big Ques­tion

Yachting Monthly - - CONTENTS - Harry White­house

Do I need a new PLB or just a new bat­tery?

QHav­ing pur­chased a first­gen­er­a­tion PLB sev­eral years ago, I now need to re­place my bat­tery for the sec­ond time. This is an ex­pen­sive busi­ness. As re­plac­ing the bat­tery is so costly and hav­ing seen that the new gen­er­a­tion of PLBS are in­fin­itely smaller, I am won­der­ing whether it is more sen­si­ble to buy a new model? I was im­pressed by how com­pact the ones I have seen are, but there don’t ap­pear to be any ob­vi­ous de­vel­op­ments in the tech­nol­ogy on of­fer in terms of get­ting me res­cued should the worst hap­pen. How long will it be un­til I can buy a com­bined AIS and PLB de­vice? And is there any ad­van­tage in up­grad­ing now aside from the smaller size of the unit? Sean Mc­crys­tal from bea­con man­u­fac­turer Mc­murdo replies:

In re­la­tion to PLBS, own­ers should con­sider a num­ber of as­pects in their re-bat­tery / re­place de­bate. Firstly, rep­utable man­u­fac­tur­ers rec­om­mend ma­rine safety elec­tron­ics are in­spected by a trained pro­fes­sional and the cost of the five-year bat­tery swap-out in­cludes the chance to re­view the im­pact of the ma­rine en­vi­ron­ment on a unit that can mean the dif­fer­ence be­tween life and death.

Se­condly, when con­sid­er­ing fea­tures, re­duced size is not nec­es­sar­ily a func­tional ben­e­fit as buoy­ancy and level of im­pact re­sis­tance can be im­pacted by the re­duced size. De­vice users may want to con­sider if their sail­ing ac­tiv­ity has changed since their orig­i­nal pur­chase. Are other el­e­ments, such as the lo­calised alert and re­cov­ery or au­to­matic ac­ti­va­tion fea­tures as­so­ci­ated with the AIS MOB, such as the Smartfind S20, now more at­trac­tive than in­ter­na­tional ac­cess to search and res­cue pro­fes­sion­als from 406 PLBS? In re­la­tion to fu­ture-proof­ing your pur­chase, the hotly an­tic­i­pated Re­turn Link Ser­vice should be op­er­a­tional in 2019, with the prospect of a com­bined AIS/406MHZ unit get­ting ever closer, since the suc­cess­ful launch of the Smartfind G8 AIS EPIRB.

De­vice costs have re­duced in the last five years and still of­fer amaz­ing value over the life­time of the prod­uct. Our ad­vice is that the key to sur­vival is hav­ing the abil­ity to alert some­one to your sit­u­a­tion and, old or new, a PLB will save your life.

A PLB or EPIRB could save your life, but it needs to be in date

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