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We tested three MOB alert­ing de­vices that utilise your smart­phone to cre­ate an alarm when the wearer goes over­board. The wear­able de­vices con­nect with your phone via Blue­tooth and if the con­nec­tion is bro­ken, an alarm is trig­gered on the phone via an app. The app then di­rects the user back to the point of lost con­tact. How­ever, th­ese de­vices don’t have an in­te­gral GPS: they mark the ini­tial po­si­tion where they were lost us­ing the GPS po­si­tion from your phone at the time. They are an alert­ing rather than lo­cat­ing de­vice, ex­cept in calm con­di­tions when the ca­su­alty hasn’t drifted far and you can re­turn quickly. But for short-handed coastal voy­ages where one of you might want some rest be­low, or for mon­i­tor­ing chil­dren in mari­nas, they of­fer peace of mind. The Sea-tags wrist­band is com­fort­able if a lit­tle bulky. The au­di­ble alarm was trig­gered about 20m from the phone and au­to­mat­i­cally went to full vol­ume. How­ever, when tested on an iphone set to silent, the au­di­ble alarm did not kick in, which is a ma­jor short­com­ing.

When us­ing the app, the screen that di­rects you back to the ca­su­alty was a lit­tle too com­pli­cated, but it did the job. There is a short­cut but­ton to call the emer­gency ser­vices, which might be use­ful, but best of all, it can send a text alert to a des­ig­nated shore con­tact if the alarm is ac­ti­vated within phone sig­nal range – a use­ful fea­ture for solo sailors.

Bat­tery life: 600 hours con­tin­u­ous use. The Over­board

Lo­ca­tion Alert Sys­tem

(OLAS) from Ex­po­sure has a sim­i­lar wrist­band de­sign to Sea-tags, again with a de­tach­able unit. The au­di­ble alarm on the app over­rides the phone’s silent mode and the screen di­rect­ing you back to the point where the ca­su­alty was lost is clear and easy to read. There is lots of ad­di­tional help avail­able within the app in­clud­ing a tran­script of a may­day call and even a step-by-step guide to re­cov­ery, but it felt like in­for­ma­tion over­load and could be dis­tract­ing when those left on board should be fully en­grossed in the re­trieval process.

Bat­tery life: five months when turned on; longer if turned off be­tween uses. www.aler­

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