Smallest Personal Locator Beacon Available from Ocean Signal

Smallest Personal Locator Beacon Available from Ocean Signal


A rescueME PLB1 from Ocean Signal is shown attached to the upper surface of this inflated personal floatation device. Image courtesy of Ocean Signal.

A rescueME PLB1 from Ocean Signal is shown attached to the upper surface of this inflated personal floatation device. Image courtesy of Ocean Signal.

The Cospas-Sarsat satellite-based rescue system has saved more than 35,000 people in distress and nearly three-quarters of those were at sea.  Modern 406 MHz rescue beacons have had a huge impact on maritime safety.  If you go offshore anywhere, it’s time for you to equip your boat with an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) and to seriously consider equipping your offshore crew and passengers with personal locator beacons (PLBs).  One such personal device is the rescueME PLB1 from Ocean Signal, touted by the company as the smallest PLB available.

Having a PLB like the rescueME PLB1 either on your person or attached to the floatation device that you are WEARING will give you an extraordinary advantage if you go overboard.  The current fleet of low-Earth orbit and geostationary satellites will pick up the emergency signal from your PLB, and will transmit it and the GPS-derived location data to a local rescue authority.  When that happens, you give the rescuers a huge leg-up on finding you.

Check out this video showing how the rescueME PLB1 works:


There are several brands of EPIRBs and PLBs, but I highlight the rescueME PLB1 here because it’s a great example of how compact and user-friendly these devices have become.  This device will sit comfortably attached to your personal flotation device (PFD), or your person, if for some inexplicable reason you are not wearing a PFD while on deck.

The rescueME PLB1 is currently on sale at Landfall Navigation.  And you can see the product description at Datrex, the U.S. distributor for Ocean Signal’s rescueME PLB1.

Check out these devices and don’t forget to properly register your device when you get it.  That ensures that rescuers know who to contact to get more information about you and your cruising plan.

Copyright © 2014 by OceanLines LLC. All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Boat Systems, Electronics, Gear & Apparel, GPS, Marine Electronics, seamanship, Technology

Rescue Video – BoatU.S. EPIRB Rental Saves Three

BoatU.S. EPIRB Rental Program Saves Lives

BoatU.S. EPIRB Rental Program Saves Lives

Okay, the title of this post isn’t really fair.  After all, it was the U.S. Coast Guard, whose men and women risk their lives every single day for boaters like us, who actually rescued these three catamaran sailors off the coast of California last week.  But if it wasn’t for a last-minute EPIRB rental from BoatU.S., they likely would have perished. As it was, hypothermia almost got them anyway. If you’re not a regular offshore cruiser (meaning – you don’t already own an EPIRB), rent one from BoatU.S. and give yourself a real chance to be rescued if it all comes undone.  The following video and press release are from BoatU.S., who authorized this republishing in its entirety.


Rented at the Last Minute, Emergency Beacon From BoatU.S. Foundation
Saves Three Lives Off California Coast

Crew Sends Mayday Just Before Capsizing

ALAMEDA, Calif. July 8, 2010 — The day before departing Crescent City, California, on July 1 for an offshore passage bound for Alameda, California, the shore-bound father of one of three crewmembers aboard the 32-foot catamaran sailboat Catalyst wanted to ensure his daughter was safe. So he went to www.BoatUS.com/Foundation/epirb to rent an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB).

Normally costing about $800, the BoatU.S Foundation rents the life-saving units for just $65 per week. The rental program is intended to fill the short-term safety need for occasional offshore cruisers. When activated by immersion in water or manually by pressing a button, the units broadcast an emergency mayday signal via satellite along with precise location information of the vessel in distress, allowing for a speedy rescue. A dedicated global satellite system relays 406-MHz EPIRB distress signals to rescue stations around the world.

The last-minute rental saved all three this past weekend when stormy seas led the crew to activate the beacon just minutes before massive waves capsized the vessel, plunging all three into the frigid Pacific waters 20 miles off Fort Bragg on the Northern California coast.

On Saturday July 4 with winds gusting past 50 mph and seas treacherous, the three crew — two men in their 40s and a woman of unknown age — activated the EPIRB at about 12:44 p.m. Soon after, 15-to-20-foot waves knocked the boat completely upside down, pinning all three underneath. Once they freed themselves from the overturned boat, the three lashed themselves to the overturned vessel, but without survival suits to protect them from the cold water, hypothermia quickly set in.

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter was able to home in on the signal given by the EPIRB, and after commencing a search pattern, quickly found the floating wreck awash in the sea. With the help of a rescue swimmer, Catalyst’s three crew were quickly loaded into the helicopter for a life-saving flight to the hospital. The female crew member’s body temperature was only 79ºF and pulse barely 30 beats per minute. All are expected to fully recover.

