Personal Locator Beacon

I splashed out on an EPIRB. PLB to be precise, a Personal Locator Beacon, the McMurdo Fast-find Plus.

There was some discussion about whether it would work if you were bobbing around in the water. I e-mailed McMurdo who replied, "Yes, it is absolutely OK to get the unit wet, it's designed with that expectation in mind!" So that's good.

I considered trying to blag a freebie and write a review. But then, you can't realy "test" an Epirb.

Set it off to see what happens and before long a man in a helicopter will be shouting in your face as he hands you a bill for several thousand pounds.

Something which has to work in rough seas must be simple, so it was a surprise to find a thirty one page manual. Fortunately, most of it is about registration. But it does matter how and where you hold the device once activated.

The instruction "keep the PLB out of the water" did not initially inspire confidence. They mean, try to fix it to your BA rather than have it floating free.

Why a PLB? Mainly because we're off next month to Arctic Norway. If the worst happened, then sudden immersion would not improve my limited Norwegian, so I can't rely on the VHF. PLB would be a last-resort, but it'll be good to know it's there.

6 Comments Here:

Mark Tozer said...

Looks useful

How much?

Simon said...

Full retail is £474 I managed a little discount, but not much.

Adam Bolonsky said...

Hi Simon and Mark,
also look into the SPOT beacon which uses different satellites and different protocols.

With the SPOT you transmit not only distress but active, non-distress signals to select persons.

The non-distress gets sent automatically by email or text message, and included Google Maps lat./and long. of your current postion.

Cost is $150 US, requires a yearly subscription.

More details on my blog if you want to have a look (two-part series):

http://paddlingtravelers.blogspot.com/2007/10/gps-satellite-messengertracker-and_30.html

Adam Bolonsky said...

Hi Simon and Mark,
also look into the SPOT beacon which uses different satellites and different protocols.

With the SPOT you transmit not only distress but active, non-distress signals to select persons.

The non-distress gets sent automatically by email or text message, and included Google Maps lat./and long. of your current postion.

Cost is $150 US (75 pounds in the UK?), requires a yearly subscription.

More details on my blog if you want to have a look (two-part series):

http://paddlingtravelers.blogspot.com/2007/10/gps-satellite-messengertracker-and_30.html

eurion said...

Simon
I am looking at purchasing a small EPIRB, the fastfind plus is on my list to check out, I wondered how it fared on your trip north? Small enough to not get in the way, was it rugged enough not to get damaged during the trip?
If you looked at others, why McMurdo?
Price is now down to 375 ish.

Would be grateful for observations.

Simon said...

Hi Euron
I suppose you hope to never know how well something like this works! It certainly didn't get in the way as it is small enough to live in a dry bag at the bottom of Liz's rear pocket on her PDF, accessible on a sling over her shoulder. It now lives there all the time and we've (almost) forgotten about it. I remove it occasionally to check the dry bag for leaks and to test the battery. Although made of plastic it seems robust.

Why McMurdo? Mainly due to brand reputation. When you need this, you really need it, and a manufacturer like McMurdo is going to suffer if their gear failed. It's probably over-kill for UK coastal kayaking, in which case other cheaper types of spot locator might be all that's needed, but in the ext couple of years we hope to tackle some far-off trips so rather than buy two pieces of kit, we thought 'let's get the best now'. When I spoke to the Eprib registry people at Falmouth they told me lots of kayakers register their expedition details with them, so they're used to us.

hope this helps and please feel free to email me simonDOTwillisATmacDOTcom if you'd like any more specific info.
S