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Updated 2018 - Emergency Equipment to assist Search & Rescue

Discussion in 'Training, Practices & Equipment' started by IyaDiver, Sep 8, 2018.

  1. IyaDiver

    IyaDiver Contributor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Indonesia
    Hi All,

    Been a long time.

    Update for friends at Scubaboard. I hope here at Accidents and Incidents is a suitable section to post this.

    In Feb 2014 I wrote : 7 divers missing off Indonesian island

    In Aug 2015 I wrote :
    Emergency Equipment to Assist Search and Rescue

    2015 up I bought these to test and use them as extra safety gear accordingly :

    Technology : AIS Transmitter. Item 6A in photo.
    60 meters rated. I dove to 25 meters so far with this.
    AIS Man Overboard Device | Automatic Identification System | SmartFind S10

    Technology : AIS Receiver, in a chartplotter. Item 6B in photo.
    The AIS alarm feature works.
    KP-6299A / KP-6299B - ONWA Marine Electronics Co. Ltd.

    Lost drone tracker – for fun test only. Item 4 and 5
    RC Model Tracking and Recovery - Tracking and Recovery Made Easy | Marco Polo the Tracking and Recovery System

    Lost pet tracker – fo fun test only. Item 3 and 5
    Marco Polo Advanced Two Pet Tracking System - Tracking and Recovery Made Easy | Marco Polo the Tracking and Recovery System

    Item 1 is my retired 2009 PLB, retired in 2014 due to 5 years battery shelf life.
    Item 2 is my new smaller PLB 2014 + 7 years, 7 years battery shelf life and I have 2 of these.
    SHDC memory card as size reference.
    mix 1.JPG
    I will explain on these new toys at later post.

    Now.....Some good news here. Bali and Komodo/Labuan Bajo and Sorong* ( *30-60 n.miles from Raja Ampat ) now this Sept 2018, has 40 meters SAR vessel. But today I can’t see the SAR vessel in Komodo/Labuan Bajo.

    To see their last know position near or at their base, use this to track their AIS beacon. Different dates may show different vessel position. I am tracking it today 9th Sept 2018.
    FindShip -- Find any ship all over the world!

    Bali get : KN SAR ARJUNA 229 . Still in Benoa Bali area, YES.

    Komodo/Labuan Bajo get : Supposedly KN SAR ANTAREJA but it is now in Kupang which is 250 n.miles away. Kupang SAR office is the higher authority over Komodo/Labuan Bajo SAR office.

    Sorong : KNSAR BALADEWA SRG. Still in Sorong area, YES.

    DO NOTE : Marine AIS worldwide database is only as good as the network of AIS receivers located world wide as land based stations and how the overall data is updated by those website. AIS is a VHF localized transmission, it is not a world wide transmission via satellite like a PLB. It is designed to be for Port Control or vessels to see each other in real time at up to 24 n.miles ( if very tall ships ) and can help in collision avoidance. AIS transmission under the ruling, must continuously transmit when vessel is underway or when at anchor is some areas/ports. When they transmit, that means they listen too.

    I will summarize the equipment of choice capability and limitations : based on remote area diving with poor National SAR facility or very far away National SAR facility. National SAR is what you guys in the US will call as US Coast Guard in terms of their rescue duty. I will also use Bali, Komodo/Labuan Bajo and Raja Ampat/Sorong as example where now a 40 meter SAR vessel is available.

    This is mainly about boat diving, but the same will apply for shore diving if current can send you drifting to open water.

    I can not emphasize enough, but I will repeat again :

    01. ALWAYS AIM FOR your own dive boat operator as the “rescue” platform, avoid using the country’s National SAR facility unless you drifted way too far and too long as such your dive boat operator could not find you.

    02. ALWAYS remember, countries like Indonesia is not America with very advance and wide network of National SAR ( US Coast Guard ) facility. American Coast Guard also guard the waters from foreign smugglers, so they are all over America. Indonesian SAR is totally SAR only, for land, sea, mountain, lake and even flood or earthquake.

