Four Kite Surfers Rescued in Antigua Thanks to inReach

February 26, 2015

Jeff Brock copy

Jeff Brock and three friends set out to complete a 170 km endurance kite trip at 7am on Friday, December 12th. The journey began on the island of Antigua and finished on St. Maarten. Two members of the team planned to kite surf, while the other two followed in a support boat. An inReach SE was used to track the team’s progress and send updates to Facebook periodically.

After five hours, sea conditions began to deteriorate and the final stretch took over an hour and a half, rather than the anticipated 30 minutes. Though it was longer than expected, the group arrived on St. Maarten without either surfer dropping their kite, concluding a successful mission. However, no one anticipated equipment failure during the return boat trip to Antigua.

At 9 p.m. the four men deployed their life raft when the boat suddenly capsized from taking on water. Huddling in a raft the size of a kiddie pool, as Jeff described it, they pulled out their inReach and sent an SOS distress signal. Within two minutes, they received delivery confirmation and began interacting with GEOS search and rescue monitoring center.

Director Jonathan Cornelius, with Antigua & Barbuda Search and Rescue (ABSAR) received notification from GEOS of the distressed boaters and dispatched a rescue team. While waiting for ABSAR to arrive, Jeff used his inReach to communicate details of the situation to the rescue team, and message his family. “It was incredible to do this [communicate via inReach] sitting at sea level basically under water in an uncovered raft full of water in the dark,” Jeff explained. “The device saved us, or at least got us rescued in record time. We were picked up in three hours and back on land in six hours.

At 1 a.m., the ABSAR rescue team reached the men floating next to their capsized boat. After all four men were on board the rescue vessel they immediately sent a message from their own inReach device the team carries to notify their headquarters, “4 survivors rescued.”

4 rescued

inReach tracking, messaging, SOS, and recovery… It has been the most handy device I have ever used.” – Jeff Brock

Video courtesy of Jonathan Cornelius, ABSAR Director.


inReach and Earthmate Updates

February 20, 2015

So, what do you do when you have single digit temps and 30+ inches of snow outside? You sneak away from work and go snowshoeing of course!

Weather-Forecast

NOAA Snow Depth

I’m heading out to climb Bald Mountain here in Weld, Maine, but before I go, I wanted to share with everyone the new features we’ve released in our latest inReach firmware and Earthmate app updates. I know I haven’t done a tech update in a while, so let me try to make up for it with a brain dump of all the cool things we’ve been working on. Please post any questions or comments you have and I’ll share more. Better yet, send me a message on my inReach and I’ll reply from the trail! Just click on the link to my MapShare and follow my climb. Click on my name in the Users list and send me a message:

https://share.delorme.com/chipnoble

Our latest updates to the inReach system are all about bringing the Explorer navigation features to the Earthmate app for iOS and Android. If you have an inReach Explorer and a mobile device, you should visit the Explore website and sync your device, then check your Earthmate app and make sure it’s updated.
I posted back in July about the ability to create waypoints and routes on the Explore website and sync them to the inReach Explorer:

http://blog.delorme.com/2014/07/18/why-you-need-the-inreach-explorer/

Here is the Explore site showing my planned hike on Bald Mountain. It’s not too long but the climb is steep and the snow is deep so it should be a nice outing.

Explore Map

I’ve synchronized my inReach Explorer, so you can see the Bald Mountain route and waypoints on my device.

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Now, the same planned waypoints and routes are synchronized to the Earthmate app, so you can see your trip on a topographic map and easily pick and choose from the Waypoints and Routes page lists. The Earthmate app Home page has links to all the available activities.

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The Waypoints page shows all the waypoints that were marked for syncing on the Explore site. The list is sorted by Distance, Name, Symbol, or Date. Creating a new waypoint on this page sends it to the Explore site via the inReach Explorer and the Iridium satellite network.

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Selecting a waypoint shows details including the coordinates, distance, and bearing to the waypoint.

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The Routes page displays a list of all routes created on the Explore site. Like Waypoints, this list is sorted by Distance, Name, Color, and Date.

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Selecting a route shows details including the route length and how far you are from the trailhead.

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The Map page shows all your planned waypoints and routes and displays Distance to Waypoint and Bearing to Waypoint details when navigating.

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We’ve also added a Compass page for those that prefer a bearing arrow and distance while navigating.

