Monday, June 2, 2008

SPOT under the spotlight

I'm a great fan of, the Web site, and magazine, dedicated to shaving the kilos and grams off your back, your body and your feet. Much of BPL's advice is relevant to sea kayaking, particularly for those long distance trips we yearn for.

BPL has recently posted the most comprehensive review of the SPOT satellite messenger yet undertaken, posing the question, does this highly anticipated technological breakthrough live up to the hype? Interestingly, BPL's reviewers are unable to rate SPOT, as they believe SPOT "has yet to deliver its promised functionality and message delivery reliably."

If you're seriously considering buying a SPOT, I thoroughly recommend subscribing to BPL - well worth the money - and reading this review. But I would also suggest that you read the review keeping in mind that the majority of tests undertaken were by backpackers out in the wilderness, where a clear and unobstructed view of the sky is not often possible.

With my own eight or nine months of testing SPOT (and a review I wrote for Sea Kayaker magazine is out in the next issue), I have found SPOT to be very reliable, when used for kayaking, where an open sky is usual. I'm still a SPOT fan, and so is FliesWithKiwiBird.


John Carbee said...

I enjoy reading your posts. I first heard about the SPOT during your Everglades Challenge this year on your Blog. I told my father about the SPOT and he was down at West Marine the next day buying one. My parents have been retired for several years and own a CT-34 sail boat named Sweet Caroline. They have recently departed on what should be a couple year exploration of the Caribbean. In the past they have used Ham Radio to update the family on their location which is has been hit or miss. They left the middle of May and have been sending SPOT's ever since. When they depart an anchorage they send a SPOT and when they arrive they send another SPOT. It lets us know when they are on the move. I created a website for their travels which I update every time I get an update via SPOT. It has been very accurate so far. We spoke with them via SKYPE over the weekend and they indicate the plots on the website have been very accurate. You are welcome to visit their website.

Keep up the BLOG. I enjoy reading it. I also hope to make the Everglades Challenge this coming year. I was there at the start and followed the Blogs and Updates on the Watertribe site.

Steve said...

Is the satellite connectivity so sensitive that it would be blocked by sails and/or masts on a small sailboat? I had considered buying one for a trip I'm departing on tonight - a trip along the western shore of Pamlico Sound. Won't have it for this trip, but will watch the reviews and look at it again for a fall trip.
On a slightly different topic, do you have any experience in paddling around the Swan Quarter area? I am curious as to how well the channels are marked. Any information you might have would be appreciated. I hope to visit Swan Quarter Island, Great Island and Juniper Creek.
I enjoy your site. Steve

Kristen said...

Hi Steve, it would be worth testing - I believe you should be okay - perhaps have it clipped on for'ad of the mast step, or even somewhere astern, above the transom where it's more accessible. Mine worked fine when I had my 1sqm Pacific Action Sail up ahead of me, and with paddle action.

And I don't have experience with Swan Quarter, I'm afraid. Most of my NC coastal paddling's around Shackelford and north of there up to Ocracoke.

Have a great weekend!

Michael said...

I say, Spot on, girl!

Oddly these things aren't to be seen in many Canadian shops. Is it because we don't get lost or that we don't go anywhere? LOL

Steve said...

Thanks for the advice. I think I will get a SPOT later in the year.
As for the trip, I'm looking forward to it. I've day sailed on Pamlico Sound out of Ocracoke quite a bit. Last fall I sailed Core Sound and the lower part of Pamlico Sound over to Oriental. Maybe this fall I'll put it all together and do an Around the Sound trip from Englehard to Ocracoke to Cedar Island, Oriental, Bath, Swan Quarter and back to Engelhard. Lots of territory out there.
I do enjoy and appreciate your site. I've borrowed tons of ideas from you and your EC friends. Thanks a bunch. Steve

Kristen said...

Look forward to seeing you on the beach at next year's EC, John!