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loftus

Emergency Dive Kit

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In the light of the loss of 5 divers in Komodo, and then James's comments on EPIRB's and cell phones. I got to thinking more seriously about putting together my own kit. In Galapagos the boat provided EPIRB's, in Socorro they did not. I'm going to Cocos next year - what do the boats do there?

Do any guys have suggestions for EPIRB's and other gear that one could purchase to put a kit together, suggestions for underwater containers that can go to depth etc?

Edited by loftus

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I'm not sure what you mean by an EPIRB. I typically carry a VHF radio in an otter box but have found it obsolete in some areas and not used in others. So I too am rethinking the strategy. One thought was to carry a pair of two way radios. Leave one on the boat turned on. Cell phones wouldn't be too much use because they'd be out of range in most remote areas.

Edited by ce4jesus

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The EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicator Radio Beacons) beacons when activated send a signal to the boat and /or coast guard and international search and rescue. There are different types, and I am trying to sort out the appropriate one to purchase. Our boat in Galapagos handed them out, and they primarily sent a signal to the boat. One of the guys on the boat had an additional one that sent a signal to Cospas-Sarsat.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_Pos...ng_Radio_Beacon

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I'm not sure what you mean by an EPIRB. I typically carry a VHF radio in an otter box but have found it obsolete in some areas and not used in others. So I too am rethinking the strategy. I guess a cell phone with built in GPS would be the way to go inside of an otter box.

 

Komodo NP isn't a great location for cell phone signals except when you are very close to Labuanbajo (and even then...). This is also true of some other great locations for diving in Indonesia (Raja Empat, Banda Sea, and Wakatobi National Park), and I think the situation is probably similar (still) in PNG.

 

VHF only works for line-of-sight communications, which can be problematic in areas with lots of islands, such as Komodo and Raja Empat. A waterproof mobile VHF would obviously be useful if you were adrift and could see the search-and-rescue (SAR) vessels, assuming that they also were equipped with a VHF radio, but one cannot assume that all craft participating in SAR operations in locations like this would be equipped with even VHF radios. It would be even more unrealistic to assume that vessels participating in SAR operations in Indonesia or PNG would be equipped to monitor the 406 MHz distress signal from an EPIRB or PLB or to pick up the 121.5 MHz homing beacon.

 

Of course, if you are within sight of a rescue boats or planes, then the rescuers should also be able to see you, provided that you have a large-enough submersible marker buoy or sausage (if it's still daylight), or a good light or emergency flashing strobe at night.

 

The fundamental emergency kit which anyone diving offshore should have, particularly in locations like Indonesia's Komodo National Park, remains the same: a large SMB or sausage (ideally 2 m or bigger.), a good light reserved for emergency use, and a powerful whistle. Adding a flashing emergency strobe, an inflator-hose-powered horn, a small mirror, and a couple of dye packs won't hurt. All this can also be easily carried or incorporated onto any BC.

 

After that, it might be worthwhile also considering adding electronic communication devices such as cell phones or EPIRBS, but one should not rely on these devices being effective in every location.

 

Robert Delfs

Edited by frogfish

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The fundamental emergency kit which anyone diving offshore should have, particularly in locations like Indonesia's Komodo National Park, remains the same: a large SMB or sausage (ideally 2 m or bigger.), a good light reserved for emergency use, and a powerful whistle. Adding a flashing emergency strobe, an inflator-hose-powered horn, a small mirror, and a couple of dye packs won't hurt. All this can also be easily carried or incorporated onto any BC.

I agree, I think there is a good argument in remote areas for more though, because unfortunately, though accidents are rare, I think I want a backup if my boat loses me for whatever reason. Some of the accidents do seem to involve a certain component of incompetence of the boat operators it seems as well. Even with sausages and a whistle I've had a scare or two over the years where the boat took a while to find us off the Florida coast, and the Gulf Stream could have carried me to North Carolina. :D

An EPIRB I think is pretty reliable in getting a signal out to the Coast Guard (US) and International Rescue elsewhere, and of course even better if it has GPS incorporated.

Edited by loftus

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I know a cell phone would be of no value on the GBR - at least around the Ribbon Reefs.

 

I do a regular trip out of Port Douglas. It takes around 4 hours to get to the closest reef (Agincourt) and even longer to get to the Ribbon Reefs. We lose cell coverage less than an hour out of Port Douglas. The old CDMA network used to give some coverage around the Cod Hole (RR#10) because of its proximity to Lizard Island but that will be phased out very soon.

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Saw this post after the Komodo one, so here is my Emergency kit:

 

ACR MicroFix PLB (with GPS) and homemade cannister

Signal Mirror (a real glass one)

2 (or 3) meter tall SMB (with SOLAS radar reflective strip on top)

FireFly plus strobe

RescueStreamer (Aviator model)

Dive Alert

 

 

Seems a bit overkill but I don't cheap out on my camera or other dive grear so it is just crazy not to carry this stuff.

