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Thread: Communication and common sense

  1. #1

    Default Communication and common sense

    That time of year is here again when everyone is hitting the water to do some hunting and fishing. I hope everyone uses good sense in making their decisions and also brings along a reliable form of communication. I spend a lot of time early and late in the Sound, and one thing I've noticed over the years is the number of "Pan, Pan" calls I hear from the Coasties. Everytime, I've responded in some manner, only to find out that someone failed to let their wife know they decided to stay a couple of days because they were having a good time or the weather wasn't good enough to travel. The most recent was last fall when we cut our hunt short and joined a helicopter, two cutters and three other vessels running a grid pattern to find an overdue boat, only to find out that they were holed up having a good time. Needless to say we were pretty upset that our plans were interrupted, and all these unnecessary calls are starting to make me reluctant to jump in and change my plans to help some knucklehead who doesn't need help.

    Responding to these types of calls puts others in jeopardy and ties up government resources. Let's save the pan pans for those times when someone really needs help, we all know that trouble can happen to anyone regardless of experience or what type of vessel they have. Do your part and file a float plan and stick with it, and have some way to let your wife know you really are ok and just "waiting on weather" to get back to the old salt mine.

    Good luck to everyone heading out this spring, be safe, and have a good time with family and friends. Oh, yeah. Give the guys already hunting an area a little room, too.

  2. #2
    Member Marc Taylor's Avatar
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    Very thoughtful thread. I'm not on the open waters but make sure I leave my trip plan with at least two unassociated persons. And I update my plan by satphone if it changes.

    Have a good year!

    Taylor

  3. #3
    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Great Post, I agree with ALL that,

    Have a good time out there, but be wise

    Make a good plan, including room for all the contingencies of Alaskan Wilderness Cruising

    There's also something to be said for talking with your wife or whoever is left at home,
    all that could go wrong (non-emergency wise) that could still delay your timely return,

    The Quick Trigger Finger on the Coast Guard call, costs everybody,
    (crying "Wolf" is not a joke or a fairy tale)

    and especially be considerate of the CG crews,
    they actually carry high risk flying around in Helicopters and C-130's
    Not to be treated lightly, Educate Your Wife, or whoever about the "whole scene'
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc Taylor View Post
    And I update my plan by satphone if it changes.
    This is something a person can't do with a SPOT. Most of the air taxis I work withe despis the SPOT because it only allows for minimal/vague messaging. Spend the extra $$$ and go with a sat phone rather than a next to worthless SPOT.

  5. #5
    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    I totally disagree on the SPOT. I don't consider my SPOT worthless at all. If you program it correctly and use it responsibly I feel that it is a whole helluva lot better than nothing. I program mine to send messages to the appropriate people that I am having trouble but am OK. They know that IF I send the help button that my arse needs saving.

    Surely it is not as good as a sat phone, but it is 100 times better than nothing and it gives coordinates so that the rescue team will know which bay I am in...

    It also keeps the wife and relatives from calling 911 if I am a day late...

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    I'm curious about the SPOT's effectiveness in remote places. I've had times where a rented sat phone had pretty terrible or no reception. Those that have used a SPOT before, have you had communication problems with it or does it always send the message when you need it to? I'm particularly interested in mountainous terrain when sheep hunting, mountaineering, backcountry skiing, etc...

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    Supporting Member Old John's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullelkklr View Post
    I totally disagree on the SPOT. I don't consider my SPOT worthless at all. If you program it correctly and use it responsibly I feel that it is a whole helluva lot better than nothing. I program mine to send messages to the appropriate people that I am having trouble but am OK. They know that IF I send the help button that my arse needs saving.

    Surely it is not as good as a sat phone, but it is 100 times better than nothing and it gives coordinates so that the rescue team will know which bay I am in...

