I spend a great deal of time alone on the boat, and recently I’ve encountered big water and experienced concern about what could happen if I stumbled, or the boat pitched, and I went overboard. Unless I’d shut the boat off (in rough seas) or stayed at the helm with the lanyard attached to the kill switch and my wrist, the boat would continue on while I was left in the water, probably on auto pilot which I use often. I began what I thought would be a long search for a wireless lanyard system.
Turns out it was a short search. It wasn’t long before I was directed to a video by the creator of Autotether (very informative; see the “YouTube” video I’ve placed at the end of this article), and, after doing an online price comparison, I ordered the system from The GPS Store. It was the first time I’d dealt with The GPS Store, and I was very pleased with their customer service and prompt follow-through with my order. I learned less than a week after ordering the Autotether (it hadn’t arrived here yet) that the price on the unit had been reduced $15. One email to The GPS Store and they credited the difference to my card promptly and politely. I won’t hesitate to do business with these positive, competent people again in the future.
The Autotether was what I’d hoped it would be (and well-packaged) when it came, and I set about reading the installation instructions. When I did the installation tests before mounting the unit, I quickly discovered that, though the Autotether included a variety of ‘ends’ to fit most kill switches, none of them fit mine (twin Honda BF-150′s), and I was at a dead-end without an ‘end’ that would shut the boat off in an emergency.
When I contacted the offices of Autotether, the gentlemen there were most helpful. The first guy I spoke with listened to my problem, and suggested that, though it said “Honda” right on it, the kill switch for my Honda twin outboards was probably made by Mercury, and the Mercury ‘end’ in my Autotether box would need to be machined to work. He offered to do it, and said the part would be mailed the following Monday. It came by Wednesday and, with one additional e-mail to the guys at Autotether (in which I sought and received instructions for “cocking” the end), I completed the installation.
This past weekend, I had occasion to do a live test on the boat when it was on the water. The Autotether features a FOB that the skipper wears. If the FOB is submersed (presumedly because the skipper has gone into the water), the main unit is then ‘triggered’ and the cord to the ‘end’ is activated and the kill switch is turned off. I did the simulation and sure enough, the boat was stopped in the water and the alarm was blaring on the Autotether unit. I reset the main unit and proceeded with the reassurance that, if ever I was to go overboard while using this unit, the boat would be shut off and waiting for me just yards away.
You can add up to three (optional) man-overboard (MOB) FOB’s to the Autotether, too. These sound an alarm if someone wearing and active FOB goes overboard, but don’t disable the boat. Very reassuring for a busy skipper at the helm who can’t keep an eye on everyone on the vessel. And the unit comes with everything needed for installation, down to a compact philips screwdriver (for tuning the unit), spare velcro mounts and an alcohol wipe for preparing the surface. The only thing I added was a lanyard to suspend my skipper’s FOB from.
It’s gratifying that the Autotether is a quality product and the company takes their customer service seriously. I couldn’t have asked for a more helpful team to consult regarding my Autotether installation, and I had an excellent dealer in The GPS Store. Altogether a very positive experience!
Note: There is presently a company rebate of $25 if you purchase the Wireless Lanyard or The Screamer system by Autotether. See: http://www.autotether.com/at/
Video: The “YouTube” video is at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyuMgZWf3MY