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Anyone reccomend a PLB?

Started by Baba, September 26, 2023, 11:27:45 PM

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Baba

Im looking into a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon),
I see ResQLink 400, 406, 410 ... anyone know the differences?
Seems like something (~expensive) useful even if I hopefully never have to use it...
only thing is, in a worst case scenario, if no VHF radio, no cell service, can save your life... just one more level of safety if all holy sh%t hits the fan; and can always have it for the mountains, too. Even adding a $12. signal mirror in the ditch bag/helm sounds reasonable.

Do most people wear it on their PFD?

Are there other brands, or what model is a good choice? Looks like about $365.-$425 on West Marine Pro, REI,...
17' SeaChaser 1985. W/ custom aluminum wheelhouse
Yamaha F90TLD 2008
Yamaha kicker 8hp T8PXD 2012

christianbrat

I have the basic ACR. The more expensive ones just get you a screen that does the same thing as the LED. It's been good. Haven't had to use it.
1989 Sea Explorer 16 w/ Custom Pilot House
2007 Honda BF90 & 2002 BF5
Built not Bought

If I could be an appliance I would be a toaster

Kimbrey

I've had for several years a Mcmurdo brand of PLB.  It came with a neoprene sleeve so it'd have floatation which a feature you might check for whatever model you decide on.  Some sort of floatation.  I wear it on a lanyard around my neck stuffed into a shirt pocket.
2005 Sea Legend --Sold--replaced with 26' Duckworth—Sold—replaced with 28' Farallon Walkaround

Yachter Yat

   Investing in a PLB is probably the smartest thing anyone who owns a small boat could do. Although I never owned one, you better believe; if and when I ever get back out in my own boat, it's going to be the first thing I buy. I can safely say:   Fall in the North Atlantic off the New England Coast at the wrong time of the year, and you could probably start counting your time on Earth in minutes.  Although I've never been there, I'm sure it's the same in the PNW.

Yat
"WATCHAGONNA DO WIT DAT?"
16 SC/Honda 60  (sold)

Mooch

Quote from: Yachter Yat on September 28, 2023, 07:24:48 AMInvesting in a PLB is probably the "most considerate" thing anyone who owns a small boat could do.

Fixed it for ya Yat. ;)

If PLB doesn't help save you,  which it most likely won't in the PNW, at least it will assist with your recovery.
Wife used to insist I wear one when I fished offshore or solo, so she could collect insurance quicker and maybe save some of your hard earned tax dollars in the process too.
Sadly there have been a number of cases recent years where boats and kyaks have been found but not the operator, including a tribal police officer who saved  others before perishing himself.  Couple years ago they lost a guy overboard headed out of Westport for halibut and they never recovered him either.

Mine is an ACR PLB. My only complaint is attaching to my PFD. Haven't found one yet that has a good place or way to attach a PLB.

Boat safe mates.
Matt. 8:27    The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!"

Yachter Yat

   Interesting, Mooch. Judging by your post, do you suppose it would then be safe for us to assume that the response times for recues in the PNW (at least those initiated by these PLB's) could be much greater than those off the Coast of New England?? :shrug9: Not that it would surprise me, given the seemingly "vast" coastline of the Northwest.  Fortunately, things are a bit more (for lack of better words) "quaint", off our coast. That Coast Guard Station in Gloucester, Ma. (the one that just happens to extend out into the Atlantic on Cape Ann) is pretty well equipped with some fairly fast and capable boats....not to mention those "mega choppers" that I've seen standing by, when cruising through that harbor in the past.   

Yat 
"WATCHAGONNA DO WIT DAT?"
16 SC/Honda 60  (sold)

ohmytodd

I've got the ACR ResQLink 425 and can confirm it works, but not really as expected...

A couple years back I was fishing just offshore at the mouth of the Nehalem river out of Garibaldi. It was a beautiful day, just trolling along when my buddy's phone starts ringing. It was his wife yelling "Todd's life vest is going off!" Puzzled, we thought about it for a second and then I noticed that my phone was ringing/buzzing from an unknown number. I picked it up and it was the coast guard, saying they had received a distress signal from my PLB and were calling to see if I was okay. I assured them that I was and grabbed the ACR out of my breast pocket - sure enough it had most likely been activated by leaning on it while releasing a fish over the gunnel.

Chatting with the coast guard they let me know that the signal had come through about 10 minutes prior and that they had just a moment ago deployed a cutter and helicopter to my location, but since they had me on the phone they called them back. When I asked why they waited 10 minutes, they told me "this happens all the time, at least a couple times a day." Let that sink in. They get so many false alarms from these devices that they hold off until they can confirm it's a real call. In ~8 minutes floating in the Pacific I would have been in rough shape. We ended the call by them noticing we were at the mouth of the Nehalem and asking how the fishing was today. The fishing was excellent, for the record.

So, while it'll tell the CG where you are, they may take a bit to get there so temper your expectations. After that experience I added 3 gumby suits to a dry bag in my cuddy.

If you get one be really careful about where you keep it - even with a cover on the button they're very easy to activate accidentally.
1997 Sea Ranger 19 Skip Top Hey Nineteen, 2021 Suzuki DF140, 2019 Suzuki DF9.9

Mooch

Yat, I'd say response time is generally good here, but as Todd points out, fast ain't always fast enough. The problem here is that our waters, with some exceptions, are typically around 50º.  At that temp, they calculate approximately 15 minutes before incapacity and/or unconsciousness with a life jacket on and just 9 minutes without a life jacket. Maybe 3-4 hrs survival.  As far as getting back on board on your own; not bloody likely.
Matt. 8:27    The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!"

