In particular, I was not happy with the ‘mini-flare‘ set I carried as being visible or reliable enough if I ever needed to use it. I have also followed discussions on the use of EPIRB or PLB units by sea kayakers on the UK Sea Kayak Guidebook, particularly Douglas Wilcox’s advocacy of PLB’s as part of his safety kit so was keen to take a look at one of these units.
This morning I harnessed the collective power of Twitter and Facebook, along with a couple of emails to paddling friends whose judgement I trust, to pick up last minute advice and suggestions. Armed with this knowledge I headed off to Lymington which sports a handful of excellent Chandlers.
I was lucky enough to stumble across the exact model of PLB that had come recommended to me in a sale at £149 (£110 off it’s RRP) and snapped up the last one in the store. This saving allowed me to pick up a set of Coastal Flares (also recommended to me by several Sea Kayakers).
With these items purchased, I feel as if I have put together a very robust set of communication tools should the worst ever happen. I thought I would share my set up as it now stands:
Safety Kit: Communication
Handheld VHF – Primary: Standard Horizon H751
Handheld VHF – Back Up: Icom M71
Flares – Coastal Flares Set 1x Red Parachute, 1x Orange Smoke, 1x Red Handheld Flare (pack actually contains 2 of each)
PLB – McMurdo Fastfind 210 (GPS)
Mobile Phone – Primary: iPhone 3GS on contract with O2: Waterproof case
Mobile Phone – Back Up: iPhone 3G with PAYG vodaphone
Whistle – built in to Peak UK Adventure Zip PFD
Whistle – Fox 40 Safety on lanyard
Headtorch – Petzl Duo (could be used for signalling)
My next step is to work out what goes where – which items will be carried on my person and how, which items would be stowed on or in the boat and where. I currently use a Peak UK Adventure Zip PFD and carry a VHF, whistle, phone and mini flares in it. I can see the PFD pocket that normally houses the mini-flares becoming the home of the PLB, with the new flares going in a drybag in the PFD’s rear pocket on a lanyard (suggested by Simon Willis). Once I get my ‘packing’ organised I will post up my thoughts.
I also need to fully familiarise myself with the operation of both the PLB and the flares. It would be a false sense of security to have simply bought and carried the kit if when it comes to the crunch I could not operate it in cold, wet, dark conditions.
In no way do I advocate this as the best or correct set of kit but offer it up as an example. I would love to get feedback on this set up so please feel free to comment. It would be great to share different ideas and suggestions.