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Old 02-06-2024, 10:03 PM   #1
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Solo personal safety

Beginning my solo adventures on my 38' trawler in the PNW and the thought of safety is on my mind. While onboard I feel I have systems in place but looking for options while "exploring" in my RIB. I will be going to shore often in very remote regions up the BC coast. Ideas are percolating around INReach, Spot, VHF, ect. I'm really looking for an "all in one" device that I can grab as I leave and have a safety net. Am I missing some options?
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Old 02-06-2024, 10:13 PM   #2
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I like the inReach because it is small, has a long battery life and is rugged. It's two way comms vs a PLB. Solo in remote areas with few other boats around VHF will be of limited value, but I'd pack one along. A PLB is good but it's one way comms, trigger the device and wait. Me? I'd have all three. To make it a grab one and go keep them in a dry bag. I like the clear sided ones so in a glance I can see everything that should be in there is.

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Beginning my solo adventures on my 38' trawler in the PNW and the thought of safety is on my mind. While onboard I feel I have systems in place but looking for options while "exploring" in my RIB. I will be going to shore often in very remote regions up the BC coast. Ideas are percolating around INReach, Spot, VHF, ect. I'm really looking for an "all in one" device that I can grab as I leave and have a safety net. Am I missing some options?
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Old 02-06-2024, 10:14 PM   #3
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Garmin InReach. Has tracking, satellite connectivity and SOS. Also map and weather features. Only downside is it requires a subscription but you can activate, deactivate monthly. You can easily share tracking. My wife appreciate the see my location on boat passages.
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Old 02-07-2024, 07:53 AM   #4
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I also had a handheld aviation radio on my boat...thinking if I was in a desolate place, line of sight limited by mountains there might be airplanes flying overhead and I could communicate with them when other boats not possible.


Never had to use it so..don't know if is a good idea or not.
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Old 02-08-2024, 02:41 AM   #5
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I use an Ocean Signal RescueME Personal Locator Beacon strapped to my inflatable lifejacket.
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Old 02-08-2024, 07:48 AM   #6
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I've used an Inreach for the last 8 years and also carry a PLB. I carry my phone with me in a dry box on the dinghy ride. Much prefer the Bluetooth interface on my phone to texting on the Inreach.

The other important thing is to have the phone numbers to text to as opposed to just using the EPIRB feature. While not all places will have a text line, some National Parks and USCG stations do. Being able to send a detailed message(s) to the nearest station or park headquarters may get a faster response. Also, having a contact person who could call the numbers and advocate for you and answer questions, would be helpful.

My inflatable PFD with strobe and PLB. There is a small nylon line tethering the PLB to the PFD.
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Old 02-08-2024, 12:37 PM   #7
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I'm following much the same prep as you with the addition of a hand held VHF.

A couple of comments. I agree that a contact person ashore is a very valuable asset. Someone you can trust to keep track of you, answer your msgs, contact emergency services. Best if they are prepared ahead of time with all of the relevant emergency contact info for the area you will be cruising. Another service the contact can provide is being a central point of contact. A filter if you will, for all those who care or have in interest in your situation. They will reduce the traffic on your inReach giving you more time to deal the the urgent / emergency and prolonging the inReach battery life. I suggest practicing with the inReach's horrid text msg. You do get faster with practice.

On using the phone -> inReach interface. Yes, it's much easier and faster. But I have experienced problems with msgs when using the phone app.

Tying this together with a real life scenario. On a delivery San Diego to La Conner Wash dead in the water off Morro Bay in the dark hours, rough weather, out of cell and VHF range. I used the inReach to contact my shore side contact who in turn notified USCG Morro Bay. That worked as planned. What I had missed was having my shore contact notify the boat's owners, our spouses and others who needed to know. That took up valuable time. And that is when I learned the phone -> inReach interface is not perfect. Not all msgs were synced between the inReach and the phone app leading to missed comms. Not a good thing.

Moving forward routine comms such as daily checkins can be done on the phone app. Urgent and emergency comms will be done on the admittedly awkward inReach "keyboard".
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Originally Posted by O C Diver View Post
I've used an Inreach for the last 8 years and also carry a PLB. I carry my phone with me in a dry box on the dinghy ride. Much prefer the Bluetooth interface on my phone to texting on the Inreach.

