Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

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Beryl
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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Beryl »

I’m glad my ignorance has stimulated this debate.,, :)
Growing old disgracefully

andynormancx
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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by andynormancx »

Beryl wrote:
Sat Dec 12, 2020 9:46 pm
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 :)
Ok, I can see the confusion here. When you dial 999 or 112 on a mobile it will use any mobile network it can find to place the call.

So you can make a 999 call even if you have no signal from your chosen mobile provider. However if you don’t have a signal from any networks, you still won’t be able to make a 999 call.

Those talking about the 999 SMS text service, yes you do have to register for it, though it is very quick to do so and is done via text.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by ChrisJK »

I have just watched saving lives at sea and a well equipped solo kayaker of 66 got flipped out by swell close to the coast he didn't appear to try a self rescue for what ever reason and swam to the rocky shore but thankfully had a plb.
I keep umming and ahhing about shelling out a couple of hundred on one but for an occasional solo tripper on the sea. What's the first purchase, a plb, a satellite messenger or a marine radio?
Re reading this thread possibly a VHF radio is the first but is there much difference between PLB and satellite messenger at similar prices?

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Nismosteve »

When I did my vhf marine radio course in 2019 a plb was recommended as an addition. The good thing is they are simple to operate if you are badly injured or seriously ill, such as having a Heart attack. Also they float and are waterproof.
At the start of the course, everyone was asked why they wanted a VHF Marine radio. There were Sea kayakers. Owner Yachtsmen. Two guys who Sailed Yachts all over the world for owners and a Fishing boat Owner (upgrading to dsc). Everyone replied " for safety".
The person instructing was a Cockle fisherman who joined the Coastguard with 16 years experience working as a Coastguard officer at the sharp end.
One thing he said really stuck in my mind. When you call mayday, every seafarer who hears the call will come to your rescue iff they can. Trawler men will drop their nets, as you are one of theirs when you're at Sea. Reassuring when you are in danger.
Of course there are lot's of other usefull aspects to owning a radio.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Chris Bolton »

is there much difference between PLB and satellite messenger at similar prices
A plb is for the sole purpose of sending a distress message, and it communicates directly with a network designed for that purpose. A satellite messenger has several uses, but a distress call has to be relayed by the messaging agency. The battery on a plb won't be flat when you come to use it. I don't think the signal is as strong on a satellite messenger, and the satellite coverage isn't as necessarily good (Inreach is better than Spot in higher latitudes). Satellite messengers are two way, which can be useful, if you're in a position to use them. Stranded on a beach, a satellite messenger might be more use, swimming, a plb might be better.

A similar purchase price is only half the story, as you need a subscription to use a satellite messenger, even for a distress call. The Inreach is £24/year to be registered and £17/month you have it activated, I don't know what the Spot costs. A plb needs no subscription, only a service and new battery after 5 or 6 years, typically about £80.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by ChrisJK »

Thanks Chris. I did find that there was a subscription for a satellite messenger. So being careful with the cash probably VHF first which I can see I can get one for around £100 plus whatever the certificate course costs.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by ChrisJK »

Hi Chris
Just a further question Re VHF radios do they operate close inshore and in the situation cited in my post would one work on a rocky or isolated beach given that hopefully there are other vessels with radios in the vicinity?
Chris

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Owen »

Chris Bolton wrote:
Sat Jan 16, 2021 8:28 pm
is there much difference between PLB and satellite messenger at similar prices
A plb needs no subscription, only a service and new battery after 5 or 6 years, typically about £160.
Just changed the battery in mine, gone up quite a bit.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Owen »

ChrisJK wrote:
Sun Jan 17, 2021 12:25 pm
Hi Chris
Just a further question Re VHF radios do they operate close inshore and in the situation cited in my post would one work on a rocky or isolated beach given that hopefully there are other vessels with radios in the vicinity?
Chris
They work in "Line of sight" if there is nothing between you and the other set then the range is about seven to eight miles. If there is anything solid like a cliff, hill, concrete structure between you and the other set the signal will be blocked. Even a big ship could act as a barrier. If you are very close inshore such as in a bay or cove or even just under a high cliff your signal may not have a pathway to your chosen recipient. Sometimes gaining height (difficult in a kayak) or moving out into the open is the only way of getting through. BLP's also work by line of sight but as satellites are up in the sky cliffs and hills are less of a problem.

