Most of us are familiar with the first line of the Breton Fisherman’s Prayer. The late, great President John F. Kennedy had a plaque with the quote on his desk in the White House. The truth is that most sailors and mariners who have been out there are well aware of just how small that vessel they are bobbing around in is! I served on some fairly large ships (700-foot tankers) and even they seem mighty small and puny compared with water from horizon to horizon. As intimidating as all that water can be things can get worse in a hurry as per Murphy’s Law.
Storms, high winds, heavy seas, fire, flooding, dismasting, collisions, groundings, floundering and sinkings are all possible and the smart sailor will prepare for such emergencies. To prepare for the ultimate at-sea emergency abandon ship, one should have an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), preferably with auto release and a good backup in the form of a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) that is always carried on one’s person.
Because the rescueME PLB is so small, only slightly larger than 3” x 2” x 1.25” and weighs a miniscule 4 ounces it is the perfect size to carry with you. Take a hint though from the USAF Survival Vest, and make sure to attach it to yourself using a lanyard that is secured to some part of your clothing so that if you drop it, you will not lose it. Also, I would attach a strip of Velcro pile to the bottom of the PLB and an equal length of Velcro hooks on top of your life preserver so that if you abandon ship and find yourself in the water you will have a place to attach the PLB with the proper orientation for its antenna. PLB1 has a definite activation sequence that makes it impossible to activate by mistake, it is waterproof down to 15 meters (approximately 45 feet) and is drop tested from one meter height at -22° F (-30° C), so it is a robust device despite its small size.
This modern miracle of miniaturization is worth its weight in gold if you ever find yourself bobbing around the ocean in a life raft or even worse in your life preserver. If this happens then immediately grab your rescueME in hand and extend its antenna to its full extent, lift the safety flap up and press the red activation button for one second until the green LED flashes and then release the button. After about 50 seconds the low duty cycle strobe light will start flashing to indicate that the unit is transmitting. Make sure that the unit is held clear of water when operating and that the antenna is held vertically for optimum coverage. The PLB should operate for at least 24 hours duration even in temperatures as low as -4° F (-20° C).
During these 24 hours the unit will transmit on 406.04 MHz with an output power of 5 watts to the COSPAS/SARSAT system that uses the GEOSAR and LEOSAR satellite systems. Because the unit also has a GPS receiver that tracks up to 66 channels, it can provide your position to rescue forces to within 66 feet (20 meters). Simultaneously a swept AM tone of 121.5 MHz is being transmitted at 1/10 watt output acting as a homing beacon for nearby rescue aircraft.
Like all PLBs, the rescueME PLB1 is a real life saver that takes the search out of search and rescue. A floating victim in millions of square miles of ocean has his or her exact location sent out by a PLB allowing for an expeditious rescue. For more information about the world’s smallest PLB go to the following hyperlink: www.oceansignal.com.