Garmin Inreach, communicate your plan!

Discussion in 'Communication & Navigation' started by cody c, Oct 18, 2018.

  1. cody c

    cody c

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    This thread is to identify issues with using a communicator like Garmin InReach, to help identify proper planning prcedures and communicating with other parties. It is just a story of a recent trip, but should give you some ideas. (also posted on ex portal)



    I was headed off for a week of hunting/camping with my parents, brother and some friends a couple weeks ago in Northern Alberta. I hadn't talked to them in a couple days but they get cell reception in most areas, not in the deep river valley of the peace river however. On the day i was to drive half way, i got an email:

    inreach 1.GIF

    As you can see, all I got was "help" and I am not familiar with Garmin InReach software....


    After about 10 minutes I figured out how to find the lat and long on a google map, then figured out I just needed to click the garmin link to find the same location... In the middle of the river, 9 hours drive away. And I have no boat.


    Cont'd:
     
  2. cody c

    cody c

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    So a few things went through my head, but it's easier to communicate it better like this.


    Imagine your mother, father, partner, son or daughter sends you an email or note or text, you do not know how to contact them and don't have cell contact. The only thing you got was "help". And you could not drive to where they were for a day and did not know how to get to them. Run that through your head for a minute.


    Anyway, my initial response was "oh crap... What do I got figure out now, is anyone hurt or in real danger???"


    After mulling about it for a bit, I contacted relatives to see if there was anyone they knew with a boat in the area who could get up there. Nope...


    I try to reply but get this:
    inreach 2.GIF



    Well, do I contact a conservation officer, RCMP or something? I get another email, one that simply says "stuck" and then this one:


    inreach 3.GIF
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2018
  3. cody c

    cody c

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    So, they had friends that were either up camping, or were going to be there sometime soon. I do not have their contact info, but they all have riverboats, the weather gets to about -5C (23F) at night, cooler on the river with the humid air. The days are short there, and you don't want to be stuck out on a cold river, possibly soaked overnight.


    I knew they were planning to get out on the river, but didn't know they had, other than an assumption from the lat/long. I had been trying to reach their friends also with the boat, had been trying to find a number through friends of the parents, facebook etc from work to little avail. I found a number but it just went to voicemail. Was it a land line? were they in the river valley too? No way for me to find out...

    inreach 4.GIF

    inreach 5.GIF
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2018
  4. cody c

    cody c

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    It turns out, my parents, older, my father with a bad back (fused discs, titanium shoulder replacements), had also brought my brother (also a bad back), second cousin and a friend. Luckily for them.


    They had driven up the river without problem, but on the way down they went around the wrong side of an island than the way they had traveled earlier. They found themselves on shallow ground.


    When a boat "planes" it is up higher on the water. When stopped it sinks down below. They found themselves on the rocks in shallow water. The path down was very very long. The way back was a couple hundred yards. Luckily they all had hip waders for the shallow water, found long poles, and the 4 fellas pried the boat up stream, at about an inch or two at a time, for a couple hundred yards or so. Apparently they could see where the boat had been dragged through by the "aluminum rocks" reflecting under the water after.


    They made it out, all had gimpy backs, sore muscles, one hernia, and a hate for river boats.


    I had decided to give them till 3:00 and then I was contact RCMP or others, the final email came at about 3:15, I decided to wait a bit longer. It worked out, they made it out, but I learned a few things.
     
  5. cody c

    cody c

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    Conclusion:


    • Apparently my mother had typed a longer message with InReach, but it only delivered "help", but apparently she had thought she sent more details.
    • Being unfamiliar with InReach, I had no way of responding.
    • They had no plan communicated with me, or better yet with the others that had the boat about what they were doing
    • They had no ETA with a follow up plan.
    • I was their "backup plan", would have been nice to know, would have been smart to be familiar with the software
    • We had never run a test scenario.

    I was a bit ticked off, for the stress, hunting frantically to find contacts and phone numbers, and they were worried that I had called the search and rescue and could have gotten a big bill for it (which i didn't, but was inclined to make them think I had for a little bit).



    So I bring the recent story up. My story is that I do get out hunting often, but more importantly I get out into some heavy winter wheeling into the ghost valley west of Calgary, there are huge snowdrifts, icey creek/river crossings, stuck and broken down vehicles, and then the "ice climbing" part of it.




    What I'm getting at is there are risks associated with some trips, and in bigger ways if no cell coverage.


    From my end I am forwarding this around to many in the "climbing and wheeling" groups to identify potential risks in poor planning, lack of planning, and depending on other who aren't familiar with the software, or don't check their email to see that the group has made it out safely.



    Feel free to point out CONSTRUCTIVE criticism, things that we should be doing better. I've pointed out issues, obviously a clear plan should be created before we use SPOT or inReach as backup. And they don't work if someone isn't aware and prepared on the other end.


    Please consider this before your next trip if you haven't already.

    ghost crossing.jpg
     
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  6. Izzyandsue

    Izzyandsue Izzy SILVER Star

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    This is a great learning opportunity, thank for sharing. In my experience, practicing and working the Garmin InReach before going on a trip was time well spent. I can always get to my family when out of cell range. I did had an episode a few weeks ago while in BC, the texting option was not sending to my family, but the email was. When I got home I realized I hadn't synch the unit in a while, so did a synch-up and now everything works.

