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stonecoldshooter
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
We were shooting on a few chicken coops yesterday. Around 11:30 a.m. the motor just shut off (buddies boat). We think the kill switch went bad (that's for the mechanic to figure out). We tried the radio for 30 minutes (no success). So I broke out the Spot locator. First I fired off the Tow boat US distress (need assistanc, non-emergency). The owner of the boat had a Spot also. He fired off every signal except sos. One of these sent a 911 to his parents so they knew to contact Tow boat. We heard tow boat on the radio but they couldn't hear us (we were just over 20 miles south of Pensacola pass). So here goes the SOS. He fired his, then I fired mine. All hell broke loose on the radio! Sector mobile, tow boat, vessels from oil rigs were all communicating. No one could hear us. Finally we hear sector mobile give our location. "Only problem..." the coordinates they gave were 20 miles east of our location (this was my Spot locator). A few phone calls to towboat and coast guard from friends and family... then the coast guard had proper vessel description and name. New coordinates from sector mobile (his spot locator) .... 17 miles west of our actual location. We try to disassemble the throttle and bypass the kill switch (no success). We open up the radio mic and found the mic itself corroded with salt (radio check worked 7 days prior to this event). We tried to clean it (no success). We see a boat approx 1/2 mile west and headed north... we fire a flare (no success). We see the coast guard plane (actually we heard it a few minutes before we saw it). We wait until he is in a postion to have us in line of sight and fire a flare DUD... damn! We fire another... up she goes... (no success). Now we only have hand flares (and a 3 ft distress flag on the top of an 8 ft antenna (why not, damn thing ain't worked all day). The plane goes out of ear shot 3 times. Finally after a little more than 5 hours adrift SUCCESS... the plane spots us. They try to hail us... we try back... radio mic is shot. A coast guard boat is seen on the horizon. We blink and they are on top of us (man that boat is FAST!). Then one of our buddies shows up. Then another coast guard vessel (had some big guns on that sucker). Then finally the towboat.

Thanks to the U.S. Coast Guard!
Thanks to Tow Boat U.S. !
Thanks to every one of our friends who were on the phones, vessels standing by, and even the ones giving us hell when we got back!
A special thanks to Debbie, who lost 20 years on her life and will NEVER forget my name (story within the story).

And even though Spot corporation and I will be having a long talk tomorrow, thanks to them. It probably would have been O' dark thirty before anyone found us.

*Update* I wanted to post updated info ... The Spot worked exactly as it was intended with the connection between tow boat and our Spot locator. The misinformation came when a text message was sent to an individual via the Spot check in button. Spot is aware of the problem and is working on correcting it.

Tow Boat U.S. highly recommends the Spot service for the simple fact that outside of vhf range you can call for towing assistance without having to directly involve the Coast Guard. After sorting it all out (phone calls with Spot, Tow Boat US, Coast Guard, friends and family) we figured it all out. I will continue to be a Spot customer and enjoy the service they provide.
 

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Glad you made it back ok. Crazy that the spot didn't have you pinned down. I would definitelybe calling them.
 

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stonecoldshooter
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1,757 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
We could not have picked a better day. We had a sprinkle of rain for 10 minutes or so. Great weather great water.

I will NEVER say the boat has enough beer, just leave that 18 pack on the porch (what was I thinking?).
 

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stonecoldshooter
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
We were drifting due north. Believe it or not, if conditions stayed the same... we would have hit the pass in a day or so. Our track was dead into the pass.

We drifted about 3 nm in 5 hours. The spot was just that far off.
 

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Whizzed off realist
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2,528 Posts
Nothing beats a Cat 1 or 2 ACR Satellite Epirb. Just saw a piece on a party of 4 who had one. THey had PFDs and a big cooler to hang onto. The idiotic media (the same bunch who want to pick your presidential candidates) credited the beer cooler and not the beacon. Glad ya'll are OK!
 

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OCD Reel Service/Repair
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Great story and a greater learning lesson. Get an EPIRB, extra handheld radio, (instead of extra beer).
 

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stonecoldshooter
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
We were making a list on the boat. 2 high watt vhf's were at the top of the list. (Beer was in the middle).
 

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What a sobering reminder for good como - :thumbup: Glad you all returned w/o mishap. Maybe a good reason to have a grill onboard, and to drift fish! Could have been a longer "expedition" that day.
 

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Read many a debate on whether to choose a spot or epirb, this confirms one of the advantages of epirb, the quality of the locating signals. Image if these guys were in an abandon ship situation.
Every mariner is responsible for his safety gear selections. I choose epirb over spot and that's what I recommend.
 

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stonecoldshooter
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
My intent of this thread was to inform people of what they could expect from spot. I am going to try the Connect, which allows you to send text messages from anywhere. You can't recieve,but you can send actual coordinates via text.

Now that said, I will be buying an epirb and use the connect as a supplement. This was the first time I put the spot to this kind of pressure. I came home safe, but unimpressed.

Guys and gals, keep your saftey gear current, fresh batterries, take more than the minimum amount of flares, file float plans with competent people, charge your phones, do a radio check every time you launch, and this list could go on forever.

If this thread makes 1 person get a bigger compliance box, mission accomplished.

Safe journeys friends.
 

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Wow what a story, glad you got home safe. I was actually going to buy a spot a couple months ago for emergency purposes but the guy at west marine said that the spot if you hit the emergency button it goes to a secondary company and then gets relayed to sea tow/towboat/coast guard. That made me get an actual epirb.
 

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I agree I thought I overkill my kayak gear, VHF radio, two way radio and cell phone And I'm usually within eyesight of land. It's diffently an eyeopener
 

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This has happened two or three times per year for us. It makes our job very difficult sometimes. I'm glad everything worked out in the end. You might want to double check your gps for accuracy as well.

Capt John Ward
Sea Tow Destin/Pensacola/Orange Beach
850-837-4152

www.seatow.com
 

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Stories like yours are why I have such a full ditch bag! When things go wrong they frequently go wrong everywhere! Boat has two permanent mounted VHFs, one handheld, Iridium Sat phone, multiple Epirbs and PLBs, many flares of different types and launchers, smoke bombs etc...

Glad everything worked out for you and the day ended with you in your house!. What was the Coast Guards attitude towards you when they arrived? Were they cool with a "Mayday" in your situation?

Robert
 

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stonecoldshooter
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
The coast guard could not have been more helpful. They came up on us with the "hammer down." Made sure all was o.k. and had a very pleasant disposition about the whole ordeal.
 
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