View Full Version : Advice on a PLB Nautilis Lifeline?
May 6th, 2012, 08:36 PM
Had a scary situation yesterday which has helped inspire me to buy a PLB, before my next trip. I have a 30' Mako and a regular crew of recreational spearfishermen that go out of Cape Fear inlet in NC. We are generally 40-50 miles offshore, in 70-100 feet of water. After a dive yesterday I popped up behind the boat. As always, we were "live boating" ie. using a floating marker flag versus anchoring up. Opinions vary, but like the ability to go get a diver who comes up away from the boat instead of waiting for every diver to come aboard. I was about 30 feet behind the boat, and used my Dive Alert whistle to get their attention. They saw me, but then another diver popped up closer to the boat so they got him first. I figured no problem, they saw me, so I waited my turn and up went the sausage. Immediately after he got aboard the hydraulic steering went out. Long story short, we were fortunate to have a buddy boat less than a mile away. They came and got me. Made me think what happens when you don't have a buddy boat. As it happened, another boat off NC lost a diver yesterday. He activated a PLB and was picked up two miles from his boat.
I did some checking and DAN sells a Nautilus Lifeline which looks pretty good. If I read the specs right, the unit is submersible to 425 feet (without requiring a special enclosure), and it works on the surface as both a beacon and a vhf radio. Anyone here have experience with these?
May 6th, 2012, 09:33 PM
If you don't know about it, you may want to have a look at the Nautilus forum (http://www.scubaboard.com/forums/nautilus-lifeline/) here on ScubaBoard. Generally frank and open discussion about issues, pro and con.
One possible correction to what you posted. The Lifeline is not a PLB. A PLB is a one-way satellite transmitter, which (in the USA) calls NOAA, which in turn calls the Coast Guard to start co-ordinating a search. The Lifeline is a two-way VHF radio with built-in GPS, capable of sending the GPS information to DSC-capable VHF radios, which I believe are becoming increasingly common on boats. For a diver in the water, it sounds like its range in generally 'a few miles'. So IMHO they deal with different degrees of 'being lost'. A Lifeline lets you talk to boats in the area, and if they have the right radio gear, automatically tells them where you are within a few meters, but its range is limited. (Or at a minimum, you can tell the boat 'based on the sun, I'm sort of a couple of thousand feet north east of you' where they wouldn't have been able to spot you themselves.) The PLB works from anywhere and calls in the heavy artillery, but this may take hours to arrive.
May 6th, 2012, 09:37 PM
Thanks bleeb, didn't realize there was a thread on Nautilus, will go check it out.
May 6th, 2012, 09:39 PM
A Nautilus Lifeline is not a PLB. It is a VHF radio with internal GPS and DSC capability. As you know, VHF is line of site only, so while it would have worked in your situation yesterday, it is only marginally effective more than a couple of miles away. Additionally, the receiving radio must be set up to receive distress calls via DSC. Is yours on your boat? Most private craft are not. Do you have an MMSI for your boats VHF? If you do, congratulations. If not, you are among the majority of recreational boaters. If you want lots of help from folks who look for lost sailors for a living, a PLB is indeed the correct tool for the job. The McMurdo 210 does an awesome job for a reasonable price. If you always expect to surface within a mile or so from your boat as most lost divers do, the Lifeline is an incredible tool.
May 6th, 2012, 10:05 PM
My boat has a GPS with DSC. Seems like if I really want to be covered I need one of each. I checked the Nautilus forum, sounds a little sketchy but they are still working the bugs out. As it happens, another diver somewhere off the NC coast had the same experience yesterday. Their lifeline wouldn't power on, they are checking to see if it was discharged (same issue as the Hawaii guy?). He had the McMurdo 210 which is what they used to find him. You can read about it here: Diver Lost & Found out of NRI Thanks PLB - FryingPanTower.Com (http://fryingpantower.com/ftopict-29112.html)
May 7th, 2012, 02:12 AM
In your situation I would carry both. Radio to talk to boat, and PLB for when things really go wrong.
This is the P-EPIRB I would get.
May 7th, 2012, 10:17 AM
Yep, I'd look at a PLB as indicated in the link in the post above
May 15th, 2012, 02:44 PM
See my sig for rental options also - PLBs and Dive canisters for occasional divers who don't want to spend lots of money.