Kayakers saved by Apple Watch

Kudos to him for having the presence of mind to use the technology on his wrist


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The Apple Watch is great technology.

So are knowledge and situational awareness.
I’m glad they are OK and hopefully smarter about their choices.


One possible advantage of a Sit-in vs SOT: You’ll notice a slow leaking hull sooner in a Sit-in because your feet and legs are sitting in water.

I’m noticing reports of Apple-Watch-assisted rescues lately, and wondering what functionality the watch offers that a cellphone doesn’t.

I did see one report where a person experienced a hard fall, the watch detected it, after which it detected the person was unresponsive (lack of motion, or failure to respond to prompts from the qatch?) and then alerted authorities with the location. But in this story, the kayaker used the watch to proactively call for help.

If I want to make a call all I need to do is speak into the Apple Watch that’s on my wrist: Siri, call 911!

No need to get my cell phone out of my day hatch (or PFD pocket), then fumble around its waterproof case to call. I can keep both hands on my boat and paddle and still communicate through the watch. Using a cell phone, one hand would have to hold the phone.

I have wondered if my AW would consider a capsize as a fall. Never got around to trying it last summer but will this summer.

Back in 2001 we went out to look at some roofing issues on an apartment building. Last out the hole, I hit my head on an adjacent elevator roof when coming out of the roof hatch. I went back to the truck to stop the bleeding. I pulled out my cell phone to call one of the superintendents for help. … or 911. I couldn’t read (or see) the cell phone numbers. Fortunately the truck’s Onstar button worked.

If your cell phone needs you to dial “it” might work fine, but you might not.

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The watch can function as a cell phone when (a) it’s paired to a nearby phone and that phone has service or (b) if you buy a watch that has its own cell phone plan. In the case of (b), you can leave your phone at home and use the watch as a phone. I think I pay $10 additional monthly for the additional plan for the watch.

I resisted the AW for a long time. Mainly because the people I work with are always looking at theirs instead of paying attention to work! I eventually relented when I realized the need to be able to see texts from my children but not necessarily lug my phone into a business meeting. I went with the separate phone plan and it’s been liberating. I can go for a hike/run/bike and leave the phone home, shut off the notifications on the watch and be “free” but still have phone/text capabilities in an emergency.

Until recently I resisted taking the watch near water, not quite trusting the claims of waterproofness. It’s been underwater in a pool without issue and I imagine it would do okay in salt water provided you rinse it off when done.

it works fine in salt water. Just rinse it in slightly warm water for about 20 seconds when you get home (making sure the water lock is turned on.)

What is the minimum (cheapest) model of the apple watch you would get? The SE?

I believe the series 3 Apple Watch is still sold new. That’s a little bit cheaper than the SE. The prices are all listed on apple.com. You could also buy refurbished to save a few bucks. You need to figure out what features you want and what size case suits your wrist. I wear reading glasses and found that the smaller screen sizes were not very functional for me. Once again, if you go to apple.com you can compare the specifications between the SE and the series 3 watches.

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The SE does pretty much everything the Series 7 does except blood oxygen level and the ECG.

While my series 5 watch does have the ECG app, it doesn’t measure blood oxygen. Rather than spend $$ to upgrade it, I spent $20 on a pulse oximeter.

Here’s Apple’s comparison chart: Apple Watch - Compare Models - Apple

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I took :mobile_phone_off: my watch when I retired and have never put it back on.

Maybe slightly off topic here, but related.

A couple months ago I bought a Garmin Fenix 6 (great sale at REI!) and like it much more than I expected to, The watch can be paired with a smart phone, which I don’t own and don’t plan to buy soon, but it has neither cellular nor WiFi itself. I guess the pairing is done through through Bluetooth, which both devices have. (I haven’t tried pairing the flip phone with it.)

So my question is this: I have a flip phone with Verizon service. If the next watch I buy—not expected for at least a few yrs—has cellular capacity, will I be able to use your option (b) without buying a smartphone, just by adding cell service to the watch?