Yachter Yat

   Mooch: I hear you.  I've always had two basic concerns with these PLB's.  The first is knowing my signal is getting out, and second; being confident that it's being received. I have to admit to not knowing as much as I should about these, but I seem to recall reading about being allowed to do a test on these when first initiating, in order to insure they are working properly. I imagine always keeping your cell somehow affixed to yourself would be smart as well.   

Yat
"WATCHAGONNA DO WIT DAT?"
16 SC/Honda 60  (sold)

davidsea

  ACR anything for me - I took apart an obsolete ACR EPIRB and the whole thing was very impressive - design, case, seals, switching, circuit board, everything.  They have factory servicing plus a network of approved service centers.  Their 'warranty' states that if you use one of their EPIRBs/PLBs for an actual rescue, return it with a written description of the event and they'll replace it free.  They are a major supplier to the US military, and the major difference between MILspec and consumer is the color of the case.  DO NOT buy anything that doesn't have a self-test capability, and avoid anything used or on eBay. ( It may be obsolete, non-working or non-serviceable.)
  I carry both an EPIRB and PLB.  The EPIRB can be switched on manually or will activate automatically it tossed into the water, and transmits a GPS enabled signal longer than a PLB will.  The PLB stays on my life jacket in the boat, but I take it ashore if I'm on the beach or hiking.
  Difficult to find a good location to carry a PLB on an inflatable jacket, but on the sides of the waist strap work OK.  On my Mustang, I wear it on a velcro loop in the center, where the buckle snaps together.

mustang plb.JPG
1996 SR19 Hdtp. - 2018 Honda  BF115D
2009 Duroboat 16 CC, Honda BF50  -  SOLD
and 19 other boats (I think, lost count)

longfield1

I hunt and dirt bike also so i got a garmin inreach mini. It has a monthly subscription and you can text over satellite so its my do it all PLB. Not cheap but works best for me.
1993 Arima Sea Ranger custom pilot house, Suzuki DF140, Garmin Reactor 40 kicker autopilot

DARice

I worked for McMurdo, Boatracs,...(parent company Orolia) for a while and their hardware is pretty impressive although at that time some of the engineering was 'old school', but definitely durable. ACR is too, as are some others. PLBs are great for recovery, but it is a question of what is being recovered.

When I was working with the company, confirming EPIRB signals required human intervention prior to rescue dispatch. In our waters that can be OK if the boat is afloat and/or everyone is wearing a gumby survival suit.

Dave
2005 Sea Chaser 17 Pilot House, Lost Sailor
'21 Honda 90, Yamaha T9.9

Tunacious

I have two of them.  I'm not sure of the model numbers.
One is mounted in the boat.  It fits in a holder that has a magnet that keeps the unit from sending a signal if it gets wet.  The unit goes off by itself if it's out of the holder and gets wet.  It also has a manual button that will turn it on even if it's not wet.

I keep the second one on my person mostly in case I fall out of the boat while my auto pilot is on.

I know they work.  A couple years ago I had put the unit into its case backwards which meant the magnet wasn't keeping the unit off.
I was in port washing down my boat and accidentally hit the unit with the wash down hose.

While I was still washing my boat I received a phone call but didn't answer it.  About 30 seconds later my wife called me and told me the coast guard had just called her to tell her my unit had been activated.
The coast guard called me right away a second time to ensure I was ok.

They work.

DARice

Quote from: Tunacious on September 29, 2023, 10:07:22 PMI have two of them.  I'm not sure of the model numbers.
One is mounted in the boat.  It fits in a holder that has a magnet that keeps the unit from sending a signal if it gets wet.  The unit goes off by itself if it's out of the holder and gets wet.  It also has a manual button that will turn it on even if it's not wet.

I keep the second one on my person mostly in case I fall out of the boat while my auto pilot is on.

I know they work.  A couple years ago I had put the unit into its case backwards which meant the magnet wasn't keeping the unit off.
I was in port washing down my boat and accidentally hit the unit with the wash down hose.

While I was still washing my boat I received a phone call but didn't answer it.  About 30 seconds later my wife called me and told me the coast guard had just called her to tell her my unit had been activated.
The coast guard called me right away a second time to ensure I was ok.

They work.

Great to hear a first-hand story about the system in action. Did you have any way of knowing the amount of time between activation and phone call?
2005 Sea Chaser 17 Pilot House, Lost Sailor
'21 Honda 90, Yamaha T9.9

Tunacious

Quote from: DARice on September 30, 2023, 09:51:28 AM
Quote from: Tunacious on September 29, 2023, 10:07:22 PMI have two of them.  I'm not sure of the model numbers.
One is mounted in the boat.  It fits in a holder that has a magnet that keeps the unit from sending a signal if it gets wet.  The unit goes off by itself if it's out of the holder and gets wet.  It also has a manual button that will turn it on even if it's not wet.

I keep the second one on my person mostly in case I fall out of the boat while my auto pilot is on.

I know they work.  A couple years ago I had put the unit into its case backwards which meant the magnet wasn't keeping the unit off.
I was in port washing down my boat and accidentally hit the unit with the wash down hose.

While I was still washing my boat I received a phone call but didn't answer it.  About 30 seconds later my wife called me and told me the coast guard had just called her to tell her my unit had been activated.
The coast guard called me right away a second time to ensure I was ok.

They work.

Great to hear a first-hand story about the system in action. Did you have any way of knowing the amount of time between activation and phone call?



Less than a minute.  I was impressed.