    I will not discuss sausage ( SMB) or mirrors in depth here. Sausage is must for sure, no discussion.
    Don’t go cheap on the sausage, get quality one 200 denier which do not leak easily.
    If it has reflector on top, better.

    03. The must have #1.
    2 of submersible 1 to 1.5 meters 30 minutes waterproof marine portable VHF radio in dive canister, as I have explained in older posts, one for you to dive with and 1 for your dive boat crew to hang on his neck. This is the best and fastest local “rescue” from your own dive boats or if in Bali or similar region of the world , where passing boats or dinner cruise yacht some, do or must carry VHF. Commercial ships is a bonus, VHF can be almost certain will be on stand by at channel 16 .

    Have the VHF saved me and friends from being a statistic ? YES yes yes yes yes.

    04. The must have #2.
    At least 200 lumens dive flashlight 24 hours never removed from your BCD with SOS blinking pattern or at least strobe blinking capability.

    05. The must have #3.
    Some higher lumens spot beam dive light. 600-800 lumens would be good and today’s unit is so small.
    Even in day dive, carry it on you….so when you drifted into the night, you have something more powerful.

    04 and 05 is the most useful when one drift into the night as 3,000 or more meters is easy for this lights to be a visible light source by an observer. Your hand height 40cm above water and observer eye height 2 meters from water surface, approx 9,000 meters line of sight is what you can get based on earth curvature limitation. Line Of Sight Calculator

    If you drift into the night, even when you can communicate to your dive boat on your submersible VHF, they can’t see you. So you need a torch to guide them to you and to prevent you from being run over by other boats.

    Have the torch saved me and friends ? YES, 1 case in Ambon. My friend with a VHF radio in dive canister which flooded, rendering the VHF useless and he has sausage, but too far the drift at 4,000 meters to see the sausage. It was getting dark and not yet black-night-dark, the torch saved him. It’s a long story how this diver can drift that far, but I was the one giving him my safety torch while we were doing safety stop. Me 5 minutes and he has to do 25 minutes. So I left him for the surface and I gave him my torch as he does not carry the 24hr version like me.

    The must have #4. PLB. Touch wood... I never use my PLB, and hoping to never use it.
    Slow a rescue will be for you if your trigger a PLB in a very remote area with poor SAR support, but this
    is the most global range device you can buy and when you plan well ahead, it may work decently well if you have 48 hours PLB transmission life. The key is your family and friends can help you push for the SAR to happen.

    Very good to have #5. AIS. Tested yes, actual emergency use...NO.
    60 meter submersible AIS like McMurdo Smartfind S10.

    Akimbo, Greenjuice and alvinsuper like this.
  2. IyaDiver

    IyaDiver Contributor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Indonesia


    Bali, should be fastest rescue region if based on PLB – high density for its tourist boats and dive operators. Depending where you dive in Bali Island or Nusa Penida/Lembongan. This is probably the fastest Indonesian region to be rescued when using a PLB. Will it be under 24 hours ? Because that is the maximum hours your small PLB battery can last in emergency transmission mode. Honestly I don’t know. There never been a rescue by PLB for a diver yet…. that I know of.

    Risk in Bali.
    Use google earth : 8° 43.574'S by 115° 27.911'E
    The infamous Crystal Bay 8° 42.941'S by 115° 27.318'E turn on OCEAN in GE to get dive spots.
    Bali Badung Straight current is very strong. Nusa Penida + Lembongan is even worse as the narrowing of the straight between these two islands is a speed booster. Most often the current direction would push you away south direction to the Indian Ocean and that is a death sentence in anything less than flat/calm sea. Small boats unless in flat/calm sea, would not venture to the Indian Ocean side of Nusa Penida like Manta Point dive spot.

    So if you do drift into the Indian Ocean side, a bigger SAR vessel of at least 30-40 meters would be needed, in a not so friendly sea. Getting a bigger vessel for your rescue may take more time. If Indian Ocean is at its near worst, man it is 6 meters wave out there and I doubt any of my National SAR asset can handle that wave size. 40 meters long is not big enough in a 6 meter angry Indian Ocean. Indian Ocean if at 6 meters wave need something this big : Hamilton-class cutter - Wikipedia Indonesian biggest SAR vessel is 56 meters only.

