Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

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beinbhan
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Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by beinbhan »

What doe's everyone recommend for a handheld VHF radio and a PLB.

Owen
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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Owen »

I've been using a Standard Horizon HX280E for about six or seven years. I thought it was getting unreliable so I got another Standard Horizon a HX40E this time about half the size of the old HX280E. Turned out there was nothing wrong with the old set after all, so now I have a spare. Standard Horizon do about half a dozen different models I think their all quite good. I wouldn't get one with DCS they're expensive and drain the battery quite quickly.

For PLB, I have a Kannad Marine "Safe Link Solo" never used it in anger. But, it sits in my BA pocket quite reassuringly. Which reminds me I need to send it off for a battery change at the end of the month. I've not heard of any problems with any of the PLB's commonly on the market so just find one you like the price of.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by yrrab »

For PLB, ACR ResQLink 400 406MHz GPS Buoyant PLB. Not cheap but if attached to PFD once operated its hands free so doesn't rely on being held with cold hands.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by ChrisJK »

i have looked at those recommendations and a rough calculation makes it look like one could part with a few hundred quid plus not to mention I think it is mandatory to have undergone training and obtain a certificate to use a marine radio. Which can only be used in marine situations.
I am a relative newbie and generally do not go to sea solo but in the company of other club members all bristling with an array of such devices. I know we only have one life and it would be on that one occasion when I just edge round some head or point solo and come to grief. Is there a basic plb that can sit in my BA that won't cost more than my entire kit!

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Beryl »

“Is there a basic plb that can sit in my BA that won't cost more than my entire kit!”

They come up secondhand on eBay. Mine was a FastFind220 with four years until battery change. £85
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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Owen »

Don't know exactly what your budget is but found this https://www.marinesuperstore.com/safety ... 20-gps-plb quite a good price. Radios AND PLB's are nice for reassurance but we paddled for years before such things became available.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by northsearoller »

I have used standard horizon hx 851 DSC , bulky but pretty good
My go to is an icon M25
Super simple, the battery seems to last weeks, chargeable with a usb etc
Plb
I have a fast find 220 Mcmurdo
Strong recommendation as their servicing and support is exceptional

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In Amber Clad
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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by In Amber Clad »

I got a rescueme plb last year on offer from youboatmarine.com. It was £168 and will last 7 years. Shop around a bit, see what you can find. For its price and size, a plb is maybe the most valuable piece of safety kit I paddle with.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by ChrisJK »

Ok thanks for these I am not quite ready to shell out but will keep an eye out.
Yes I was thinking the plb was higher priority.
There are also these https://daniamant.com/category/led-flares/

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Chris Bolton »

I disagree that (for most paddlers) the plb is more important than the VHF. I only bought a plb when I was planning a trip in the Outer Hebrides, where I knew there was no phone or VHF signal. With a plb, you can indicate that you're in distress, and where you are. It may not be picked up immediately if there don't happen to be any aircraft or satellites overhead, and before anyone will call out SAR they will take time to check whether it might be a false alarm, possibly by looking at your registered details and where the distress call is from - it could be an hour before they start looking for you. You don't need a course, but you do need to pay about £80 every 5-7 years for new batteries.

With a VHF, on most of the UK coastal waters, you can tell the CG you have a problem, where you are (usually) and what the problem is, and if you need rescue, they will call out immediately. It may not be that you need a rescue; I've used VHF to tell the Coastguard my trip plan, and later that we're safely ashore, to tell them that the number of paddlers in my group has changed as one has gone back to the beach, to tell them that somebody else has set off a flare, to tell them that one of our group has paddled off the front of the group and lost contact (and where he can meet us), and CG have contacted me to check we were OK after a yacht reported kayaks out in F5 (!) and to check that the paddler we escorted back to the beach was OK (after the Coastwatch volunteers said they couldn't see her). I've used it to get their 3 hourly local marine weather forecasts, and to speak to other members of the group after we split up to look on both sides of an island for a good camp site, and to call a car ferry to tell them where we were so that they didn't run us down. None of those could have been done with a plb.

