Forums > Windsurfing General

Personal locator beacons

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Created by AUS1111 > 9 months ago, 25 Oct 2015
AUS1111
WA, 3323 posts
25 Oct 2015 1:28PM
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Does anyone have any advice or experience with these?

Some races are starting to require them, and in any case carrying one seems a pretty sensible idea for anyone who sails farther offshore than they could comfortably swim in from.

Certainly us guys who sail regularly at Port Beach find ourselves 2 - 3km offshore in what feels like the blink of an eye, which could have nasty consequences if you break something, or injure yourself. Craig Mann's experience yesterday breaking a UJ and being almost instantly out of reach of his board was a bit of a wake up call, and he was lucky to be spotted.

DarkHorse
QLD, 123 posts
25 Oct 2015 5:42PM
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I carry a PLB when Windsurfing any distance - especially when doing down winders.
They are life savers if a problem occurs and are often a requirement when in Open Waters - make sure it has GPS location (I think the 406 beacons all do now?)
With GPS Location, when you set it off your GPS location is also sent so that the authorities know pretty much exactly where to look for you.

Also, part of registration is type of vessel, emergency contact etc..
Mine is an older one (about 6 yrs now) and is a little bigger than what is available these days.

GazMan
WA, 701 posts
25 Oct 2015 3:58PM
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I have been using a McMurdo Fastfind 220 GPS PLB since around this time last year for offshore sea kayaking and recently starting using it for offshore ocean windsurfing after buying a NP high hook bouyancy vest. Another brand of vest or jacket may suit, though a sea kayaker I know uses a bulky Trek ultra kayaking PFD to carry his PLB whilst windsurfing but the NP vest is comfortable and unobtrusive and has a large front pocket with enough room for the unit along with some bits. The Kannad Safelink Solo is another brand of PLB I looked at, though they're made by the same parent company as the McMurdo Fastfind so may actually share the same internals. The same PLB's are reported to be responsible for saving the lives of many hikers in remote wilderness areas so not just useful for watersports. Shop around for decent price as I've noticed a lot of variation (got mine for $345 last year).

A WORD OF WARNING - Another well known EPIRB & PLB manufacturer has had a PLB safety recall and I've read many reports of the same units taking in water and/or self-actvating so do some research online first!

Gaz45
QLD, 113 posts
25 Oct 2015 6:41PM
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I've had a McMurdo for a few years but when it came time to replace the battery the screws were corroded so it is now a throw away.

I will be replacing it with a KTI plb. Designed and made in Melbourne so should be easier for any service issues than a unit from overseas.

I've never had a need to set it off but recently came very close to having to use it. Luckily I was picked up by the coast guard before dark otherwise I would have used it. It's now a standard part of my gear for any offshore sailing.

Chris6791
WA, 3135 posts
25 Oct 2015 6:28PM
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Not all 406 beacons have GPS, the 406 just refers to the frequency they operate on.

in situations where survivability is measure in minutes or hours, ie in the water I'd absolutely go a GPS model. Within minutes of an activation emergency services will know exactly where you are to within a couple of metres. A non-GPS model may need a second satellite pass to triangulate you position to within a few km radius. Not a big issue if you're out bush with a broken down car and shade/water but will be a big issue treading water at sunset in 30knots.

More important than owning an EPIRB and carrying it, is to register it at amsa.gov.au It makes a difference if they know they're looking for a lonely Poley or Kiter, or a vessel that has ten heads on board. It also helps AMSA sort out the legitimate activations from the vexatious as they start calling you or your next of kin when they receive an activation signal.

JonesySail
QLD, 917 posts
25 Oct 2015 9:09PM
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can anyone post any links to the most suitable devices?

firiebob
WA, 2839 posts
25 Oct 2015 7:21PM
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Gaz45 said..
I've had a McMurdo for a few years but when it came time to replace the battery the screws were corroded so it is now a throw away.

I will be replacing it with a KTI plb. Designed and made in Melbourne so should be easier for any service issues than a unit from overseas.