    Bali region PLB transmission scenario :
    You own a PLB from X country. Within under 30 minutes of your transmission, Indonesian SAR body called BASARNAS http://basarnas.go.id/sarana-sar-laut at Jakarta Soekarno Hatta International Airport
    RCC Jakarta (Soekarno-Hatta Airport) (Cospas-Sarsat SPOC) - Search and Rescue Contacts
    should in their special COSPAS/SARSAT computer terminal see your emergency transmission and so would too your country of PLB registration office. Indonesian SAR will not react until your country of PLB registration request official assistance. Your country of registration has to call your listed contact number/s as per your PLB registration to verify if this is false alarm or real emergency. If indeed a true emergency condition occurs, because you have your dive vacation plans reported to your wife, girlfriend, mistress, friends and whatnot and they will know indeed you are at sea……your country SAR authority will then seek assistance from Indonesian SAR, the BASARNAS, because the area of emergency transmission belongs to Indonesia.

    It is then up to the Indonesian SAR to relay the message to SAR Bali in Benoa, how soon and how fast.
    It is then up to SAR Bali Benoa to decide which vessel to use. They surely have smaller vessels too.

    Now, I lived of yachts related business for a long time, 10 years ago. I know how much big vessel burn fuel. A 40 meter vessel supposedly able to do 30 knots max speed like our 40 meters SAR with supposedly triple 1,400HP engine, even at cruise of 25 knots would burn easy 600 liters an hour of diesel. Do pay attention to the word “supposedly” I use for speed and engine spec. 1,400 HP x 3 with 40 meter hull length at 7.8 meters wide, in my calculation, can not achieve 30 knots top speed if fully loaded with fuel. So it may actually have bigger engines, so it will burn more fuel. The smaller the fuel tank size of a SAR vessel, the less area it can search at fast speed.

    If the 40 meter vessel has full fuel at the moment your required rescue , it should be able to be mobilized fast. If the vessel has low fuel level, it will take hours to get fuel, if the fuel is not stored at the SAR harbor but rather from a 8,000 liter fuel truck from Pertamina state owned oil company Bali fuel depot.

    Do remember one thing, Indonesian SAR is not US Coast Guard which has to do daily regular patrol due to its duty protecting US waters from smugglers, illegal fishing and probably non-war foreign threat too. Indonesian SAR is totally SAR only : for landslide, sea accidents, flood , lost in a mountain, plane crash and all those kind of rescue.

    In this PLB scenario in Bali area, if you carry a Mcmurdo S10 AIS beacon, if there is a problem in communication from Jakarta International Airport in relaying your most current* position to the SAR 40 meters vessel ( *remember per 2 knots of current, your drift 3,712 meters away per hour ), the SAR vessel has AIS receiver to receive you AIS beacon from at least 7KM if not more away due to their AIS antenna being at least 7 meters high, if not more. AIS works within marine VHF channel range.

    Decent sized Marine Police and Navy vessel would also have AIS receiver, its cheap by today’s standard.
    This way you improve your rescue chance.

    Also , Bali has the highest concentration of foreign visiting yachts at any given time, where by law all these yachts must carry AIS beacon/transponder so that Indonesian Custom knows where there are any any given time. These yachts is also able to receive other yachts and ships AIS signal either in their AIS capable chartplotter or stand alone AIS receiver, and woul also able to receive your McMurdo S10 AIS emergency transmission if they so happen to sail within your AIS transmission range.

    Greenjuice and alvinsuper like this.
  3. IyaDiver

    IyaDiver Contributor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Indonesia


    Carry 2 PLB like me, now with Ocean Signal http://oceansignal.com/products/plb1/ so small and decently low cost, afford yourself 24+24 = 48 hours emergency transmission. This is a 7 years battery life at storage. My 2009 McMurdo Fast Find PLB battery technically has expired in 2014 because it is a 5 years battery storage life. So I got to buy new PLB anyway and 2 units I got.

    Carry the McMurdo S10 , 60 meters depth rate, AIS.
    Hopefully big commercial ship will read your AIS emergency signal.

    Now I discuss my new safety toys.

    Since I believe in self-rescue…. as in my own chartered dive boat must find me, I have to buy this
    AIS receiver. This Onwa DOES NOT transmit AIS signal, it only receive.
    KP-6299A / KP-6299B - ONWA Marine Electronics Co. Ltd. to support the McMurdo S10 AIS beacon
    AIS Man Overboard Device | Automatic Identification System | SmartFind S10

    Item 6A and 6B in the photo in post 1. The PLB is for size reference towards the S10 AIS bigger size.

    I have modified the AIS antena to be smaller, ducky type, instead of the big tall one provided by Onwa.
    The idea is, I can carry to remote location in a hard case like Pelican, this Onwa AIS Chartplotter Receiver with a small 10 amps 12 volt sealed lead acid battery or any up to 16 volt laptop extra powerbank, as my own portable safety asset I place on my chartered dive boat or its supporting rubber boat.

    If ever my Icom VHF failed/flooded when I drifted too far, I would use the McMurdo AIS first and not the PLB. I want my rescue to be as local and fast as possible. Why would I wait for hours and hours for National SAR via PLB?

    I have tested the AIS at short distance and it works. I have not tested it very far yet, but I know it will work decently well as would a VHF at low 0.5 watt power output. The beauty of AIS is, it is switchable ON-OFF, unlike a PLB where once you trigger it ON* ( *not test mode, emergency ON MODE ), I doubt you can ever turn it off.

    If I were to test a PLB, to actually know Cospas/Sarsat satellite is receiving it and ground terminal in the US or Indonesia get my transmission, I don’t know how I could do that officialy ? LOL.

    Another plus point is, the Onwa with my modified mini rubber ducky antenna, is also a general use AIS receiver, which can be tested for its receiver sensitivity by using it near a sea port. I got lots of AIS signals during this test. In fact 13KM away is no big deal if the ship is a big tall ship, I can receive few big ship AIS transmission from home which is 13KM away line of sight to the harbor. Its not about power alone, its about antenna height of the big ship.

    While I am on a yacht with AIS transceiver ( receive and transmit capable ) at 6 meter antena height and other vessel with 8+ meters antena height, I can see other vessels AIS signal at up to 12 n.miles or 22.27 kilometers.

    AIS receivers only or low power class B AIS transceiver are getting lower in cost and many boats are installing it either due to port regulations or wanted to be more visible to other big vessels. Indonesian based LOB like Blue Manta & Raja Manta has AIS too :
    White Manta Diving - KM Blue Manta
    White Manta Diving - KM Raja Manta

    If any LOB has ENOS, that is basically a custom AIS transmitter + receiver package, but only for ENOS users. ENOS-System | The Specialist in Safety and Rescue Equipment
    Which with today's McMurdo S10 diver AIS, I would prefer an AIS which can be received by all ships, that increases my survival rate.

    I bought these Marco Polo trackers only to learn what they can do, and I can use it on my drone too.

    As per post #1 photo :
    The number 3 transmitter is a dog collar version, its rain proof.
    The number 4 transmitter is a drone version, it is not rain proof.

    Someone else review is here

    Would I use the Marco Polo tracker for diving ? No. Not with all what I already have :)

    If with all my safety gear I still drifted and not rescued by my dive chartered vessel, I guess that is bad luck at its peak. I been in a situation where my chartered small dive boat, single 250HP outboard engine ....suddenly had 1 of the battery cell died and can't start the engine, while I was still underwater and when I surfaced the wind blew the boat to south, and the mild current took me to north ...LOL. I followed my old time pre-caution, any single engine dive boat must carry a small 25HP outboard, or I will not charter it. So 25HP portable hand-start outboard was on board and save the day.

