Has anyone actually used a PLB in anger?

2 years 2 months ago #30596 by davgdavg
That is surprising. Are most of the safety/rescue crews private/civilian as opposed to government? How do they get $ to operate in that case?

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2 years 2 months ago #30605 by robin.mousley

Are most of the safety/rescue crews private/civilian as opposed to government?


Yes. The National Sea Rescue Institute is entirely self-funded, they have no funding from the government at all. They can call assets like the Air Mercy Rescue helicopter (also private) but if necessary can also call on SAAF helicopters.

How do they get $ to operate in that case?


Sponsorship from corporates plus fund-raising. The surfski community is treated as a group when it comes to fund-raising and over the years has donated enough money to buy 5 or 6 boats for the NSRI.

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...

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2 years 2 months ago #30622 by Mike_the_grasshopper
Hi Rob. Thanks for the information on the subject of PLB that you and others have shared here. I find them quite educational and useful.

I am part of a couple of surfski groups here in Sydney, Australia. Due to an incident at The Doctor in Perth/Fremantle a couple of weeks ago and the one you told about what happened at the Miller's Run last month on your side of the Indian Ocean, we got all pretty concerned about the effectiveness of PLBs. So I did some research, with the help of information from this forum subject.

Firstly, it appears there are two categories of PLBs on the market: with GPS, and and non-GPS PLBs. I would recommend for surf ski paddlers to have PLBs with GPS. Much faster rescue response, and also from what I read the MEOSAR satellites pass on one's current GPS position every 5 minutes to MEOSAR ground stations. Non-GPS PLBs on the other hand, rely on LEOSARs (1000km orbits, 60-100 minutes per pass, dependence on where you are in the world, location accuracy to 2 miles), and MEOSARs (20,000km orbits, covers area larger than the size of USA and Canada, but needs 3 satellites to triangulate one's position).

Secondly, having a MEOSAR satellite above you does not necessarily mean your country's marine authority is currently able to receive signals from MEOSAR satellites! The MEOSAR system has been around for only 1-2 years. For South Africa, the plan is for their first MEOSAR ground station in Cape Town to be operational in 2018. This isn't too far off, so hold onto your PLBs! In the meantime, you'll have to rely on the LEOSARs which I agree aren't really helpful for any paddlers.

In Australia, we have 2 MEOSAR ground stations commissioned quite recently. Also, the MEOSAR system is piggy-backed on one of our GPS satellites. So the MEOSAR satellite is always in the line of sight in Australia. I think I can say we Aussies are lucky.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,
Michael

If you are interested in the current state-of-play for MEOSARS, see the COMNAP SAR Workshop pack: www.comnap.aq/Publications/Comnap%20Publ...R%20presentation.pdf

Mike

Current: Fenn Swordfish S (Carbon Hybrid)
Previous: Epic V10 (Ultra), Epic V10 Sport (Ultra),
Epic V10 Sport (Performance), Burton Elite SLSA spec ski

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2 years 2 months ago #30623 by robin.mousley
Hey Mike,

Not only that but it appears that most Aussie SAR assets have the 121.5MHz RDF receivers which enables them to home in on the PLB. We're not so lucky here in South Africa.

Almost all the PLBs sold these days have GPS receivers built in as you describe.

MEOSAR is supposed to come into fall operation in two years time which will undoubtedly improve things.

However... Even when the MEOSAR network comes into full operation, a major issue with PLBs is that (at least the one I've seen, and I'm sure the same is true of others) when you operate it, the GPS receiver and the transmitter antenna have to be out of the water in order to operate properly. You can't stuff the thing into your front PFD pocket and then expect it work half submerged in water while you're swimming.

If you have it mounted on your shoulder strap, then it may have a chance of transmitting properly.

Never, ever rely solely on the PLB to be your only safety device. Nothing is ever 100% reliable!

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...

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2 years 2 months ago #30625 by Mike_the_grasshopper
Yes, 121.5MHz RDF receivers appears to be true for Australia's SAR assets from what I read. It's a real shame South Africa isn't so lucky, what with its long coastline and various water activities. These receivers are very expensive.

I do worry about people who have the older non-GPS PLBs. These would have been considerable $$s investments up till recent times. PLBs that are manufactured here in Australia now all have GPS, indeed. Overseas brands are also popular, and that's an area one needs to be aware to buy PLBs with GPS.

