Surfski Emergencies

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7 years 10 months ago #22524 by CoastPop
Surfski Emergencies was created by CoastPop
There have been a spate of Surfski emergencies in South Africa lately. Just yesterday, Surfskier missing in the Pete Marlin Surfski race off East London, search called off last night and resuming this morning. 2 separate emergencies in Durban involving 5 Surfskiers in a group and another on his own see www.nsri.org.za/2014/11/rescues-in-pe-ea...urban-and-false-bay/ - this has not been updated with the missing Surfskier in East London yet. My thoughts turn to how to alert rescue to ones whereabouts - I have heard of Trackimo, but rather pricey but then again what is ones life worth. There are apps on iPhone and Android phones. I am trying out Red Panic Button app on iPhone - will report back once tested. I have NSRI numbers on speed dial on my phone but it has been suggested that I use the universal number 112 for emergencies. I tried this out but this directed me to an automated message which required entering 1 for life threatening emergency etc. I somehow don't fancy this as when cold and panicky, listening to instructions and keying in responses probably won't work. Anyone have any other ideas?

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7 years 10 months ago #22525 by uk_exile
Replied by uk_exile on topic Surfski Emergencies
EPIRB or PLB in vest.

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7 years 10 months ago #22527 by [email protected]
There's no single silver bullet, but each piece of gear that you carry and procedure that you practise turns the odds in your favour.

Here's what I think - and I have used every bit of my gear in emergency situations over the last 14 years:
  • Say NO when you're not sure of your ability in the conditions. Most times I've been in the shit personally, I didn't listen to my gut.
  • PRACTISE getting back into your boat.
  • Make sure people on shore know where you are and when you're due in.
  • Think about what you'll do if a rudder line breaks or you break a paddle blade.
  • Be leashed to your ski - if you lose your boat in big conditions, the difficulty of spotting you goes up by orders of magnitude.
  • Use a paddle leash - then you can use both hands to help yourself or someone else without losing your paddle.
  • Carry flares - AND KNOW HOW TO USE THEM.
  • Carry a phone in a dry bag; and PRACTISE using it - even on dry land. Have emergency numbers in the phone on speed dial
  • Carry a VHF radio - they only cost about R2,000, what's your life worth?

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...
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7 years 10 months ago #22529 by CoastPop
Replied by CoastPop on topic Surfski Emergencies
Pros and cons of EPIRB vs Trackimo (or equivalent) vs VHF Radio. ?

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7 years 10 months ago #22531 by [email protected]
I don't know enough about the EPIRB solution to comment - but I'm not sure it connects directly to NSRI. I think it goes through govt agencies, so I have doubts that it would be as quick to get help as contacting NSRI directly. But we definitely should find out more.

Can anyone advise on this?

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...

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7 years 10 months ago #22532 by [email protected]
Just spoke to a buddy at NSRI and his advice is:

Personal EPIRBs are good - and the signal can be picked up by properly equipped vessels - but these are unlikely to be the kind of private boat that usually provides safety at our events.

His recommendation is to use tracking devices - the kinds of things that we've used on occasion for big races (I used them in Hawaii, at two of the world cups in Durban, etc). Even your iphone can be turned into one of these with Endomondo.

We need to research these.

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...

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7 years 10 months ago - 7 years 10 months ago #22536 by Mako
Replied by Mako on topic Surfski Emergencies
topcctv.co.za/content/gps-personal-tracker-magnet
www.bidorbuy.co.za/item/164790106/Live_W...l_Tracker_GT03B.html

Personal trackers can track you live for your entire paddle including to and from the event if needed. A panic location can be sent to selected cell numbers.

A simpler tracker will only send your location when a button is pressed. They can be used as cellphones too again to a selected cell number.

A missed call to the tracker results in the tracker position being SMS's back to the selected cell so no action is needed by the user.

They're tiny and run on standard cellphone batteries. Prices from R600 to R2000 depending on features and excludes sim.

My wife hikes with one hidden in her pack (so it can be tracked if taken in a mugging) and uses the cell if needed.

Rob you should test one (for coverage) on a Millers Run. If it works it should become mandatory. Obviously it will nor work under water such as when the paddler is swimming with it in a pocket.
Last edit: 7 years 10 months ago by Mako. Reason: Spellink
The following user(s) said Thank You: [email protected], Durbansurfski.com

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7 years 10 months ago #22537 by AR_convert
Replied by AR_convert on topic Surfski Emergencies
While it's up to each of us what precautions we take when on our own or out with friends I can see the day very soon where race organisers will mandate PLB's.