The other thing to remember is even if you can't get through there might be someone else in range who can, in an emergence I don't think anyone would not relay your message for you.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Chris Bolton »

Just a further question Re VHF radios do they operate close inshore and in the situation cited in my post would one work on a rocky or isolated beach given that hopefully there are other vessels with radios in the vicinity?
The signal goes direct, not via a cell mast like phones. The 'line of sight' actually can have a little of a bend, but not much. The curvature of the earth is enough to be a problem sometimes, so getting a few metres above water level increases the range.

So you can talk to other vessels up to a few miles away, and the Coastguard provided you're roughly in line of sight to an aerial. Some beaches are fine, others not. When I've landed at a wild camping spot I often have to climb a small hill to get the coastguard.

I made a map of where the coastguard aerials are.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Chris Bolton »

Just changed the battery in mine, gone up quite a bit.
You're right - although the place I used for my Fastfind 210 has only gone up to £100.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by ChrisJK »

Is dsc essential for general coastal kayaking

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In Amber Clad
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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by In Amber Clad »

ChrisJK wrote:
Mon Jan 18, 2021 1:41 pm
Is dsc essential for general coastal kayaking
Sea kayakers seem to be split 50 50 on this one. For me, it has the same drawback as a regular VHF in that someone needs to be able to hear it, as well as using more battery and being more expensive. A lot of the places where I like to paddle are remote and quiet, hence why I prefer a PLB.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Chris Bolton »

Is dsc essential for general coastal kayaking
I would say, no, but it may depend where you're paddling. West coast of Scotland, there's not much traffic so Ch16 isn't too busy. South coast of England on a summer weekend, quite the opposite. I don't have DSC, and have never had any problem using Ch16, but I don't go to busy places.

My brother, who is a yachtsman, master mariner and harbour pilot, tells me there are some many false alarms with DSC distress calls that if you want a response you need to confirm on voice, so the 'big red button' isn't worth as much as people think. Other reasons why I didn't buy DSC are the battery life and the size, although there may be smaller DSC handhelds now.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by ChrisJK »

Ok thank you.

I think having dsc adds about £100 to the cost of a basic non dsc radio so as a generally accompanied paddler I've gone for the basic.

https://www.marinescene.co.uk/product/1 ... 5gQAvD_BwE

note there is a further 7% till Feb if you tick the voucher box. which goes for other models also.

Perhaps I'm putting the cart before the horse as I now need to do the course and sit an exam . The course can be done on line

https://sailtrain.org.uk/rya-vhf-radio- ... RgQAvD_BwE

Plus the licence £60 and some hire cost towards the exam venue.(post lockdown)

It all adds up to nearly as much as I paid for my kayak!

Am I accidentally breaking protocols by adding commercial links?

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Chris Bolton »

Am I accidentally breaking protocols by adding commercial links?
No, only if they were things you were selling. In that case they should be in Products & Media.
Plus the licence £60
The licence (for the radio set, from Ofcom) is free. The course and the exam get you the Certificate of Competence.
It all adds up to nearly as much as I paid for my kayak!
I did the course and exam 35 years ago and haven't had to redo them - I've bought 3 new kayaks since then.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by ChrisJK »

Thanks Chris
It would be nice to think I'll still be paddling at 99!

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Fozzy »

A couple of friends of mine work for the coastguard, one is also lifeboat crew. They are both sea kayakers.

They both say PLB will get an instant response as soon as they receive the signal. They will send the world and his wife. They also both say they receive many many broken radio transmissions and have no idea what the sender is saying. That includes radios from huge ships with very stromng transmission signals and a high antenna, so don't expect a huge amounbt from your little handheld a few inches above sea level.
I'm ex police and also am very aware of the limitations of VHF.

That said we all carry both. I use a Standard Horizon HX300e and a McMurdo Fastfind. We regularly use our radios for group chat, weather forecasts and to inform the coastguard of our plans etc. In a genuine emergency I'll probably pull out my PLB first. I won't rely on a radio.
DSC radios are all well and good but do eat battery life. Yes they transmit your position, but that transmission is no more reliable than any other radio transmission you make.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by ChrisJK »

Thanks Fozzy
I am not sure if the OP has now got some hardware but my Standard Horizon HX300e is on it's way and I've stumped up for the course. It'll be good for my brain if nothing else, lifelong learning etc. Thanks for the info on the pros and cons of VHF at least it's a start. 999 from a phone might also hit the mark? I have purchases lined up : VHF plus course (check), think about new kayak or self build, purchase plb.
Has anyone done the RYA online course?, I'm vacillating between getting a hard copy manual or ebook with interactive features.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by beinbhan »

As the original poster for this thread an update may be appropriate. I was lucky enough to receive a ACR resQlink as a joint birthday and christmas present and purchased a Standard Horizon HX40E VHF. I am in the process of doing an online VHF course but with lockdown who know's when i will be able to travel to do the exam or even get back on the water.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by ChrisJK »

Hi Beinbhan

Thanks thats good news.

