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How satellite based communication devices are changing the world

In an example of the truth is often stranger than fiction, a man in remote Western Australia found himself stranded, rescued and then was involved in the rescue of the pilot of a plane that had gone in search of him!

On Thursday morning, police received a report a man was stranded about 100km northeast of Leinster, a goldmining town 10 hours’ northeast of Perth. He was alone when his vehicle had a flat battery. He alerted a colleague via a GPS-based alert device.

Leinster police contacted a mine site near the GPS co-ordinates and a team of mine workers drove out in the early afternoon to rescue him. Meanwhile, the man’s colleague had organised a search plane through a friend, which ­arrived on the scene just as the mine rescuers turned up. The plane turned around and headed back to base at a nearby station.

An hour later, the AMSA Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Canberra contacted WA police ­because a distress beacon had been activated 7km from where the stranded man was found.

The mine workers, driving back to their mine with the stranded man, were sent back to the area, where they discovered the rescue plane pilot, who had tried to make an emergency landing and ended up striking a tree.

The pilot and a passenger, both unharmed, then joined the mine workers and stranded man to drive back to the mine site.

The Australian 16 July 2016

The alerting device used by the man to alert his friend could well have been an SPOT Messenger or In-Reach device.  These use the Iridium satellite network to pass text messages from your smart-phone to your contacts.  The man obviously needed assistance, but as the situation wasn’t life threatening, he elected to ask his friend to arrange for help.

The Iridium network devices also have a distress alerting function, which in the case of emergencies bypass your normal contacts and alert the SAR authorities directly.  As the stranded man only had a flat battery, this wasn’t required.

The aircraft was carrying a 406MHz distress beacon. These are a single use distress alerting tool, and alert the SAR authorities directly.  When the aircraft was damaged in a forced landing, the pilot turned on his 406MHz beacon, and alerted the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Canberra.  Whilst uninjured, this was the correct use of this device, noting the location of the accident.

These two incidents used different alerting methods to arrange for assistance.  Both were appropriate for the situation.

To find out which device would best suit your situation as part of your remote communication plan, check out Save Our Selves – A guide for getting help in remote areas.

Source: The Australian 16 July 2016


Could this be the best satellite phone?

Think satellite phones are ugly bricks that can only work outdoors… think again.  Pivotel has just released new pricing on their Thuraya SatSleeve which allows seamless interface with your smart phone.  The SatSleeve now can be purchased with a universal adaptor, allowing it to interface with most smartphones.

The SatSleeve has many advantages over regular satellite phones.  Not only can you make calls almost anywhere, you are able to send and receive emails and use your apps, wherever you are. When you’re in regular mobile phone signal, your phone reverts to a regular mobile phone.

One option even allows you to use you to set up a SatSleeve Hotspot outside, whilst you use your smartphone inside.  This frees you up from having to be outside to make a satellite phone call!

Pivotel supply these products to the Australian market. This means you can dial regular Australian numbers from your phone, including the emergency 000 number.  As a bonus, people calling you pay just regular mobile phone rates.

The cost of these phones is around $999 including GST.  You will require a subscription plan, and these range upwards from $15 per month.

To find out if this is the right product for you, check out Save Our Selves – A guide to getting help in remote areas.

If you want to find out more about the SatSleeve or the other satellite phones provided by Pivotel, check out:  http://www.pivotel.com.au/pivotel_satellite_phones_inc_thuraya.php


How to make delicious coffee while camping

If you’re like me, there is not many things more satisfying than a cup of freshly brewed coffee in the morning.  The aroma of freshly ground beans, the ritual of pouring the cup and enjoying a few moments peace and solitude whilst savouring the flavour of your coffee is hard to beat.

As good as it gets

As good as it gets

Whilst we all have our favourite cafe, blends and styles, I found a way to enjoy a delicious cup of coffee every morning of our 12 month camping trip around Australia.  And lets face it, sometimes when we were camping, it wasn’t the fumble for a few dollars change that was my biggest issue.  On occasions the nearest cafe with passable coffee was over 500 kilometres away!There are two parts to a good coffee – the coffee itself and the water.

Nothing beats a fresh cuppa whilst camping

The jolly swagman never had it this good

In many places, water is salty, chlorinated or otherwise tainted.  On some occasions we drew water from crystal clear running creeks full of delicious pure water, however the majority of times we used water we carried with us.

Depending on your taste, you may wish to purchase bottled drinking water, or ensure you fill up your tanks with good quality water whenever you can, and use only your best water in your cuppa.  A billy allowed the water to be boiled on a stove, cook top or an open fire.

The coffee is slightly more difficult to arrange.  We stored roasted beans in an airtight container in the coolest part of the car we could – but not the fridge.  A simple hand powered grinder was  sufficient to grind enough beans for each morning’s brew.  I would then use a stainless steel plunger and percolate the coffee.

Once infused to the desired strength, it is simple to pour and enjoy.  I would enjoy a fresh cup of coffee, whilst the rest of the brew would go into a spill proof thermal travel mug where it would stay steaming hot until morning tea.

Devondale Milk – The best of the Long Life Milk

If you need milk for your cup of coffee, fresh milk is available in most places.  If storage in your esky or fridge is at a premium, consider 250mL tetra-pak long life milk.  Devondale makes a very reasonable long life milk.  The best part of this arrangement is that it is simple.  When pounding along thousands of kilometres of corrugated bush tracks, the plunger and the mugs received a huge amount of punishment, but never once let me down.