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The Earthmate app now has the ability to view the high detail track line the inReach Explorer records. This is my favorite feature, since I prefer the one-second logged track points over the 2-minute track points sent over Iridium to the Explore website. I can see the high detail during my hike, and then upload it to the Explore site when I get home to keep track of my trips. I’ll upload a screenshot of the high detail track line when I get back from my hike.
I’m going to head out for the climb now. Give me an hour to get my gear and drive to the trailhead. You can send a message now and I’ll reply once I get on the trail and start tracking. If you’re an inReach owner, log into your Explore site and update your firmware, then update your Earthmate app! We’re very pleased with this release and we’re confident you’ll be pleased too. I’m even going to offer a bonus challenge to anyone that’s read this far in my post: send me a message from your inReach device to my inReach device and I’ll send you a DeLorme hat or t-shirt! My inReach address is chip.noble@inreach.delorme.com.

Here’s hoping that you are all able to get outside and enjoy whatever weather you’re getting… cold or not!

Take care,
Chip Noble
Team DeLorme


In Our Customer’s Own Words: Thank You for Helping to Save my Daughter’s Life

September 16, 2014

Below is an unedited letter from an inReach customer following the rescue of his daughter via helicopter from a remote area of Rocky Mountain National Park.

September 8, 2014

DeLorme:

I’m writing to thank you for your extraordinary efforts that helped save the life of my daughter, Amanda Sandstedt. We were deep in the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park when she had a diabetic emergency that required prompt hospitalization. Our DeLorme inReach gave us our only hope for her survival and it performed textbook perfect, and so did the SOS dispatch personnel [GEOS].

We were alone at a remote location when her condition began to rapidly degrade for unknown reasons. Realizing that I couldn’t get her out on my own and that her condition required advanced medical attention, I used the SOS feature on my inReach and the iPhone Bluetooth feature and we were immediately in contact with your communications center. Through the efforts of your dispatch center, the Flight for Life crew, and some remarkable treatment at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Denver, my daughter Amanda not only survived, but made a full recovery within a few days. The doctors and nurses at the hospital considered her recovery miraculous, as they initially did not expect her to survive. It was only through the efforts of all these people that she had any chance for survival, yet today we are at home and returning to our normal routine.

Several times I’ve started to write this letter to you, the Flight for Life crew, and the hospital, but it’s hard to know how to thank someone for the life of someone you love. I’ve thought about how our lives could have been horribly changed and then I thought about how our lives were actually changed, in the end, maybe for the better. Amanda is back at home, in school, back to work, and back to being full of life. She is doing very well. She remembers very little of the whole event, which may be a blessing. However, one thing she is fast learning is that our relationship will never be the same. 

I can’t thank you enough for the extraordinary efforts of your great people who dispatched the help that saved Amanda. As I think back about all the people’s efforts that came together perfectly to result in a happy ending to our Rocky Mountain trip, it’s clear to me what a miraculous story of survival this is. Her margin for survival was slim at best, even when she did reach the hospital. I feel very fortunate and blessed to still have my daughter who I love so much. Having her survive such a misadventure is a sobering reminder to me of just how precious each day is that we have together. It’s safe to say that I am forever changed by the experience. Seeing how quickly you can lose a loved one (or in this case, almost lose a loved one), it makes me want to hug each of my children every time I see them (although I’m not sure they appreciate the parental affection). I recommend the inReach to all my friends and especially to those who venture into the wilderness. I have used the inReach for several years, typically to check in each day and let my wife know where we are and how things are going. I never imagined that it would be the essential tool that would save my daughter’s life. By the way, the iPhone Bluetooth feature worked to perfection, providing a continuous text conversation where we could exchange information vital to Amanda’s rescue.

Below is a picture of Amanda, now at home and doing very well. I’m sure she’s not the first to be saved by this amazing device, but she’s clearly the most special to me. All the good people at DeLorme should take pride in the life saving communications that this device provides. I’ll be forever grateful for every day I have with Amanda and for each moment I spend with all my family.

Sandstedt Photo

Thank you for the life changing products and work that you do every day. I’ve learned through experience what an essential tool the inReach is – I’ll never leave mine at home. Thank you for saving a very special life.

– Chip Sandstedt

P.S.

Thanks again to you and the great people at the emergency dispatch [GEOS]. At a time when the stakes were very high, everything worked just like you’d hope it would. What a great tool to have for a trip into the wilderness.