I've never had a need to set it off but recently came very close to having to use it. Luckily I was picked up by the coast guard before dark otherwise I would have used it. It's now a standard part of my gear for any offshore sailing.


Thanks Gaz, I've been thinking of something like this for so long, Aussie designed and make will do it for me

Chris6791
WA, 3135 posts
25 Oct 2015 7:34PM
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JonesySail said..
can anyone post any links to the most suitable devices?


kti.com.au/safety-alert-plb/

www.gme.net.au/catalogue/emergency-beacons-and-safety/mt410gaus.aspx


lao shi
WA, 1193 posts
25 Oct 2015 9:10PM
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This was a comparison table I was sent by one company when i was researching them last year.


Another device that I thought was worth considering is a laser flare for attracting attention.

The RLL012-01 Rescue Laser Light is a hand-held day and night time laser signalling device that provides a convenient, effective way to signal a rescue party over 20 miles (32 km) away, depending on atmospheric conditions. It's waterproof, rugged design combines the safety of a laser signalling device with the convenience of a flashlight. Unlike pyrotechnic flares, the Rescue Laser Light is non-flammable, environmentally safe, and can operate continuously for 40 hours on a single, long-life, replaceable lithium battery.
Specifications Batteries CR123 LithiumOperating Time on Batteries 40 hoursWaterproof Depth 80 ft (24 m)Laser Diode Red 10,000 hr. meantime to failureSignal Distance 20 miles at night1-3 miles daytime Warranty Limited Lifetime Warranty

www.whitworths.com.au/main_itemdetail.asp?cat=144&item=74220&intAbsolutePage=

Mark _australia
WA, 18977 posts
25 Oct 2015 9:12PM
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^^^ they are pretty good. I used one last year to take out a Death Star

pew pew.


GazMan
WA, 701 posts
25 Oct 2015 11:55PM
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e-wharehouse online have the KTI PLB's for $268.45 shipped:

www.ebay.com.au/itm/KTI-SA2G-406-MHz-GPS-SAFETY-ALERT-COMPACT-PLB-SELF-BUOYANT-/181722493361?hash=item2a4f8131b1

flanagaj
WA, 177 posts
26 Oct 2015 3:12AM
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Go for a SPOT Tracker device. I used one recently when cycling down the Great Divide mountain bike route in the US. They are waterproof and communicate 2 way with satellites. If you get into difficulty you can press an SOS button and it will send your location to the emergency services. Mariners use them when sailing around the world.

They cost $200 and an annual subscription and do not require any mobile reception for communication.

www.findmespot.com/en/index.php?cid=100

GazMan
WA, 701 posts
26 Oct 2015 7:17AM
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flanagaj said...
Go for a SPOT Tracker device. I used one recently when cycling down the Great Divide mountain bike route in the US. They are waterproof and communicate 2 way with satellites. If you get into difficulty you can press an SOS button and it will send your location to the emergency services. Mariners use them when sailing around the world.

They cost $200 and an annual subscription and do not require any mobile reception for communication.

www.findmespot.com/en/index.php?cid=100


May be handy for on water communication but they don't fit with WA requirement to carry distress signalling equipment when windsurfing or kitesurfing more than 400 metres from shore:

www.transport.wa.gov.au/imarine/kite-and-windsurfing-safe.asp

A sea kayaker friend has one and he messages his wife from remote areas with it, though he also carries an EPIRB.

craigmann
WA, 12 posts
26 Oct 2015 8:02AM
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Ado I have one and was wearing it on Saturday.
Will send info tonight
More than welcome to use it for Carnac as I will be Yachting on the 14th.

