Dec 21, 2017

Sirius SignalSirius Signal held a product information session for interested parties prior to demonstrating their latest product innovation, the Sirius Aero Foil Model AF-1 Daytime Visual Distress Signal (DVDS) for recreational boaters in October at the Annapolis show. The non-pyrotechnic Aero Foil AF-1 revolutionizes DVDS by providing a safer, more effective option for boaters.

Besides recreational boaters, the audience of 20 included a large group from the US Coast Guard. After the initial Sirius presentation covering the AF-1 concept, there was good discussion with the audience. Issues such as a potential hazard to a CG rescue helicopter were raised.

Sirius Signal 2
The Aero Foil AF-1 is constructed of helium-filled Mylar parafoil that inflates when deployed. In case of an emergency, boaters will hold the canister that houses the device, open the top cover to remove the AF-1 and activate. The device will then automatically inflate and rise to a minimum of100 feet, where it can stay aloft for up to several days. The design includes a tail on the balloon that alters its shape in higher winds to limit the balloon from being blown sideways at the expense of altitude.

The stated intent is to have a re-arming kit that includes a line spool, helium cartridge and balloon to reload the AF-1 housing.

Consistent with the company’s environmentally sound and safe non-pyrotechnic approach to distress signals, the Aero Foil AF-1 has been developed for possible U.S. Coast Guard compliance and will be superior to current pyrotechnics. Sirius is investigating the best colour options for the balloon. In the demonstration silver and pink Mylar balloons were launched.

Sirius Signal 3In order to meet daytime distress signal requirements, boaters can currently choose between the U.S. Coast Guard-approved pyrotechnics or the daytime distress flag.
“We wanted to create a product for boaters that is highly visible and long-lasting in daytime emergencies and that first responders can reliably identify from the air or water. The USCG claims that almost all rescues begin with a call for help via cell phone, VHF radio or Epirb. The challenge is to be seen by first responders who can often take two hours to locate boaters in distress once the call for help has been received. A distinct colored signal shape that can stay aloft over the boat for days is the fastest way to be located,” said Anthony Covelli, CEO of Sirius Signal.

As Murphy would have it, while early in the morning the winds were light, at he time of the demonstration they had increased and were blowing on shore toward many of the masts of the boats in the show. This resulted in the balloons being flown on shorter tethers under Sirius’s staff’s watchful eyes.

- CYOB tech reporter, Mike Wheatstone

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One summer I sold ice cream and knick-knacks at Montague Harbour Marina. I was standing behind the counter one day, when the phone rang. “There’s a boat at anchor in the middle of the bay that’s been playing loud music for three hours,” complained an irate-sounding male voice. “Can you make them stop?”

“Um, no,” I replied. “The marina has no jurisdiction over the anchorage. Besides, my only weapon is a till.” The man hung up on me.

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We sailed the boat on a gusty, chilly, late autumn day out of Whitby, Ontario, on Lake Ontario, and she handled very well in 20 knotbreezes and three- to four-foot swells.

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Pyrotechnic Distress Flares vs. Electronic Distress Strobes

Pyrotechnic Distress Flares vs. Electronic Distress StrobesBy Andy Adams

Pyrotechnic distress flares have been around for decades, while electronic strobe distress flares have only been introduced in the last couple of years - and they aren't Canadian Coast Guard approved for use in Canada, at least not yet.

But which one is best? And the more important question is: When should you signal for help?

When the authorities do a vessel inspection on the water, they are looking for equipment that is in compliance with the regulations such as lifejackets, bailing buckets, sound signaling devices, and so on.

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