To the test!
In 2022, as I led a conservation initiative in Fernando de Noronha (Brazil) and shortly after, I headed for a filming expedition to the remote islands of Revillagigedo (Mexico), I decided to get myself one of these Dive alert devices.
I ordered one unit online, and in less than two weeks, a much smaller unit than I remembered from 2013 was delivered to my doorstep. I was so excited about the arrival of my package that I wanted to test the Dive alert system to understand how it worked. So, I called a colleague whose bridge is equipped with not only an AIS but also an ECDIS, and we decided to meet for a coffee and a ‘false alarm’. We used the test mode of the device, which appeared on the AIS control and simultaneously on the ECDIS.
The second time we tested the device, we wanted to try it from the water, which we did after a dive off the remote island of Fernando de Noronha (Brazil). On this occasion, we decided to send out a MOB distress alarm. It was planned to be very short, and we had previously informed the military radio station, which is the only one on the island capable of receiving AIS signals.
For the DSC signal on the VHF radios, we were interested to see if any smaller boats operating from the island would react to a short DSC call. No other vessels would be in reach from the mid-Atlantic Island at 300Nm from mainland Brazil. All went as planned, and only the largest vessel of a dive operator on the island reacted accordingly to the distress. We realised that the main reason for the lack of response was that few boats from the local fleet had their VHF radio connected to their GPS unit. This unappropriated installation of the equipment might be frequent in Brazil but relatively rare in the yachting or professional industry.
Scuba diving with the device is easy, as its small size allows you to carry it inside your BCD’s pocket or can be attached to your dive gear through a specifically designed little pouch. The pouch has a little carabiner to which the device can be clipped. Even if you do not buy the pouch, a little ring on the beacon allows you to attach a short line to avoid losing it when deployed.