Yes, I did have to go on a course to get a Certificate of Competence, and it probably cost me the same as the petrol to get to Anglesey, and I had to fill in a form on the Ofcom website to get a free licence - not really a problem for 25 years use of VHF.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Beryl »

The OP seems to want both so that should cover it. But some, like myself, have chosen one rather than the other so CB’s post is spot on. The problem with PLB’s is the delay in getting your location pronto. Peeps experience of GPS is mostly through their phones, which is is pretty much instant because it’s aided by the phone masts triangulation. Take that away, ie use something like a Garmin watch and you can wait some time to be GPS ready. But even the watch uses an online app to update itself on the satellites nearby. Take that away; ie a PLB that’s never been used for years until you use it in distress and a problem emerges just when you need it.
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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by pathbrae »

Pros and cons?
PLB
If you do anything else in the wilds (walking, hill-walking, mountain bike, ski, etc. ) then a PLB will serve you well in your other sports whereas a VHF is only of any value for time on the water (although that isn't necesserally in a kayak)
PLB - batteries need to be replaced, unit serviced etc. every x years. There is a cost associated with that but, if you divide the cost of owning one by the miles (or days) paddled with it, it's probably not too much per mile. And how much is your own safety worth? Most (probably all) have a self-test function to let you know that they think they are working.

VHF - Excellent for group comms, comunicating with other vessels, harbour / port control, weather info, calling in passage plans and, hopefully only very rarely, asking for help. A VHF isn't a one time purchase either. A rechargeable VHF battery will only take so many charges and is not cheap to replace and the set itself might not last much more than 5 to 10 years (if you are lucky), depending on how much you use it, how careful you are with rinsing it / cleaning it every time you come back from a trip. At least it is easy to confirm that it is working - if you can make and receive calls, it's OK but you can't really test that until you are on the water, by which time it might be too late to do anything about it.

Neither replaces the other. PLB is a bit of kit you hope you will never need to use. VHF is something you will probably use every time you are out.

I have a floating DSC VHF and a non-floating, non DSC set, both Standard Horizon. The standard set gets much more use - it's smaller, lighter and has much better battery life so the DSC set usually gets left at home.

Have a list of features you might need, ask others what they think about them (I always thought USB charging would be useful but I have heard tales of corroded USB ports...) Floating sounds good - but it adds size. DSC sounds like an excellent idea - but it reduces battery life (if you leave the GPS on) A lot of sets take a battery tray to use with standard AA batteries - but they often don't work on full power when using it.

It's like most things - there are no easy answers, just more and more questions.....
So much sea - so little time to see it.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by pathbrae »

Beryl wrote:
Sun Nov 15, 2020 9:57 pm
The OP seems to want both so that should cover it. But some, like myself, have chosen one rather than the other so CB’s post is spot on. The problem with PLB’s is the delay in getting your location pronto. Peeps experience of GPS is mostly through their phones, which is is pretty much instant because it’s aided by the phone masts triangulation. Take that away, ie use something like a Garmin watch and you can wait some time to be GPS ready. But even the watch uses an online app to update itself on the satellites nearby. Take that away; ie a PLB that’s never been used for years until you use it in distress and a problem emerges just when you need it.
A PLB will start to transmit a distress call as soon as it's activated and a rough position will be made from the area the signal originated from, even though that's going to be a very big box. . Once a GPS fix is made it will transmit your prescise location.There could be a delay in launching a search but, from reports from kayakers who have used PLBs, that delay is fairly short Most also broadcast a homing signal for SAR aircraft and vessels to use to find you.
VHF can also be used by lifeboat crews to guide them in - but you need to be actively transmitting (in a rescue, RNLI will often ask the casualty vessel to transmit to get a fix with their radio direction finder.)
So much sea - so little time to see it.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by ChrisJK »

The OP hasn't reappeared as yet. I put purchases in a sort of queue and these devices often get put back but perhaps VHF radio is slightly ahead of the plb, I can see that groups often get spaced out and even then it could take a while before another member came to ones aid a VHF just might help there. I did see an episode of 'Saving lives at sea' where a kayaker had got flipped out but then dropped her VHF and that went to meet Davy Jones. Thankfully her phone was in an aquapac which is an essential item.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Jonathan. »

When you’re buying a vhf it’s worth thinking about how you’re going to carry it on your person.

My Icon M71 has served me well for ten years, but it is on the large side and doesn’t fit easily in the pocket of my BA.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Owen »

Beryl wrote:
Sun Nov 15, 2020 9:57 pm
The OP seems to want both so that should cover it. But some, like myself, have chosen one rather than the other so CB’s post is spot on. The problem with PLB’s is the delay in getting your location pronto. Peeps experience of GPS is mostly through their phones, which is is pretty much instant because it’s aided by the phone masts triangulation. Take that away, ie use something like a Garmin watch and you can wait some time to be GPS ready. But even the watch uses an online app to update itself on the satellites nearby. Take that away; ie a PLB that’s never been used for years until you use it in distress and a problem emerges just when you need it.

