PDB Tested: CAST Wireless Lanyard/Kill Switch

December 2012 PDB Tested Brady L. Kay

It's easy to see why this product is getting so much attention right now-it just makes a lot of sense. The CAST "no strings attached" wireless lanyard, captured the attention of the industry and was honored with the NMMA Innovation of the Year Award for Safety. With all this talk and high praise, I knew I had to check this out for myself.

For the test I contacted Keith Jackson, the president at MariTech Industries and I set up a time where he and Harry Bouge could give me a demonstration on exactly how the Virtual Lifeline works.

They came prepared with the wireless system and I supplied the boat and more importantly the person to "fall" off the boat into the cold morning water. Bouge did the temporary install so we could start the test. He was impressed with the JC Manufacturing test pontoon boat that has a flip up helm console. It made his job of hooking up the wires a lot easier. Since I didn't do any of the installation, it wouldn't be fair to rate this part of the test. And since it was only a temporary hook up, I couldn't give a fair assessment of the install anyway. 

I was surprised by the size of the actual lanyard. It's as tiny as a keychain and you almost forget it's even hooked on to you. In fact, we nearly walked away with them when we were done.

The concept is quite simple. If this keychain-size lanyard, that has a sensor inside gets submerged, it kills the boat's engine. Upon submersion, the sensor transmits a radio signal to the control module, which turns off the engine and sounds an alarm. By pressing Rescue Mode on the console, any remaining occupant can restart the engine for a prompt recovery. Upon boarding, the sensor is quickly restored by giving it a few rapid shakes to remove excess water. The Rescue Mode button would normally be mounted permanently on your helm console or set up as a rocker switch to get your engine started again. But for our test the system just rested on the console.

For all those people who are attempting to build something to go around a propeller to keep swimmers safe, stop trying. With this system the boat won't start if someone is still in the water.

The Virtual Lifeline will run you about $149 for the control module and one transmitter, with additional lanyards being sold for $45 each. For peace of mind it really is hard to beat. I wasn't sure what to think going into the test, but I left very impressed. It's one of those systems that you hope to never use, but you'll sure be glad you have it if you ever do need it. Go to www.wirelesslanyard.com for more info. 

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