PLB protection

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NTR
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PLB protection

Post by NTR » Tue Nov 20, 2018 3:30 pm

Do you put your PLB in a tiny dry bag? I’d like to keep it in my PFD but I don’t want to worry about salt water corrosion during surf or roll sessions. Dry bags add bulk, though.

Chris Bolton
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Re: PLB protection

Post by Chris Bolton » Tue Nov 20, 2018 4:47 pm

I've always carried my McMurdo Findfast in my PFD pocket. It's been fine. It has passed self tests, and when I sent it for battery replacement after 5 years there was no adverse feedback.

Stuart M
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Re: PLB protection

Post by Stuart M » Tue Nov 20, 2018 5:16 pm

I too have mine just stuck in my BA pocket (Mcmurdo Fastfind). No sign of water ingress or corrosion so far.
... but when will it rain and be warm... ?

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Re: PLB protection

Post by PlymouthDamo » Tue Nov 20, 2018 6:01 pm

All the PLBs I've seen have been waterproof and completely plastic - i.e. nothing to corrode in salt-water. My model (McMurdo FastFind Max) has only one potential failure point as far as the waterproofing goes - the battery terminals. This model has a user-replaceable battery, which you screw onto the unit, so the battery terminals are surrounded by o-rings which gets squished when you screw on the battery. Its feasible that these o-rings could get damaged, or the battery could become unscrewed, so I go belt and braces: for diving, I use McMurdo's aluminium pressure housing, but for paddling, I just put it in any old watertight bag - e.g. a ziplock freezer bag. Sounds a bit precarious, but does the job if you're careful when stowing it.

Northern Blue
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Re: PLB protection

Post by Northern Blue » Tue Nov 20, 2018 8:59 pm

As per others, my McMurdo stays in my BA pocket and has survived many soakings during self rescue and rolling practice.

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Re: PLB protection

Post by zoeimogen » Wed Nov 21, 2018 8:09 am

My OceanSignal rescueME PLB1 usually lives on the shoulder strap of my BA when I'm sea kayaking - if I go in to cold water and need to use it, I'd like to to be somewhere I can't lose it even while it's operating. Never had a problem with salt water causing any issues, even rolling practice. (Which often ends up swimming practice for me)

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Robert Craig
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Re: PLB protection

Post by Robert Craig » Wed Nov 21, 2018 10:15 am

Mine just sits (on a leash) in my BA pocked. It's passes it's self-test every time so far.

I'd worry about the "cold hands" problem if it were in a drybag.

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Re: PLB protection

Post by seawolf856 » Mon Nov 26, 2018 2:11 pm

My rescueME PLB1 has been in a small dry bag in my PFD pocket for ages. The thought was it would last longer if I offered it some protection. I roll the top of the dry bag down but with the PLB leash sticking out so that the PLB stays tethered to me even when I open the bag. I have been in the water many times (mostly intentionally I might add) without even thinking about the small bag in my pocket.
Anyway I took the PLB out to do a routine test last night after spending all weekend in the water doing rescue training and (of course) the dry bag had leaked due to the interference of the tether. It has probably been soaking wet for absolutely ages.

However - the moral of this story is that the PLB was completely perfect in every way with no signs of corrosion and it passed the test too. I guess the dry bag is going to be binned.

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Re: PLB protection

Post by Daker » Mon Nov 26, 2018 8:34 pm

For sea kayaking I'm happy with mine just in my PFD pocket but for dedicated surfing (only if its big and I'm solo or a long way off shore) I tend to just stick it in a zip-lock bag first, leaving the lanyard out to tied to a strap or similar. I'm not overly concerned about the bag not being 100% waterproof as its more to minimise the dynamic water pressure which could potentially be greater than the static pressure the device is rated to.

Something to bare in mind is how / where you intend to use the PLB if needed in anger as there are reports of them being ineffective is not held well clear of the water and pointed to the sky which, frankly, is going to be hard if swimming in a rough sea whilst keeping yourself upright and maybe also hanging on to your kit. This alone makes me wonder if having it permanently attached to the PFD shoulder strap may actually be a better option, but that assumes swimming on ones back rather than front.

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Re: PLB protection

Post by andynormancx » Tue Nov 27, 2018 12:10 pm

I've seen people with them attached to their shoulder strap. I'm not convinced that I'd actually be able to extend the antenna and activate mine while it was attached to my shoulder strap. I'm fairly sure I'd struggle to visually see whether or not I'd activated it.

So my plan is to keep it in a pocket until I need it. If I need to activate it I'll then attach it either to my shoulder strap or maybe the boat (might be easier to keep it up out of the water there, with the obvious risk of getting separated from the boat and hence the PLB).

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Re: PLB protection

Post by Robert Craig » Tue Nov 27, 2018 12:54 pm

It would be good to be able to borrow a dummy PLB to practice with

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Re: PLB protection

Post by seawolf856 » Tue Nov 27, 2018 1:25 pm

andynormancx wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 12:10 pm
I've seen people with them attached to their shoulder strap. I'm not convinced that I'd actually be able to extend the antenna and activate mine while it was attached to my shoulder strap. I'm fairly sure I'd struggle to visually see whether or not I'd activated it.
Very good point Andy, my rescueME PLB1 is very small with very small buttons and I doubt very much if I could operate it single handed on my PFD strap. So if you have to take if off the strap and use two hands anyway, it might as well stay in your PFD pocket.
Having done a lot of rescue practice recently, a clean PFD with nothing clipped/strapped or poking out of the pockets is definitely preferable. The biggest fly in that ointment is your VHF antenna.
Wearing gloves also seriously impairs the handling of small items and pressing small buttons - but I digress!

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Re: PLB protection

Post by AndyMacp » Tue Nov 27, 2018 9:36 pm

For the last couple of years I’ve had my plb on my right shoulder strap but more at the back rather than on my front. My logic was that I could reach over with the left hand, activate it, and stick it back in the pouch with the antenna in the best orientation likely in the circumstances ie hunched over and miserable or worse still in the water. My vhf has been on my left shoulder strap where all I have to do is press the button to talk.

Having recently got a new pfd with more pockets I’m looking at alternative setups that leave the devices less at risk in surf although I still like the idea of being able to clip them to shoulder straps if things get bad enough.

I’ve tested the over-the-shoulder arrangement in fair weather and calm water but part of the reason I’m looking at alternatives is because of doubts about how well I’d do it all in adverse conditions with cold hands and scared. However, neither device has got in the way in rolls or rescues and the radio antenna in particular doesn’t poke me in the eye or go up my nose. No water damage either but it’s still really encouraging to read that other peoples’ plbs have also been ok.

My dexterity with gloves is probably as poor as most, so open palm mitts that let me keep most of my hands warm most of the time and are drop-proof seem to work best for me.

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Re: PLB protection

Post by Chris Bolton » Tue Nov 27, 2018 10:32 pm

This discussion prompts me to think that the McMurdo Fastfind 210, which I have, may not be the best choice for sea kayaking, as it requires the antenna to be unwound. That will make it very difficult to handle if swimming. Any thoughts on this?

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Re: PLB protection

Post by andynormancx » Wed Nov 28, 2018 8:19 am

When you say unwound do you really mean unwound or just pulled out. The rescueMe PLB1 needs to have its antenna deploy, but you just pull on the end of it to unwind it.

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Re: PLB protection

Post by Chris Bolton » Wed Nov 28, 2018 8:45 am

When you say unwound do you really mean unwound or just pulled out
I've posted the instructions from the manual below. Certainly not feasible to put it on a shoulder strap; could I do all that while floating in conditions that would lose me my boat?

Image

Image

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Re: PLB protection

Post by andynormancx » Wed Nov 28, 2018 12:36 pm

If you watch videos on using it you’ll see that deploying it is easier than those instructions make it look, the videos show that the antenna springs free once you pop the top off. Could actually potentially be easier than the rescueMe.

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Re: PLB protection

Post by RichJ » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:25 am

Hopefully, none of us will need these devices!
However, plb1 and presumably the 'fast find' will work with the antenna wound down. But not so well, according to the manufacturer.
Please excuse stating the obvious but it seemed relevant.
Rich

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Robert Craig
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Re: PLB protection

Post by Robert Craig » Fri Jan 11, 2019 12:30 pm

Interesting!

Can you give me a reference to this?

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Re: PLB protection

Post by Chris Bolton » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:35 pm

The manual for my Fastfind doesn't mention use with the antenna in the storage position. You have to remove the cover to access the ON button, and I think the antenna will unwind itself when you take the cover off, so I don't see the point. The instructions for unwinding it are just to stop it unwinding fast and catching you in the face.

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Re: PLB protection

Post by RichJ » Fri Jan 11, 2019 8:45 pm

Hi Robert Craig,

The reference I have is 'personal communication' with the manufacturer. Makes sense, though. I'm not trying to advocate such use but in 'extremis', it's worth a try.

Rich

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Re: PLB protection

Post by Chris Bolton » Sat Jan 12, 2019 7:13 pm

The reference I have is 'personal communication' with the manufacturer.
Rich, is that the manufacturer of the PLB1? Just interested to know whether your comment on the Fastfind is based on it looking similar to the PLB1, or whether you have contact with McMurdo as well?

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Re: PLB protection

Post by RichJ » Mon Jan 14, 2019 8:08 pm

Hi Chris,
I report comments made to me by Ocean Signal, manufacturers of PLB1.
But it all makes sense! 'In extremis' it's worth giving everything a go! I know from my own, limited knowledge of radio (amateur radio) that matching the antenna to the transmitter is essential. In this case pulling it out. However, you are most likely to transmit something, albeit reduced signal strength even with the antenna wound in. I'm seriously not trying to advocate such use but (again) pointing out that if there is no other option, give it a go!

Rich

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