I've used both stand alone GPS and viewranger on my phone, the longest I've waited for a signal is ten minutes. That was at high latitude where there isn't much satellite coverage. In this country the wait is usually under three minutes.

beinbhan
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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by beinbhan »

Thanks for the input from everyone. I have a birthday coming up and with christmas on the way as well I hope the family will get together and buy me one or the other.
Other related question is doe's anyone know if RYA are doing VHF exams with covid around? I will do an online course but will still need to do the exam.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Chris Bolton »

The RYA site has a list of places that offer training and exam, but you have to go to the individual training organisation sites to see if there are courses being run:

https://www.rya.org.uk/wheresmynearest/ ... ?code=SRCC

The search by place isn't brilliant; I found you need to put a country, not a town.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Beryl »

Owen wrote:
Mon Nov 16, 2020 12:03 pm
Beryl wrote:
Sun Nov 15, 2020 9:57 pm
The OP seems to want both so that should cover it. But some, like myself, have chosen one rather than the other so CB’s post is spot on. The problem with PLB’s is the delay in getting your location pronto. Peeps experience of GPS is mostly through their phones, which is is pretty much instant because it’s aided by the phone masts triangulation. Take that away, ie use something like a Garmin watch and you can wait some time to be GPS ready. But even the watch uses an online app to update itself on the satellites nearby. Take that away; ie a PLB that’s never been used for years until you use it in distress and a problem emerges just when you need it.

I've used both stand alone GPS and viewranger on my phone, the longest I've waited for a signal is ten minutes. That was at high latitude where there isn't much satellite coverage. In this country the wait is usually under three minutes.
Let’s hope so. But I have to say my Garmin watch took at least two minutes the other day and that has its satellite info updated everyday in high coverage England. For such a ‘last chance saloon’ piece of equipment I find it disturbing that there isn’t some agreed regime for testing its actual function and establishing it’s likely area of use rather than just a battery test.
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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by andynormancx »

The RescueMe PLB1 provides a GPS test feature to check it can get a GPS fix, which they recommended you use no more than once a year (as it uses a fair amount of battery).

I expect some other PLBs have similar test modes.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Beryl »

Yes, mine has that function too. Under ideal situations it may actually alert the authorities: hence the condition to use it only in the first five minutes of any hour. It’s a burst transmission rather than the continuous transmission of a real emergency so, if it persists after that first five minutes the coastguard will know it’s a genuine call.

My concern is still that using it without it being updated on the positions of satellites in the position it is activated can lead to possible avoidable delays. It hardly applies to me as I’m rarely out of range of summoning help with me whistle but I just find it interesting...
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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Owen »

Beryl wrote:
Thu Dec 10, 2020 10:53 pm


My concern is still that using it without it being updated on the positions of satellites in the position it is activated can lead to possible avoidable delays. It hardly applies to me as I’m rarely out of range of summoning help with me whistle but I just find it interesting...
Don't think it actually works like that.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Jonny_W »

Owen wrote:
Fri Dec 11, 2020 7:56 am
Beryl wrote:
Thu Dec 10, 2020 10:53 pm


My concern is still that using it without it being updated on the positions of satellites in the position it is activated can lead to possible avoidable delays. It hardly applies to me as I’m rarely out of range of summoning help with me whistle but I just find it interesting...
Don't think it actually works like that.
No I don’t think it works like either. My understanding is that is is a different satellite system used for PLBs (i.e. COSPAS-SARSAT supplemented by GEOSAR). There will be a delay in your distress signal reaching the coastguard (Gordon Brown’s book says 5 - 45 minutes) and then a delay in the lifeboat (10 minutes) or helicopter (15 minutes day; 45 minutes night) being launched and their journey time to you. However, some of the reports I’ve seen talk about 30 minutes between activating the PLB to a lifeboat being on scene - pretty impressive. And it all depends .... So back to practising my rolling and self-rescue techniques and peer rescue techniques and (hopefully) never having to press the button.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Jonny_W »

I went for a RescueMe PLB1 because, at the time time it was the smallest with the longest battery life (7 years). It has a 406MHz transmission to the satellite and a 121.5 MHz homing signal for the rescue craft to lock on to. Slight downside is that, in use, the extendible aerial needs to be vertical, so I might be having to be actively holding that whilst trying to do other stuff at the same time.

