Ouzo & EPIRBs

Topcat47

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Having read the MAIB report, I am reviewing the provision of safety equipment on my own boat (probably no bad thing).

Discounting the culpability of the Pride of Bilbao's watchkeepers, it is clear that an EPIRB would have alerted the rescue services, possibly saving the lives of the Ouzo's crew, as at least two were alive when they entered the water (manual inflation of lifejackets).

I sail OPBs (other people's boats) as well as my own, so on a purely personal basis, perhaps a Personal EPIRB is a better choice than a vessel specific one, but there may be considerations (Tx power for example) that I need to consider too. Additionally, is there much advantage to having one with an incorporated GPS? Aren't the signals routinely triangulated?

All POVs considered.

Please no smart-alec comments, I've a broad back but perhaps this is too sensitive a subject.
 

StugeronSteve

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We carry a GPS EPIRB and I really feel that there is little point not paying the extra for this facility. If it saves 45mins in potential rescue time it might just be enough to make a difference between life and death.

I think I read somewhere that Ouzo was carrying an EPIRB, which, presumably through lack of time, wasn't activated. Ours is not on a float free bracket, but is mounted within reach of the companionway steps. I am going to enquire whether I can put it in a float free shell as required, whilst keeping it out of harms way at other times.
 

ChrisE

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Re: Ouzo & EPIRBs

We carry both a fixed EPIRB and a personal GPS one. It hadn't occurred to me to take the personal one on OPBs but there's no reason why it couldn't be, it's about the size of an old mobile phone and would easily fit in a sailing jacket pocket.
 
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Anonymous

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[ QUOTE ]
I sail OPBs (other people's boats) as well as my own, so on a purely personal basis, perhaps a Personal EPIRB is a better choice than a vessel specific one,

[/ QUOTE ]
I wasn't aware that you could (legally) have a marine EPIRB registered to an individual, not to a vessel but I could well be wrong - but check as it might not be an option. Try looking on the Ofcom website.

[ QUOTE ]
Additionally, is there much advantage to having one with an incorporated GPS? Aren't the signals routinely triangulated?

[/ QUOTE ] This is taken from a manufacturer's website:- ACR Rapid Fix EPIRB

[ QUOTE ]
<span style="color:blue"> GPS-enhanced EPIRBs are arguably the greatest electronic rescue products ever! GPS technology now allows EPIRB signals to tell rescuers not only who you are, but also precisely where you are – all in a matter of minutes. Rescue operations will only start after a distress position is determined. Because they quickly relay precise position data, GPS-enhanced EPIRBs save critical time. Compared to standard 406 EPIRB rescue response times which, near the equator, can be hours, the response time following an ACR RapidFix 406 or GlobalFix 406 activation will typically be only minutes. And rescuers can determine your location within a few hundred yards as opposed to a general two-mile radius search area.
</span>

[/ QUOTE ]

I regard a GPS EPIRB as our primary piece of distress alerting kit (we have semi-DSC VHF, Marine SSB, Mini-M satellite phone with fast-dial to Falmouth CG, and a very full complement of flares but the EPIRB is our primary device). That, and a life raft, since fire is a very real risk on a boat and however long the vessel might float, if on fire the smoke can kill.

Sailing other peoples' boats is a problem....if you can't register a marine EPIRB without a vessel MMSI then investigate what climbers and explorers do. In an emergency is anyone going to get upset as long as you put 'long distance sailor' alongside 'intrepid Amazonian explorer' on your bio? /forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif
 
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Anonymous

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Just as another point, there is no point in having an EPIRB unless the registration is squeaky-clean. They might not turn out the full SAR if the registration looks dodgy. They might, but then again they might not, and if the rescue services are stretched at that time are they going to go for the proven distress call or the dodgy-looking EPIRB? I don't know.
 

Topcat47

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You can get Personal EPIRBs and in fact the sinking of a human trafficing vessel was alerted because an undercover journalist on board had one. You other comments are noted though!
 

ChrisE

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Re: Ouzo &amp; EPIRBs

I'd assumed that the fact that you had registered and that you had an ackowledgement that you were then considered to be eligible for rescue. What makes you think otherwise?
 
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Anonymous

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[ QUOTE ]
You can get Personal EPIRBs and in fact the sinking of a human trafficing vessel was alerted because an undercover journalist on board had one. You other comments are noted though!

