AIS Person Overboard Beacons—Setting Up The Boat Alarms Right

©Istock/George Ianța

When working toward making our boats safer, it's easy to just buy a piece of gear and then pat ourselves on the back and move on. And I have to confess that's pretty much what we did in the spring of 2017 when we bought two MOB1 AIS person overboard (POB) beacons.

But Phyllis and I have learned over years of going offshore, that voyaging safely is a lot more about good installation and developing procedures taking into account the gear's strengths and weaknesses, then it is about just buying lots of cool safety gear.

So last winter we really thought about how the one of us left on the boat would use an AIS POB beacon to help recover the other in the water, and then documented that in great detail (see Further Reading).

And this spring we dug into how these beacons actually work. In the process we learned some important things, and that's what this and the next two chapters are about.

Yes, a lot about just one piece of gear, but I make no apology for that since I firmly believe that AIS POB beacons are the most important advance in POB recovery gear of my lifetime.

Let's start off this chapter by looking at the boat side of the equation, and more specifically what alarms will, or maybe will not, sound in the event of a person overboard.

And we even have a video at the end to show what a full-on (not test) AIS POB beacon alarm looks like on Morgan's Cloud.

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John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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