Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Question for You About SPOT

First, a question about SPOT, and then some background on what SPOT is.

There are more options now, but this is the SPOT I carry,
and it's still available.
I carry SPOT mainly for the peace of mind it brings my family in knowing where I am at any given moment, and that I‘m off the water safely at the end of each day. On this trip, however, Jean wouldn’t be near the computer. I carried SPOT anyhow, as I explained before my departure, for the benefit of blog readers that may be interested in sharing the trip and its experiences. Since I took the time to burn the batteries and keep it running, I’d really like to know how many folks actually took advantage of the link from the blog page to the SPOT plotter, and what you enjoy about it. Please leave a comment here or on my Facebook to let me know you were following the trip on SPOT. If you wish to use Facebook, just click the “Jim’s Facebook” link in the right margin under Favorite Links.
For a little background, I was surprised to find the number of people paddling the Great River Rumble who asked what the SPOT was. In a nutshell, it is probably one of the most cost effective and efficient ways to keep in touch with folks back home while you‘re communing with nature. Whether you rock climb, hike, hunt, fish, sail, paddle, or enjoy any other pastime out in nature, there is usually some element of risk involved. Letting everyone at home know you’re fine, or for getting assistance if you’re not, SPOT is vital for safety and peace of mind.

This is an actual plot from the St. Croix River trip.  Where a group of
flags are packed together indicates a pull ashore for a break before
pushing on.  Plots are on the link for seven days, and then drop off
to provide room for more incoming data.
The SPOT is a small, cigarette-pack sized satellite transmitter that periodically gives a satellite your position within a few feet. For a paddler, that is about every ten minutes. The computer computes how frequently the transmissions should be done. The faster you move, the more frequent the postings. The information is then sent back to earth and is posted on your satellite link and superimposed on a map or satellite image of the area you are in. Anyone who has that link can pull up your exact position and updates as you travel. With another button, at the end of the day, you can indicate that you are off the water and everything is fine. If you have a problem, you can hit the SOS button. SPOT operators will first check with your contact person to see if they’ve heard from you, or know of any circumstance under which the SOS may have been sent accidentally. If not, the local, state, or federal rescue authorities in your area will be notified of your position and that you are in trouble. That’s a very quick overview, but you can read more at the SPOT link below. The unit can usually be found for around $120-$160, and the annual subscription fee is $149/year.


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