For many more tips on how to make your camping trip comfortable, check out: Thrive on the Road – Tips and tricks to make your holiday on the road every bit as enjoyable as it should be

Exciting new product launch – Thrive On The Road

We shared a dream to take our family around Australia for twelve months. Such a dream takes a lot of hard work to turn into reality. With time a precious commodity, we found ourselves racing towards our departure date madly trying to get ourselves ready to leave.  We had so many doubts as to whether we had packed the right things, not enough or too much.  With so many products on the market, so many different options and decisions to make, it can get overwhelming.

During our travels we came across many families whose holidays had been all but ruined due to inadequate preparation, a lack of understanding what they would be doing, or what some would call plain bad luck.

My new e-book – Thrive on the Road – Tips and tricks to make your holiday on the road every bit as enjoyable as it should be, hopes to share some of the lessons we learnt during our preparations for our big lap, and the others we learnt along the way, so you don’t have to make the same mistakes we made.

Thrive on the road - tips and tricks to make your holiday on the road every bit as enjoyable as it should be

Thrive on the road – tips and tricks to make your holiday on the road every bit as enjoyable as it should be

A friend once told me that anyone can be uncomfortable camping. With a little bit of planning, and careful selection of equipment, camping can be fun, comfortable and enjoyable, no matter what the weather!We found that you make your own luck. We broke down in some of the remotest parts of the country, and somehow these experiences became highlights of our journey. All too easily they could have become tragedies.We hope you find Thrive on the Road – Tips and tricks to make your holiday on the road every bit as enjoyable as it should be, a useful starting point for your own journey. The most important thing of all is to pick a date, put it on the calendar and start counting down the days.

For more information, click here:

Updated disposal options for unwanted beacons – How to dispose of your old distress beacon

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority have recently issued the following press release detailing the correct way to dispose of 406 distress beacons (Also called EPIRBs or PLBs). 

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is urging owners of emergency beacons to dispose of their unwanted beacons correctly.

AMSA spokesperson Lisa Martin said emergency beacons can inadvertently activate if they are not correctly disposed, which often occurs when beacons are thrown in the rubbish and end up in tips.

“When a beacon is activated, AMSA is alerted and a search and rescue response may be initiated,” Ms Martin said.

“Search assets and personnel tasked to look for beacons which are inadvertently activated may then be unavailable for a real emergency,” she said.

Beacon owners should be aware that there has been a change in beacon disposal arrangements with Battery World. Free disposal is no longer available at Battery World stores and a small fee will now apply.

Battery World marine spokesperson Vince Petruzzella said the company started collecting the unwanted beacons in 2007 as part of the transition to the 406MHz digital beacon.

“Our relationship with AMSA and the importance of correct beacon disposal is still very important to us but due to the increasing number of beacons being disposed and associated labour involved, stores will now charge a small fee,” he said.

Australia has the highest usage of beacons per capita in the world with over 350,000 beacons registered in AMSA’s database.

Beacon owners can still dispose of unwanted beacons responsibly in the following ways:

  •  Contact your local battery store. A small fee may apply.
  •  Contact your local maritime safety agency. They may be able to provide disposal advice.
  •  Disconnect the beacon battery according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Then contact your local waste management facility to ask about environmentally friendly disposal options. A small fee may apply.

Anyone who disposes of their unwanted beacon should update their details with AMSA to de-register their beacon. Details can be updated online at http://www.amsa.gov.au/beacons or by phoning AMSA on 1800 406 406.

A 406 distress beacon is still one of the most effective ways to alert Search and Rescue Authorities that you require assistance – particularly in remote areas.

More information on your remote communication plan can be found in: Save Our Selves – A guide to getting help in remote areas

The only essential Smartphone App – Emergency +

When travelling in unfamiliar areas, it is often very difficult to be able to provide a precise description of your location.  Imagine you are faced with a life threatening situation, and you call Triple Zero.  As you desperately ask the operator for help, one of the first questions they will ask you is where you are calling from.

How will you answer?

Will your description allow the operator know exactly where you are?

The Australian Government has launched a smartphone app for both iOS and Android devices to:

  • provide the caller with information about when to call Triple Zero
  • provide the caller with information about who to call in various non-emergency situations
    • State Emergency Service (SES) (132 500)
    • Police Assistance Line (131 444)
    • Crime Stoppers (1800 333 000)
    • Health Direct Australia (1800 022 222)
    • National Relay Service
  • assist the caller to dial the relevant number
  • display the GPS coordinates of the phone’s location that the caller can read out to the emergency operator.

More information on the app can be found at the following link:  http://www.triplezero.gov.au/Pages/EmergencySmartphoneApp.aspx

Whilst this is a great leap forward – it is still limited by the availability of the mobile phone network. If you are considering heading off the main highways in Australia, you need to consider a remote communication plan.  More information on what remote communication you need can be found in Save Our Selves, A guide for getting help in remote areas.

Emergency Plus



Could this be the most expensive EPIRB?

Breitling has released a genuine dual frequency locator beacon – housed in the body of a wrist watch.  Now whilst is just a little on the expensive side, it shows that a genuine beacon can be housed in a minature object.  Who knows what the future holds for the portability of distress beacons.

The beacon is designated as a PLB – so it won’t meet carriage requirements for an EPIRB.  EPIRBs are larger because of their requirement to operate to float upright and operate for 48 hours in the maritime environment.  The smaller PLB is a fantastic additional piece of insurance that is so easy to carry, you will soon forget it is there.

There is one slight problem.  At around $16 000 Australian, I am not sure Santa would be able to put one in my Christmas stocking!

More information can be found here:  http://www.breitling.com/en/emergency/

Of course if you’re looking for other options in your remote communication plan, then consider Save Our Selves – A guide to getting help in remote areas