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Old 10-11-2013, 04:19   #61
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This is generally a bad idea, as your flare might be mistaken for a genuine distress situation.
I agree No flare should be discharged anywhere unless intentional. In the UK there are 18 TEP sites available that will dispose of old flares.


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Old 10-11-2013, 04:21   #62
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Re: Flares no longer needed?

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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
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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Personally, I'd rather have a very compact DSC VHF on my life jacket.

Should not be floating -- this makes them much bulkier (why God made lanyards).

It should be powered, I think, by long-life lithium AA batts and should have full 5 watts and a decent but telescoping or folding antenna.

Doesn't need all the channels -- just 9, 16 and maybe a couple of working channels.

Now that would be the perfect thing to have on you if, God forbid, you go overboard, but also would be great to have in the life raft. You can talk to the crew (or to other vessels).

Should be pre-programmed to respond to position requests, in case someone goes over and is not conscious.
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Old 10-11-2013, 04:24   #63
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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post

Personally, I'd rather have a very compact DSC VHF on my life jacket.

Should not be floating -- this makes them much bulkier (why God made lanyards).

It should be powered, I think, by long-life lithium AA batts and should have full 5 watts and a decent but telescoping or folding antenna.

Doesn't need all the channels -- just 9, 16 and maybe a couple of working channels.

Now that would be the perfect thing to have on you if, God forbid, you go overboard, but also would be great to have in the life raft. You can talk to the crew (or to other vessels).

Should be pre-programmed to respond to position requests, in case someone goes over and is not conscious.
Yes but the advantage of a sart is that it will generate a specific mob alert. Whereas a dsc alert will look like the ship is in distress.

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Old 10-11-2013, 04:35   #64
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Re: Flares no longer needed?

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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
Yes but the advantage of a sart is that it will generate a specific mob alert. Whereas a dsc alert will look like the ship is in distress.

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DSC messages contain Nature of the Distress information, including MOB where needed, so a "specific mob alert" can certainly be transmitted over DSC.

You could make such a device with two buttons -- an MOB button which would transmit the MOB message over DSC, and a regular Distress button for the generic Mayday message.
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Old 10-11-2013, 04:35   #65
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Re: Flares no longer needed?

With DSC you can attach a message or designator the will specify it is mob situation.
Of course you can also establish voice communication. Which can supply much more information than a simple alarm.

The best situation is if the MOB has a personal AIS beacon (or sart)
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Old 10-11-2013, 05:30   #66
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Re: Flares no longer needed?

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You 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.
Or in the inverse, you get rolled and the flares are washed overboard but the radio is still working.

The fact that you can come up with a scenario where flares "might" be useful is not justification in itself. If I come up with a scenario where a stapler is critical to safety, should we put it on the list of required safety equipment?
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Old 10-11-2013, 05:36   #67
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Re: Flares no longer needed?

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Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
Or in the inverse, you get rolled and the flares are washed overboard but the radio is still working.

The fact that you can come up with a scenario where flares "might" be useful is not justification in itself. If I come up with a scenario where a stapler is critical to safety, should we put it on the list of required safety equipment?
The point is that flares don't depend on power or anything else -- they are completely self-contained. Radio depends on whole power supply working, and there are many not terribly unlikey scenarios which can take out the power supply.

I'm not saying that that proves that flares are indispensible; just one argument in favor of having them on board.

EPIRB also has this same advantage.
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Old 10-11-2013, 05:52   #68
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Re: Flares no longer needed?

Surely it is obvious that you never know what disaster is going to strike and therefore what method you will need to summon help?

No one ever plans to have an accident - accidents are caused by unforseen circumstances.

Yes - flares are expensive. Yes - disposal is a problem. Yes - there are other solutions, but for the sake of a couple of hundred pounds every few years why not have them? You may never use them, but you would really, really regret it if you did need them and did not have them onboard.

If someone wants to do without them, well, that is their choice, but they will be on any boat I own and I hope to never use a single one of them.
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Old 10-11-2013, 05:53   #69
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Re: Flares no longer needed?

If we look only at safety equipment that may be used to alert authorities in a distress situation we have:
(Let's ignore for the moment the money may have been better spent making the boat, or skipper, seaworthy so that the distress situation never arose in the first place )

Flares
Laser Flares
SSB radio (preferably with DSC)
VHF radio (preferably with DSC)
HH VHF (preferably with DSC)
EPIRB (preferably with GPS)
PLB (preferably with GPS)
AIS sart
AIS personal beacon
Spot /HUG messenger
DeLorme messenger
Sound signal generator
Torch /light source
Distress sheet (or semaphore flags etc)
Internet
Sea dye
Satellite phone
Mobile Phone



I have probably left out a few, and this is is only to attract attention there are many other types of safety equipment.
With much of this equipment multiple units are optimum for redundancy, or to attach to life jackets/grab bag.