    I practice with a Garmin, or any piece of equipment, as much as I can at home. Nice 80 by the way!
     
  7. cody c

    cody c

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    I never thought about if those things need software updates (syncing), I should ask that. I'm gonna make sure she tests the thing next time before they do a trip like that again.

    Thats an old pic of the 80, smaller tires, old bumper etc. that pick was just to illustrate creek crossings in the winter. I really need to get more pictures of it in action.
     
  8. pappy

    pappy photosynthesizing Moderator

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    I bought my Delorme inReach SE in March 2014. I recently upgraded to the Garmin inReach SE+. Bottom line … I love this tool.

    I'm not sure why you were unable to reply to the email/txt. I have literally sent out hundreds of emails/txt, and the recipient has never had a problem responding to the text or email I send them. I just checked my settings and I didn't see anything I could check/uncheck to prevent this. The only possible option was to prevent viewers to your share.garmin.com page from texting you from that page. I have never had a problem with somebody responding to something I send.
     
  9. DanMedeiros

    DanMedeiros

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    I depend on this device at work and when adventuring. Wold never leave home without it. It took me awhile but I figured out how to communicate device to device. Makes it amazingly easy to link up with friends on the trail who also have a device. I slink mine up to my pad which is set up as my navigation device via gaia
     
  10. cody c

    cody c

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    Huh.... Got any pics of your setup? I'd like to get an APRS setup on mine eventually, but I'm curious about alternatives.
     
  11. DanMedeiros

    DanMedeiros

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    Yeah it’s super easy. I just connect via Bluetooth to my iPad and you the I reach app
     
  12. DanMedeiros

    DanMedeiros

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    Every I reach account has an associated email account that you can message. When you send a message it sends you location and vice versa. I have a icom 5100 ham radio too and would love to figure out how to use arps. In my old job as a merchant marine officer we had similar tech that was essential to safe navigation
     
  13. ewillis

    ewillis

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    Gonna get me some insurance in the form of one of these satellite communication devices. For me though, I don't really need the two-way communication exchange. My family and friends know where I'll be and when I'm due home and I enjoy remote travel for the purpose of disconnecting from everyone for a couple days. The downside to the InReach IMO is the monthly subscription costs on top of the price of the device. For a one time cost of about $275, I can have the peace of mind that in a life or death situation, I can press a SOS button and have rescue save my ass in the very small chance that I'll ever need it. It would be cool if Garmin offered a no subscription option because the InReach seems like a solid unit.
    acr.jpg
     
  14. DanMedeiros

    DanMedeiros

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    @ewillis . The device you mention is fine. However I ha e worked on mountain search and rescue teams. The call out time for these devices is forever. Also there is no info transmitted regarding the nature of the emergency. Being able to directly communicate to your rescuers via two way comes gets you the right help much quicker. My plan costs $15 per month. As someone who works out of cell range all week I would never leave home without my inreach
     
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  15. ewillis

    ewillis

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    I agree and thanks for the insight. I think for someone who is regularly out in the field, the monthly subscription is a no brainer. For me, actually being far enough out where walking out in the remote Southwest would lead to certain death is maybe once per year. The upside to the two-way communication is that if the situation isn't grave, I could coordinate non-life threatening assistance (i.e. parts or tools, etc.). I'm not sure the juice is worth the squeeze when considering the fees plus the cost of the unit is roughly $1500 over the 10 year lifespan of the unit. I might just end up going with the Garmin anyway though as the cost could be justified over the rate of rescue in a non-life threatening situation.
     
  16. pappy

    pappy photosynthesizing Moderator

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    It all comes down to needs and desires. When I adventure folks know where I'm going in a general sense, like northern Baja. The inReach lets them see where I'm at live. I can change plans, or stay in one place longer, without having to be constrained by a calendar and itinerary. As far as the monthly plan, I don't have one. I pay for the Freedom Plan, +/-$25/yr, then only pay for the months I actually turn the unit on, usually around $35 for the month. When I'm out I send one of three preset "I'm OK" messages daily. That gives folks at home the piece-of-mind that I'm having a good time.

    As far as the two-way texting … it rocks. Having the ability to communicate home is great. Ya, I go out to disconnect and folks at home know not to abuse it. My general rule is don't talk to me unless I talk to you first. Folks know that I will be in wifi range at some point.


    EXACTLY!!!
     
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  17. DanMedeiros

    DanMedeiros

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    I also ment to highlight that the beacon devices have a ton of false alarms. So the sar people get them and are generally slower to respond. They also have to send the kitchen sink because they don’t know what the deal is. This is much more expensive and take longer to organize. If you hit that button because you lost all your coolant expect a full on helicopter response in 8 hours. If you can text them the nature of your emergency they know it’s a real call out and will send the right gear. In my experience they will also have a different mindset than, “this is another false alarm”

    There is a reason the first question 911 asks you is , “ what is the nature of your emergency” I also use the freedom plan. When I’m on a big trip I pay for unlimited messengjng and weathe. Need that surf report when down south!!!
     
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  18. pappy

    pappy photosynthesizing Moderator

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    :rofl:
     
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