Childsplay
NSW, 74 posts
26 Oct 2015 8:27PM
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If you are truly serious about a rescue pronto in more distant offshore areas, a personal mob AIS transponder is a huge benefit to the rescue party. Whilst the gps equipped PLB is ideal as a first alert to the authorities, it's monitored by amsa who are located in Canberra, and therefore relies on a line of communication between the amsa office and the rescue vessel......not always possible. Rescue craft (and commercial traffic) are equipped these days with AIS receivers. With a personal AIS transponder (about half the size of a plb) your exact position will be plotted on the GPS screen of the rescue vessel in real time, and continually updated, no ongoing position reporting updates with Amsa required. Communication is VHF frequency, which is line of site - about 5 klm s for someone in the water.

Chris6791
WA, 3135 posts
26 Oct 2015 8:03PM
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Childsplay said..
If you are truly serious about a rescue pronto in more distant offshore areas, a personal mob AIS transponder is a huge benefit to the rescue party. Whilst the gps equipped PLB is ideal as a first alert to the authorities, it's monitored by amsa who are located in Canberra, and therefore relies on a line of communication between the amsa office and the rescue vessel......not always possible. Rescue craft (and commercial traffic) are equipped these days with AIS receivers. With a personal AIS transponder (about half the size of a plb) your exact position will be plotted on the GPS screen of the rescue vessel in real time, and continually updated, no ongoing position reporting updates with Amsa required. Communication is VHF frequency, which is line of site - about 5 klm s for someone in the water.



These are not a replacement for an EPIRB. Don't be concerned whether RCC in Canberra have direct communication with the SAR assets as they rarely do anyway, except perhaps maybe the Dornier fixed wing aircraft. RCC don't normally deploy resources they provide information to state Police or kick it onto the navy through a chain of command and fairly strict guidelines. They deploy the resources. Don't be concerned by the stuff happening behind the scenes, millions of dollars are spent making the system as streamlined and manageable as possible, just be happy knowing that on activating your EPIRB a vast pool of resources can and will be deployed based on the information available (takes me back to registering your EPIRB again).

Id have to check but I think the 406's still ping on the 121.5 which SAR assets use as a homing/locating beacon when they're getting closer anyway.

JonesySail
QLD, 917 posts
26 Oct 2015 10:12PM
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Now I'm confused! Live on the spot local updates v satellite to Canberra, v's a message style unit v's Star Wars laser sabre!
I'm thinking a whistle and flag is my low tech!

Maybe someone could combine a safety device with a GT31 style device? Seems crazy those things don't have an Oh **** button already built in, seeing they allready have a line going to the satellites!

Chris6791
WA, 3135 posts
26 Oct 2015 8:31PM
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Ha ha, if you are relying on technology to get you out of the poo go for an EPIRB/PLB and register it with AMSA. Any other device has additional opportunities for device or network failure and human error. They also add an inherent delay in getting a suitable response simply because they add extra layers of bureaucracy generated by private companies or panic and confusion created by your family/friends. Spot1's are great for providing your family peace of mind but I'd rather not rely on it as my sole method of summoning help.

I've been involved in more than a few land and marine search/rescues, personally I'd rather not have my family meddling if I'm in the ****.


Mark _australia
WA, 18977 posts
26 Oct 2015 9:20PM
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^^ agreed - big time
We know EPIRBs work. 'Get what you pay for' springs to mind. If you feel it is worth getting something a standard rescue related item is the go

The suggestion about AIS is plain silly as they are turned on all the time. How then, will somebody know you are in distress? That is the whole idea of an EPIRB, it only turns on when u r in trouble, unlike AIS that is showing every boat in the ocean.

This is about something you carry on your person when windsurfing, not something one could carry in addition to EPIRB and maybe marine radio and also registered to a vessel so when your EPIRB goes off they can also check AIS. Not going to happen on a windsurfer!

MikeyS
VIC, 1420 posts
27 Oct 2015 10:16AM
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Chris6791 said..
Ha ha, if you are relying on technology to get you out of the poo go for an EPIRB/PLB and register it with AMSA. Any other device has additional opportunities for device or network failure and human error. They also add an inherent delay in getting a suitable response simply because they add extra layers of bureaucracy generated by private companies or panic and confusion created by your family/friends. Spot1's are great for providing your family peace of mind but I'd rather not rely on it as my sole method of summoning help.

