Rescue signalling devices

Discussion in 'Paddling Safety' started by jefffski, Apr 26, 2018.

?

I sometimes or always carry a rescue signalling device

  1. Yes

    10 vote(s)
    100.0%
  2. No

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. I'm considering it

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. I used to but now I don't

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. jefffski

    jefffski Paddler

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  2. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    I have one of those 'laser flares' but haven't carried it much. Looks like a solidly-made device.
    Primarily useful for guiding in rescuers once they are looking for you, I think...
    VHF and PLB are my first go-to devices if there was to be a major problem.
     
  3. Man in qajaq

    Man in qajaq Paddler

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    I used to carry flares and then they outdated. I still carried them for a few years but do not anymore.
    I always have a whistle.
     
  4. Kayak Jim

    Kayak Jim Paddler

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    I considered one of the laser flares but carry a couple of pencil flares in my pfd in addition to my VHF.
     
  5. AM

    AM Paddler

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    Because I am sometimes guiding students, I have gotten into the habit of carrying a VHF, PLB, 2 types of flares, and a cell phone in a Lifeproof case.

    If I could only carry one thing, I would choose the VHF.

    In an area with coverage, cell phone is excellent for emergencies (*16 or #727), but pretty useless for hailing other vessels, so I believe that any serious paddler should have a VHF and the training to use it.

    Cheers,
    Andrew
     
  6. jefffski

    jefffski Paddler

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    Got a VHF.
     
  7. chodups

    chodups Paddler

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    When on trips I carry: EPIRB, VHF, Spot, two types of flares, signal mirror, lazer device whistle and cell phone. Cell phone is in a waterproof box in the rear hatch and not accessible. Lazer device is in a waterproof box in my ditch bag which I wear. All other devices worn and easily accessible.

    Belt and suspenders.
     
  8. PDX outbound

    PDX outbound Paddler

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    We always carry a VHF, mirror, whistles, with the cell phones secured in dry bags in our deck hatches. I'm not familiar with these laser devices, but as pointed out above, I suspect they're most useful once a rescue team is already looking for you, rather than being the signal that initiates a search.

    I don't usually carry flares given the challenge/cost of replacing outdated flares - I may re-look at that. Are there any issues taking flares across the Canadian border?
     
  9. Kayak Jim

    Kayak Jim Paddler

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    The local marine shop gave me what I consider a great deal on pencil flares. One year into their 4 year rated "life" (probably good for more) for half price. No one wants to buy them at full price if they're a year old. Win-Win. Can't hurt to ask.
     
  10. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    These choices often have fuzzy borders. I agree with others that the smaller flares are of marginal use. They do not last very long aloft, and "aloft" is not very far above the sea. I favor a couple honking big parachute flares, with the Very pistol form and its shotgun shell style flares offering better repeatability. And at least one big smoke flare, for daytime when no other type of flare really stands out. When you think a flare will be visible enough to raise help, you want to make a big impression.

    I carry the Very pistol with three or four cartridges, and a single big smoke flare.

    But, by far, the most useful, reliable, and versatile signaling device is a decent, fully waterproof, charged up VHF radio, lanyarded to your VHF. A VHF underdecks is of no use there, and unreachable, most likely, in the conditions which swamped your boat, or separated you from the boat completely. It can reach boats you cannot see or hear, may alert the coast guard via a repeater or antenna on a peak for relay long distances, and facilitates coordination of rescue assets when they get close.

    All these are the minimum, day trip or expedition. Sat phone, PLB, etc., may be needed if your remoteness demands it.

    The laser flare is of little use except to draw in an SAR asset which is already aware that you are missing, and will find you anyway if you can produce smoke or have one big flare left. Further, it lacks redundancy by its singularity.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2018
  11. designer

    designer Paddler

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    I carry TheSpot, Marine VHF and usually a ham radio handheld (like Marine VHF) that would reach the repeater system along the east coast of Vancouver Island. I would probably have a cell phone that allows 911 (no service plan), but I don't like to count on cell service. When I first started kayaking, I bought pencil flares and smoke. I'm sure they are way, way out of date now. If I were planning open ocean trips my gear would be different than my adventures in well traveled (kayaks and power boats) waters.

    My biggest issue is getting my paddling partners interested in safety - like buying a PFD that has a pocket for a radio, thinking, "What would I do if Paul was unconscious (or missing)." etc.
     
    chodups likes this.
  12. Jasper

    Jasper Paddler

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    On body:
    Marine VHF and whistle in PFD, Hand held flare in hydration pack.