    Before Icom introduced submersible VHF back in 2002, I have at one time in the 90s, I have to dump my tank+BCD+regulator, so that I can swim faster for 40-45 minutes to maintain position and not drift beyond my team usual search pattern . It was 2+ knots current and I only have 3 miles of land mass before I will be in the open Indian Ocean.

    That day was an unlucky day. Reason no 1 being, we lost the rubber boat. Engine problem. No 2, The experienced crew and captain of my friend's 53 footer convertible sportfisher took it for granted that I will never abort a dive, so no one was looking at early surfacing divers for the first 15 minutes of the dive. I have to abort the dive due to jammed up ear and I can't equalize. Dive location was 1 n.miles to land mass only. Dive Alert useless. Sausage useless because I already drifted underwater quite far for like 10-15 minutes while trying to equalize at 3-4 meters down while bottom at 20-40 meters. That is the day I do not anymore trust Dive Alert , the so called ultra loud whistle. Try using it against a 10+ knots wind at 900+ meters, it is useless.

    Because the dive location is only 1 n.mile to land mass and I have 3 n.miles of land mass before exiting this straight and into the Indian Ocean to be a statistic, I dare to choose to swim on the spot, instead of going to shore as first option. 35 minutes is maximum dive time we can do here, so by 40-45th minutes the yacht will do its usual 2.5 KM ( 1.34 n.miles ) downcurrent search grid to look for the furthest drifting divers and I would be still within that search grid by swimming on the spot but is actually drifting at no more than 0.5 knots at best. Worst case I can swim to shore if they ever not spot me by 65th minute as it was getting dark already.
    I do not yet carry permanently a torch light on my BCD yet in the 90s, unless for night dive. 1 n.mile swim towards 3 o-clock while current from 6 o'clock is an easy swim, hence I did not choose that as 1st option.
    I got picked up at 55th minute.

    I actually tied my sausage to my drifting BCD and managed to get all back at 2.7 n.miles away....yipee !!
    I know the current direction and strength so well in this dive location, I found my dive gear in 10-15 minutes only. Save me lots of money....ha ha ha.

    Near this location of mine, 5 miles away west there is one rock out at the very edge of the straight, basically it is already the Indian Ocean. My friend andhis dive buddy like 3 years ago, due to pure double bad luck, that day drifted out to the middle of the Indian Ocean for 12 hours, starting at 4PM ish and by God grace, at midnight the wind direction changed, sort of small storm and blew him back towards an island next to this rock he dove.:yeahbaby:at approx 4AM and managed to find one safe opening, a sandy beach of only 200 meters wide , among the mainly very rocky shores . This island is popular for big ball surfers when the time of very big wave is right.
    Surf Panaitan Island Panaitan Surfing Charter Panaitan Surf Camp the beach he found was I believe at near Pussy and/or Napalms.
    This is the rock 6° 41.128'S by 105° 10.936'E
    Navionics ChartViewer

    His bad luck #1, his submersible M88 Icom plastic antenna was broken due to long time use in dive canister needing antenna to U bend when kept. So he did not use his radio that day. His bad luck #2, charter a fishing boat with no diving experience. 3rd but his own mistake, he did not teach the captain how to do a search grid on this rock and the time to distance search grid expansion. So captain waited at the safe side of the rock, which is opposite of where a diver will surface. I dove this rock 300+ dives and there is a wait-where and search-where-when technique for a dive boat. This rock is dangerous when swell is 2+ meters.

    He and buddy dumped the regulator + tank and kept the BCD when the storm start to hit them and proven the correct choice when swimming to shore in a swell condition.
    I too would not want to be whacked by a wave with a 20kg load on my back.

    I hope everyone dive safe yah.

    Dan and alvinsuper like this.
  4. Greenjuice

    Greenjuice Contributor

    Thank you for posting this. You appear to have thought a lot about these issues and have personal experiences as well.

    What do you think about the Nautilus Lifeline as an option and (apart from sausage and whistles) what else would you recommend to be added to the equipment list for diving remotely around the Komodo area, please?

