On the Spot

A device that alerts someone to your whereabouts is a very handy gadget for fishermen. Of course such safety equipment is nothing new. EPIRBS and PLBS have been around a while and have saved a swag of lives. You should always have a EPIRB when fishing offshore and you’d be crazy to visit any remote location without a PLB.

But what about a product that bridges the gap between a mobile phone and EPIRB? For those times when you’re not in a life threatening situation, you’re out of signal range, and you need to get a message back to civilisation. That’s where the SPOT comes in handy.

The SPOT, which send signals via satellite, has three main functions. The first and most frequently used function allows you send a pre-programmed “I’m okay” message to one or more people. You can set this up prior to use on the SPOT website by logging in and customising your message and adding message recipients. This function, luckily, has been SPOT’s main use for me. If I’m fishing a secluded river and have lost track of time and running late home, it’s as simple as hitting the “Ok” button which sends a text message and email back to home. It even sends my coordinates in the email and a link to Google maps to the exact position. I’m yet to find out if the “ok” message is accepted with joy or sorrow…

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The second function is also very useful. The “Help” function, just like the “Ok” button lets you pre-program a message to any number of recipients. The big difference is this a message of distress. However, it does not call rescue services. This message will go back to friends and family for the scenarios that are not life threatening.

Here’s a scenario: You’re fishing an remote NT river. Before leaving you jump online and record a message: “Come and get me from spot x”. Your list of recipients include a few people back at camp, and with any luck, they like you enough to jump in a boat and find you. Maybe you head off trout fishing in the Snowy Mountains by yourself. You’re having a great day, catching plenty of trout, and then you slip and twist your ankle. It’s not life threatening at this stage and you know a few people who could come out and assist you to limp back. Simply hit the “Help” button and they will come.

The final button “911” is for dire emergencies. Obviously this is an American product and the use of 911 in the US signals an emergency. However, this function does alert Australian emergency services to your whereabouts. Only use this for life threatening emergencies. This function acts in a similar fashion to a EPIRB or PLB.

Another handy feature of the SPOT is the “tracking function” which will send signals each 10 minutes or so to record your position. Friends and family can either log on and keep track of your, or when you get home, you can log on and check your adventure on Google maps or google Earth. It’s a really nifty feature of this safety device.

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For more detailed information on the SPOT go to



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