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Not overkill at all. If I had that stuff when I was in the Galapagos I might not have almost died. I saved myself by not panicking and swimming from the arch to the island, hiking for an hour and signaling the boat with shouting and a Apollo fin. Wind was my enemy....it was blowing the opposite direction from which I needed my shout to go. Long long stroy but the boat crew fu-ed up and miscounted, leaving me floating at Darwin at sunset. And just before the dive they warned us of other divers who died getting caught in the current between Darwin and the Arch. The only way to save myself was to get to the island before the sun completely set and the tides shifted to cause current I couldn't fight.

 

The bottom line is that having overkill equipment, after getting a taste of being left out at sea, isn't overkill to me. I think you are making the right choice.

 

Joe

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Whoops! Just saw this thread, and hod posted this over at the Komodo one:

 

I carry the ACR ResQFix. This is in a canister made by Salvo; the cannister is their 3 1/2 inch diameter model. They provided a "blank" snap-on lid.

 

In addition to the PLB, I also carry in the cannister:

  • Rescue Streamer
  • Military-grade mirror
  • Rescue laser

There isn't enough space left to stash a small cell phone in the cannister, unfortunately.

 

I figure I have about $1100 US in the whole works. When I can get to it, I'll post some photos.

 

It takes about 2.5 lbs of lead to make it neutral. Depending on the dive op and their tank rack design, it's either in the tank camband (typical Aggressor) or on the waist strap like a can light (any boat with closely spaced tanks).

 

The canister is also something the TSA guys get all excited over.

 

 

All the best, James

 

As has been mentioned, if you're looking at a PLB, get a real one and choose a 406 w/ GPS. Also, in our simple little hilltop testing, the laser way outperformed a strobe (even a camera strobe).

 

At least here in the US, NOAA has made it very easy to update your required information sheet, and we update ours before big trips.

 

 

All the best, James

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any ideas or experience with the PLB's that one uses leaving a receiver on the boat?

Edited by loftus

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Are there special PLB's for divers?

 

 

Not "real" PLBs.

The challenge with the current set of PLBs is thst you have to get a cannister to take them to depth.

I imagine that this will remaon the case for quite a while.

 

 

 

Whoops! Just saw this thread, and hod posted this over at the Komodo one:

As has been mentioned, if you're looking at a PLB, get a real one and choose a 406 w/ GPS. Also, in our simple little hilltop testing, the laser way outperformed a strobe (even a camera strobe).

 

At least here in the US, NOAA has made it very easy to update your required information sheet, and we update ours before big trips.

All the best, James

 

 

My cannister was custom made by a guy here in SoCal that makes custom lights.

I gave him the PLB and he made the unit to suit. It is clear polycarb so TSA doesn't give it a second look.

Tested to almost 600 feet I think!!

It is almost neutral in my case :D

 

I'm interested in hearing about the laser. I've read about them but I cannot believe it is better than a flashing strobe.

 

Used to carry dye packs but moved on to the Rescue Streamer. It is really simple and longer lasting.

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A laser is no doubt great when you can see your rescuer and can point it at them. But I'd think to maximize visibility, you'd want both. After all, you might not be able to see your rescuer, and a 360 degree strobe outburst maybe seen by someone behind you, or help them be guided to the source of the laser in the event they can't get to you in a straight line and lose site of the laser. I am assuming the strobe continues to pulse automatically, which is also hand in case you want to take a rest.

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I think Sea Marsshall make a PLB tested to 100m with no cannister. Not the full offshore satellite EPIRB job but would easily be picked up by a search & rescue team. A good addition to the BC pocket for those diving in strong currents..

 

EDIT

Ah yes http://www.safety-marine.co.uk/EPIRBs-&amp...ator-Beacon.htm

Edited by Balrog

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Thanks for the link. Not a laughing matter, but still, a funny thing for them to write:

 

"With overall dimensions of just 73mm x 70mm x 29mm, the unit weighs only 150g and is designed to be permanently worn around the neck."

 

And I thought wearing a tie was a pain...

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This sounds similar to what they had on Sky Dancer when we were in the Galapagos last year

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Hi all,

 

Just a small point on this but I did a 7km swim home from Aliwal Shoal a few years ago!

 

This was in part because whistles are in the most part hopeless on all but completely still, calm days. Worst of all are the "standard" life jacket perry whistle-don't bother!

 

On the other hand, the dive alert inflator air horns are excellent-but make sure you get the surface signalling device. If there is a chance of being separated from the boat (diving in current/new areas/away from groups) I would REALLY recommend one of these!

 

Hope this is helpful

 

Adam

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I saw the Sea Marsshall att a dive show and was told you also need the base station on the boat for it to work ....

 

The Sea Marshal unit is a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) not an EPIRB. If a boat is equipped with a 121.5Mhz receiver, so much the better, the alarm will be raised earlier providing you are within a couple of miles of the boat. More importantly it's the international aircraft distress frequency. As such all commercial airliners, fixed wing aircraft and helicopters are equipped with a dedicated receiver. It has a range of perhaps 20 miles to an aircraft at 1000 ft and can be used as a homing beacon to locate you - once the alarm is raised by someone noticing you are missing. Still a significantly better chance of being found.