    It also keeps the wife and relatives from calling 911 if I am a day late...
    I totally agree... I may not be able to tell the wife Why I'm running late, but being able to tell her I'm OK tells her not to panic (yet)_
    and the google satellite map with my position pinpointed is very nice.... /John

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    Member spoiled one's Avatar
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    A little story from last season. We spent last 4th of July weekend out on PWS. We spent the first part down in the southern end, but the weather forecast took a turn for the worse. We decided to head a bit closer to Whittier. We spent the next two nights in Surprise Cove spinning around on the hook in the wind. There must of been fifteen boats in there with us. One by one you could hear them contacting the coast guard by radio. Each and everyone had the coast guard relay the same message. Lots of guys had to pick their wives up at the airport and weren't going to make it do to weather. Coincidence? I found it quite humorous.
    Spending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

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    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old John View Post
    I totally agree... I may not be able to tell the wife Why I'm running late, but being able to tell her I'm OK tells her not to panic (yet)_
    and the google satellite map with my position pinpointed is very nice.... /John
    Quote Originally Posted by Bullelkklr View Post
    I totally disagree on the SPOT. I don't consider my SPOT worthless at all. If you program it correctly and use it responsibly I feel that it is a whole helluva lot better than nothing. I program mine to send messages to the appropriate people that I am having trouble but am OK. They know that IF I send the help button that my arse needs saving.

    Surely it is not as good as a sat phone, but it is 100 times better than nothing and it gives coordinates so that the rescue team will know which bay I am in...

    It also keeps the wife and relatives from calling 911 if I am a day late...
    Glad the SPOT has worked for you guys, but you're some of the only people I know of who've had positive experiences with those things.

  10. #10
    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    I've found my SPOT to be very helpful if used with some forethought (meaning let people know to expect messages and perhaps clarifying what they mean). Twice last summer we were camping/fishing around the corner from Homer in the Chugach Islands and had to wait a day/spend an unplanned night waiting for weather to die down. And the SPOT worked great to let everyone know we were still alive and waiting out a storm. Our loved ones know we're okay if we're not back on time and our bosses know why we're not showing up for work. For such trips I use my custom message as a "we're weathered in, don't panic" message. Then we send an ok message when we're back on our way and another when we hit the harbor.

    I will agree that a SPOT isn't a great way to communicate with an air taxi or something like that where you will need some back and forth communication. In those cases I rent a SAT phone and don't think twice about it.
    Pursue happiness with diligence.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chisana View Post
    Glad the SPOT has worked for you guys, but you're some of the only people I know of who've had positive experiences with those things.
    Mark me down as another who has had great experiences with the SPOT. It doesn't replace a sat phone, but it's always in my backpack and has it's uses.

  12. #12

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    Thanks for the reps, guys. I'm not sure what they are, but I'll take 'em. It really doesn't matter whether you use a SPOT or a sat phone, as long as the significant other knows your situation. In the past, I've made calls for guys who were smart enough to wait out the weather and ask me to make a call home for them. Their wives ALWAYS appreciated hearing a call that their old man was being smart and playing it safe.

    As for relaying with the Coast Guard on vhf, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. If you have a low wattage radio or a crappy or cracked antennae, you will be virtually impossible to hear on the radio. Also, vhf efficacy is affected by inclement weather and the surrounding terrain. If you are heading up into that bay to anchor up, make the radio call before you get up inside the bay in order to make sure your call gets relayed.

    There is nothing more disheartening than changing hunting plans or pulling my anchor in the middle of the night to go look for someone who doesn't need to be found. I'm glad this thread got some discussion going and I hope everyone has a safe boating season.

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    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    Mark me down as another who has had great experiences with the SPOT. It doesn't replace a sat phone, but it's always in my backpack and has it's uses.
    Arghhh! Wasn't expecting that!

  14. #14
    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Default Spot

    I don't really with anyone other than my transporter (and sometimes taxidermist and meat processor because they both book up quickly) when I'm in the field so the SPOT doesn't really fit into my program.

    But I know plenty of dudes whose wives call transporters daily so for those in that sort of situation I guess it may have some utility.

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    Member tboehm's Avatar
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    Well here is one for the +1 on the spot. Used it in a couple of places in alaska and it works great. The newer one has the ability to pre-program a message and can track you position if you want. I just program a couple of different email addresses to multiple people are getting it.