Ben Clark takes on Nolan’s 14 Challenge

September 3, 2014

Nolan’s 14 is a former ultra marathon race course of near 100 miles in distance that visits 14 summits over 14,000′+ with no set path. Nolan’s 14 has only been finished by seven people a total of eight times and has but one widely accepted social rule: a set time at which all successful attempts are judged, which comes to 14 peaks in under 60 hours.

Ben Clark is running Nolan’s 14 right now. Follow him on his MapShare Page here:

https://share.delorme.com/benjaminclark

Ben Clark MapShare

Check out a preview of Ben’s story here: http://vimeo.com/105098198

Read about Ben’s previous attempt here: http://blog.ospreypacks.com/2013/08/30/100k-is-not-100-miles/

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More on Nolan’s 14 here: http://www.mattmahoney.net/nolans14/

And more on the inReach that Ben is using to track his run here: http://inreachdelorme.com/

Good luck Ben, we’re all cheering for you!

Chip Noble
Team DeLorme


Why you need the inReach Explorer…

July 18, 2014

Chip Noble here, Product Manager for DeLorme. I’m getting ready for the Mt Washington Observatory’s Seek the Peak climb this weekend and I thought I’d share the process with you so that you can see how the Explore website, inReach Explorer, and MapShare page work together to make the inReach system a powerful tool for planning, exploring, and sharing your adventures.

A few of us are going to sneak away from work tomorrow and hike up to the AMC’s Lakes of the Clouds hut to test out some new designs and demonstrate the inReach Explorer functionality to people following along on the website. I’m planning out our climb using the Explore site so that I can use my inReach Explorer to navigate to the hut and share the trip with friends and family using my MapShare page.

To get started I went to the explore.delorme.com site where I manage my inReach Explorer account and began planning my trip. With the inReach Explorer’s ability to store Waypoints and Routes I’m now able to plan out where I’m going ahead of time using the Explore website and sync all of those details over to the device for use when I get out on the trail. I started by creating the waypoints for our trip; the trailhead at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, the AMC hut, and the Mt Washington summit. Using the Aerial Imagery I was able to be pretty accurate with my waypoint placement… wow!

Explore-Waypoints

After I used the Waypoint tool to mark those locations I was able to use the Route tool to draw in two separate routes for Friday and Saturday. I started by drawing in the rough route between my waypoints and then editing the route to follow the trail data provided by DeLorme’s topographic maps.

Explore-Rough-Route

For those of you out there that like high detail routes, you can zoom in to see aerial imagery and get a preview of your hike while you fine tune the route line to follow the actual foot trails that are visible in the imagery. Be careful though, it’s easy to get carried away with the detail! The roughed in routes will still guide you to your campsite…

 Explore-Imagery-Edit

When I finally tore myself away from the aerial imagery and route editing I had the full trip planned out with waypoints and detailed routes, showing my path from the Visitor Center to the Hut to the Summit and back down.

Explore-Detailed-Route

I connected my inReach Explorer and sync’d the data to the device so that I would have it with me during the hike. Forgive the photos, we don’t have a screenshot tool on the inReach and I wanted you to see the real thing. The first picture shows the Home page with the new Map, Routes, Waypoints, Compass, and Trip Info pages.

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I can use these pages to see the waypoints and routes that I’ve sync’d onto my inReach Explorer. I can get details about these points so that I can select the right information when I’m at the trailhead.

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The next picture shows the Map page with the waypoints and routes for the hike displayed. I use this view to verify that everything I planned is showing on my inReach. I’ll use this page as a reference when navigating to the waypoints tomorrow. The inReach Explorer doesn’t show full topographic data but I will see the detailed route line and know what direction to turn at each intersection.

photo 1a

When I’m at the trailhead I will select the Day 1 hike and choose to Navigate. This will update my Map page to highlight the selected route in orange. It will also start reporting a distance to the Finish of the route at the bottom of the screen. No, I’m not hiking 65 miles tomorrow, that’s the distance from my desk where I took the photo of my device. It will report the correct distance tomorrow morning when I’m at the trailhead.

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I also have the option to view the Compass page and see a Bearing and Distance along with a compass arrow pointing in the direction that I need to travel. In a soon to be released firmware we’ll be updating the inReach to report the distance to the next waypoint that appears on the route. The inReach will report the distance to the summit on Day 2 and then update to tell me the distance to the trailhead finish after I’m on my way back down. Again, the distance in the screenshot is from my desk to the summit of Mt Washington, sorry about that.

