Sunday 30 June 2013

MOB Safety Equipment plus a Little Razzle Dazzle for Sailing Cruisers

With the on going push for continual improvement and introduction of new MOB survival equipment, it is sometimes difficult to select the most suitable type of units to fit your requirements. The range is quite extensive with a number of very good products available to the cruising sailor.

The new McMurdo Smartfind SRS unit appears to be an excellent product and could very well fit the bill and be included in your safety equipment inventory prior to setting sail.

Here is an article from Sail-World showing this product following its recent launch onto the market:
MOB requiring assistance

'The brand new Smartfind S20 SRS (Survivor Recovery System) is a personal AIS (Automatic Identification System) device to assist in locating a survivor. It is lightweight and compact, designed for and intended to be carried by all crew members, and is compatible with existing AIS enabled chart plotters and onboard navigation system. 

A great part of the problem of dealing with an overboard sailor is actually locating him or her in the first place, especially trying to keep the MOB in sight while stopping and/or turning the boat. This latest product from Smartfind begins to eliminate that challenge. 

How it works: 
The clever little unit transmits target survivor information, including GPS position information and a serialised identity number back to the onboard plotter. An inbuilt high precision GPS receiver provides accurate position information to assist in quick location of the survivor. 

Smartfind S20
It will transmit continuously for a minimum of 24 hours - a significant benefit in warm waters - and has a seven year battery storage life. It also features a flashing LED indicator light to aid detection at night and a self test facility with battery use indication. 

Carrying one is an excellent idea for every safety-conscious sailor, because you can attach it to your life jacket, and, apart from checking that it is working, forget about it. 

It doesn't help get the survivor back on the boat, and that is also the other great challenge, but knowing that you can locate your lost crew member would be a great spur to getting that boat back to the position. You would be able to see the exact location, distance and bearing to locate the MOB. 

Installation and Activation: 
It does require a conscious survivor. As stated before, the Smartfind S20 SRS is designed to be used mounted on a lifejacket using the clips provided, prior to going to sea. When it is installed in the lifejacket the orange safety tab is released, which ‘arms’ the S20 ready for use. Once the lifejacket is inflated, to activate, pull the orange tab downwards to pull the red cap off the S20. This will deploy the antenna and automatically switch ON the S20 SRS. 

The product is not yet available in all marine stores, check with yours to see when it will be there, or refer to the website

And now for the razzle dazzle:

Yes, taking inspiration from laptop manufacturers, Harken has added three new fashion styles to their Radial® Winch line: Zebra, Leopard, and Glitter. 

The Harken design team developed a complex pattern making element that, when added to their manufacturing process, allows them to create funky new designs on their winches. The first three patterns released in the fashion range are zebra stripes, leopard spots (in genuine fake fur effect) and a dazzling glitter finish. 

Harken Radial designer winches
The elements are interchangeable. If the mood of the yacht changes, simply take the winch apart as if you were servicing it, unclip the styled sections, and replace them with an alternative pattern or colour-way. 

'Having listened to a number of requests from sailors, there is a proven need for personalising the look of our winch range,' states Peter Harken. 'We like to be at the forefront of the marine industry and when our engineers realised we had the manufacturing capabilities to style components of our winches, it was a no brainer to come up with some funky new designs.' 

Harken’s chief stylist, Toby LaRone, states his inspiration for our first three prints was from the early days of Harken in the late sixties and early seventies when glam chic was at the forefront of fashion. 'I really felt it was a good fit for today’s accessorized market. And why not put some jazzle on board!' 

The Harken UK projects team specified the Zebra winches on T’rextasy, the new TP52 which is in build as we speak. 

These glamorously innovative styles are available in sizes 20 – 70 and are available April 1, 2013. The design team continues their work on future style designs; neon fluorescent colour range and floral prints are coming soon. 

About Harken: 
Harken Inc. is a leading manufacturer and distributor of innovative sailboat hardware and accessories. Headquartered in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, Harken manufactures in the USA and Italy. The Harken Inc. network includes offices in 48 countries, with group offices located in Australia, France, Italy, New Zealand, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States (Rhode Island, California, and Florida).