    The marine in me always has a back up and like the spot as added insurance to the phone. it is also a weight savings. What i mean is that its always with me when I leave camp and the phone stays at base. If anything ever happened I have a 911 chance right off the bat. The other thing is that its nice to look on the computer when everything is over. One other thing to consider is, that when you sign up you have the option of getting rescue insurance for something like 12.00 and that in it self is worth the price of admission.

    Then there is always murphy's law.........electronics have a way of failing when you need them most. Something what weighs only a few ounces is worth it weight in gold.
    Semper Fi and God Bless

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    Member Roland on the River's Avatar
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    I've posted this before but may need repeating. Back in the 70's and 80's when I hunted a lot weather or other factors delayed my return. This was before spot or sat phones.Once a pilot was 5 days overdue for our pickup from a spring Bear hunt on Kodiak. Blue bird weather and planes spotting herring every day.Finally we hailed down a passing boat and had them call our pilot. His wife says he's been spotting herring but he plans on picking you up tomorrow. We told the boat operator to call any air taxi that could pick us up THAT day.
    So, from then on I would have my wife call the air taxi the day before our scheduled pick up to remind them. Lo and behold on a later hunt she's told "we were just discussing this as we sold the Goose and need to get a couple 206's lined up to get them guys"Wonder what would of happened had she not called.
    Moral, good communications all aroung. Be Safe.

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    If you have thick cover above you the SPOT doesn't work real well, other than that you are not using I as a device to talk to anyone just to let the messages that you are ok. I have used it on the slope and on a drop off it worked great. You have to program the message you want on the website and that is what is sent according to the button pushed. Great little peace of mind to know you have something so small that has a 911 feature that could save your life if needed. The wife got it for me when I started taking the son with me.

  18. #18
    Member Ken R's Avatar
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    I talked with the booth at the GASS about the new SPOT and it sounds pretty slick. We were planning on buying the SPOT2 at the show, but then there is a newer one that will link up with your cell phone to send text messages. It doesn't work with Blackberry yet, but they are developing an "app" for it and should be out in a month or two. So, we are holding off until the app comes out for the blackberry. I have used the Sat phone on nearly every hunting trip up here in Alaska and while totally useful--it is a bit of a pain to find the clear path to the satellites--stand in the rain, etc... Text messages go through much more reliably than a phone call. I have used my cell phone to send texts in areas where I don't get service--it might only take a couple seconds of connection to send a text, but dialing and connection takes a lot longer. Plus, you can text pretty quietly (while sitting on a glassing knob) versus having a conversation (usually after you return to camp and just want to eat and get into the fart sack)--could be better for the hunt. I hate to admit that I can text, but it certainly seems less of an inconvenience and I would probably touch base more often if I can send a quiet text while glassing versus having a loud conversation back in camp when I really just want to be sleeping.

  19. #19
    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken R View Post
    I talked with the booth at the GASS about the new SPOT and it sounds pretty slick. We were planning on buying the SPOT2 at the show, but then there is a newer one that will link up with your cell phone to send text messages. It doesn't work with Blackberry yet, but they are developing an "app" for it and should be out in a month or two. So, we are holding off until the app comes out for the blackberry. I have used the Sat phone on nearly every hunting trip up here in Alaska and while totally useful--it is a bit of a pain to find the clear path to the satellites--stand in the rain, etc... Text messages go through much more reliably than a phone call. I have used my cell phone to send texts in areas where I don't get service--it might only take a couple seconds of connection to send a text, but dialing and connection takes a lot longer. Plus, you can text pretty quietly (while sitting on a glassing knob) versus having a conversation (usually after you return to camp and just want to eat and get into the fart sack)--could be better for the hunt. I hate to admit that I can text, but it certainly seems less of an inconvenience and I would probably touch base more often if I can send a quiet text while glassing versus having a loud conversation back in camp when I really just want to be sleeping.
    This discussion of texting in the field makes me want to puke my guts out.

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