Gear

Able to track dis­tance and speed, Garmin’s pocket-size in­Reach Mini is small but mighty.

Power & Motor Yacht - - IN THIS ISSUE -

Weigh­ing in at a mere 3.5 ounces and able to track dis­tance and speed, Garmin’s in­Reach Mini is small but mighty.

They say luck fa­vors the pre­pared: Pack a rain­coat and it won’t rain. Pack the Garmin in­Reach Mini emer­gency satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tion de­vice ($350, with sub­scrip­tions start­ing at $12/month) and you won’t need to use it. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t, be­cause it’s packed with handy fea­tures for even the smoothest days. The pocket-size hand­held can track dis­tance, speed and trip time, and you can even re­quest the weather fore­cast (there’s an up­charge for marine lo­ca­tions). Rain in the fore­cast? No prob­lem. The in­Reach Mini can with­stand rain, splashes and sub­mer­sion at 3 feet for up to 30 min­utes.

The in­Reach’s claim to fame, how­ever, is its in­ter­ac­tive SOS and satel­lite messaging ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Us­ing Garmin’s global satel­lite net­work, you can send and re­ceive texts to alert oth­ers to your where­abouts. (You can also post on so­cial me­dia, which seems su­per­flu­ous.) An SOS but­ton, equipped with a cover to keep it from be­ing ac­ci­den­tally pressed, ac­ti­vates a co­or­di­nated emer­gency re­sponse from GEOS World­wide. If a full-scale emer­gency re­sponse isn’t what you need, you’ll want to type a cus­tom mes­sage, and on the 0.9-inch by 0.9-inch screen, that’s tricky. It took me over two min­utes to type “Rough seas. Be back at 4” us­ing the rib­bon of let­ters (it’s not even big enough for a mini key­board).

In an emer­gency, speed is every­thing. To make typ­ing faster, you can pair the de­vice to your phone us­ing Blue­tooth and the free Earth­mate app. (It took me three sec­onds to type “Sink­ing, send help” on my smart­phone.) Mes­sages send quickly when the de­vice has a clear view of the sky, and it checks for in­com­ing mes­sages reg­u­larly so you can get con­fir­ma­tion that your mes­sage was re­ceived—and stay up­dated on the sta­tus of the emer­gency re­sponse. The bat­tery lasts up to 50 hours with 10-minute track­ing and 2-minute log­ging, ac­cord­ing to the man­u­fac­turer.

The Mini is truly mini, weigh­ing in at just 3.5 ounces. But since pair­ing it with your phone is the only way to type with any ef­fi­ciency, don’t for­get to fac­tor in the weight of your smart­phone (around 6 ounces). It’s a great ad­di­tion to your on­board safety kit, es­pe­cially since it alerts you that help is on the way. But be­cause it’s not com­pletely wa­ter­proof, you might want to pack a dry­bag in case things re­ally go south.

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