The signal from the EPIRB was the only distress signal received by the Coast Guard from Catalyst. The Coast Guard also credits the crew for staying with the boat after it capsized and filing a float plan, which allowed the rescuers to expedite the search.

“That EPIRB saved their lives,” said USCG Lt. George Suchanek, an MH-65C Dolphin helicopter pilot that responded to the call.

The BoatU.S. Foundation EPIRB Rental Program is funded by the voluntary contributions of BoatU.S. members, and 65 lives have been saved since 1996. For more information, call 888-663-7472 or visit www.BoatUS.com/Foundation/epirb .


Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Sailboats, seamanship

Will Your Liferaft Work When You Need It?

Last year’s “Baja Ha Ha,” the fleet cruise from San Diego to Mexico, provides yet another impetus for all ocean cruisers to reconsider their liferaft situation. You DO have one, right?  And it HAS been maintained, inspected and re-certified, right? And you actually know what’s stored in it and how to use it, right? And you don’t keep it in an old valise buried in some locker under a bunch of junk, right?  It’s okay to admit to one of these failings; but not okay to ignore it any longer.  The skipper and crew of J/World, a 40′ J/120 that sank after a collision with whales during the rally, did all of this right and they’re all alive and well today to talk about it.

In fact, the rescue of J/World’s crew is a textbook example of how smoothly things can go when you truly are prepared for the worst. Even some unlucky breaks didn’t prevent a successful rescue by U.S. Coast Guard helicopter. The specific equipment that kept this crew alive and got them rescued was their Viking RescYou liferaft and their EPIRB. The raft protected them in rough seas some 60 miles offshore southwest of San Diego and the EPIRB alerted authorities and brought the Coast Guard right to their location.

USCG Swimmer Hoisted Aboard MH-60 Jayhawk After J World Rescue

USCG Swimmer Hoisted Aboard MH-60 Jayhawk After J World Rescue

In this photo you see the USCG rescue swimmer AST3 Scott Mochkatel being hoisted back aboard the MH-60 Jayhawk after safely getting all five J/World sailors aboard the helo. The USCG Sector San Diego press release has a link to the actual rescue video (just click on the picture in the press release similar to the one at right).

Here’s how it was recounted by the crew to Viking, the makers of the Rescyou liferaft:

The annual Baja Ha-Ha cruiser rally from San Diego, California, to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, turned into a life threatening situation for five, San Francisco-based, J/World Performance Sailing School participants. Thanks to fast-thinking crew members, an eight-person Viking RescYou liferaft and the United States Coast Guard, they’re all alive today after their 40′ J/120 J World sunk, 60 miles offshore.

For J/World instructors Eugenie Russell and Barry Demak and three, adult J/World students, the rally started in fair conditions. Three days in, the team was enjoying swift passage to Turtle Bay, the first anchorage point, with 20-25 knot winds and 10-15′ swells.

On the third morning, just before 10am and about 200 miles southwest of San Diego, the crew encountered a pod of humpback whales. A severe collision caused the rudder to completely dislodge and J World started taking on tremendous amounts of water.

Captain Russell, an experienced offshore sailor, dealt with the situation calmly and methodically. The crew continued to sail the boat with just the sails to get clear of the whales, while attempting to secure the rudder post and stop the ingress of water with a manual bilge pump. Russell went below deck to retrieve the EPIRB and ditch bag, while Demak gathered additional food, water and equipment.

About 40 minutes after the initial impact, Russell and Demak decided the crew needed to abandon the sinking vessel. They activated the satellite-detectable emergency distress signal and deployed their Viking RescYou liferaft just as a large wave hit the submerging boat.

With the aid of the inflated boarding ramp, the five sailors entered the offshore liferaft, bailed out cold seawater and tried to keep themselves warm and dry. They took stock of the offshore emergency pack contents, read the survival instructions and awaited rescue in windy, high seas.

Soon the team saw a USCG Jayhawk flying past them. Demak radioed the aircraft, while Russell fired one of the SOLAS rocket flares. Once the Viking liferaft was spotted, the USCG executed a textbook evacuation of the five sailors.

Fortunately, the professionally prepared and operated teaching vessel was equipped with the best offshore equipment, including the well-maintained Viking RescYou liferaft. Russell and Demak agree that the Viking liferaft was paramount to their survival. “We were fortunate to have the best equipment in perfect working condition,” said Demak, “but it is just as critical to be confident that it will work as designed and to know how to use it.”

If you’d like to read the full account of the J/World sinking and rescue, the December issue of Latitude 38, original sponsor of the rally, has a fantastic article and interview with Eugenie Russell. And the blog of the J World Sailing School itself has an even more extensive account by the participants themselves.

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved

Posted by Tom in Boats, Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Electronics, Gear & Apparel, Industry News, Passagemaking News, People, Powerboats, sailboat racing, Sailboats, Sailing Gear & Apparel, seamanship