MEOSAR is already operational in Australia since 2016, thanks to efforts by AMSA (our federal marine services authority) and related entities. From what I've seen, there have been many successful SAR operations using the MEOSAR system and homing receivers. When you said MEOSAR will be fully operational in two years' time, I think you meant for South Africa? The COMNAT paper says 2018 for Cape Town, so perhaps some unfortunate delay here.

My PLB, manufactured by kti, an Australian company, notably comes with as extra accessary a kti armband with a fully-stitched-in PLB enclosure, and velcro opening. I think that is quite useful. This set-up when on the upper arm will give it a good chance of transmitting as the PLB bobs in and out of water and when you are swimming, or out of the water as one holds onto the boat, etc. Also, much less fumbling than having it on the shoulder straps. It fits comfortably.

While no technology is fail-safe or fool-proof, with the new MEOSAR system I feel much more assured than with the LEOSAR system whose, I must admit, capability I was ignorant of. Or, leaving it with lady luck making a naval submarine pop out of nowhere next to you!

Mike

Current: Fenn Swordfish S (Carbon Hybrid)
Previous: Epic V10 (Ultra), Epic V10 Sport (Ultra),
Epic V10 Sport (Performance), Burton Elite SLSA spec ski

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2 years 2 months ago #30626 by Kiwi Dave
At the expense of looking a bit dorky you could make an elasticated strap to mount the PLB a'top ones head to get it out of the water and looking skyward ... also leaving your hands free to do other things.

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2 years 2 months ago #30627 by Mike_the_grasshopper
Dave. Ha ha. Someone in my group had said perhaps wear a helmet with the PLB mounted on top! Seriously though, your idea would work. Like, wearing a sweat band under your cap (which I do), and put the PLB under the band after activation. My PLB has a strobe light on the top, so having it under the head band would make it more visible.

Mike

Current: Fenn Swordfish S (Carbon Hybrid)
Previous: Epic V10 (Ultra), Epic V10 Sport (Ultra),
Epic V10 Sport (Performance), Burton Elite SLSA spec ski

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2 years 2 months ago #30628 by Mike_the_grasshopper
One other rescue electronics definitely also worth considering is MOB (Man Overboard) AIS personal beacon. Ocean yachties, fellow paddlers and friends Tedders and Grant have suggested this.

A PLB signals the search and rescue organisations via 406 MHz satellite relay.

In contrast, an activated MOB personal beacon transmits AIS (Automatic Identification System) signals to nearby vessels to alert them of a MOB situation and provide the location of the MOB. Exact location to within centimetres is identified by AIS set or chart-plotter on these near-location vessels. It works for up to 4 nautical miles, sometimes more eg 7 nautical miles, depending on the height of the aerials on these boats. It appears most cruisers and some yachts are AIS-equipped.

There are motor cruisers and offshore yachts abound up and down the coasts around Sydney. So, it’s a safe bet and I think a viable option for any surfski paddlers here.

As I do a lot of ocean paddling, I will get my hand on a MOB personal beacon soon (one that is manually activated, not water-activated for obvious reasons). That said, I would also carry my PLB in case I ended up in a location where there are no vessels around, etc.

Mike

Current: Fenn Swordfish S (Carbon Hybrid)
Previous: Epic V10 (Ultra), Epic V10 Sport (Ultra),
Epic V10 Sport (Performance), Burton Elite SLSA spec ski
The following user(s) said Thank You: Watto

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2 years 2 months ago #30629 by Newbflat
I’m curious, are there issues with owning or using Marine VHS raídos in SA?
Here in the US Pacific Northwest they are seen as a first Line safety device.
Good resception and the ability to speak with boats/rescuers. Plus, at least here DSC enabled raídos will transmit your exact location.

Bill.

FENN Bluefin S
FENN Swordfish S carbon hybrid
Lot and lots of DK rudders.


Had:
Stellar SEL excel (gen 2)
Stellar SR excel (gen2)
Stellar S18s g1 (excel)
Epic V10 Double (performance)
Stellar SR (gen 1)
V10 sport (gen 2)
V10 (Gen 2)
Beater SEL (gen 1)
The following user(s) said Thank You: Fath2o

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2 years 2 months ago #30681 by Midlifecrisis
Hi HangTen,

I have been considering the Inreach Se. Why have you decided to stop using it and what are you using instead? It looks like a good balance between tracking and being able to send an SOS.

It sounds like you are dependent on a third party, but I like the idea of having a confirmation that a message has been sent.

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