Article content courtesy 

You can read much more about mob safety devices and safety at sea whilst on passage in my illustrated ebook 'Sailing Adventures in Paradise' downloadable from my website

Tuesday 11 June 2013

ODEO Electronic Laser Flares for Cruising Sailors

Safety at sea is always of paramount importance in considering the cruising sailors inventory of on board devices - and none more so than emergency distress flares. For many years now this area has been ably and reliably covered  by the use of pyrotechnic flares which, on numerous occasions have saved vessels at sea and the personal on board and/or in the water. I myself have had personal experience of the effectiveness of flares being used successfully to attract a potential rescuer to my immobilised vessel (another story).

As good and effective as they have been,and nobody would argue that, they have some major drawbacks which can be irritating, costly and on occasion, dangerous to life and limb. Their useful life is quite short, therefore having to be replaced regularly (costly). Disposing of them is an irritating procedure. They can drip molten compounds onto the deck, burning wood or melting fibreglass. In the worse case scenario, if not handled correctly, or if they explode, they can cause severe burns or in the very worst case, loss of sight or even life. Whilst this is very rare, there are instances when this has happened.

Enter the ODEO (Omni Directional Electro Optical) flare invented by Nic Lonsdale of the UK and his partner Steve. Here is their story of the development of the ODEO flare:

Introducing the ODEO Laser Flare

A few years back Nic Lonsdale was doing a delivery from the UK down to the Canaries when his crewman, a vastly experienced Southern Ocean Whitbread sailor (that shows our age!) showed him a laser. The idea stuck in his mind and a few years later when Nic was working as a full time Coastguard in Weymouth he started looking into lasers in more detail. The pyrotechnic red hand held flare was becoming more and more difficult to transport, hold and dispose of, as the laws concerning explosives become stricter.
ODEO flare pack
The best ideas come suddenly, this time it was in the shower. Although Nic had an idea he needed an electronics expert to turn the concept into reality. There was one expert he knew, vaguely; very vaguely. A man who he used to chat to occasionally months before while walking down the harbour but all he could remember of him was his boat and the approximate name of his electronics company. A web search that morning came with nothing to prompt his memory and it didn’t help that the boat had been gone for almost a year. After buying some bits and pieces at a model shop and a hardware store to make a conceptual prototype Nic was amazed to bump into this vague acquaintance on the walk home. It turned out that Steve had just sold his electronics company and was looking for a new project. He also lived only two hundred yards away from Nic.
Together they formed a company that January and started development immediately. By autumn they knew they had something that would work. A former customer of Steve in the marine electronics business was kind enough to let this new venture have a part of his stand at the Marine Equipment Trade Show in Amsterdam – and here they picked up a design award in 2010 for the new product; the Omni Directional Electro Optical (ODEO) Flare.
The prestigious design award at METS led to a lot of interest in this little start up venture that was really nothing more than two men in a shed working in their spare time. The international distributors looked at the first crude version and made it clear that if it could be turned into a proper product they would be interested in buying.

Although that first version sold well it was obvious that this young company needed to gear up to full scale mass production. They shut their doors to the outside world and settled down to hundreds of hours of further development and made serious investment in tooling and production.
November 2011 saw them again back at METS with the Mk2 version, ready for mass production. The farsighted distributors that saw something worthwhile the previous year now saw a product ready for the market and they bought it. The Odeo Flare; an alternative to the red hand held flare that used lasers instead of pyrotechnics to generate the bright red light of a flare, was in demand.

Since then, their ODEO flares have taken off in the marine market and are being carried, not as an alternative yet, but as complimentary rescue devices by many cruisers.

They are currently being tested by various coastguard authorities around the world as to their veracity and it won't be long before recommendations are made.

Meanwhile, at $250 approximately, the ODEO flare could/should be a valuable addition to any cruising sailors safety device inventory before setting sail and leaving port.

You can read much more about safety at sea, safety equipment and MOB retrieval techniques in my ebook 'Sailing Adventures in Paradise' downloadable from my website