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R. Staats, of Neha Bay, Washington, asks:

"Have you tested the new SPOT portable position transponder? If so, is it living up to all the hype it has received?"

Gordon West replies:

Yes, I have tested it, and so far it has worked well for me. This $150 transponder provides reliable status signaling through 48 Globalstar low-earth-orbit satellites and has its own built-in GPS receiver and microwave transmitter that sends position reports on command, or every 10 minutes automatically.

Globalstar hopes to expand its customer base with this portable package. Even though there is no ground-station coverage from Hawaiian waters south, the coastal waters of North and South America are covered, along with all the area between the eastern United States and Europe. There’s also a direct link to Google Maps, which will display the latitude and longitude of your boat’s position. The unit’s 9-1-1 system is a private rescue operation. If you want to learn more about all these features, go to www.findmespot.com

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