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Old 27-09-2020, 23:15   #1
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Best PLB?

I carry ALWAYS in my lifejacket a ResQLink 375 PLB which I bought a number of years ago. The battery is almost two years expired, and although it still tests fine, I think it's time to either replace the battery or buy a new PLB.


I can have the battery replaced professionally for $99, which includes replacing the seal. OR, I can buy 3 Panasonic CR123a's for peanuts, and do it myself.



OR, I can just buy a new PLB.


In the 6 or 7 years since I bought this thing, has their been any great improvement in PLB's? Are there smaller ones on the market now? Something with some different functionality?


Grateful for any advice.
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Old 27-09-2020, 23:29   #2
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Re: Best PLB?

I assume you've seen the OceanSignal PLB1? That's about the smallest you can get.

I think, now that most have decent GPS hardware, there's little else in terms of technological advancement. One new item some PLBs will support is the Return Link Service, which as far as I can tell boils down to adding a little "yes, somebody heard you" indicator.
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Old 27-09-2020, 23:54   #3
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Re: Best PLB?

I can only speak for the Oz market but I reckon it will be the same elsewhere.

The ResQLink 375 PLB is no longer current and has been replaced with the ResQLink 400 PLB https://www.snowys.com.au/resqlink-400-plb

I prefer the KTI SA2GN, mainly for it's 10 year battery life / warranty. FWIW, it comes with a signalling mirror and whistle and is self buoyant. Although fractionally bigger than the OceanSignal PLB1, the PLB1 is not self buoyant unless it remains in the buoyant pouch.

https://kti.com.au/safety-alert-plb/#top

These guys give a small talk and description of the common PLBs if you follow the links for each PLB https://www.snowys.com.au/personal-locator-beacons
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Old 28-09-2020, 02:44   #4
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Re: Best PLB?

You can now get a combined PLB and AIS:
https://seaangel.at/index.php?route=common/page&id=2906

These guys seem to be the only ones that make them but I expect they’ll become more common over time.

I also have an innate distrust of the “first of” anything!
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Old 28-09-2020, 05:55   #5
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Re: Best PLB?

I find no use for a PLB on a boat. Personal AIS is my preference. AIS sends a signal locally allowing for quick recovery and a PLB sends a signal to a satellite and not to any near by boat. I consider a PLB a body recovery device as the time between signal and time to recovery if the issue is MOB is generally long after you are dead. (I've been told PLB have been used hundreds of times for search and rescue for hikers, and of course EPIRB's are valuable as you are probably in a life raft or still with the boat if needed)
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Old 28-09-2020, 06:51   #6
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Re: Best PLB?

Why can't you sit in your life-raft with your PLB operating while you wait for the rescue services? If the crew have more than one PLB you can operate one until the battery runs out then activate another.
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Old 28-09-2020, 07:06   #7
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Re: Best PLB?

I think the idea of a plb is that it is a personal locating beacon primarily used in a MOB situation. While you can use a plb in a liferaft it would be better to have an EPIRB, with twice the transmission time. By activating a second plb I assume you are sending a new signal which could be confusing/delaying. There are also several other minor advantages to an EPIRB (for example, they must float upright, have a strobe and reflective tape). While the plb would be useful in the situation you mentioned, I think it nearly useless in a marine MOB environment. The most likely source of rescue in a MOB situation is the boat in which you chose to leave. The plb signal would not be available while the AIS would (even if you exceed the AIS range by returning on a reciprocal course you will likely be able to find the crew).
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Old 28-09-2020, 07:20   #8
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Re: Best PLB?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zzmeyer View Post
I find no use for a PLB on a boat. Personal AIS is my preference. AIS sends a signal locally allowing for quick recovery and a PLB sends a signal to a satellite and not to any near by boat. I consider a PLB a body recovery device as the time between signal and time to recovery if the issue is MOB is generally long after you are dead. (I've been told PLB have been used hundreds of times for search and rescue for hikers, and of course EPIRB's are valuable as you are probably in a life raft or still with the boat if needed)
PLB and AIS beacon are not substitutes for each other.

I carry both.

PLB is what its name implies -- a personal beacon -- a personal EPIRB. It backs up the main ship's EPIRB in case you end up in the life raft without your grab bag, OR in case you get in trouble on land in a remote location (e.g. Greenland). It's not for MOB, at least not in the cold waters where I sail -- you'll be long dead before any response comes. But brilliant if you break your leg in the mountains, or get separated from your grab bag in a hectic abandon ship situation, or get swept out to sea in your dinghy.

The AIS beacon, on the other hand, is for MOB. Unlike the PLB, which signals SAR services via the COSPAS-SARSAT system, the AIS beacon directly and immediately signals nearby vessels via DSC and AIS signals.

