Monday, September 21, 2009

Toot Your Own Horn

Just got this little gizmo in the mail today. It's a marine signal horn made by StowMaster. It measures a mere 3" tall by 2" in diameter, and so as the name suggests, it will stow easily in any PFD pocket.

If you practice flatwater kayaking or sea kayaking long enough, issues of visibility and audibility become more important, in large part because of the potential perils created by other boaters. In recent memory, one of the most compelling accounts in this regard involved a kayak fisherman down on Georgia's Lake Lanier. Sitting at the entrance to a cove, this fisherman looked on helplessly as a much larger boat inside the cove motored up and then immediately bore down on his craft. Faced with no other alternative, the kayak fisherman abandoned his vessel and swam for safety. In pretty quick order, the powerboat plowed over his kayak, narrowly missing him and damaging his plastic boat beyond repair.

To ward off the inattentive motor-boaters of the world, I have long carried a small compressed air horn when out in my fishing kayak. One downside to such a horn, however, is that it has a limited lifetime, and should the horn somehow leak, it could become useless altogether.

Enter the StowMaster. It relies solely on lung power. Therefore, as long as you remain conscious and able to breathe, a robust, close-to-ear-piercing siren is simply a reach away. I was impressed by the volume and consistent tone of the horn, and it's going to become a mainstay in my kayaking PFDs. I'm tempted to get a StowMaster for each life vest (fishing and sea kayaking), but for the time being, I'm simply going to make a clip that will allow me to swap the horn between the two vests.

To hear an .mp3 file of the StowMaster horn, click here.