From VHF Calling to PFD's (Buoyancy Aids & Lifejackets)
Help, Advice and Discussions....
Tue Aug 08, 2017 12:45 pm
I wanted a PLB for extra piece of mind. These PLBs are pretty new on the market but looked pretty small and nifty. Obviously you wont know if it works or not until you activate it for real.
The only thing is I registered it online and after 3 months I haven't had any confirmation.
I rang the EPIRB registration people today for an update and they said they still have a 5 month backlog of registrations!!
They assured me the PLB would still work wile the registration was pending but it didn't exactly fill me with confidence. Just thought I'd share.
Tue Aug 08, 2017 8:20 pm
I sent my details for registration of my recently purchased Fast Find 220 PLB too.
Not ideal but I got the following email;
Your application to register or amend details of your 406 MHz beacon has been received by the Beacon Registry and it will be actioned as soon as possible.
Due to unprecedented demand for registration we might take up to ten weeks or longer to register your beacon.
I would like to assure you that even if an emergency beacon is not registered it will still transmit an alert, if activated, to the Search & Rescue authorities and action will be taken.
Regards, Beacon Team
UK Distress & Security Beacon Registry
T: 01326 211569 – our number is changing to 020 3817 2006
F: 01326 319264
Wed Aug 09, 2017 1:08 pm
OK Thanks Kaman.
When I rang them yesterday they said they were currently processing registrations received mid March which so it looks like a 4-5 month backlog.
I guess the main thing is that they say they should still work while the backlog is processed
Wed Aug 09, 2017 2:23 pm
Hopefully it will work and hopefully neither of us have cause to use it
Wed Aug 09, 2017 5:03 pm
This is my 3rd season with the PLB1. Prior to that I used an ACR RescueMe for 10 years. The uptake of PLBs has gone up substantially as the price has come down, (my ACR was £550 when I bought it 13 years ago). Whether it is registered or not, the PLB will raise an alarm that will be transmitted to the coastguard who will initiate a rescue. What may not happen is that your on shore contact number might not be phoned to check that it is not a false alarm.
A friend of mine is on the Silloth RNLI crew and he told me something I did not know. It is not just satellites that now pick up the PLB distress signal. Recently civilian aircraft also now carry receivers which forward your distress signal to the ground station. One of their recent "shouts" on the Solway had been transmitted via a London/North America jet flying the great circle route. This is particularly useful on the UK NW coast as the transatlantic jets fly up that way and there are often few other vessels about that might pick up a VHF DSC transmission.
All my sea kayaking friends carry PLBs and handheld VHFs but none have bothered with handheld VHF DSC because of the lack of other boats and there are many places up the west coast where the coastguard land antennae are out of range (voice and DSC digital) of VHF handhelds at sea level. The PLB distress signal is received high above you so being at sea level does not matter. (On a kayak a handheld DSC VHF has another disadvantage, due to the GPS in the DSC set, the battery life is usually only about a day on the water, less in the winter when it is cold.)
The PLB1 antenna is a stainless steel strip (like a measuring tape) that rolls into the unit. It is worth pulling it out, rinsing it and giving it a wipe with something like WD40 every so often so that you know it will deploy when needed!
The battery shelf life of new PLB1s is 7 years from manufacture. You can pick up old stock with 6y and 5y left much cheaper.
Although PLBs also transmit a local homing signal, it is also worth having some means of attracting attention once help (boat, helicopter) arrives. Traditionally flares/smoke have been used for this but they are dangerous, unreliable things that are difficult to dispose of in an environmentally ethical manner. Some people are now carrying laser flares for this purpose. I use the Greatland green laser, which is effective at a good distance even in daylight.
Wed Aug 09, 2017 10:26 pm
Interesting read Douglas and take note of the aircraft forwarding facility
I've owned a PLB for the past two years and always washed the unit following a days boating but never unfolded the antenna, so that's a good tip
Thu Aug 10, 2017 11:59 am
Great thanks for the info Douglas.
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