I went for a Standard Horizon HX870E (current version is HX890) which is a DSC VHF radio bristling with functionality - but it’s bulky. I wish I’d gone for a smaller, slimmer model (which probably wouldn’t have DSC and GPS).

In case of emergency, Gordon Brown suggests setting off PLB; then calling Coastguard on VHF (to give them lots of useful info and confirm that the PLB transmission is you); then setting off flare, when you see the rescue craft (hopefully they’ll be homing in on the homing signal too).

PLB must be registered at https://www.gov.uk/maritime-safety-weat ... hz-beacons

And radio must be licensed with Ofcom at https://www.ofcom.org.uk/manage-your-li ... hips-radio

And strongly preferably, you should have your VHF operator’s certificate https://www.rya.org.uk/courses-training ... s/src.aspx

And maybe you’ve added lots of really useful information, like your kayak’s hull and deck colours to RYA SafeTrx https://www.rya.org.uk/knowledge-advice ... fetrx.aspx, which the Coastguard can access.

Hope this helps.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Beryl »

Jonny_W wrote:
Fri Dec 11, 2020 9:58 am
Owen wrote:
Fri Dec 11, 2020 7:56 am
Beryl wrote:
Thu Dec 10, 2020 10:53 pm


My concern is still that using it without it being updated on the positions of satellites in the position it is activated can lead to possible avoidable delays. It hardly applies to me as I’m rarely out of range of summoning help with me whistle but I just find it interesting...
Don't think it actually works like that.
No I don’t think it works like either. My understanding is that is is a different satellite system used for PLBs (i.e. COSPAS-SARSAT supplemented by GEOSAR). There will be a delay in your distress signal reaching the coastguard (Gordon Brown’s book says 5 - 45 minutes) and then a delay in the lifeboat (10 minutes) or helicopter (15 minutes day; 45 minutes night) being launched and their journey time to you. However, some of the reports I’ve seen talk about 30 minutes between activating the PLB to a lifeboat being on scene - pretty impressive. And it all depends .... So back to practising my rolling and self-rescue techniques and peer rescue techniques and (hopefully) never having to press the button.
You may be right but with all these tracking systems in the sky it should be possible to.bypass everything to pluck someone out of the sea more rapidly?

There is a system on our smart phones to bypass stuff in an emergency that does much the same stuff?
Otherwise, yer right. I went out today in a quite turbulent estuary and avoided the worse wind over tide just to avoid being a burden (and getting wet)
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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by andynormancx »

Beryl wrote:
Sat Dec 12, 2020 8:00 pm
There is a system on our smart phones to bypass stuff in an emergency that does much the same stuff?
Not sure what you're on about there ?

Your mobile can:

- receive GPS signals to locate itself
- talk to a cell tower to communicate with the outside world

If you aren't in range of a cell tower your phone is useless for calling for help. It can't talk to satellites to call for help the way a PLB can, it doesn't have the hardware to do it.

Though I guess theoretically if there were a constellation of satellites listening on 4G frequencies then a cell phone could then operate much like a PLB, but sadly such a constellation of satellites doesn't exist. Assuming that is a cell phone's has the power/antenna to get a signal to a low earth orbit satellite (quite possibly not given the size of antenna on PLBs).

I expect if we were starting again designing the cell phone and SAR system from scratch things might be done differently. Though imagine the extra level of false alarms they'd have to deal with if every phone in the world was also a PLB !

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Beryl »

112. It’s an emergency item hardwired into mobile phones that bypasses all the financial/business stuff to get you out of deep shit without having to give credit card details. I may be wrong but there is always someone to point this out on here :)
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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Chris Bolton »

So far as I know, 112 is just the European equivalent of 999, and works the same way. You can also register for the 999 text service which allows you to call the emergency services when your phone signal is too weak for a voice call.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Beryl »

Chris Bolton wrote:
Sat Dec 12, 2020 10:36 pm
So far as I know, 112 is just the European equivalent of 999, and works the same way. You can also register for the 999 text service which allows you to call the emergency services when your phone signal is too weak for a voice call.
I think you don’t need to register anything. It’s a service of last resort?
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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Chris Bolton »

It says here
You will only be able to use this service if you have registered with EmergencySMS first

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