SPOT GPS Free with Ocean Kayaks

Just noticed on Ocean Kayaks site their offer for a free GPS unit called SPOT. The device is free if you register your hull number and you pay $150. for annual service. Does anyone have experience with this device? Seems it has very good communication features like it’s ability to send pre-made text messages to friends and family as to your location worldwide. I am not up to speed on the various GPS models/features and do have some interest in this device.

It’s not a GPS
It’s a locator beacon. There’s an annual fee for service that needs to factored in.

I carry one when I paddle, but it does not replace your gps. It will allow you to notify emergency rescue people if you need rescuing.

You can also send “I’m ok and here” messages via email to people and they can see where you are with Google Maps. They SHOULD NOT call out the search and rescue folks if an OK message does not get through.

Interesting sales technique. While I’m sure some use the ocean kayak brand for very light day tripping or exploring coastal backwaters, I can’t imagine having to use the spot in a sit-on-top. Not that you couldn’t get in trouble with an ocean kayak, but rarely would you be expedition kayaking and needing help in an ocean kayak. 99% of the time I’ve seen these at beach rentals or ponds for novices. Maybe a fisherman getting swept out to sea?

Basically what I’m saying is the typical ocean kayak buyer wouldn’t know what to do with a spot and it’s a bit overkill for the typical ocean kayaker. Nonetheless it’s an interesting sales technique. Buy the boat and then sell the spot on ebay??

also with Necky

– Last Updated: Aug-24-09 8:03 PM EST –

(and maybe other Johnson Outdoor brands that I can't think of right now)

The units are considered to be good (for what they are - which isn't a GPS). Many of the local club members won't leave home without them, as added safety equipment to go with their VHF radios, cell phones, flares, whistles, etc.

Also good for expeditions - people can track where you are so long as you hit the "Ok" button at periodic intervals. I know I followed Sean Morley's record breaking trek around Vancouver Island, and at times calculated how far he had gone in a day based on his locations.

Spot seems to be doing the razor versus blade marketing. Just about giving away the units in the hope of getting the continued stream of service charges. So even though the unit may be free, don't expect it to not cost you anything.

Don’t put SOT’s down
Although there are a lot of novice paddlers in SOT’s, there are also plenty who do things like paddle out to the Channel Islands (closest is about 13 1/2 miles off shore), kayak fish off shore and just go paddling.

In those situations, I’d have my SPOT with me. They also have a “tracking” function which I usually use. You push one button and every 10 minutes or so, it sends out your location. Your entire track can then be seen on Google Maps.

As Peter said, when I paddle (which is almost always ocean), I always have the SPOT, VHF, flares, and smoke with me.

I wasn’t questioning the usefullness of the Spot, I was questioning the use of it as a marketing incentive for the typical Ocean Kayaker. Sit-on-tops aren’t known for predigious expeditions where the Spot would be handy. See my earlier post for admitance to some situations where a sit-on-topper may need one.

Spots are great
We had a few when the company i worked for had crews working a long way out in the woods out of cell phone range. We would have them press the “i’m here” or “ok” buttons twice a day. This did two things, one let us know they were ok, and also show us where they are and what direction they were travelling if we ever did have to go rescue them.

I can totally see this as being an awesome thing to have along kayaking, specially if you’re out alone, possible on multi hour/day/week trips, even if nothing else than to track your progress online, or to let someone who’s worried know you’re ok each day.

It could also be good for some of the more famous people doing circumnavigations and such, rather than a news update every once in a while, people could track them day to day as they check in with spot.

If i could get one for fairly cheap i would love to have one and actually looked at getting one one time, and i mostly just do day trips along the local river, so i think it’s a pretty good marketing plan.

Using up old ones
looks like they’re using the promotion to get rid of their inventory of the original models: