Join Date: Apr 25 2010
Location: Cypress, TX
Rep Power: 10531890
If you are looking for safety, InReach gets my vote, as posted on other thread:
By no means am I recommending what someone else chooses for their safety equipment, each person has to decide that for their self and what makes them comfortable, this is only my personal opinion.
I have both, InReach Explorer and a PLB, however, if I had to pick just one, or wanted to have both and could only buy one at a time, I would pick the InReach first, for multiple reasons, even over a sat phone.
PLB / EPIRB:
A PLB is what it is, push the button, a light starts blinking, and a single with your position is sent every X minutes, and help is on the way, at least that's the idea.
PLB / EPIRB, is a simple proven device. You have the ability to "test" it several times a year and get a confirmation "blink" back.
You can have manual or auto deploy on certain models.
Registered with your boat and description.
I haven't seen one that's "user serviceable", so every X number of years you have to send it back in for battery replacement and service.
They have several models, one with built in GPS mapping, but having the Garmin eTrex 30 at my backup of multiple other backups, I purchased the base model, InReach Explorer.
I use the InReach every trip, with free unlimited preset messages, I regularly send "check-ins" that have a link to a map that shows my position and speed to a contact list of family and friends on the land, "On our way out, all good", "Just checking in, all good", "On our way back, all good".
If I'm running late, staying later than expected, I can send and receive text, e-mail, even post to social media (I have a private Facebook group set up for family and close friends), or turn on breadcrumbs and share a map for others to follow and see where I am, speed, position, and even get weather forecast, etc..
I used it during Harvey and other times when cell service was down or unreliable.
The battery life is crazy, I've left it on after a trip, where it sat for 5 days and still had battery life left, a 12 hour trip sending check-in's or text I'll still have 90% battery life, plus it uses regular batteries that I can replace as opposed to having to send it in, so I keep extras on hand as well as charge it via USB.
I can pair it with my phone for convenience and use my phone to text and use other features, or directly text, e-mail, etc off the InReach it self.
The InReach is also registered, and has an SOS single push button that uses SARSAT, sending the same beacon to the search and rescue network like my PLB.
However, instead of a "blinking" light and "hoping" help is on the way with a PLB, the InReach I'll get text confirmation and ETA that help is on the way, and if I'm able to, I can send back information on the emergency so the rescue team can prepare, know what to look for, expect, how many people, etc..
Since I use the InReach every trip, it increases my confidence knowing it works, doesn't have any glitches, etc..
Why no SAT Phone?
The InReach is MUCH cheaper, I can pay month to month, yearly contract, or only pay for features I use most, etc..
Like a PLB/EPRIB, anyone can pick up the InReach, push the SOS button, and help is on the way.
However, with a sat phone, does everyone on board know how to use it, who to call, what to say, your position?
Would you even be able to speak clearly if floating with waves conning over your head, in a storm, or what if you hit something and busted your mouth, or in a panic?
A couple of years ago, you may have read where there was a cat that went down in some bad weather, they had a life raft and InReach, the captain commented it was a relief to him and helped keep the passengers calm to get a text back that help was on the way, as opposed to a "blinking" light on a PLB or EPIRB.
I carry backups for everything I can, which is why I have both InReach and PLB, but if I had to pick only one, I think for me, it would be the InReach.