The other important thing is to have the phone numbers to text to as opposed to just using the EPIRB feature. While not all places will have a text line, some National Parks and USCG stations do. Being able to send a detailed message(s) to the nearest station or park headquarters may get a faster response. Also, having a contact person who could call the numbers and advocate for you and answer questions, would be helpful.

My inflatable PFD with strobe and PLB. There is a small nylon line tethering the PLB to the PFD.
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Old 02-08-2024, 10:12 PM   #8
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The newer versions of the Apple Watches also have satellite emergency signaling. GPS very accurate. My elederly mother fell and it texted me with her exact coordinates as well as summoned emergency response. You can manually trigger it and if you fall (it’s very good at figuring out real falls) it allows you to cancel the summons. Fortunately she was fine but did need the assistance to get up. I’d highly recommend it. If you have your cell phone with you it can use the satellite too I believe.
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Old 02-08-2024, 10:46 PM   #9
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Apple watches and cell phones are relatively fragile and have a short battery life compared to PLB or inReach. I'll choose a PLB or inReach for emergency comms in remote and rugged areas where OP wants to explore.
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The newer versions of the Apple Watches also have satellite emergency signaling. GPS very accurate. My elederly mother fell and it texted me with her exact coordinates as well as summoned emergency response. You can manually trigger it and if you fall (its very good at figuring out real falls) it allows you to cancel the summons. Fortunately she was fine but did need the assistance to get up. Id highly recommend it. If you have your cell phone with you it can use the satellite too I believe.
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Old 02-09-2024, 06:11 AM   #10
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If remote areas. you need satellite stuff.

Inreach is great and you can tex message Peoples cell phones. alite cumbersome to text but you can text both ways. Sos is great to relay the type of emergency .It has charts in it very basic, but you can follow your track back to your starting point. Great if you cannot find you dingy on a land excursion. It leaves a track online also so if you dont come back and dont set off the plb they will know your track on water or land. The track feature is also nice for people on shore to check on you without bothering you. For there peice of mind. They can see your progression to your destination.

Personal plb is great for accidents when you go in the drink or incapacitated . need help fast.

hand held vhf ok but really short range. some one needs to be around. Good to have to communicate with potential rescuers.

mini mfd on the rib . you can get relatively cheap gives you depth, fish finding, and charts. It easy to get lost when immersed in the environment especially unfamiliar waters.. Makes it easy to find your way back to your vessel/starting point.

A simple dingy bag while exploring, water, blankets, rain gear, flairs ,whistle, granola bars. Stash it on the rib and leave it there. Bring your regular day bag. This is for emergency back up to your regular stuff. not to be relied on for a day trip.
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Old 02-09-2024, 11:41 AM   #11
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Since you are going to be in remote places it also means help cannot be there in a couple of hours, so that means you will have to rely on yourself to 'survive' in certain situations. That could be a medical emergency, could be stranded on land for a prolonged period of time (e.g. if the dinghy is damaged or incapable of getting back to the boat), so make sure you prepare for that.
Of course the inreach is great, but it is not going to bring anyone to you in a few hours time.
So start asking yourself if you are capable of surviving, on your own, on the water, in the water, on the land. It might mean you would have to wear a dry suit all the time. It could also mean you have to take a small tent, food, ways to make fire etc while you are on the way with the dinghy.
Being alone on the boat is one thing, but then being in a remote location away from the boat and safety ? Now it becomes a new game. So make sure you are prepared ! Good luck
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Old 02-09-2024, 04:14 PM   #12
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Appreciate all the suggestions, quite a few I had not thought of. A form of a "ditch bag" is a great idea (flares/matches/food/water,etc). Again, appreciate the thoughts.
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Old 02-10-2024, 10:07 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Portage_Bay View Post
Apple watches and cell phones are relatively fragile and have a short battery life compared to PLB or inReach. I'll choose a PLB or inReach for emergency comms in remote and rugged areas where OP wants to explore.
I carry all of the above so agree. Why limit to one device?

For wilderness I agree the Apple products aren’t sufficient so I carry a plb and a sat phone.
The latest Apple Ultra model of the watch is rated as a dive watch too so seems quite robust.
I only comment on it as it protects in the situation of a fall, is always available to reach etc. The fall detection rescued my mother, provided there is connectivity. Which there is if Wi-Fi, cellular or linked to your nearby iPhone with its satellite capability.
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