WITH RACHAEL SPROT OF RUBICON 3
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. www.sea-tags.com 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.alertandfind.com