Personal Locator Beacons – EPIRBS For Your Lifejacket

John Konrad
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September 15, 2010

 ACR AquaLink View PLB and SPOT

gCaptain has long been a fan of the idea behind SPOT’s personal locator devices but gCaptain readers have pointed out a major concern, a SPOT it is not a PLB (the personal equivalent of an EPIRB) . The SPOT device can send a distress message with your location but it doesn’t go directly to the Coast Guard, rather it must first get routed through their private rescue coordination center. The other problem is that it doesn’t meet strict design standards of a certified PLB and, let’s face it, when you are in major trouble you want something that’s bulletproof.

So it is with open arms that we welcome ACR’s newest device the ACR AquaLink View PLB which comes compelte with ACR’s 406Link service which, like the SPOT, allows you not only to send a distress signal but also send an emergency or I’m OK signal to friends and family.

Here is Panbo’s take on the device:

The first time was the best. I was tootling down the Bay in May when I tested the ACR AquaLink View PLB. I’d already appreciated its high build quality, and how neatly instructions about how to activate its two self test modes and primary distress function are explained right on the casing. Then when I pressed the GPS Test button for five seconds, it was very nice to have the small LCD screen show the procedure step-by-step and advise me to give the antennas a good sky view. And it was impressive that the GPS — perhaps never used before, or at most tested in Florida — got (and displayed) a position in well less than a minute. (In fact, the whole test procedure is so quick that I’ve had a hard getting a good photo with the scrolling screen in action.) But the kicker was how my cell phone buzzed a moment later with a text message confirmation that the beacon’s test signal had made it through the COSPAS-SARSAT satellite system, along with a link to its accurately mapped position…

Because I’m also testing the Pro version of ACR’s 406Link service, the same “All’s well” short message and location link could have been emailed and/or texted to four other recipients. Frankly, though, I consider that Spot-like messaging feature quite secondary to the reassurance felt when you can test a critical safety device like this PLB all the way through the system (short of the rescue center). Continue Reading Panbo’s Review…

gCaptain believes that one of these devices should be required inside every lifeboat and liferaft that goes to sea and we fully endorse the Aqualink but their is still one problem… the communication is still one way! To actually communicate with rescuers you need a two way emergency locating device, of which our favorite is currently Solara Data’s Field Tracker 2100, a device currently in use by the park service as well as our favorite emergency evacuation company. Standby as gCaptain waits for its own 2100 to review.

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