DeLorme inReach, hand’s on #1

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.

10 Responses

  1. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    A few postscripts:
    * There are more smarts to the SOS function than noted, like the fact that it sends position every minute for the first ten minutes and then slows down to conserve battery life.
    * But I do seem to be burning up batteries in the production inReach. May be an anomaly, or may be a problem.
    * Hey, after owning an Android phone for nearly 18 months I can finally take screen shots (without ‘rooting’ the phone). Progress!

  2. Ben, any views on its use / performance as a standalone unit?

  3. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    No problems I know of, Marius. Turning on tracking or sending one of the three pre-written messages is straight forward and the LEDs let you know that they’re getting to the Iridium system. Ditto for the SOS button, which we were able to try during the beta period.
    At first I thought that Spot was a much better deal for constant tracking, but then DeLorme added unlimited tracking to their two higher cost service plans. It’s still more expensive, but you can switch plans according to monthly needs.

  4. Ben
    I was the land-based communications guy on this year’s NARC rally. Was last year too. Here’s my take on the trackers. I wrote this on my website ( that carries a day by day report on the fleet as it departed Newport and made its way to Bermuda, or ran into TS Sean.
    Many of the boats had SPOT Trackers, but they were far from what I’d call a professional, off shore tool.
    Here’s what I wrote in my section on lessons learned from this year’s NARC:
    Tracking. I bought a SPOT for our last trip in 2009. It didn’t work. I had a iBoat Tracker which did work–splendidly. It gave frequent updates, kept a record of our track, indicated average speed and course. We hove-to just south of the GS to fix the cables on the steering–that event showed up on our track. I threw the SPOT over the side. Tracking is now affordable and invaluable for the people following your course, especially anyone providing weather and routing information. They need to know where you are, and what your doing for boat speed and your course. SPOT does not provide this information. It is not practical for a fleet of ocean going yachts. The Carib 1500 is using YellowBrick.
    You can still follow the track of our 2009 / 2010 voyage on the iBoat Tracker site, 2 years later. Here’s the link
    As far as the ability to send an emergency messages via a tracker, any boat going off shore needs a satphone or an SSB, or both, plus an EPIRB. Using a tracker to call for help in the middle of the ocean is not there yet. Programing these things can be a challenge. The iBoat Tracker comes pre-programed, all you do is sat it under the dodger and forget it.
    David Lyman

  5. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, David, but I’m pretty sure the Carib 1500 did use Spot trackers, though the tracking was displayed on Yellowbrick’s portal. You can see that stated on the screen shot I published:
    I also followed a boat from Newport to Norfolk to the BVI via Spot and it hardly ever missed a 10 minute point (just like last year), except when they forgot to turn it on after the 24 hour default period. You can see and even download the track here:
    I’m not saying that Spot is a “professional, off shore tool” but especially since they introduced the second version and replaced some of the satellites, it often works quite well. And it’s making a lot of boaters happy at $250 for whole package with a year’s service, or $200 if you forego the 10 minute tracking and just send a “we’re here” message every hour or watch change.
    The new Iridium devices are not proven but they are quite different from Spot, and I’m dead sure they will impact the rubric that you must have sat phone, EPIRB, and SSB. I suggest you read Doug Ritter’s warning to COSPAS-SARSAT:
    I also strongly suspect that SENDs (Satellite Emergency Notification Devices) like the two Iridium-based units above will find a place in coastal cruising.
    Change is the only constant.

  6. Jon says:

    We used a spot from Ft Lauderdale to Seattle last spring and it worked well without any problems.
    It would have been nice to be able to change the ten minute track point interval to something slower – every ten minutes seemed a bit much at 6 to 8 knots for days at a time. Our work-around was to turn it on for an hour or so several times a day on the long legs.

  7. funjohnon says:

    Take a look at the subscription rate for Canada… I want the “Chat” or “Expedition” package offered for them! Also, I want this for the iPhone too.
    This is what I have been waiting for.

  8. Any idea when an iphone version will be available?

  9. BriarTek’s Cerberus system has apps developed for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. You don’t even need a CerberLink to use the system. You can download the iPhone app now to send messages, receive location based alerts and record breadcrumbs using your phone’s GPS at no cost.

  10. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Lew — who is the Cerberus Product Manager at BriarTek — is champing at the bit! But it is neat that people interested in these Iridium devices can check out the apps as available, and especially that CerberTouch has some use even without the hardware. As mentioned in the entry, the Cerberus system is interestingly different from the inReach system in several ways, which I will be covering soon.

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