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Another very important thing will happen when I choose to Navigate the route that I’ve selected on my inReach Explorer. A navigation message will be sent to my MapShare page, https://share.delorme.com/seekthepeak, updating that site to show friends and followers like you that I am hiking and taking a specific route to a specific destination. The following screenshot shows my location last weekend while we were hiking up Tumbledown Mountain in Weld, ME.

MapShare-Tumbledown

Note that not only could people see where I had been but they could also see where I was planning to go. This route information will update during the Mt Washington climb as I switch from my Day 1 route to my Day 2 route on Saturday morning. If I chose to create a new waypoint while I was on the trip and create a direct route to that location those pieces of information would also appear on my MapShare and Explore websites.

So there it is… planning a hike on the Explore website, navigating with the inReach Explorer, and sharing all of it with the MapShare website… all reasons why I think anyone heading out on an adventure needs to bring an inReach Explorer along with them!

If you have any questions I can be reached by inReach message Friday and Saturday, just go to my MapShare page, https://share.delorme.com/seekthepeak, and send me a message. I’ll be following this blog post up with one answering all of the great questions that have been coming to me from customers so feel free to post your questions here and I’ll include them.

Take care and see you on the trail!

Chip Noble
Team DeLorme


Scientist Dr. John All Survives 70 ft. fall into a Crevasse in Nepal – Rescued with inReach

July 10, 2014

IMG_2728Photo Courtesy of the American Climber Science Program.

Dr. John All, the Director of the American Climber Science Program, was in the Himalayas during May testing ice and snow samples for pollution and rate of melting. All and his team were on Mt. Himlung, however All was a two-day hike from his team at a higher elevation camp when he fell into a 70 ft. crevasse.

All sustained severe injuries, including five broken ribs, a broken arm, dislocated shoulder and internal bleeding, which made it nearly impossible for him to climb out. But by strategically moving sideways and slightly upwards a little bit at a time, All was able to complete the grueling climb out about four or five hours later. Once at the top, he managed to roll back to his tent where he used his inReach satellite messenger to trigger an SOS and then alert his team of his condition. He also posted live updates to Facebook from his device relaying the extent of his injuries.

Due to his remote location and bad weather, a helicopter wasn’t able to reach him until the next morning. Throughout this timeframe his team was able to communicate with him through inReach, sending him words of encouragement and assuring him they’d see each other soon.

All was flown to a hospital in Kathmandu to be treated for his injuries. After a quick recovery, on June 23rd, All traveled to Huascaran National Park in Peru to lead a team of 20 students and scientists studying the changing climate conditions and its impacts on the region.

“Knowing we would consistently be out of cellphone range, we researched all satellite communication options to keep us connected. As satellite phone was more than we really needed, and as a volunteer-driven non-profit program, it wasn’t very cost effective. We need to be able to communicate back and forth in the even of an emergency, but we also wanted to keep everyone updated on the day-to-day status of the mission,” said All. “As most of the channels we use are digital, the ability to text anywhere in the world was perfect. inReach offered us a great cost-benefit ratio – it blew everything else away.”

The American Climber Science Program is a volunteer based organization using science to “improve conservation efforts in the high mountains of the world.” DeLorme is proud to be apart of the team’s essential gear bag as they conduct incredible research all over the world.


Horse and rider rescued following slide down steep canyon on the famed Pacific Crest Trail in California

May 13, 2014

Two-way communications capability of DeLorme inReach assured timely dispatch of appropriate resources and helicopter rescue.

PCT day 7 &8 010[1]Paul and Gail enjoying the Pacific Crest Trail earlier this year. The horses, Dakota and Aero, are beautiful Tennessee Walkers and specially trained by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department to stay calm in noisy and distracting environments.

Paul V. and his wife Gail have dreamed of riding the entire length of the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail for several years. They had spent many hours researching all the gear they would need to take on the ride, personally conducting numerous evaluations to determine the perfect combination of the lightest weight, safest and most effective options. Knowing that the trail could be very dangerous in certain areas and that cell coverage would be intermittent, the couple chose to take an inReach with them in case they ran into any trouble.

“We planned for just about everything, but I didn’t realize how valuable my inReach was going to be,” said Paul. “If you’re going to be in a remote wilderness area, it’s wrong not to invest in something that will ensure that you can live to tell about it.”