All this equipment is potentially useful. I suspect there have been cases where each of these has been used to assist in rescue. I don't know of any boat with all this gear, which shows we all make decisions and prioritise on what saftey equipment to carry.

The argument that we should have equipment because it "may be useful" is not how we plan our safety gear. As the size of this equipment is small for most boats it comes down to the cost/benefit ratio.
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Old 10-11-2013, 06:44   #70
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Re: Flares no longer needed?

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The point is that flares don't depend on power or anything else -- they are completely self-contained. Radio depends on whole power supply working, and there are many not terribly unlikey scenarios which can take out the power supply.

I'm not saying that that proves that flares are indispensible; just one argument in favor of having them on board.

EPIRB also has this same advantage.
If you have a waterproof handheld radio, it doesn't need the ships power systems either. Assuming you have both of them in hand after the incident (a big if for either), I would give the radio about the same chance of surviving and being functional as drowned flares.

Assuming you have both in hand, I would much prefer the radio as I can talk a rescuer in to me rather than hoping they see the 10 seconds of flaring light before it falls into the sea never to be seen again.

Again, given enough time, I can come up with a scenario where only a stapler would save the day. A flare would be one of the last safety devices, I would look to use.
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Old 10-11-2013, 07:13   #71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by valhalla360

If you have a waterproof handheld radio, it doesn't need the ships power systems either. Assuming you have both of them in hand after the incident (a big if for either), I would give the radio about the same chance of surviving and being functional as drowned flares.

Assuming you have both in hand, I would much prefer the radio as I can talk a rescuer in to me rather than hoping they see the 10 seconds of flaring light before it falls into the sea never to be seen again.

Again, given enough time, I can come up with a scenario where only a stapler would save the day. A flare would be one of the last safety devices, I would look to use.
I consider handheld VHF radios important safety tools, but they would not really replace the regular VHF - 5 watts and stubby antenna means they're only good for short-range use, of no use in a rescue situation except at the very end. A SOLAS rocket flare can be seen from 30 miles or more away. A rocket flare, in this part of the world, anyway, is seen from a vast area and evokes a massive SAR response. For me, a flare would not be Plan A (that would be VHF DSC or SSB DSC) or even Plan B (EPIRB), but for me an extremely welcome Plan C for when the fit really hits the shan. In the life raft, it becomes even more important, because Plan A is gone.

I'm not trying to persuade anyone, and everyone of course will make his own judgment. I personally think that flares are still an important thing to have in your arsenal, which have not quite been obsoleted by other tools. When the chips are really down, and you're trying one thing after another without results (who of us hasn't been there, at some scale, or another?), you want as many arrows in your quiver as possible. At least, I do. YMMV.
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Old 10-11-2013, 07:45   #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noelex 77
If we look only at safety equipment that may be used to alert authorities in a distress situation we have:
(Let's ignore for the moment the money may have been better spent making the boat, or skipper, seaworthy so that the distress situation never arose in the first place )

Flares
Laser Flares
SSB radio (preferably with DSC)
VHF radio (preferably with DSC)
HH VHF (preferably with DSC)
EPIRB (preferably with GPS)
PLB (preferably with GPS)
AIS sart
AIS personal beacon
Spot /HUG messenger
DeLorme messenger
Sound signal generator
Torch /light source
Distress sheet (or semaphore flags etc)
Internet
Sea dye
Satellite phone
Mobile Phone

I have probably left out a few, and this is is only to attract attention there are many other types of safety equipment.
With much of this equipment multiple units are optimum for redundancy, or to attach to life jackets/grab bag.

All this equipment is potentially useful. I suspect there have been cases where each of these has been used to assist in rescue. I don't know of any boat with all this gear, which shows we all make decisions and prioritise on what saftey equipment to carry.

The argument that we should have equipment because it "may be useful" is not how we plan our safety gear. As the size of this equipment is small for most boats it comes down to the cost/benefit ratio.
Very sensible. I think everyone should think this through, and have a plan.

GMDSS scheme has a lot to say about this, and is probably worth studying.

In my opinion, EPIRBs and PLBs without GPS are obsolete and should be replaced. I think HF DSC is so important (it is a central part of GMDSS) that SSB radios should absolutely have it, although I was attacked for this view in another thread.

So for me, if I urgently needed help, I would start with the radios, using DSC.

If I couldn't get a response that way, I would turn on the EPIRB and/or a PLB.

In the life raft, you don't have the radios (other than a handheld), so your options are narrower unless you managed to make contact before abandoning. Here flares become more important.

I might put up a flare for good measure in any case, but flares are mostly, the way I imagine it on my boat, for really desperate situations, with power failure, or the life raft, EPIRB swept overboard, etc. Or hand flares for guiding in SAR teams at the end (they generally ask you to light a flare, as far as I have heard).

A handheld VHF with DSC is somewhat more valuable since DSC transmissions are more efficient than voice. If a ship happens to be passing close by, this could be really good. So I do have a DSC handheld, remembering, with a shudder, all those stories about people in life rafts who couldn't get the attention of ships passing close by.

Then if none of that works, God forbid, you take up whatever other tool you might have - mobile phone, if you have a signal, sat phone, satellite SMS device, ham radio, whatever you have. I thought it was very interesting that SCS claimed that the Bounty crew were rescued based on an email (of all thing) sent through Winmail over a Pactor modem. Sounds somewhat far-fetched to me, but who knows?
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Old 10-11-2013, 07:53   #73
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Re: Flares no longer needed?

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I consider handheld VHF radios important safety tools, but they would not really replace the regular VHF - 5 watts and stubby antenna means they're only good for short-range use, of no use in a rescue situation except at the very end. A SOLAS rocket flare can be seen from 30 miles or more away. A rocket flare, in this part of the world, anyway, is seen from a vast area and evokes a massive SAR response. For me, a flare would not be Plan A (that would be VHF DSC or SSB DSC) or even Plan B (EPIRB), but for me an extremely welcome Plan C for when the fit really hits the shan. In the life raft, it becomes even more important, because Plan A is gone.

I'm not trying to persuade anyone, and everyone of course will make his own judgment. I personally think that flares are still an important thing to have in your arsenal, which have not quite been obsoleted by other tools. When the chips are really down, and you're trying one thing after another without results (who of us hasn't been there, at some scale, or another?), you want as many arrows in your quiver as possible. At least, I do. YMMV.
Who said a hand held is the only radio on the boat? We keep one for other purposes, such as transiting on the dingy, in case the primary goes down in a non-emergency and while the mast is down on canal systems. It's a multi-tasker with value beyond emergency situations. Most cruisers we know have a similar backup by choice not because of govt mandate.

As far as potential benefit once the boat goes down... the odds of a flare being seen from 30 miles away... it only lasts for seconds and is gone. From 30 miles away it's blip on the horizon. I have zero faith in it benefiting a rescue if no one knows you are in trouble. If they are actively searching for you, I have little faith it is likely to be seen and useful from more than 3-4 miles away.

A hand held on open water, can have a range of several miles depending on the height of the other antenna (with most sailboat and commercial ships have antenna heights in excess of 40' it's several miles). More importantly, used wisely, you should have a few hours of air time that can be spread out over days and once contact is reached, clearly define that you are in need of help and where you are.

Given one or the other, the hand held radio wins by a mile.

If we are going to ignore the benefit/cost ratio, I would rather have a nice offshore life raft with automatic activation for coastal cruising on a small boat. But most people make a reasonable choice based on benefit cost when the cost (both $ and wasted space) are considered vs the thousands and regular maintenance that come with offshore life rafts.

No one is trying to take flares away from you but if they are mandated it should be backed up with solid evidence that it's a wise choice. In the days before reliable hand held radios and electric lights, it could be argued that it was the best option and with few flashing lights competing for attention it may have stood out well as something unusual for an observer. In the modern world, it's an antiquated rule.
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Old 10-11-2013, 09:32   #74
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Re: Flares no longer needed?

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[...] the odds of a flare being seen from 30 miles away... it only lasts for seconds and is gone. From 30 miles away it's blip on the horizon. [...]
The SOLAS parachute flares are visible much longer than "a few seconds". In the demonstrations I've seen they launch much higher, last much longer, and are much brighter than the cheaper flares.

I just looked it up: The red SOLAS parachute flare reaches a height of 1000 ft, has a brightness of 30,000 candelas, and has a burn-time of 40 seconds.

True, someone has to be looking, but don't think these are the same as the 12-gauge flares!
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Old 10-11-2013, 09:50   #75
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Re: Flares no longer needed?

Why can't the manufacturers of flares just put them in vacuum sealed packaging and give them a longer expiration date?

After all, supposedly, exposure to moisture is what makes them go bad in the first place. The chemicals don't lose their kick, they just get moist.

And they would even keep if they got dropped in the ocean.
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