 

The satellite EPIRBS are altogether different. Basically they transmit a coded signal to any Cospas-Sarsat satellite in range . When the satellite pases a ground base receiver station, it downloads the data and the alarm is raised automatically. Full ocean going EPIRBS have a built in GPS and your position is part of the data stream. I would have said that the bulk of these units makes them impractical for a diver. Also they are normally set up to trigger on contact with water.

 

121.5MHz is being phased out on the satellite system but not for aircraft distress or on directional search & rescue systems.

Edited by Balrog

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The Sea Marshal unit is a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) not an EPIRB. If a boat is equipped with a 121.5Mhz receiver, so much the better, the alarm will be raised earlier providing you are within a couple of miles of the boat. More importantly it's the international aircraft distress frequency. As such all commercial airliners, fixed wing aircraft and helicopters are equipped with a dedicated receiver. It has a range of perhaps 20 miles to an aircraft at 1000 ft and can be used as a homing beacon to locate you - once the alarm is raised by someone noticing you are missing. Still a significantly better chance of being found.

 

The satellite EPIRBS are altogether different. Basically they transmit a coded signal to any Cospas-Sarsat satellite in range . When the satellite pases a ground base receiver station, it downloads the data and the alarm is raised automatically. Full ocean going EPIRBS have a built in GPS and your position is part of the data stream. I would have said that the bulk of these units makes them impractical for a diver. Also they are normally set up to trigger on contact with water.

 

121.5MHz is being phased out on the satellite system but not for aircraft distress or on directional search & rescue systems.

 

 

Balrog

 

Thanks for the info .. I am learning a lot about this stuff..

 

Here are two Urls for these typs of devices.. Which one would be the best?

With the ACR one I wouuld have to get some sort of canister to protect it (added cost)

With the Sea Marshal the 121.5 Mhz is being Phased out..

Going on the new Peter Hughes Paradise Dancer on July 11..

 

http://www.acrelectronics.com/acr2007/PLBs_marine.htm

 

http://www.seamarshall-us.com/plb8ld_us.html

 

Joe

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The MicorFix/ResQfix unit have the best of all the worlds:

 

406 MHz (COSPAS-SARSAT) and 121.5 MHz (SAR homing frequency).

100 meter position accuracy when GPS coordinates are present.

 

I had cannisters made for a reasonable amount of $$

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... Which one would be the best?...

 

You pay your money and take your chance.

I would point out that I've never handled either of these units so all this just imo.

 

Looks like the ACR unit will transmit at 406MHz to satellites which will triangulate your position and raise the alarm. It also has a 121.5MHz transmitter which would then be used by search & rescue to locate you. As you say, its not waterproof so will need a container and a corresponding lump of lead. Its going to be one of those kit decisions whether to take it with you.

 

The Sea Marshal won't raise the alarm automatically for you unless you are luck enough to be near an equipped boat or are overflown. You'll have to rely on the crew or others to notice you are missing. On the other hand it is 100m proof and given its dimensions of 3" x 3" x 1" will be lost in the BC pocket as standard kit. It can't need more than 1/4 lb of lead for neutral buoyancy, probably less because its oil filled.

 

Just to be clear, 121.5 MHz is being phased out as a satellite system but not for aircraft distress or SAR.

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Looks like the ACR unit will transmit at 406MHz to satellites which will triangulate your position and raise the alarm. It also has a 121.5MHz transmitter which would then be used by search & rescue to locate you.

 

My problem comes with "raise the alarm" and "used by search & rescue to locate you". Let's just say, hypothetically, that one is using this unit in a location like Komodo (the recent incident) or Raja Empat in Indonesia.

 

My understanding is that there is no reliable arrangements or system yet in place whereby the "alarm" raised when a satellite picks up the 406 MHz signal is passed on to a local who would, in theory, carry out the search & rescue operations. Similarly, I'm not aware that any organization or service in Indonesia that might be carrying out search and rescue operations in these locations - say National Park rangers in Komodo, Forest Police in other Indonesian national parks, water police, police, or local military units have receivers capable of homing in on the 121.5 MHz homing signal.

 

If so, then carrying a unit like this in places like Indonesia would be a waste of time or worse, if the equipment were actually relied on as a substitute for conventional visual signalling devices. And I assume the situation would be the same in PNG, the Solomons, and possibly also the Philippines.

 

I'd love to be wrong about this, and if so - I really hope there is somebody knowledgeable out there who can set me straight. Pending solid information, I think the assumption that equipment like this - which may indeed be very useful in alerting SAR teams in places like California or Florida - would have any value in countries such as Indonesia or PNG may be a risky one.

 

Frogfish (who is sticking with a 10' SMB and marine emergency dye packs for now)

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If anyone is really concerned about being lost at sea and wants to be super safe, the best thing to do is get yourself an EPIRB!

 

Or...

 

Stay very close to the dive guide who knows what she/he is doing with regards to localised currents.

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If anyone is really concerned about being lost at sea .....stay very close to the dive guide who knows what she/he is doing with regards to localised currents.

 

I believe the DM was one of those rescued in the Komodo incident. :D

Edited by Balrog

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