    Nautilus Marine Rescue GPS - Free to use, Diver Rated to 425 ft. | Nautilus LifeLine
  5. IyaDiver

    IyaDiver Contributor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Indonesia
    Hi Green,

    You asked : What do you think about the Nautilus Lifeline as an option ?

    I just read what Nautilus Marine Rescue GPS is, the 1st generation was called
    NAUTILUS LIFELINE RADIO and its is now discontinued, but available as refurbished unit
    Nautilus Lifeline Radio (Refurbished) - Temp. Wait List

    Based on this https://www.nautiluslifeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/ManualEN-Nautilus-Marine-Rescue-GPS.pdf

    Nautilus LifeLine FAQ - Nautilus GPS Questions - Nautilus LifeLine

    So, this new Nautilus Marine Rescue GPS is basically an AIS emergency beacon like the McMurdo S10, but also able to use marine VHF DSC function like its 1st gen Lifeline Radio.

    Too bad its FAQ and its User Manual did not explain as clearly as they should and could, for a non technical person or a non mariner/yachtsmen person to understand what it will do and what hardware on the signal receiving end is needed.

    Page 7 of the User Manual :
    Select “Device Mode”. Choose the region where you will be using your Nautilus GPS.

    • Canada: Only AIS will be transmitted. DSC not permitted due to local regulations.

    • Europe: Only AIS will be transmitted. DSC not permitted due to local regulations.

    • USA: Full AIS alert will be transmitted. DSC alert will be sent first to your programmed ship MMSI. After 30 minutes, transmission will switch to your programmed group MMSI. Refer to steps 4 and 5 for details on MMSI programming.

    • International: Full distress alerting with AIS and DSC. If a ship MMSI has been programmed, DSC will first be sent to your own ship. After 30 mins., DSC will be sent to all ships.

    Read my post #3 on how a McMurdo AIS beacon will work and why I have to get a chartplotter with AIS receiver.
    First and foremost , do remember that Nautilus Marine Rescue GPS as an AIS beacon, will only work if the dive boat has AIS receiver , be it stand lone model like this: MA-500TR Class B AIS Transponder - Features - Icom America

    or like my Onwa which is AIS receiver integrated with a chartplotter,
    or more advance AIS where even the radar get AIS data link.

    or, you are hoping other boats ( not your dive boat ) or commercial vessels close by, has AIS receiver.

    NOTE : AIS Beacon like McMurdo S10 will transmit its MMSI number with a 972 prefix. The 972 means a distress signal or MOB Man Over Board signal and will trigger alarm and provide an icon with an X, instead of a vessel/boat icon.
    MMSI MID formats | e-Navigation Netherlands

    How about Nautilus Marine Rescue GPS, the DSC transmission part ?
    Well, again...... the VHF radio used by the dive boat must have a DSC capable radio, otherwise it will not receive the DSC transmission from Nautilus.

    This is a non DSC capable radio :
    M200 VHF Marine Transceiver - Features - Icom America

    This is a DSC capable radio
    M330 / M330G VHF Marine Fixed Mount - Features - Icom America

    Note : I never tried using any marine VHF radio DSC capability to do a test transmission of emergency nature.
    So I can not verify what if the said transmitter, is not yet programmed for its MMSI number....will it actually transmit a distress signal thru its DSC ? All my DSC capable radio, I never program its MMSI number, as I do not have one. I also never ( not yet ) receive any DSC emergency transmission on my DSC capable radio.

    MMSI explanation :
    Maritime Mobile Service Identity - Wikipedia

    DSC explanation :
    Digital selective calling - Wikipedia

    You also asked :
    what else would you recommend to be added to the equipment list for diving remotely around the Komodo area, please?

    If you read thru all what I have on me as safety equipment, and you already have them all, the only other thing you can do is to get the dive operator to have more rubber/dinghy boats to support the main dive boat .
    And all of the DIVE BOAT or rubber boats or mother boat , all carry a marine VHF and you all must agree to channel "X" to use. Tallest boat, the mother boat in this case, has advantage as it has the highest antenna usually and may be able to listen to more distant transmission than their rubber boats.

