Saving the Man Overboard
New breed of personal electronic devices reshapes the way sailors tackle a man-overboard situation.
Although Practical Sailor contends that the best way to save a crew member is to do everything possible to keep them on board in the first place (lifelines, jacklines, harnesses, tethers, non-skid decks, grab rails) and to perfect MOB drills, there are times when a crew member will go over. New waves of electronic devices on the market are designed to alert the crew to a man in the water, and to locate the MOB. These devices include beacons, alarms, and trackers aimed at expediting alert and recovery. Some products signal that a person is no longer on the boat. Other devices broadcast a radio (RF) signal that can locate a man overboard with on-board direction finding (DF) equipment There’s even a new type of mini-406-Mhz EPIRBs called Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) that can summon the U.S. Coast Guard via satellite. Add to these choices the recently introduced satellite messenger system that can pinpoint the position of its owner and the choices become more varied. Practical Sailor evaluates a handful of these devices including Mobilarm MOBi-lert 720i and the 7200 and 7600 alarms, and Raymarine LifeTag alarm; beacons Emerald Marine Products Alert2, and Marine Rescue Technologies Sea Marshall SARfinder 1003, which is classified as a Maritime Survivor Locating Device (MSLD); and two personal locator beacons, ACR Electronics ResQFix PLB and SPOT Satellite Messenger. All Mobialarm units can interface with National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA) 0183-compatible devices.