrench alone is an adequate tool kit for safe operation.

The Coast Guard should update the emergency signaling requirements as it would save lives.
For sure for the same $$ requiring a DSC VHF for all boats would save many more lives than flares.
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Old 07-11-2013, 18:54   #52
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Re: Flares no longer needed?

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Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
Very few of us can afford every bit of safety equipment, so we need to assign priorities. Flares are well down the list in my view.
Not directed at you Noelex but....... In rebuilding my boat, I think half the costs were safety related. Got to have those extra clamps on hoses, inspections on the rigging, CO2/propane alarm/valves, certified hoses, fire extinguishers, update personal safety gear, jack lines/harness, safety rail lines, MOB equipment, and the list goes no & on. Even new nav equipment/electronics is safety related.

I'll stick with the old flares. I have some flares that are dated back to the early 80's and still work, no batteries needed. But I do buy new when the last batch expires just to meet regs & keep the notsees happy.
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Old 07-11-2013, 19:14   #53
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Re: Flares no longer needed?

I would think most people on this forum would be wise to carry flares. The question is really more what should the authorities require all boats to carry. Given that 99% of boats will never go more than 10 miles from land, it seems a DSC VHF with a distress button makes more sense than flares for a similar cost.
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Old 07-11-2013, 19:43   #54
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Re: Flares no longer needed?

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I have a HH DSC VHF and consider buying another so one can be devoted to the grab bag. Oh how I wish they made a really tiny one which could be attached to one's life jacket!!!
Me too -- A Standard Horizon hand-held that has built-in GPS and DSC. I clip it to my PFD belt when I leave the cockpit. As a COASTAL sailor it's my best bet for a fast rescue if I become MOB. It'll let me communicate with my wife to rescue me, and call outside help if needed.

Has anyone looked into the rescue response process for a PLB? A PLB might take hours to get a response team organized, and then it might take more hours for them to get to your general area. Whereas direct voice contact can bring an immediate and local response (and not just from the organized rescue authorities). Most anyone on the water will rise to be a hero if presented with the occasion to rescue someone. It's a wonderful thing. If I were going offshore I'd consider wearing a PLB, as backup not primary. But we rarely go more than 25 miles offshore.

PS -- (edit) We also carry a 406 GPIRB for the mother ship. The hand-held VHF is for MOB or first-responder communications, among other general uses.
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Old 08-11-2013, 14:56   #55
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Re: Flares no longer needed?

This debate reminds of the people who come to me at work with the old hack line "if it saves one life it's worth it." The fact is we all have limited resources so what we spend in one area is money we don't spend in another.

The appropriate way to assess safety costs is to list out all the options including an assessment of the potential cost and potential benefit. Then you start with the those that have the highest benefit/cost ratio and stop when your safety budget is used up.

I buy flares every few years not because they make it to the top of my safety budget but they make it to the top of my "don't give the water cops a reason to harrase me" budget. I would prefer to make that budget go away entirely.
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Old 08-11-2013, 15:43   #56
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Re: Flares no longer needed?

If any VHF manufacturers are reading this, there is a real need for a reasonably priced marine VHF radio designed for emergency, backup, or MOB use.

IPX7 waterproof and float
Integral GPS
DSC
Minimum case size with folding or coiled antenna
Bright LED signal/flash light (like the LED on an Iphone)
Priced at about $100
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Old 10-11-2013, 01:27   #57
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Got old flares .....
1. It's not a bad idea next time your out in open water to practice shooting them off when not in anger.
2. Can make for decent anti-piracy measures; cut off the parachutes and keep in your defense arsenal.

Other ideas.....
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Old 10-11-2013, 03:06   #58
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Re: Flares no longer needed?

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Originally Posted by RainDog View Post
I would think most people on this forum would be wise to carry flares. The question is really more what should the authorities require all boats to carry. Given that 99% of boats will never go more than 10 miles from land, it seems a DSC VHF with a distress button makes more sense than flares for a similar cost.
You are fully covered in the English Channel with DSC VHF (if you have a decent antenna), even though you can be up to 70 miles or so from any land in the widest part. I even have reliable voice comms with the Coast Guard from 70 miles or even more.

So I think DSC VHF is naturally Plan A anywhere, not just up to 10 miles, but even much further from land, or anywhere where there is a lot of ship traffic. I think that's what the GMDSS scheme envisions; and MF/HF DSC for longer ranges. Radio, unlike EPIRB (or flares, for that matter), give you two-way comms with the rescue services, which could be a crucial advantage in certain cases (for example, if someone on board has a heart attack, and you need urgent help for that specific problem, how is an EPIRB or flare going to help with that?).

But what if you get rolled and lose battery power, or your batts are flooded? GMDSS requires larger vessels to have a separate power supply and battery bank for radios, but I don't know any single cruising yacht with such a setup.

In such a case, you might be bloody glad to have flares on board.
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Old 10-11-2013, 03:36   #59
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I think AIS sart would now be a better bet to carry on the life jacket , not a VHF. Or maybe the best of both worlds a dsc VHF with an mob button that fires a sart dsc message


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Old 10-11-2013, 04:16   #60
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Re: Flares no longer needed?

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Got old flares .....
1. It's not a bad idea next time your out in open water to practice shooting them off when not in anger.
This is generally a bad idea, as your flare might be mistaken for a genuine distress situation.
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