Making a case for the Yellowbrick
Not surprisingly, the story about Dove II that I posted the other day drew a lot of interest, both here and on our Facebook page. The post was shared a number of times, and I can only hope that this will help the family involved to recover from the incident. Fortunately, we received not a single “They should have done this…” comment in either place, no doubt at least partially due to my warning to refrain from armchair quarterbacking. One comment did get me thinking though. Based upon the fact that the vessel’s AIS and EPIRB are no longer transmitting position reports, someone made the comment that this might be a strong case for a YellowBrick satellite device. Initially, I discounted that suggestion, wondering how a Yellowbrick could be any better than a purpose-built marine EPIRB. Some research on the product has got me thinking that, while not an alternative to an EPIRB, perhaps Simon, the gentleman who made the comment, was correct!
We’ve had a tiny bit of experience with the Yellowbrick as our friends on TwoFish have one on their catamaran. The boats in the World ARC use the Yellowbrick devices to post position reports, and we used it to update our Twitter feed, and thus our Facebook and blog, while we were in the Pacific, crossing from Las Perlas to the Galapagos. To be honest though, I really just considered it as a competitor to the DeLorme InReach devices, nothing more. The hour or so that I spent researching the devices yesterday has, however, changed my thinking.
Both the Yellowbrick and the InReach devices use the Iridium satellite network.
One very significant Yellowbrick benefit that I can see, and why the original poster suggested that it could help in situations like this, is the incredible battery life of the devices. From what I’ve read, the unit will wake itself up on a previously-set schedule, send a position report, and then go back to sleep. If set to send a position report once every 12 hours, presumably enough to help a search crew zero in on a drifting boat, the Yellowbrick’s battery is specced to last an incredible three months. The reporting frequency can, of course, be altered, and that will affect battery life, but 3 months sounds to me like it should do it!
I searched quite a while yesterday to see if I could find a direct comparison between the Yellowbrick and the InReach devices. Unfortunately, I never found one. I found numerous reviews where people spoke glowingly of the respective devices, but I have to imagine that no one has forked over the cash to buy both, nor have the manufacturers provided units to a writer for a side by side comparison. If you know of such a review, please let me know.
- Here is one fairly detailed review of the Yellowbrick.
With Garmin’s recent acquisition of Delorme, my guess, and it’s only a guess, is that the InReach units will take on even more of the mapping features that Garmin is known for. I also have to assume that this will negatively affect battery life, not help it. So, for someone looking for a satellite device that is reportedly robust and has amazing battery life, to be used primarily to give position reports, and/or to send and receive messages, I think the Yellowbrick is worth serious consideration.