Personal Location Beacons for UK use?

Wayne

BCUK Welfare Officer
Mod
Dec 7, 2003
3,464
326
48
West Sussex
www.forestknights.co.uk
I have been considering getting a Personal Location Beacon for emergency use in the U.K. and Northern Europe.

Anyone have any current experience of them and recommendations of models?

Ideally I want something that doesn't require an expensive subscription.
 

Quixoticgeek

Full Member
Aug 4, 2013
2,476
5
Europe
I have a Delorme InReach Explorer (now owned by Garmin). I wrote a review which is in the reviews section of the site. It needs a subscription, but they start quite low (not checked prices recently). But you can pay as much as you like.

J
 

wicca

Native
Oct 19, 2008
1,065
31
South Coast
I have used an ( emergency position indicating radio beacon) EPIRB, Wayne.
This reply to your question may or may not be of use to you as like all technology the EPIRBS and similar kit have shrunk in size and weight and probably gained much in effectiveness since I used mine in 2007.

I was making single handed ocean voyages at the time and the McMurdo beacon I had operated on both the 406 and 121.5 MHz frequencies. At that time 406 was the International standard for Epirbs while 121.5 was more a land based and localized system, although commercial aircraft would pick up the signal mid Atlantic when passing overhead, and 121.5 was received by many stations and satellites orbiting the developed regions of the World, the 406 MHZ signal operated reliably basically everywhere.
In view of the above...if...the systems are still basically the same, then for your purposes a beacon operating on 121.5 will be sufficient. If you are going High Arctic, personally I would go for a dual frequency..such as ...https://www.mailspeedmarine.com/mcmurdo-fastfind-220-plb.html

I got caught single handed voyaging to Florida in early May 2007. I had crossed from the Canary Islands and spent a few months wandering the Leeward Islands and then sailed for Miami before the Hurricane season set in...I thought!! Sub Tropical Storm Andrea had other ideas and appeared a few weeks early....

One thing you may consider doing if you purchase a Beacon is to contact the monitoring authority and give them an approximate itinerary of your travels. I contacted Falmouth Coastguard, who are responsible for co-ordinating world wide rescues on 406MHZ, and told them I was sailing from the Canaries late December for the Caribbean, roughly where I was going, Antigua, St Kitts, Dominica etc: and that I would be on passage for Florida in early May.

This forward planning worked a treat because when I stuffed my boat on a reef in seas the size of Buckingham Palace, having triggered the Epirb, Falmouth Coastguard got the signal, pressed a key on a computer and there was Wicca's message, so they knew it was not one of thousands of false alarms ( Many Doughnuts actually press the red button " to see if it works...:biggrin: ) It drives the poor Coastguard potty...

Falmouth Coastguard telephoned the US Coastguard in San Juan, Puerto Rico and asked them to fish me off the reef with one of their big helicopters.
I was in the water and scrabbling around on the reef for about 45 minutes from pressing the red button, so the rescue pilot told me, so the itinerary really was a life saver as I don't think I could have swallowed any more sea water and sand and I was running out of skin to leave on the reef anyway...:p

If you are going far places, an Epirb is certainly worth considering...I imagine the devices have become much more sophisticated since 2007, much lighter and cheaper at least.
 
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I've been looking at the Garmin Delorme InReach Explorer recently to replace the monthly charge on my (very lightly used) satphone, which I'll cancel. The Explorer monthly charge is much cheaper although you don't get voice comms. but you do get a GPS unit which my satphone doesn't have.

The good thing about the Explorer is that you can buy just a month's subscription at a time on some plans so you are not committed to a regular monthly charge even when you're not out expeditioning. You can also use it to send predefined text messages as well as send and receive regular text messages. You can get a weather forecast from it at the price of text message or two. It also seems to be able to sync to a smart phone or tablet with the supplied app, I guess to take advantage of the larger screen/keyboard.

I'm still researching one for myself.

Let us know what you decide. Ta.
 

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
2,262
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Having just looked up the cost, I'm assuming this isn't a serious suggestion.....

Yes it is.
Wayne did not state any cost level.
Does it have to be cheap for a recommendation?

Can it get much better than yhis watch? Time keeping, an emergency direction finder ( in case you lose your compass) and a beacon.
In a very small package.
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,706
1,646
McBride, BC
Here, the avalanche beacons (Pieps) are very weak, very short range, for directional sensing in small areas.
After a few hours, the urgency is to find your body before the wolves dig you up.

Pretty hard to get lost. Did you go uphill or down hill from the only road that goes into that valley?
I've been "turned around" a couple of times where a compass works and GPS does not.
 

santaman2000

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jan 15, 2011
16,712
992
64
Florida
Until about 5 years ago 121.5 was the standard (and mandatory) frequency for aviation. Since the switch to 406 I don't think anybody even monitors it anymore.
 
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Bishop

Full Member
Jan 25, 2014
1,576
522
Inside the wire, Llanelli
A quick trawl of the net found the RescueME PLB1 for as little as £189
and the peace of mind it provides makes for a very tempting investment.

However:
My only concern and this is not a gripe against the product but the many retailers...
It would be nice if they included the expiry date for the battery or a guarantee of a new one being fitted upon purchase
because a seven year battery life means little if the box has been on a shelf in storage for six.

FYI: The battery is not covered by the warranty and replacement is an in-house job
(not found any prices for this yet but deep down you know it's going to sting)