    If I said DIVE BOAT means it is the active boat which drop off and picks up diver. A big LOB which has 2 rubber boats as DIVE BOAT and the LOB being a big vessel and will not help to pick up divers , is considered 2 dive boats only and not 3.

    Some small 20 ish meters short duration LOB with good maneuver capability and not Phinisi type hull can actually drop and pick up divers SAFELY, this count as a DIVE BOAT and its must have rubber boats as extra support.

    I would also station permanently an extra rubber boat at least 0.5 to 1 KM downstream of a current infested dive spot when divers are underwater. A 2 diver capacity rubber boat is okey, I need the crew eyes and ears, not the rubber boat capacity.

    Dive safe....
    Greenjuice likes this.
  6. Greenjuice

    Greenjuice Contributor

    Thank you very much for this clarification. I find your posts very detailed and the links very useful.

    Reading your posts again, I think it has begun to dawn on me that what you are saying, or perhaps more than hinting, is that if someone really wants to safeguard their rescue situation when venturing into remote parts of the world with limited SAR facilities; is to be prepared to travel with both the transmitter and the receiver parts of these devices, ready to hand the receiver equipment to the boat if they do not have them or as a backup.

    For my particular scenario, the VHF radio component is what I am missing (your #1 must have)! It is a shame that the VHF radio part of the Lifeline model was dropped in their current model - not sure why. Most reputable operator would be expected to have the receiving equipment but I can see some logic in leaving nothing to chance by travelling with another and leaving it with the boat crew.

    Would you have any thoughts on travel friendly compact models or configurations to recommend, please?
  7. seeker242

    seeker242 DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Pompano Beach, FL
    Most, if not all, VHF DSC radios the DSC distress is disabled until an MMSI number is programmed.
    IyaDiver likes this.
  8. IyaDiver

    IyaDiver Contributor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Indonesia
    Thank you Seeker for the DSC-MMSI info:cheers: , all of my DSC capable radios (older than 2009), also wrote if no MMSI , DSC wont work.

    Hi Green,
    Dive canister for portable VHF is the issue, hence most people don't carry one underwater.
    In my days and up to today, I use Underwater Kinetic ( UK ) D8 size torchlight as VHF dive canister.
    This is a D cell battery size x 8 pieces. No more in production.
    Icom M88 no more in production. Icom M72 is now replaced with M73. These two DO NOT FLOAT.

    Nautilus Lifeline stop its RADIO version due to MMSI number problem, its not easy to get the number for some countries. Its FAQ stated so.

    Its user manual 1st warning is : 1. Lifeline (RED) button is not functional until registered
    That means no MMSI number, the distress button will not work for its DSC part. It can be a radio though, channel 68 as default.

    For the portable marine VHF on crew neck, its easy. Any waterproof marine VHF will do, no limit on size.
    For dive canister use, you must first get a dive canister of suitable size and choose a size suitable submersible marine VHF unit. One tip, choose a marine vhf with flexible rubber antenna and not a hard plastic one as you need to bend the antenna to fit in to dive canister.

    Icom is a good brand to use, watch out for the radio height.
    If you can buy a used UK D8 torch in good condition, you are golden.

    If you have access to a machine shop, custom made a dive canister out of nylon.

    If you own a dive canister which can fit your VHF and PLB, always tied the PLB with a string
    to the VHF. When you want to use the VHF and pull it out of the canister, the PLB may get pulled out too , and may fall to the water and sink....if there is no safety string attached to it. There is no FLOATING PLB unit that I know of, but there are floating VHFs.

    You wrote :
    Reading your posts again, I think it has begun to dawn on me that what you are saying, or perhaps more than hinting, is that if someone really wants to safeguard their rescue situation when venturing into remote parts of the world with limited SAR facilities; is to be prepared to travel with both the transmitter and the receiver parts of these devices, ready to hand the receiver equipment to the boat if they do not have them or as a backup.

