As promised in Ep. 61: Tour of the Boat, here’s a picture of my Spot Messenger…along with what some folks might call “other essential gear.” (From my first solo trip to the Keys in 2013.)

Spot Messenger and Rum Punch

I took that shot of the Spot Messenger on the companionway step either right before or right after seeing this waterspout not nearly far enough away…

…and as I recall, there were also way too many crab pots around. Seems like my engine cooling was messing up as well.

Anyway, in the category of Things That Work… I’ve been very happy with my Spot Messenger.

This is the model I have. (PT2) You’d probably have to find it on eBay.

My unit is currently a decade old, but thankfully they still support it. (Although I can’t speak to trying to set up a new account with a decade-old device.) If you want to get one of the new units, just be sure to check out the features and the subscription cost. (You’re pretty much gonna have to pay somebody for service if you get one of these type of devices, no matter who the manufacturer is. I believe the other main manufacturer may be Garmin, who probably make a fine product as well.)

Shop the new Spot device.
The new Spot device.
Shop the Garmin Personal Locator Beacon.
The new Garmin PLB.


The Spot Messenger (and its Garmin cousins) is NOT an EPIRB (Emergency Position-Indicating RadioBeacon), but a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon). If you’re making an ocean crossing or taking a more serious cruise…well, then you probably don’t need my advice anyway. But for my purposes—mostly coastal cruising so far—I find a PLB like the Spot Messenger to be just right. I can share my location with friends and family, and have a reliable emergency location-reporting system. Some of the differences are:

PLB (e.g., Spot Messenger)

  • Useful for non-boating activities
  • Share location with family/friends
  • Registered to the individual (not the vessel)
  • Cheaper up front cost, but generally requires subscription


  • More robust (required to operate 48+ hours in water down to -4° F)
  • Registered to the vessel
  • More expensive up front cost, but no subscription

Tour of the Boat

Wanna take an audio tour of my boat? Here ya go!

How Not To Sail
Ep. 61: Tour of the Boat (and Party Info!)
Jul 7 2024
Previous articleEp. 61: Tour of the Boat (and Party Info!)
Bradford Rogers
Producer. Performer. Sailor. Multimedia Ninja. Author of How Not To Sail, host of the How Not To Sail podcast and YouTube channel.


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