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Laser lights versus flares?

Shane Baker
02/15/11 #10079

Anyone have any experience with these Rescue laser lights?

Dale McKinnon
02/15/11 #10081

Shane, in 2004 I created an “rescue essentials” vest/harness for rowing around around Cape Caution: VHF, EPRIB, flare gun, and a red laser pointer that a friend waterproofed for me. Perhaps it wasn't strong enough, but I tested it on several passing fishing boats during daylight hours and realized that the heavy moisture content in the air degraded/diffused the strength of the coherent light emitted by the pointer. It became apparent that, although it would be of good use during darkness, I needed to be too precise to make it seen in the event of a daylight emergency (chinese fire drill).

I'm sure technology has improved the strength of rescue lasers since 2004. However, it would be interesting to see how effective green, blue or red lasers are in daytime fog or rain. The drawbacks of a rescue laser are: It's not an effective defensive weapon, requires relatively good hand control when pointing (that would be hard for me after ten minutes in the 55 degree water as I am a lightweight), and it may not be understand by some vessels as a rescue signal.

Dale McKinnon 02/15/11 #10082

… UNDERSTOOD by some vessels…

steven wort 02/15/11 #10083

Maybe ask the local Coastguards if tey have ever seen one used in anger, or email Greatland for “success” stories?Maybe its time for a mythbusters style on the water test if anyone has one?

FYI The Greatland lasers project a fan of laser light, not just a point.

Checkout their website for a desciption of this, and how they say to use their lasers.

I would suggest using this in conjunction with traditional flares. When your life is on the line, I wouldnt ever rely on a single system.

Laser Flare
Flag on a stick

The challenge is how to carry all that stuff around without sinking the boat, or have it wrap around and drown you when you fall out on a calm day :(
p peacock
02/15/11 #10084

I have one of those laser flares and have tested it in three situations. The first was on Sucia Island on a camping trip. We were camping in a bay where it was possible to walk to the other side and point back at camp across water. I'd say a 1/4-1/2 mile distance. It was very impressive! The water lit up very brightly, I'm sure it would have been investigated had it been pointed at a boat or something. The second time it was tested was in the daylight. Not as impressive but it could be seen, however I wouldn't rely on it in the day time. The third time was pointing from Jones Island to Bird Rocks near Deer Harbor on Orcas. A distance of two miles. Friends paddled out to the rocks then radioed when they got there. They said it was a very clear and unmistakable red flashing. The flashing comes from moving the fan across their sight line. The tests convinced me that they would be valuable.
They are easy to point (see website for instructions). They have two sizes in red, 40 hour and 72 hour. I use the 40 hour because it is only about 21/2inches long and fits very well in a pfd pocket. They are waterproof and can supposedly be seen by aircraft for 20 miles. Someone else can test that one. They are legal for emergency situations. And they last for more than one use.
I agree completely with Steven, don't rely on a single system. I always carry the laser flare and two incendiary flares, one to attract attention and the other for the homing in process when you're sure rescue is on the way. Smoke for daytime.


laser_vs_flare_2011.txt · Last modified: 2020/09/16 21:49 (external edit)