[/ QUOTE ]That by itself doesn't prove anything, I suspect. He might have been carrying the one registered to his yacht, for example? Then again, as I said, I really don't know the answer but other than special cases such as explorers, aid workers, military, etc., I can't see how they can let Joe Public buy and register EPIRBS 'just in case they might want help'. Buy, yes. Register? I don't know. I shall be interested to learn what you find, or whether others have a definitive answer.
 
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Re: Ouzo &amp; EPIRBs

[ QUOTE ]
I'd assumed that the fact that you had registered and that you had an ackowledgement that you were then considered to be eligible for rescue. What makes you think otherwise?

[/ QUOTE ]My last one has crossed with this. Clearly, if you have a registration, all should be well. But if you look at the registration of a marine EPIRB you must firstly have a Ships Radio Licence and an allotted MMSI. The EPIRB serial number is then given to the MCA who add it to your list of equipment and presumably share that on an international database of boats. You get stickers to apply to your EPIRBS giving all the registration details. Clearly, that route to registration isn't possible if you don't have a boat!
 

st599

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Re: Ouzo &amp; EPIRBs

From http://www.ofcom.org.uk/radiocomms/ifi/licensing/classes/maritime/information/samplelicence.pdf

The radio equipment listed in Section 1 of this Licence may consist of one or more of the following:
(a) one (1) hand held portable VHF radio transceiver with an integral antenna and power supply, which is not designed to be permanently installed on a vessel;
(b) the equipment described in clause 3(a), with the additional functionality of VHF/DSC transmissions;
(c) one (1) Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) and/or one (1) Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) operating on 121.5 MHz, 243 MHz, 406 MHz band or 1.6 GHz band; or
(d) one (1) piece of aeronautical search and rescue equipment with frequencies 121.5 and 123.1 MHz;
which comply with the radio equipment and conformity requirements in clauses 10 and 11 of this schedule.

So you can clearly use such a device with a Ship Portable Radio Licence. Any other authority who says you need a MMSI is clearly wrong as defined by OFCOM.
 
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Anonymous

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Re: Ouzo &amp; EPIRBs

Yes, it looks legal, as long as you obtain a Ship Portable Radio Licence first. Sounds like a good idea for any boat owners who sail on others' boats to take out a Portable licence as well.

However, I wonder how they cope with dual registration - e.g. the EPIRB is registered to Yacht Alpha and its MMSI yet you are going to operate it on Yacht Bravo which has its own DSC radio and MMSI but no EPIRB (which is why you have brought yours along). So in a Distress, you send a DSC Distress alert and call on the VHF (inextricably linked to Yacht Bravo's MMSI) and fire up the EPIRB which is registered either to Yacht Alpha or your Ships Portable Radio Licence, or both /forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif. Sounds like a recipe for confusion and doubt, to me.
 

ChrisE

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Re: Ouzo &amp;amp; EPIRBs

In the details of registration that I posted it says that moving from boat to boat gives them no problem provided that you notify them that you have done it.

I can see that this might be a bit of pain for those that sail on others boats all of the time, but given that the details of the craft in distress are held on the dataase and that this maybe all of the information that a rescuer will have then I don't see that there is an obvious way round it.
 

StugeronSteve

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Re: Ouzo &amp; EPIRBs

I bought my EPIRB last year, after the Ouzo incident, and it was taken to sea for the first time on the Scuttlebutt Cherbourg run. As it had not been registered by this time I called Solent CG on departure to advise them of our passage plans and inform them of the epirb, they noted the ID numbers with our CG66 details in case of activation.
 
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Anonymous

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Re: Ouzo &amp; EPIRBs

[ QUOTE ]
, they noted the ID numbers with our CG66 details in case of activation.

[/ QUOTE ]So if they look at the CG66 they find the ID but can they reverse-search? i.e. if that EPIRB goes off, do they know whether it is a small yacht registered to an owner in the Solent, a cruise liner in Japan, or a mountaineer climbing in the Himalayas? Maybe none of this matters, but I am a wee bit suspicious that you might not get quite the service you'd like in an emergency.
 

StugeronSteve

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Re: Ouzo &amp; EPIRBs

Not really suggesting that it will be as efficient, but if an epirb had been activated in the Solent patch, I would assume MRCC Falmouth would advise Solent, who would, prusumably check the passage details logged with them. Better than nothing I suppose.
 
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