I've been involved in more than a few land and marine search/rescues, personally I'd rather not have my family meddling if I'm in the ****.




After your EPIRB is activated, "If your beacon is registered, AMSA Search and Rescue will look up your account and ring your emergency contacts immediately. If emergency contacts are aware of trip details or trip details have been submitted online, search operations can be commenced much sooner. So it is essential to keep your details up to date." (from the AMSA website)

Probably a good idea to keep on good terms with whoever you have nominated as your emergency contacts. So when AMSA phone them to find out if you have gone out sailing, they don't say "Oh, no, he's asleep on the couch. No need to go out and search for (the lousy bastard who was supposed to be attending my mother's birthday/mowing the lawn/changing the baby's nappy).

Haggar
QLD, 1596 posts
27 Oct 2015 4:46PM
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Gaz45 said..
I've had a McMurdo for a few years but when it came time to replace the battery the screws were corroded so it is now a throw away.

I will be replacing it with a KTI plb. Designed and made in Melbourne so should be easier for any service issues than a unit from overseas.

I've never had a need to set it off but recently came very close to having to use it. Luckily I was picked up by the coast guard before dark otherwise I would have used it. It's now a standard part of my gear for any offshore sailing.


Hey Gaz, for the KTI SA2G do you know the waterproof rating and to what depth ? The website says it floats but says little else that I can see.

Childsplay
NSW, 74 posts
27 Oct 2015 7:06PM
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Mark _australia said..
^^ agreed - big time
We know EPIRBs work. 'Get what you pay for' springs to mind. If you feel it is worth getting something a standard rescue related item is the go

The suggestion about AIS is plain silly as they are turned on all the time. How then, will somebody know you are in distress? That is the whole idea of an EPIRB, it only turns on when u r in trouble, unlike AIS that is showing every boat in the ocean.

This is about something you carry on your person when windsurfing, not something one could carry in addition to EPIRB and maybe marine radio and also registered to a vessel so when your EPIRB goes off they can also check AIS. Not going to happen on a windsurfer!


A man over board AIS transponder is a personal AIS transponder for man overboard applications! It is about half the size of a PLB and emits a man overboard signal via AIS on an AIS receiver only after it has been activated by the user (in the same way a PLB is activated) the signal 'dominates' an AIS display like no other and can be registered to contain additional contact details and descriptions of the user. they are now staple equipment in offshore yacht racing in addition to the PLB. The AIS transponder is extremely helpful in actually finding a person in the water - after an initial alarm has been raised.

Dont be misdirected by people who know little about the technology, checkout the safe link R10 and R20. I've been carrying mine for 2 years now along with my PLB.

Mark _australia
WA, 18977 posts
27 Oct 2015 5:52PM
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^^^ I didn't realise you could get manual activation. Obviously for watersports u don't want auto and I thought they all were auto
So Childsplay you have sold me on AIS

Except of course for remote areas, like in many spots here you could guarantee no shipping within 4nm so nobody is coming.............

NR
WA, 496 posts
28 Oct 2015 8:20AM
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I got a rescue me for remote solo hiking and climbing I do. Seen as most good PLBs do roughly the same job, for me, by far the biggest factor is size and weight. The Rescue me is tiny, probably around half a smart phone at least. Which means I am more likely to actually have it with me, than if its bigger and bulky in which case I probably wouldn't of bothered.

I am hoping that in 7 years time I can say it was the biggest waste of 400 bucks ever. If I don't, then it must mean it was the best 400 bucks ever.

Haggar
QLD, 1596 posts
28 Oct 2015 1:59PM
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Re the KTI SA2G for its water worthiness, I found this on another forum from March this year with a statement obtained from the manufacturer ........

"Our PLB is rated waterproof to a depth of 3 metres for one hour. Provided the beacon remains above the water and the antenna is set upright, the radiated signals are fully compatible with the COSPAS-SARSAT satellite based Search and Rescue system as certified by COSPAS-SARSAT.

<div class="postbody">
Please note that our SA2G PLB is not self-righting in water and is not an EPIRB. However it is the only PLB currently on the market that is compatible with a life vest - other PLBs do not have a swivel antenna and therefore their antenna cannot be set upright when the beacon is attached to a life vest. We are also unaware of any other PLB that can provide GPS position updates every 5 minutes which could be critical to search and rescue operations under adverse conditions.

Australian made PFDs are available with a PLB pocket. If your PFD does not provide a PLB pocket you may need to determine a suitable method of shoulder mounting such as a velcro strap.
If keeping a PLB above the water is not an option then you may need to consider an EPIRB instead of a PLB."

sonny2727
VIC, 118 posts
28 Oct 2015 2:00PM
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what bugs me most is that you have to carry so many separate devices, I already have a GPS watch for recording speed, and now this PLB thing, cant wait for the day all these devices are combined!

Chris6791
WA, 3135 posts
28 Oct 2015 12:26PM
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^ arguably an EPIRB/PLB should never be combined with another device or function. One of the big factors with their design criteria is the integrity of shelf life prior to activation, and then a minimum time of signal once activated. Most will have a battery life guaranteed for 5 or 7 years then at least a minimum ping time of 24 hours.

Combining an EPIRB into An iPhone, GPS watch or similar is pointless, mine goes flat by dinner time each day. EPIRB's and PLB's are designed to eliminate the weakest link, which is actually then end user, they're almost as idiot proof as they could possibly be.

NR
WA, 496 posts
28 Oct 2015 1:40PM
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yeah, as you said, that's the whole point of a PLB over a sat phone, or spot device or other. They are suppose to be as fail safe as they can be. It does one job and one job only, set of a distress signal in an absolutely last resort situation.

dusta
WA, 2899 posts
28 Oct 2015 2:24PM
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sonny2727 said..
what bugs me most is that you have to carry so many separate devices, I already have a GPS watch for recording speed, and now this PLB thing, cant wait for the day all these devices are combined!


wow two devices , first world problems .

Don't carry a 116 gram plb and save us all the trouble of having to come look for you .

Spotty
VIC, 1266 posts
28 Oct 2015 4:49PM
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Select to expand quote
dusta said..
sonny2727 said..
what bugs me most is that you have to carry so many separate devices, I already have a GPS watch for recording speed, and now this PLB thing, cant wait for the day all these devices are combined!


wow two devices , first world problems .

Don't carry a 116 gram plb and save us all the trouble of having to come look for you .



Looks like they went to a bit of trouble looking for these kitesurfer's overnight up north, not much fun when good times go bad especially in a remote area.

www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-28/missing-gnaraloo-station-kitesurfers-found/6891202

Two kitesurfers reported missing off Gnaraloo Station, 1,000 kilometres north of Perth, have been found safe.

Police said the pair were spotted on land by a search plane last night and the coordinates of their location relayed to crews on the ground, who reached them about midnight.

The two men were safe and well, a water police spokeswoman said.

A search was underway for the pair after they were reported missing about 7:30pm, having last been spotted about three hours earlier.

Gnaraloo is a well-known kitesurfing spot, 150 kilometres north of Carnarvon in the Mid W
est region.

clarence
TAS, 844 posts
28 Oct 2015 6:00PM
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I always carry a small drybag with flares and epirb for offshore sailing.

The separation of board from rig is one of the big issues, as a board with no rig will generally get away pretty quickly.

This raises the biggest point regarding epirbs- and that is where/how they are carried.There is no point carrying an EPIRB if it is on the board if it becomes separated from the rig/sailor.

I always tie a length of cord from the mast track eyelet on to the downhaul. In a sail of a few hours I probably only do a dozen tacks or gybes, do even if the the number of sequential tacks and gybes do not even out, it is not a real big deal as far as things getting tangled up.

Which leads me to the question, where/how do most people prefer to carry epirbs and other safety gear.

Clarence




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"Personal locator beacons" started by AUS1111