ACR, two BIG Miami safety debuts

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

7 Responses

  1. It seems a great value. Remains the extremely high costs of the battery! Approximately 300 dollar! SPOT however works on 2 AA lithium and SPOT2 works on 3 AAA lithium batteries.

  2. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    But, Reinier, PLB batteries have to last five years and still produce ample power for 24 hours of operation in adverse conditions, and they’re tightly regulated and tested to do so. Plus the batteries are changed by an authorized service which also checks the unit out, changes gaskets, etc.
    Power management is just one of many factors that make SPOT and PLBs very difficult to compare. The vague truth: SPOT is primarily a messaging and tracking tool with an interesting but unsanctioned distress component, while PLBs are primarily distress beacons tightly integrated with a global SAR system, some of which are now getting limited messaging/location abilities.

  3. Sandy Daugherty says:

    Its like comparing Apples and Juju beans; One is seriously healthy and critical to safety of Life at Sea; the other is, well, candy.

  4. Dear Ben, altough the SPOT is a messaging tool the distress function of the SPOT is not quite the same as an Epirb or PLB. We have tested the 9-1-1 function with the Dutch Coast Guard and the Dutch Safety Organisation KNRM, because we wanted to know if the SPOT 9-1-1 function really works on the water. GEOS call center works regarding the SAR regulations. The same as when an Epirb or PLB is being activated. We ourselves say to the people that the SPOT is not to be compared with an Epirb or PLB as the SPOT is not activated by water contact. The SPOT however has functions which an Eprib or PLB does not have. This new feature of ACR is nice. Here in Europe we also have the problem that an Epirb or PLB can not be used at land, only on the water due to regulations. When an Eprib or PLB is being activated at land the signal will go to Toulouse France and they do not warn the police when the signal is coming out of the Swiss alps. GEOS America however will contact an emergency center after a SPOT message, to help the person in need. Always nice to discuss the SPOT. Best regards, Reinier

  5. greg says:

    So if the battery replacement is $300, and you can only send 60 gps based “I’m ok” messages, the math isn’t very compelling to use this feature (even before the monthly fee).
    That’s $5/message folks before the service fee.
    Doesn’t sound like such a great feature to me.
    Now if they allowed you to use an external power source for the text/gps messages, that would be useful. Using the primary battery, not very useful.

  6. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Greg, You’re supposed to change the batteries on EPIRBs and PLBs every five years whether you test the thing or not. I’m not sure that the replacement really is $300, but whatever it is doesn’t really pertain to these new services, unless you used the test/message function so much you ran the battery down before five years.
    There’s no question that the messaging ability, especially if you want to include position, is quite limited in terms of times you can use it. However, I can see how some boaters would be happy enough using it with great discretion.
    The big question to me is reliability. The whole SARSAT/EPIRB/PLB system is tremendously reliable when it comes to distress messages, but the test/message is only sent once, and if you’re doing it offshore you may have no way to know that it got there.
    But I learned today that ACR is going to let me try an AquaLink View and the 406Link Plus service. I plan to use a lot of the message potential as soon as I can, and in as adverse conditions as I can, in an attempt to test the through-satellite test/message reliability factor.

  7. Pete says:

    Though I live close to ACR in South Fla I cannot find any price/availablity/procedure on the battery replacement. They need to be more forthcoming with the real cost of owning one of these things.

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