The water has gotten cold, daylight hours have shortened, and general safety margins on the sea are lower at this time of the year than they are at any other.
Now more than ever it's important to be diligent with your float plan, and carry the right kit to minimise your exposure in potentially cold water if something does go wrong.
Even a simple afternoon paddle of 16km around the Cape Bailey & Solander peninsula with a mate last week was something to be taken very seriously, and that was without any marginal weather. As a minimum, I considered it pertinent to let Rob know our launch spot, expected finish time & place, potential get-out points, and also committed to a call at the time I expected to be safely off the water.
I was also testing out a new addition to our range of safety gear, the Delorme inReach Explorer. This has a similar tracking functionality to the well regarded SPoT tracker, with the very big additional feature of two-way communication via satellite SMS. So unlike SPoT which allows a pre-set message to be sent with the press of a button, the Delorme inReach Explorer allows a 160 character text message to be sent with GPS co-ordinates to a mobile phone or email account, Facebook or Twitter, to which your receiver can reply. It also has the SOS feature that your PLB or SPoT carry, although it's not meant to replace an EPIRB or PLB for sea kayakers, as the emergency message is beamed to in international hub before being relayed to AMSA.
|Our Delorme inReach Explorer secured to Mark's Swordfish footwell.|
It's Waterproof and dustproof (IPX7 - withstands incidental water exposure of up to metre for 30 minutes), with a battery life (sending one track point every 10 minutes) of 100 hours via an internal lithium polymer battery. The unit costs $529 through our ONLINE STORE, and you can then log into the Delorme international site & subscribe to any one of a multitude of subscriptions depending on your requirements. We have ours hooked up to a $16.00/month plan which gives us more text & pin drop messages than we could hope to use other than on an extended expedition.
The other new addition to our safety electronics range, and one we've only been able to test to dazzling effect in our store with all the lights out, is the rescueME EDF1 Electronic Distress Flare.
Again, whilst not legally an alternative to a red night flare, this device has myriad advantages over the traditional beacon. Unlike single use pyrotechnic flares the rescueME EDF1 can be used repeatedly in any of its four modes, ensuring continued visibility is maintained over a longer period.
The unit is both safe to store and operate while also eliminating any worries associated with disposal. It has a number of modes, including a setting that points the quite extraordinarily bright red light away from you, and another than pulses SOS. To a rescuer, it very accurately simulates the visual signature of a red night flare, so there can't be any confusion over what the bright light on the visual horizon means. All up a very impressive piece of kit, and at $189 it pays for itself over the course of a couple of years as flares inevitably pass their use-by-date. The rescueME EDF1 is available through our ONLINE STORE for $189 delivered.