As I said, I carry BOTH on my person at all times. Previously I carried a McMurdo S10 (made for divers), the one in the exact shape of a dildo. Fairly bulky, and fully manual in operation, but rugged and extremely waterproof. Recently I bought an Ocean Signal MOB1 which is designed to be integrated into my Spinlock Deskvest life jacket, with automatic operation.
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Old 28-09-2020, 07:31   #9
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Re: Best PLB?

In a comparable thread the skipper had the entire crew wear a plb for just the case in which you abandon ship without your ditch bag. While admirable, I would argue if you are worried about abandoning ship without your EPIRB get a second one and have it packed with your liferaft. I would argue the off watch, unless wearing the plb all the time, is as likely to leave it behind than an EPIRB therefore making the on watch crew the only reliable source for the back up.
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Old 28-09-2020, 07:38   #10
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Re: Best PLB?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zzmeyer View Post
In a comparable thread the skipper had the entire crew wear a plb for just the case in which you abandon ship without your ditch bag. While admirable, I would argue if you are worried about abandoning ship without your EPIRB get a second one and have it packed with your liferaft. I would argue the off watch, unless wearing the plb all the time, is as likely to leave it behind than an EPIRB therefore making the on watch crew the only reliable source for the back up.

When we went to Greenland two years ago, I also required the entire crew to have PLB's. But we were concerned with emergencies on land in the extremely remote total wilderness area, not just with backing up the EPIRB.


As to packing an EPIRB in the raft -- I think that might be a good idea, if there is space. Only problem with that though is that you can't test it regularly as you are supposed to. Only once in 3 years when you service the raft. I like having the PLB in my life jacket -- I can keep an eye on it and test it regularly. Part of our abandon ship procedure is to remove the auto inflation mechanism from life jackets, and put them on.



If all the crew have PLB's in their life jackets -- then you are really unlikely to end up in the raft without one working.
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Old 28-09-2020, 07:48   #11
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Re: Best PLB?

Agree the plb is a useful addition, particularly in your dual use scenario. I think the plb very useful for hiking where the wait time for rescue is not an issue. I guess my main point would be that the plb is almost useless in most MOB situations and I'm embarrassed to admit I never thought of it that way until the personal AIS came out and the light bulb went off that the plb signal is not available to the boat most likely to be the rescue vehicle. So for me, in answer to the OP, if you want to get a new plb, get a personal ais first and read Dockhead posts to determine if you want both.
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Old 28-09-2020, 07:59   #12
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Re: Best PLB?

Agree completely with Zzmeyer and Dockhead on this!

I suspect if you are sailing in Florida, Caribbean, etc. where rescue services are close at hand (I think I read somewhere that USCG response in that area is less than 6 hours), a PLB might be a good choice.

If you are looking for a backup device for an EPIRB, a PLB might be a good choice.

In the Pacific rescue is often days away...not hours. As Zzmeyer said...your most likely hope of rescue is the boat you fell off. Thus, the personal AIS is a better choice if intended use is for MOB situations.
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Old 28-09-2020, 10:18   #13
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Re: Best PLB?

I reckon personal AIS devices for MOB (and on-board equipment to deal with them) have to be priority wherever you sail. Indeed we have MOB1 devices for this purpose, but no PLB or EPIRB as we usually sail in coastal waters.

However, I am very interested in Dockhead's quest as I realise we are going to have to bite the bullet soon and buy PLBs. An EPIRB comes third on my list of priorities.
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Old 28-09-2020, 13:06   #14
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Re: Best PLB?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
When we went to Greenland two years ago, I also required the entire crew to have PLB's. But we were concerned with emergencies on land in the extremely remote total wilderness area
For that purpose I think I would prefer an inReach, especially if there were crew left on the mothership who also had one ... just another idea.
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Old 28-09-2020, 13:59   #15
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Re: Best PLB?

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Originally Posted by Kelkara View Post
For that purpose I think I would prefer an inReach, especially if there were crew left on the mothership who also had one ... just another idea.
I agree - on land if I were only carrying a single device, it would be an inReach (and I do). For that reason we have an inReach, plus PLB, plus AIS (Oceansignal MOB1) and a wristband that signals onboard iOS devices if the band is more than 100m from the boat. And an EPIRB. While there is some overlap and redundancy in and between these devices, each has unique features that make them important for particular situations.

But we start with the notion that it is a really big mistake to not have the boat set up to minimize COB events. Sailing south, about 150nm off the northern coast of California we were quite certain that it would be impossible to turn the boat around and retrieve a COB. In those circumstances a PLB would be the best bet for a COB.

I like the idea of having both an AIS and a PLB device attached to each crew member - crossing the Pacific, turning around was quite possible and the AIS would be very helpful.

Despite tethers, jacklines etc, falling off a boat is still a possibility and being prepared is essential. We met a presenter at a boat show who fell off a Clipper around the world yacht and in his view he was still alive because someone saw him depart from the boat, threw a Danbouy rescue device and he was also wearing an immersion suit on the leg between Japan and North America. The Danbouy allowed him to get somewhat out of the water during the 1 hour that it took for the boat to turn around and retrieve him.
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