Rescue tested VHF and strobe

From: Michael Schuh (
Date: Thu Apr 16 1998 - 22:54:53 PDT

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Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998 22:54:53 -0700
From: (Michael Schuh)
Message-Id: <>
Subject: Rescue tested VHF and strobe

I have rescue tested gear. I am sure there is better gear, but mine
has been tested and proven to work. So if you want to just purchase
some gear that works and be done with the search, read on.

I have participated in many rescues. Most have not required the Coast
Guard. A few have. My strobe saved Ken's life a year ago; a different
Ken than Poulton. And my VHF helped Ken Poulton get a quick Coast
Guard pickup when he broke his ankle into a bunch of small pieces. I
was able to call and talk directly with the Coast Guard station located
by SFO with my Uniden HH940 VHF radio. It cost me less than $200. I
keep it in one of the $20 West Marine Aqua Safe water proof bags. I
keep this in a West Marine water proof fanny pack that I swing over my
shoulder. The fanny pack is attached at each end to a 1" piece of web
strapping. As mentioned in some of the posts, the bag can be torn off
of the 1" web strapping and be lost forever so I have it secured with a
line that I clip to my harness. I don't want to lose this gear. The
fanny pack usually has a cup of water in it at the end of a session. I
dump it out and let the whole mess dry out between sessions. I carry
one of the high performance whistles that I also purchased from West

You are not supposed to use your VHF radio on land. With this said, I
tested my VHF radio in the 3rd Ave parking lot. I am glad I did. It
helped me use it when I really neaded it. I tested it by talking to
another windsurfer who had just purchased a new radio. I will gladly
do the same with anyone who wants to test their gear. No one arrested
me for my 30 second on land test. I guess if you wanted to be entirly
legal, you could sit on your board in the water and test it.

As Ken Poulton's rescue progressed last fall, it became clear to me
what the Coast Guard needs to know:

1) Your boat name. Windsurfer with a yellow sail will work.
    The Coast Guard wants to use a boat name but gave up and just used
    my name when talking to me.

2) Your name and the name of the sailor in distress.

3) Your location. 1/4 mile down wind of marker 8A and 1/2 mile into the
    channel is good but not good enough. There must be several marker 8As
    because I needed to tell them that I was North of the San Mateo Bridge
    before they know exactly where I was.

4) Tell them whether you are drifting up or down wind or holding your
    own. That way if they lose contact with you, they will have an idea of
    where to look. Without this information they have often times looked
    too far down wind for distressed sailors.

5) Your condition. It will take 45 minutes for a boat to get to 3rd
    but they will probably send a helecopter if someone is in bad enough
    shape. Helecopters cost a lot of money.

When the Coast Guard arrived, we had one end of my tow line tide to
Ken's gear. Ken held on to the other end as he was pulled onto the
Coast Guard boat. They quickly pulled his gear into the boat in the
five foot swells and 35 + winds.

Here is the strobe purchase information:

> From schuh Wed Apr 9 08:28:25 1997
> To:
> Subject: Strobe Purchase information
> Status: O
> > From: Ken Poulton
> >
> > We thought Ken had come in to Coyote Point as well, so the Coast
> > Guard Auxiliary left. But then it turned out that it was some
> > other sailor from 3rd who had landed there, and Ken was still missing.
> > At this point the strobe paid off big time - Ken was found by the
> > cutter relatively soon after dark (I don't know where). He was dropped
> > off around 9:00.
> Ken borrowed my strobe. He was spotted by the helicopter after dark.
> There was very little chance of finding him without the strobe.
> If you want one that is field tested, you can buy the same one
> I have by calling West Marine today. You might even have it by
> the weekend if you call now.
> Please do it now if you do not have one yet.
> I have now seen advertisements for a $175 marine radio at
> West Marine. Has anyone looked at it and determined if it
> is worth buying? It is a new model that is water proof and
> has a three year warranty.
> Michael
> ] Date: Wed, 06 Nov 1996 10:42:05 PST
> ] To: Multiple recipients of list <>
> ] From: (Michael Schuh)
> ] Subject: Firefly 2 strobe
> ]
> ]
> ] I just called (800) 538-0775 and ordered the
> ] Firefly 2 strobe from West Marine.
> ]
> ] $59.95 Cost
> ] 4.65 Tax
> ] 4.25 Shipping
> ] ================
> ] $68.85 Total
> ]
> ] If you do not have a strobe, the firefly 2 has
> ] been recommended several times. It is water proof
> ] and will easily attach to the web strapping on
> ] my harness.
> ]
> ] Buy yours today. West Marine has a money back
> ] satisfaction guarantee.
> ]
> ] Michael

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