Always looking for the next boat :)

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7 years 10 months ago #22538 by [email protected]
Thanks Johan.

I've done some research and there are a couple of options here in South Africa including trackimo.co.za (quite expensive) and diytracking.co.za.

I've asked for more info and will try to get hold of some units and review.

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...

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7 years 10 months ago #22539 by Bill L
Replied by Bill L on topic Surfski Emergencies

CoastPop wrote: Pros and cons of EPIRB vs Trackimo (or equivalent) vs VHF Radio. ?


In the states, all other things being equal, I think the main difference is that with a VHF you need to talk to someone(may be difficult in high winds and seas) whereas with the EPIRB or PLB you press the button and your position and ID is sent to the emergency authorities. Some of the VHFs now have a GPS built-in (with distress call capability) which might be the best of both.

For a "real" emergency, I think you want something where you don't need to fiddle with controls and verbally communicate with someone with all the wind noise and hypothermia induced numb finger stuff going on.

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7 years 10 months ago - 7 years 10 months ago #22540 by Mako
Replied by Mako on topic Surfski Emergencies
VHF comes with licensing obligations. Paddlers will duck the paperwork. OK if your backup is on a pre arranged channel but once you use Ch 16 for rescue, authorities may ask for a registered call sign.

PLB (not sure) Personal tracker can normally be interrogated by a third party. This may sound stupid now but a pocket on the top of a PFD shoulder or better still in a cap (with cap leash or head tie) is the best place for a GPS device. Smart phones are too limited.

My comments are limited to Millers Run type conditions. (strong wind, beyond the back line, too far to swim)
Last edit: 7 years 10 months ago by Mako. Reason: Added info

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7 years 10 months ago #22541 by CoastPop
Replied by CoastPop on topic Surfski Emergencies
GTo3B gets really bad reviews. Would be nice if one could try one on a Millers. As far as Trackimo is concerned, Ric (on this forum has one. Feedback Richard?

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7 years 10 months ago #22543 by [email protected]
I got hold of a company here in Cape Town who said they're keen to help. They reckon we could import units from China and they would provide the admin and web server to show positions.

And they'd be a lot cheaper than most of the other units I've looked at.

So we'll pursue this and see whether it's practical.

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...
The following user(s) said Thank You: Durbansurfski.com

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7 years 10 months ago - 7 years 10 months ago #22544 by Fath2o
Replied by Fath2o on topic Surfski Emergencies
Here is a link to a very long and boring tutorial on the capabilities and use of a VHF marine radio equipped with DSC (digital selective calling). Once registered, simple and free, will transmit your personal info that you provide, and position, to other boats and rescue agencies, equipped with the same devices, with the push of a button.
These capabilities are available in a water proof handheld VHF radio with built in GPS. Problem I have found is the batteries tend to die while paddling if left on. I think this is due to the radio searching for satellites when stuffed in my pouch. The same thing happens to my cell phone when I am out on my boat and the phone is constantly searching for a signal. One of my radios also has an automatic strobe feature that turns on when the unit gets wet. It can be disabled though. So, unfortunately, I think the radios are best left turned off till you need it. These radios are able to get a position from satellites very quickly though.
Fortunately, Here in the states, we have the Rescue 21 system that can pick up a 1 watt transmission out to 25 miles.
Good luck with your search.
Capt. Kirk.
And by the way, I don't think using an unlicensed/unregistered radio will prevent you from being rescued.


www.boatus.org/dsc/






www.boatus.org/dsc/
Last edit: 7 years 10 months ago by Fath2o.

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7 years 10 months ago #22545 by Durbansurfski.com
Hi Rob,

With regards to personal tracker apps on a smart phone, such as endomondo, they work really well, but have one severe limitation. Depending on the phone, they will drain the battery in around 2 hrs. I always use these types of apps on paddles of less than an hr. But for ones over an hr, I am concerned the battery will be drained, and I won't be able to call for help.

Perhaps the answer is a cheap cell phone with a key pad for emergency calls, leaving the smart phone for the tracking apps.