On the morning of March 14, Paul and Gail were riding on an extremely narrow portion of the trail in the Angeles National Forest. The entire area was recovering from a forest fire, so there was very little foliage and the slopes and cliffs were prone to mudslides. Paul was in the lead and although his horse, Aero, lost its footing briefly, he made it safely through the narrowest part of the trail. When he looked back he realized that Gail and her horse, Dakota, did not. At just eight inches wide, the dangerous trail bordered a steep, 300-foot-deep canyon.

As Gail and Dakota began to slide down, she fell off the horse head-down onto her back. Dakota then fell onto her legs and bounced over her. They both continued to tumble down the embankment. There was nothing to break her fall on the burned out area, but she was finally able to grab hold of a root from a charred bush, about 100 feet below the trail. Dakota continued all the way to the bottom landing upside down, about 300 feet down.

Back up at the trail, Paul could hear Gail moaning, but he knew it was unsafe to go down the same slide area. The fall happened about 10 miles from the nearest road crossing and about one mile from an abandoned ranger station with a corral. “I started calling to Gail immediately but I couldn’t hear her answer. But before I could make my way down the slope to find her, I had to find a way to tie up my horse safely so he didn’t get spooked and go down the slide or wander off. With the forest having so recently burned, it was just about impossible to find anything to tie him up though,” Paul said.

Thinking that the corral at the ranger station may be his only hope, Paul crossed back over the precarious slide area. Thankfully, he found a relatively sturdy manzanita bush just on the other side and secured his horse. After walking about 50 feet further, Paul was eventually able to find a safe place to descend into the canyon to look for Gail.

“My worst fear was that she was under the horse at the bottom, so that’s where I headed first,” he said. The 1,200-pound horse had all kinds of debris under it, making it very difficult for Paul to determine that Gail must have fallen off further up the slope. Without any cell coverage, Paul activated the SOS on his inReach and set out looking for Gail.

Meanwhile, Gail had stopped moaning and began to call for Paul, but he couldn’t hear her. She had a whistle on her backpack and blew it, but Paul thought it was his inReach notifying him of an incoming message. So, she began to throw rocks into the air, hoping he would see them. Finally he found her, laying face down, holding onto the roots of the bush. She had suffered a broken leg, various bruises and lacerations, but she seemed to be unhurt otherwise. Unable to move her without causing her to slide further down, Paul found a rock that seemed sturdy about eight feet away and convinced her to let him move her to a safer place. Using his inReach, Paul began texting back and forth about Gail and Dakota’s conditions with GEOS personnel, DeLorme’s search and rescue monitoring partner. Once they both knew help was on the way, Paul headed back down the embankment to reach Dakota and attempt to assess his injuries.

While Gail was sitting there, in pain, she knew she had the means to do something for herself. She pulled the first aid kit from her backpack and hooked the various contents onto her body to keep them from falling. From her precarious position she was able to clean and bandageher abrasions. Within the hour, the rescue helicopter arrived and a fireman descended on a cable to retrieve her. Too slippery for him to even get a foothold, he secured a strap behind her back and asked her to hold on to him as they ascended the cable to the waiting aircraft. She was in the hospital about 90 minutes after the fall.

Surprisingly, the horse suffered only a fractured skull and was on its feet about three hours later, when a vet arrived to anesthetize it for the flight and determined that the injuries would heal. A second vet was waiting at the landing site to pull the horse out of anesthesia so he could stand and then be trailered to a local animal shelter, where it received the necessary stitches. The horse was released the next day to recuperate in familiar surroundings.

“inReach made all the difference in how quickly we got help,” Gail said.

Paul added, “We were in a very remote area and certainly had no cell phone coverage. We would have been missed when we didn’t arrive at our destination, but they probably would have waited a few extra hours before calling for help. By that time, it would have been dark and likely too late to dispatch a rescue crew. Gail might have survived on the side of the mountain — unless she gave up from sheer exhaustion trying to hang onto a bush. Dakota would never have made it. The outcome would certainly be very different, even having to wait overnight. inReach came through when we needed it.”

Paul says they plan to get back out on the trail in about six weeks when Gail has healed and feels ready. “We started this journey in January about 250 miles ago and are determined to finish it.” Paul said. “I’ve realized that the inReach is a lot like insurance — you put money into the system, but you don’t realize the value until you put in a claim. I know the full value of my inReach now and won’t be in the wilderness without it.”


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