Ok. You’ve probably seen advertisements for this thing – it’s Alec Peirce Scuba, by the way, with another tech tip – the Nautilus Lifeline. These are not new; they’ve been around for quite a while: a dozen years or maybe more. This is the newest version, which is by far the best. It’s completely automatic, it does everything, and you don’t have to push any buttons; you don’t have to be a computer genius and it’s basically built for dummies.
Divers have asked me, “It seems like a nice idea but it is $200 to $300. Do I need one of those things? The answer is “not always but sometimes yes.” First of all, let me explain what it is.
The Nautilus Lifeline is a personal locator beacon, which is a fancy word for saying “if you press the button, it sends a signal that tells everybody where you are.” It’s nice and light with no parts and nothing to it, really – nothing you have to do. It’s sealed completely tight. This new version comes with a bright orange rubber protector that also allows you to attach it to a BCD or somewhere on your body. It’s simple. If you have a problem, you simply press the button, and this sends out a locator beacon. It goes anywhere in the world: you don’t have to have a subscription, a mobile phone, Wi-Fi, or those kinds of things. If you’re in the Sargassum Sea in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, you press this button and, within reason, it will send out a signal that somebody will pick up.
When I say within reason, it does have a range of 35 miles. If you’re 40 miles offshore, obviously people on shore won’t get it; but the signal it sends out is on all the common wavelengths that ships use: marine ships, personal ships, and tankers. The signal goes into the system and pretty soon, hopefully, somebody in a nice bright new helicopter will be out there to pick you up and save you. That’s the principle and it works quite well.
If you’re diving at your cottage and you have your buddy with you and you’re 20-30 feet offshore in 15-20 feet of water, you don’t need one of these; but there are lots of circumstances where it’s worthwhile.
I used one of these while diving on the Red Sea several years ago, and at that particular time there were a lot of currents, wind, and waves. Several times, the dive boat we were on could not get close enough to the reef or the shore that we wanted to dive. We often had as much as a half-mile swim to get to the dive site; then we came back to the surface afterwards and we couldn’t even see the dive boat. The current and waves had taken us around the point, and it would have been very easy for one or more of the divers in our group to drift away, get pushed away, and find themselves completely out in the open water with nothing in sight. That’s one example where you might get isolated from your dive boat, buddy or shore.
In the Galapagos Islands, these are required. The islands are a longways from the mainland and are situated where the currents and offshore breezes are pretty strong. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens often enough that dive charter boats require all divers to have a Lifeline.
So. Do you have to have one? No. Do you want to have one? It depends on your diving… a little bit of common sense. If your wife or girlfriend is a nervous nelly – and I’m not making fun; it’s nice to have someone who cares about you – tell them you’ll get a Nautilus Lifeline so that no matter where you are, at any time you’ll be contacted and safe.
It’s a neat device. Take a second at your local dive store to look at it, and if you’ve already filled your dive bag with all the toys that you can (maybe you have a birthday or Christmas is coming up)… “I want a Nautilus Lifeline.” They’ll last forever so it’s not a bad investment.
Ok guys, that’s my thoughts on the Nautilus Lifeline. They’re not absolutely necessary but could be a real good idea. We’ll talk to you soon with more tech tips from Alec Peirce here at Scuba 2000!