Man Overboard Safety Devices - Tested
Foundation Findings #58 - Oct 2019
We tested five MOB wearables — wireless safety devices that detect and alert when someone falls overboard — and came away with useful observations on their value.
We recently tested five devices aboard two boats in a real-world situation to gauge their effectiveness and demonstrate the differences in their operation. Each of the units performed pretty much as advertised, so the purpose of this report is to provide first-hand observations of their similarities and differences, rather than rankings.
The test was conducted on a sunny October day out of Severna Park Yacht Basin on the Severn River, north of Annapolis, Maryland. There was no notable current running on our test ground. I joined the Foundation crew: Ted Sensenbrenner, development director (who organized the test); Jennifer Dadamo, multimedia and web project administrator (who videotaped testing with a drone and retrieved the MOB in a dinghy); and Dana Senholzi, marketing coordinator (and designated "dunkee").
The testing methodology was as real-world as we could create: Dana (in full-body wet suit and wearing a life jacket) would attach an MOB unit to her wrist or life jacket, then leap over the side of a slow-moving boat. We noted time and distance (with an open reel tape measure) before the alarm sounded, then Ted at the helm would throttle back and decipher from the phone app the most direct route to turn and retrieve Dana. The fifth unit, the one hard-wired to a central hub, is not app-based and doesn't incorporate a smart device (see Fell Marine MOB+ below).