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PLBs Can Save Your Life

Discussion in 'Training, Practices and Equipment' started by letterboy, Mar 19, 2019.

  1. ggunn

    ggunn ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Austin, TX, USA
    And of course that wasn't my point. The reason military pilots have all that stuff is that there is a much higher probability that they will need it.
  2. Tug

    Tug ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    letterboy and Joneill like this.
  3. If memory serves, amid all the relevant associated threads, Cameron himself said he didn't feel he needed to dive with any sort of locator beacon. I look at it as just another sort of buying insurance, we buy insurance for everything else, why not safety/rescue gear as well ?
    NYCNaiad and letterboy like this.
  4. I prefer to always dive my standard field kit, helps muscle memory, and less risk of forgetting critical items. I get used to weighting/balance/placement with everything on board.
    NYCNaiad and BRT like this.
  5. Also, many folks dive WAY outside US territorial waters, so having access to 'free' US Coast Guard SAR services is a moot point. I think we just witnessed the effectiveness of Mexican SAR services, hence my focus on self-reliance.
    RVA_Diver likes this.
  6. Storker

    Storker Divemaster

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: close to a Hell which occasionally freezes over
    Good point. If I ever were planning to go diving a place where being swept off in a current was a significant risk, I'd probably start carrying such a device. Also during my local dives.
  7. Joneill

    Joneill Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: New Jersey, USA
    Of course, but not a good reason to try to talk people out the value of a PLB (even if you never need to use it) as I'm sensing some here want to do. I honestly don't see any downside to including one as part of my gear clipped off to a D-ring.

    As unlikely as being stranded at sea might be, folks diving in places/conditions where it's even a remote possibility will wish they had spent the few hundred dollars if they find themselves adrift without one. For me, it's far better to be overprepared than underprepared in most situations...
    NYCNaiad and Dan like this.
  8. Diver below 83

    Diver below 83 Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: SoFlo
    Nothing wrong with having the added benefits of a Plb.
  9. NYCNaiad

    NYCNaiad Dive babble all day long Staff Member

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: NYC
    I was on what should have been a "benign" dive in the Caribbean. No current. Easy dive with the supposedly best shop on the island--one which I had been diving with many times before. There was even a 2nd group off of the same boat at the same site which included my best friend doing her OW with her instructor. None of us lost sight of the DM (or instructor). None of us lost sight of each other.

    The boat broke anchor while the acting captain was asleep & the boat drifted far away. He hadn't marked our position & then couldn't find us. When he called into the shop to begin the SAR, no one knew where we were. At one point, we saw one of the boats searching for us. We all had SMBs (some big/some small), whistles, & mirrors which we used to try & get the boat's attention. But the boat didn't see us & left.

    I vividly remember floating there in terror while we all continued to frantically wave SMBs no one saw, flash mirror signals no one caught, blow whistles no one heard.

    I also remember when the waves began to get bigger as a storm started to come in making the chances of us being found even less likely.

    When we were saved an hour & a half later, that's when I changed my mind about what safety gear was needed. It's not just your life we're talking about, but even the time you are lost at sea & the absolute fright/horror you feel as you start to think you might not be found. 90 minutes sounds like nothing, but when you begin realizing that every minute that ticks away makes it less & less likely you'll be found then those minutes begin to feel like hours.

    The acting captain was surely at fault, but that supposedly great dive shop was as well for allowing someone to take that acting captain position & for allowing the dive to happen when the weather was set to turn. I knew a storm was supposed to come in, but thought it was set for the next day. The fairly calm seas when we splashed in seemed to also support that idea. The dive shop who had access to weather reports would have known differently & should have been able to predict the big waves we saw towards the end. (The acting captain didn't fall into his role until the boat was already underway so at the very least, the original captain should have also been held responsible. Side note: I found out later that other dive shops with fewer glowing reviews had cancelled their dives for that day.)

    I'm personally here to say that SMBs, whistles, & mirrors are not enough if you are an open ocean diver whether you dive solo, with a buddy, or with a DM...or whether you dive with well-rated shops you know in popular areas or dive with unknown shops off-the-beaten path.

    I write for a major scuba diving publication & did some intensive research after I was lost at sea. The vast majority of the diver lost-at-sea scenarios are not publicized by dive shops & the media rarely finds out. What happened with me certainly wasn't publicized; instead, it was minimized. The dive shop fired the acting captain blaming everything on him & then hushed everything up. Nothing was reported outside of the dive shop! These things happen more often than most know.

    Spending a bit of money to lessen any time lost at sea and/or upping your chances of being found alive is money well spent in my mind unless you only dive in rivers, lakes, quarries, or caves. If you're an ocean diver, it's your prerogative if you think this additional safety gear isn't worth the cost, but I really hope you are never in a situation to realize you could be wrong.

    (Tagging a few folks who either tagged me or mentioned that additional safety gear wasn't needed: @bada3003, @Johnoly, @Dan_T, @boulderjohn, @Storker)
  10. bada3003

    bada3003 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Indiana
    I think you learned a valuable lesson and glad all worked out. I’m assuming the SMB’s helped find you when they returned an hour and a half later.

    SMB’s, horns, mirrors, etc. do not provide guarantees. When swells are 3+ feet, even tall SMB’s are hard to see. Use the stuff between your ears and make rational judgement calls appropriate for the situation. Should I go diving under this and that condition? Why do I use words such as “trust” a dive operator? Do I know how to take care of myself if I get separated? And the list goes on. In most instances, Murphy will get you well before a “lost at sea and they can’t find you even with a tall SMB, strobe light, etc. scenario” arises.

    The single best tool you have is your brains. Try to use it effectively. And use a locating device when appropriate. If you think carrying one in all open water dives is the way to go, do it. Just don’t ignore the other, and far more important, factors that will impact you.
    letterboy and Akimbo like this.

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