A Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) is the most reliable way to be found in case you get lost at sea or are in an emergency and need to be found quickly. The federal government approved the use of PLBs back in 2003, and for adventurers of all types, especially sailors, it’s essential to be carrying a PLB at all times. PLBs are are your last line of defense from being lost at sea and they’re as simple as pushing a button.The devices immediately connect with GPS satellites to track your position so a distress signal can be sent to rescuers. It is a sailor’s ultimate life insurance policy.
What Makes a Good Locator Beacon
A solitary life at sea carries its own inherent risks. And the biggest one, the one sailors like to think the least about, is being lost at sea. It is truly the worst case scenario, but thankfully technology has advanced enough to insure against that possibility relatively cheaply.
Personal Locator Beacons provide a lifeline for you and your mates in case anyone get’s lost injured, or stranded. They have been proven in some of the world’s most remote locations and treacherous conditions by pilots, boaters and hikers alike.
Obviously, a huge requirement of a PLB is reliability. And it has to be easy to operate in crisis conditions. The PLB we are about to talk about provides all this and more, and will insure that if the worst case scenario occurs, rescue personnel will be alerted to your position in as little as five minutes.
Why the ACR ResQLink+ 406 Personal Locator Beacon Is the Best For Sailors
In extreme conditions and situations, the ACR ResQLink+ activates easily. All you have to do is deploy the antenna and press the ON button. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
It has a 66 channel GPS, a powerful 406 MHz signal, and 121.5 homing signal which will guide rescuers to within 100 meters or less of your position. It transmits at 5 watts of power and blasts through trees, storms, and other obstacles. And in the continental US, search and rescue personnel are typically alerted of your position in as little as five minutes, which is important in these types of emergencies where every second counts.
The ResQLink+ is small and lightweight at 4.5 inches and 5.4 oz, respectively. The ResQLink+ is buoyant (NOTE: The ResQLink, without the +, is nearly identical but without the floatation collar of the +plus. This means it’s not buoyant but is also slimmer and slightly less expensive.) , and easily fits into a pocket or can be clipped to your backpack. You can also store it inside an inflatable life jacket to increase safety as well. For marine uses or where you might end up in the water inadvertently, as long as the PLB is connected to you by a lanyard you are good to go. These three features, along with its reasonable price point of $239.99 makes this the best PLB on the market for sailors.
Two built-in tests allow you to routinely verify that the ResQLink+ is functioning and ready for use. With the push of a button, you can easily test internal electronics and GPS functionality.
The ResQLink+ also features a built-in strobe light to provide visibility during night rescues.
When you purchase your ResQLink+, the first thing you should do is register your PLB with the National Oceanic and Atmospherical Association. It’s a simple process that can be done in ten minutes. ACR now has a 406link.com service that allows you to test and confirm you PLB via cell phone and email up to 420 times over the five year life of the battery. You can also have your tests transmitted to as many as five recipients and add pre-canned messages which is good for occasionally checking in with friends and family (Note: For frequent check-ins and tracking we recommend the DeLorme Inreach)
Here are some specs:
- Miniature design; small as a cell phone, floats
- 406 MHz satellite signal
- 121 MHz homing beacon
- Onboard 66-Channel GPS
- Built-in LED strobe
- Self-Test and GPS Test Features
- Typical Performance 30 Hours
- Non-Hazmat Battery
- No Subscription Fees
- Made in the U.S.A.
Best of all, if you fall into an emergency where you have to use your ACR ResQLink+, ACR will replace your unit free of charge. All you have to do is submit your story to their Survivor Club, send back your used beacon to have it mounted on their Wall of Fame, and they’ll send you a brand new beacon.
Looking to the rest of the PLB market, there is another slightly less expensive PLB by McMurdo called the Fast Find. This is also a solid unit that’s well liked by many mariners. Both the ResQLink+ and the Fast Find transmit at 5 watts, but the ResQLink+ beats the Fast Find in emergency transit at 30 hours over Fast Find’s 24 hours. The ResQLink+ also has 16 more GPS channels than the Fast Find. More GPS channels are important because it allows for faster satellite acquisition, reduced power consumption and improves overall GPS accuracy. The Fast Find is also bigger and heavier than the ResQLink+. For these reasons we prefer the slightly more expensive ResQLink+.
What do others say?
The ACR ResQLink+ 406 is the bestselling PLB on Amazon.com Out of thirty-two reviews, twenty-one are five stars, with five being four star reviews. Overall it earned a rating of 4.2 out of five stars.
Doug Ritter at Equipped To Survive says The new ResQLink is small enough to easily fit into a pocket… ResQLink incorporates enough notable advantages over the McMurdo FastFind that it appears to be the next must-have PLB.
Ben Ellison at Panbo writes “I tried a full GPS test outside my house, though the sky view is fairly restricted. It took the ResQLink maybe 30 seconds to acquire a position and the 406 mHz test burst made it through the system to 406Link, which sent me an email confirmation. I have a high level of confidence that this PLB will work if needed!”
Also, PLBReview.com ranks the ResQLink+ as their highest ranked PLB on their site.
Flyingmag.com said the ResQLink+, “Is a good basic PLB with all the features you’ll need for ensuring rescuers reach you quickly when you need them.”
GuyHarveryMagazine.com said of the ResQLink+: “It combines ease of use and ACR technology to give marine enthusiasts a powerful and accurate safety companion, ready for action at the simple push of a button.”
The Wrap up
When leaving the port for sea it’s essential to be prepared for the worst case scenario. The ACR ResQLink+ provides an instantaneous lifeline for both yourself and your crew and is able to quickly relay your position to a worldwide network of search and rescue satellites. If you have a an ACR ResQLink+ on board, you can be assured that if the worst does occur, rescuers will be able to find your location within minutes. Do yourself a favor and grab a ResQLink+, it’s the cheapest life insurance a sailor can buy.