A few months ago we received a press release from McMurdo on a revolutionary product, the Fast-Find 210 PLB, a portable version of an EPIRB, The revolutionary part was not a change in the way distress signals are sent from the device but rather the size (very small) and price point ($299 list) of the device. Subscribing to the theory of Too Good To Be True, we have held off on writing about the product until we had confirmation on the quality of the unit from a trusted source. Today that verification came, via Panbo, from friend of gCaptain and survival expert Doug Ritter. Doug writes:
Bearing in mind the limitations inherent in our tests we conducted as outlined above, bottom line is that this new McMurdo Fast Find represents a significant advance in performance in a much more compact package. It isn’t perfect, the cap design and not quite single-hand deployment issues are a bit annoying, but they are not deal killers and the combination of the truly pocketable size, significantly improved GPS performance and low cost makes it a compelling distress signaling device. McMurdo have essentially leapfrogged the competition with this one. The new Fast Find is small enough and affordable enough to outfit your entire family in case someone gets separated from the group, falls overboard, etc.
Carry a Fast Find together with an effective pocket survival kit with essential survival and basic signaling gear and you’ve got most wilderness emergencies covered with just a pocket full of gear and not at a huge cost. These new Fast Finds are much more enticing due to their small size and low cost, hence more will carry them and more lives will be saved. Win, win, all the way around.
What does this mean for the average mariner? First, with greater acceptance and knowledge of PLB’s, shipping companies will start to equip each lifeboat with individual units to augment the vessel’s base station. If the trend catches on you may even see them included in liferafts or clipped onto individual lifevests.
Regardless of whether shipping companies adopt these units on a wide scale it is now economically possible for the average mariner (or passenger) to purchase his own unit independent of the vessel’s GMDSS equipment. This leads us to the question: “What are the safety implications of mariners and vessel passengers having the ability to transmit distress communication independent of the Captain’s orders?” and “Will individuals stringently assure these devices are properly registered and maintained?”
We also want to thank our friends at West Marine for making Doug’s review possible and for offering gCaptain readers $25 off the purchase of a McMurdo Fastfind 210… just use click on this link and use coupon code use code AFFSPCL to visit their store and place an order.