    "Dry-purse" or "ditch-bag":
    Flare gun with 4 or so aerial flares, ham handheld radio with some Marine channels programmed in aside from local repeaters (Yes, it is legal in the US for a ham radio operator to operate outside of ham-bands for emergency traffic).

    Cell phone in its own waterproof pouch, either on body or in dry-purse depending on conditions.

    I have a Spot device with expired plan somewhere in a tub in the gear room, never used it much.

    I would like to add an on body daytime signal like smoke or dye to mark position.
     
  13. Bluenose

    Bluenose Paddler

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    I carry a PLB, VHF, cell phone and whistle on my body and they are teathered to me. I also carry pen flares and bangers and a small airhorn. The airhorn is handy in fog when you hear approaching vessels.
     
  14. WGalbraith

    WGalbraith Paddler

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    I carry flares, whistle, VHF radio and a Spot. Using my watch alarm, I report in daily at 8 p.m. using SPOT to up to ten email addresses. I also push my OK button when I get on the water and again at the destination. The Gen 3 unit allows a preset message to be sent if you need assistance but you are not in danger. My message advises recipients to consult and get help to the location indicated on the map.
     
  15. designer

    designer Paddler

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    WGalbraith, if you have a Gen3 model, I believe that Real Time Tracking is not an "opt out" option; you have to pay for it as part of the yearly subscription (unlike the Gen 2). As such, because you are paying for it anyway, why not use it. You can send your friends the URL (password protected or not - i.e. public) and when you push the tracking button on the Spot, they can follow you on the water via the web link they are sent.

    I use the Okay message to let people back home know where I am every night (when I remember) and I always have real time tracking on when I'm on the water. That takes more battery juice, but I believe a set of batteries lasts about a week, when run 8 hrs a day. And, unfortunately, I'm not on the water nearly that long.
     
  16. jefffski

    jefffski Paddler

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    Where did you get the airhord and how much? That may have helped yesterday in an incident with a big yacht making a 6 foot wake. I tried calling on my radio (ch. 16), but they did not answer.
     
  17. WGalbraith

    WGalbraith Paddler

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    Since 2015 my family have paid my premiums. My particular package with SPOT has Real Time Tracking and I just have not used it. I find that the number of emails generated now can be excessive on a 7-10 day trip using only the OK feature whenever I launch, land and at 8pm ; if tracking more frequently it would become onerous. Thanks for the info and now I will use the Tracking feature anytime I leave camp and go hiking . In the event I am unable to press any buttons I could be found with hourly locations sent. Family would know something is amiss when I didn't press OK at the prescribed 8pm each night. Now that I am retired, I am on the water about 100 days a year. With current use, I replace the batteries once a year.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2018
  18. designer

    designer Paddler

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    WGalbraith, Note that tracking doesn't generate messages. It puts your track on a web page. When you set it up (at home, before you leave), you list the email add of those you want to see it and they are sent ONE email with that web address. The waypoints on the map last for 7 days, then "disappear". I delete my map after every trip and start fresh.

    One thing I don't like is there is no start/stop interval on the track line. That is, if you use it in one place, then turn it off and drive to another, and turn it back on, it will "draw" a straight line connection between those ending/beginning points. But that is not your "route".

    Also, when you land, keep tracking on for a little while (5 minutes?) so the point on land can be registered. If not, the last point they see will be you out in the water. Amazing but true, before I noticed this, none of my "friends" ever mentioned that they thought it was strange that I was apparently 100 yards off shore for 12 hours :)

    But yeah, I notice that many (including hikers) imagine that if they are in trouble, they will be able to reach and activate their tracking device. As I played out scenarios in my mind, I could see that would not necessarily be the case.

    There are a few extra features available with the Gen3, but they cost more money. And this year they raised the yearly fee a bit. Just the basic features are good enough - tells people where I am, shows when I'm on the water and where, and can signal help when necessary. I use the Okay message for "I'm here". I use the custom message for "Everything fine, just on Plan B because of weather, etc.", the Help says, "I'm fine - no emergency, just can't get back by myself, please help." and the last is full on Search and Rescue aid.

    To group: I considered sending this to WGalbraith directly, but figured knowledge of how these devices work - what their features are - can be useful.
     
  19. Kayak Jim

    Kayak Jim Paddler

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    jefffski likes this.