Talking to my course administrator (sailtrain). They are "rammed" with students taking advantage of lockdown so one presumes, centres when they open will be likewise busy.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by pathbrae »

It's a pity RYA can't put together an on-line assessment, possibly using teams or zoom, to cope with the current situation.
Surely a PC based VHF simuator couldn't be too difficult to produce, especially given the class-room tests are held using the equivalent of fixed ship DSC sets and not hand-helds.
So much sea - so little time to see it.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by ChrisJK »

That's an interesting thought.
My online course has RYA qualification and uses at least partially interactive activities where one can record responses to questions and allows several 'mock' tests.
Theoretically one could also do an actual test similarly?

As a sextagenarian I am enjoying the learning process. I have never been very good at maths, but most things in nature actually run on numbers and rhythms and radio is no exception, so there is some of this information to absorb!

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Chris Bolton »

The problem with doing the exam online is probably verification of identity and that there's nobody in the background helping the candidate. RYA don't own the process, they are delegated to run it by Ofcom, and I think the need for Certificate of competence comes from international agreements, so there will be a big hurdle to jump. Unfortunate, through, as online tests could be cheaper and encourage more people to be properly qualified..

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by ChrisJK »

Thanks Chris. I guess assistance or cribbing would be easy, I am an amateur. In a small craft and not in charge of a tanker and less likely to put others in jeopardy.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Chris Bolton »

In a small craft and not in charge of a tanker and less likely to put others in jeopardy.
Understood - but it's not testing your fitness to be in charge of a boat, it's testing whether it's safe to let you use a radio transmitter. All you have to do is hold the transmit button down and nobody within range can use their radio. Or decide to call up your mates on Ch16 and chat about the weather without realising there's a mayday in progress. Or even when you're trying to help; there's a mayday call, you realise nobody has responded and try to relay it, but get the procedure wrong and the lifeboat comes to rescue you instead.

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by ChrisJK »

Hi Chris I wasn't whining about needing to do an exam as a small craft, It was more that if someone in a responsible position had bypassed properly knowing Radio procedures and etiquette fatal consequences could ensue.
Doing the course is educational. I can see chatter is not what VHF is generally for.
Thinking laterally does using common land based walky talkies have a place for that purpose?

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by Chris Bolton »

I wasn't whining about needing to do an exam as a small craft
I didn't think you were :-).
if someone in a responsible position had bypassed properly knowing Radio procedures and etiquette fatal consequences could ensue
The point I was trying to make is that anyone operating a radio is in a responsible position. While somebody in charge of a tanker has many more opportunities to cause an accident than somebody in a kayak, using incorrect radio procedure isn't one of them.
Walkie talkie radios up to 0.5W transmission power don't need a licence, but 0.5W doesn't give you much range - marine handheld VHF are usually 5W on the high power setting. A walkie talkie over 0.5W needs a licence; I don't know what the rules are for permitted traffic. The best thing for chat is a mobile phone (or staying within voice range!).

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by ChrisJK »

I have charged up my marine radio and applied for the licence on the OFCOM site.
I am working through the online course with Sailtrain.

In the process of applying for the licence I find that it should also cover me for any PLB I purchase at a later date. I hadn't entirely picked up that one does actually need a marine radio licence for a PLB if used at sea: "A licence is needed even if the only radio equipment carried on board a ship is an EPIRB or PLB or an MOB device." clause 3.7 in the guidlines. However there is an exemption for use on land. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2011 ... e/data.pdf.

I think someone in the thread pointed out the usefulness of a PLB in say the highlands. I guess one could also use one in the case of a serious RTA or incident in an area with poor mobile coverage?

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Re: Recommendations for VHF radio and PLB

Post by ChrisJK »

I was looking up about using marine radio on inland waterways and found this: https://www.waterways.org.uk/wp-content ... idance.pdf

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