    Yes, I learned the hard way since 1990 when I first dove, be ready for worst case scenario and more so in remote location with fast current. Overall, a marine VHF on me in a dive canister and 1 extra for the crew neck is the best PROVEN solution for me and still is, even though I have a PLB.

    Drift time is equal to distance. The more distant we are from the dive boat, the risk goes up. So the faster we can call our dive boat with a VHF to pick us up, the safer it will be.

    One thing we must remember, a dive crew is only a VERY good dive crew when he looks over the horizon scanning for potential drifting divers from minute 1 of the dive to the end of the dive. Most dive crew do not do that , they will scan the horizon usually when it is close to dive ending. So if a diver abort the dive early, the crew eyes may not be scanning the horizon. This is how I got drifted and needed to dump all my dive gear. My very well trained crew take it for granted that I will never abort a dive...Dahhh.

    With a given radio to the crew neck set at 75% volume , you can eliminate the risk or the bad luck that the crew was not very attentive or maybe looking at the wrong part of the sea or was attending to other diver.
    Do you know how boring it is to scan the horizon for 45 minutes non stop ? How do we guarantee a crew will scan the horizon from minute 1 to dive ending, all the time and for the 4 dives a day x 7 days of your dive holiday ?

    The higher risk of drifting diver is when the dive group is big, say 12 divers and you are the only one who drifted far, while the rest of the 11 divers group together. Here depending on how many rubber boats serving the divers , for 12 divers probably 2 rubber boats. 11 divers being picked up and if 5 of them have big DSLR cameras with double strobe, expect 2 minutes per diver with big camera and 1.5 minutes for non camera diver, divided by 2 rubber boats. Approx 9.5 minutes serving time. So 9.5 minutes the crew eyes focus on the 11 divers and not the horizon. At 2 knots, you will drift 1,852 meters x 2 divided by 60 multiplied by 9.5 = 586 meters.

    In a current infested water, it will be a bad idea to have 1 very big rubber boat serving say 10 divers.
    I would want 2 mid size rubber boats with 6 divers capacity and 1 small one standing by 0.5 to 1 KM down current.

    Number of available rubber boats and dive crews on the rubber boat is important. The higher the number of rubber boat and manpower, and if the serving ratio per rubber boat and its crew to the allocated divers is low, safety can be improved.

    Look at all the rescued drifting diver stories, most of the time the divers can see the dive boat but the dive boat can't see them. Sure, our head is a coconut size and our sausage is not that big too compared to a visual foot print of a 4-5 meter rubber boat with a crew of 1.7 meters tall standing on it.

    Dive spot topography , its distance to land mass and its surrounding land mass, all can effect in increasing risk of drifting out of sight.

    Dive safe....
    Greenjuice likes this.
  9. oppo

    oppo Contributor

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Indonesia
    Sorry to bump an old thread, but this is very interesting, thanks!

    I work as an instructor/guide, often in SE Asia and will be going back to Indonesia for work in the near future.

    I’ve been looking into PLBs and EPIRBs, as devices which could be placed in BC pocket while diving - but still find it hard to get a clear picture of what would be the most efficient if lost at sea in remote areas, where rescue will consist mainly of local boats rather than properly equipped coast guards – most of the info seems to be aimed at rescue situations with proper rescue operations, ie not what you would find in the Banda sea or Raja Ampat...
    I guess a personal VHF is probably the way to go, but informed opinions would be great.


    RTC'83 likes this.
  10. Dan

    Dan ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Lake Jackson, Texas
    Thanks for posting this safety equipment for rescuing diver lost at sea!

    As far as no diver ever being rescued after launching a PLB in Indonesia, may be that's true, but there are divers being rescued after launching a PLB, for example: Lost at sea: One diver's tale of faith and courage

    There was an instance when a diver accidentally launch his PLB1 while diving with it in a soft case where the crushing pressure accidentally pressed the red button and his family got a call by NOAA and a local police in Manado came looking for him to a dive resort where he stayed.

    Canadian diver and buddy rescued near Apo Island, Philippines

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