Like you, I don’t want to carry a phone with me all the time. Actually, I don’t like bringing it except when driving, and even then I don’t use it while actually driving.

I cannot answer that. It depends on the watch I think. My Apple Watch actually has a tiny cellular radio in it, and that’s what makes it work independent of the phone. My kids, OTOH, have the non-cellular versions and they have to be within a certain distance of the phone (WiFi/Bluetooth) in order to make or receive calls.

I don’t know of any watch that has a cellular radio built into it independent of some sort of phone connection other than the Apple Watch. I have a watch similar to that Garmin (a Coros) that pairs to the phone but only for texts and emails. I can’t use it as a phone.

Good news for paddleboarders, too.

What’s the battery life of such watch and how does antenna performance compare to a phone?

I suspect a watch that is so much smaller than a phone will have somewhat less battery life and signal capability due to smaller antenna and signal unit.

I only use my phone and use GPS to track where I go, look at the map, take occasional photos, and listen to podcasts. All use up the phone battery somewhat and I bring a battery bank in case I need to re-charge (my phone and battery is like 4-5 years old, so there is some degradation). I couldn’t imagine bringing a watch only if it has any less batter capacity. I’m not even sure if a watch has decent GPS and can show me the map in a nice way like a large phone screen does.

IMHO, only using a watch sounds like a big compromise one has to be aware of, even if it technically has the same features. I also somehow refuse to pay additional cellphone fees. but that is just me.

It’s not for everyone, every application. I get about 1.25 days off a single charge on my Apple Watch, using the texting function on a regular basis throughout the day. Rarely make calls with it. I’ve used it to track runs/hikes and it doesn’t seem to appreciably drain the battery any faster. Most people I know get about a day out of it. It charges to full in about 30 mins with a disc the size of a quarter. I already carry a small battery bank when camping so it’s not even an issue.

The battery is not the selling point. If you need/want battery power in a “smart” watch, then Coros is your gadget. I charge mine every month and a half. And I use that for navigating while hiking and camping (and have used it paddling to create a recorded track).

The convenience factor of being connected but not having to carry the phone every single place I go is what I like it for. If I have to go into a meeting where phones are not welcome, it’s nice to still be able to get see an urgent text from a family member etc or be alerted they called. Many of the apps from the phone transfer to the watch but are practically useless to me on such a small screen. I’m mainly using the fitness/GPS and communication functions.

I got a Garmin Instinct watch about 6 months ago. I bought it specifically for the GPS capability. This watch does not show a traditional map (with streets and such) but it does show a diagram of where you have been. Point being different watches have different capabilities, so research what you plan to buy. For the Garmin watches (and likely others also) you can even download the manuals to get a good idea of how it works.

I recently paired it with my phone (bluetooth) and was quite pleased with the results of that functionality. I had not bought it to use that way, but it was so seamless that I adapted to it in less than a day.

I knew what I was getting and have been very pleased with it. The battery lasts for about 2 weeks for me, if you use the GPS more it will drain the battery faster.

My wife liked the functionality of mine so much, that we bought a watch for her too. It is a different Garmin model (vivoactive) but has pretty much all of the features mine has plus WiFi capability and some other functions.

I knew what the watch features were before buying it—all the Garmin ones have user manuals online—and did not and do not need the WiFi or cellular or ski runs or golf courses or built-in maps.

The screen, while large for a watch, is still much smaller than a laptop’s, which is where I study maps. Garmin Connect and Explore show maps really well, and the line routes depicted on the watch are good enough on the go. The website also provides lots more data than the watch reveals, so that’s where I go for more details, especially things like sleep data.

I got it for the combo of good GPS and health/fitness tracking, and the great readability in bright sunshine. I asked the phone question for the future, if my needs change. Not likely for a few years. And at that point I will probably have worn out the buttons, because I wear this watch almost all the time.

Charge duration amazed me. Battery goes down 7 to 9 % daily, including a 2+ hour GPSed activity each day, on the default battery mode. That’s almost two weeks on one charge.

My old Forerunner 310XT still works, too, but lacks the fitness features and the additional satellite sets.