Ideally though, a dedicated device for tracking will be the answer. Please keep us updated with the CT company who could help make this tech usable here in SA.

www.durbansurfski.com
FB - Durbansurfski
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7 years 10 months ago #22546 by Kocho
Replied by Kocho on topic Surfski Emergencies

Mako wrote: VHF comes with licensing obligations. Paddlers will duck the paperwork.


I don't know how it is elsewhere, but in the US I'm pretty sure there is no license required for the VHF radios most kayakers would use. They are small and not the kind that larger vessels have, which probably do need some certification/license to have/operate legally.

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7 years 10 months ago - 7 years 10 months ago #22547 by Newbflat
Replied by Newbflat on topic Surfski Emergencies
They dropped the licensing requirments for VHS marine radios in the US a number of years ago. But if your raido has DSC/ GPS emergency feature you need to register it to a specific boat I order to get the activation code. The vessel can be changed on line if your moving from you kayak to a sailboat and you are required to do so. It is an excellent safety feature as it's a hands free system (other than pushing the button) and requires no other communication to communicate with the coast guard your exact position.

FENN Bluefin S
FENN Swordfish S carbon hybrid
Epic V8 double gen 2
Lot and lots of DK rudders.


Had:
Stellar SEL excel (gen 2)
Stellar SR excel (gen2)
Stellar S18s g1 (excel)
Epic V10 Double (performance)
Stellar SR (gen 1)
V10 sport (gen 2)
V10 (Gen 2)
Beater SEL (gen 1)
Last edit: 7 years 10 months ago by Newbflat.

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7 years 10 months ago #22549 by Spacehopper
Replied by Spacehopper on topic Surfski Emergencies
In the UK VHF needs both to have a 'registration' licence and an operators licence.

One of the negatives of VHF is that it works on line of sight. If you are in the water, then unless the receiving aerial is very high up then you may not be heard.

I came across a diver separated from his dive boat a few years ago, tried radioing the boat which was visible just over a mile away (in calm conditions) and struggled to get a response. In the end I had to contact the coastguard by phone and get them to talk to the boat. While part of the problem may have been that the VHF was only 1/3W (I upgraded it after this incident), being low to the water does limit the range and usefulness of VHF.

For going anywhere out of the way I like the four pronged approach of flares, phone, vhf and PLB.

Negative of the PLB is you have no voice confirmation that someone has received your signal.

Other thoughts - getting away from white boats would be good (if flatwater boats can be bright colours then there's no real reason for skis not to be...).

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7 years 10 months ago #22550 by Fath2o
Replied by Fath2o on topic Surfski Emergencies
When you register your MMSI number there is a limited comment section that allows you to enter information about how you intend to use the radio, on what type of boats and what type of activities you will be involved in and where. I think the more important thing is your personal contact info is on file and if the beacon is activated the authorities can attempt to contact you or someone you designate to authenticate the distress call and initiate an appropriate response.

Whiskey Alpha November 2171 "out"

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7 years 10 months ago #22555 by uk_exile
Replied by uk_exile on topic Surfski Emergencies
EPRIB or PLB advantage is they don't need cell signal and have 5-7yr battery life, good waterproofing, no skill needed to use, single button activate, etc.

From www.epirb.com/
What is an EPIRB?
This website explains everything you need to know about EPIRBs: how they work, how much they cost, how they differ from Personal Location Beacons (PLBs) and how you can set one up.

An Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon or EPIRB is used to alert search and rescue services in the event of an emergency.It does this by transmitting a coded message on the 406 MHz distress frequency via satellite and earth stations to the nearest rescue co-ordination centre.

Some EPIRBs also have built-in GPS which enables the rescue services to accurately locate you to +/- 50 metres.

The differences between EPIRBs and PLBs
Personal Location Beacons work in exactly the same way as EPIRBs by sending a coded message on the 406 MHz distress frequency which is relayed via the Cospas-Sarsat global satellite system.

However, there are a number of differences between them. PLBs are designed to be carried on the person so they are much smaller, some such as the Fast find are not much larger than the size of a mobile phone. PLBs are designed to be used anywhere in the world, on the sea and also on land. Some don't float but may come with an additional floatational sleeve which they should be carried in.

PLBs, once activated, will transmit for a minimum of 24 hours; while the battery life on an EPIRB is at least double (a minimum of 48 hours). An EPIRB is registered to a vessel, whereas a PLB is registered to a person.
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