Recommend me an EPIRB

Sticky Fingers

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Hi folks

Going to be doing some longer passages (cross channel) this summer, and I am now thinking of purchasing an EPIRB. Would prefer one that includes GPS. No plans for blue water.

I'm liking the look of the ACR Globalfix but there must be others out there. Reliability and accuracy is paramount, not so bothered about cost or size.

What is the current forum favourite?


Thanks.
 

stuartwineberg

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I’m probably starting a hare running but do look at other options like PLB. We did a tour of the coastguard a while back and their view was the best combo was a good radio, an AIS transponder and a well serviced liferaft.
 

GTom

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I’m probably starting a hare running but do look at other options like PLB. We did a tour of the coastguard a while back and their view was the best combo was a good radio, an AIS transponder and a well serviced liferaft.

I was thinking along this line too and why I bought a waterproof handheld VHF with gps in it. AFAIK most coastal waters are covered by VHF to basically sea level. If not, very likely that someone will pass by...
 

prv

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Reliability and accuracy is paramount, not so bothered about cost or size.

That's a pity as cost and size are pretty much the only measures that anyone buys them on ;). That and battery shelf-life, anyway.

I very much doubt that there is any data on reliability. They just aren't used enough either in anger or by way of testing. All ought to be reliable enough. Presumably by accuracy you're referring to position - I don't know what else this could mean - and all commodity GPS chips are going to put a fix pretty much inside the liferaft with you. The distance you'll drift while COSPAS-SARSAT, Falmouth, and Kinloss email, phone and fax each other is far larger than the GPS error, but still plenty small enough for a lifeboat or helicopter to find you in.

I bought an Ocean Safety EPIRB1 because it's small, cheap (£300), and has a 10-year battery.

Pete
 

Sticky Fingers

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I’m probably starting a hare running but do look at other options like PLB. We did a tour of the coastguard a while back and their view was the best combo was a good radio, an AIS transponder and a well serviced liferaft.
I’m well equipped with all of those. The EPIRB seemed a useful addition, not thought of PLBs but will look into that too.
 
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I’m well equipped with all of those. The EPIRB seemed a useful addition, not thought of PLBs but will look into that too.

EPIRB can be fitted in a float free housing making it independent of human intervention to activate, or just activated manually and dropped in the sea. A PLB can be less reliable because it is portable and at risk of being somewhere other than where you need it and many require the user to hold it such that the antenna is upright. I would tend to buy an EPIRB over a PLB if there had to be a choice but I own both.
 

laika

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Reasons to look at an EPIRB over a PLB are its ability to activate without being held out of the water as BlowingOldBoots mentioned and the time it will transmit for. EPIRBs seem to transmit for a minimum of 48 hours vs 24 for a PLB. If you're not doing blue water sailing that wouldn't be an issue.

My plb is in a pouch attached to my lifejacket and I'm one of those people who wear their lifejacket most of the time. [EDIT to remove reference to the other device which is an AIS beacon and not relevant here]. Unlike an EPIRB you can easily take your plb when sailing with friends or on charter boats.
 
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Goldie

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My plb is in a pouch attached to my lifejacket and I'm one of those people who wear their lifejacket most of the time.The one I bought for first mate is an MOB-1 which attaches to a lifejacket. Unlike an EPIRB you can easily take your plb when sailing with friends or on charter boats.

The MOB1 isn’t a plb though - it doesn’t transmit on 406MHz nor 121.5MHz. What it is is an AIS location device with the capability to send a DSC alert to a single mmsi number when one is programmed (UK version can’t do an ‘all stations’). There is a small plb from the same company though and I just wish a manufacturer would combine the two if they can miniaturise enough.
 

Sandy

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I was thinking along this line too and why I bought a waterproof handheld VHF with gps in it. AFAIK most coastal waters are covered by VHF to basically sea level. If not, very likely that someone will pass by...
The OP is going cross channel.

While a pal crossed in the Straits of Dover last summer and was bitterly disappointed that they did not lose mobile phone coverage on the trip, for me it is a 100 mile crossing and a waterproof handheld has a very limited range - ideal to talk to a lifeboat or CG helicopter as they reach you.
 

Sticky Fingers

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The OP is going cross channel.

While a pal crossed in the Straits of Dover last summer and was bitterly disappointed that they did not lose mobile phone coverage on the trip, for me it is a 100 mile crossing and a waterproof handheld has a very limited range - ideal to talk to a lifeboat or CG helicopter as they reach you.

Yes this may be overkill but maybe not. Our route will be the bog standard Needles / Cherbourg or similar, then back via CIs to Poole. Teh two Channel legs are 60-70 miles. Boat has a 22m mast and the VHF aerial on the top so as long as that's still standing then the VHF would might just reach the C/G, but then I'd likely not be needing the EPIRB either....
 

Martin_J

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And the EPIRB1 that was mentioned earlier is the Ocean Signal (not Ocean Safety) RescueMe EPIRB1..

I bought that particular one due to lengthy 10 year battery shelf life..

The other difference between the EPIRB and the Personal EPIRB is that the EPIRB has water activation (whether or not float free is irrelevant) whereas the personal EPIRBs have to be manually activated.

The personal AIS beacons can however be set up to be activated automatically when correctly attached within an auto-inflate lifejacket cover. They tend to have a pull cord that is wrapped around the deflated bladder such that when the bladder is inflated, it pulls the string and activates the AIS beacon.

Offshore races such as the Fastnet are now requiring personal AIS beacons (as well as the boat EPIRB) because self rescue, or rescue by other nearby boats becomes possible. This self rescue or rescue by other boats is not generally possible when EPIRB (personal or boat) is used because there's very few boats carry 121.5Mhz direction finders..

Irrelevant to choice of EPIRB, but personal AIS such as OceanSignal MOB1 can also be configured to send a DSC alert direct to the mother ship by using a mobile phone app (or web browser) and using the flashing screen to pre-configure the unit!! Cool.. Saves having electrical connectors on the device itself. Can be reconfigured whenever you change boat..

Worth a thought though if the purpose of this is immediate crew recovery via any local assistance rather than wait for a search and rescue facility with 121.5MHz capability.
 

Goldie

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(slaps head). Doh! Umm yes of course. I bought her a fastfind like mine. The MOB1 was in addition to that. Allow me to go and edit my post not to cover my idiocy but to avoid confusing anyone...

Probably the ideal solution for personal use I think. Don’t hit yourself too hard, I was just keen to avoid others potentially picking up the idea that the MOB1 is a substitute for a PLB.
 

Bobc

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Yes this may be overkill but maybe not. Our route will be the bog standard Needles / Cherbourg or similar, then back via CIs to Poole. Teh two Channel legs are 60-70 miles. Boat has a 22m mast and the VHF aerial on the top so as long as that's still standing then the VHF would might just reach the C/G, but then I'd likely not be needing the EPIRB either....

I can easily pick-up Portland Coastguard on VHF from Cherbourg or Alderney.
 

Sandy

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I can easily pick-up Portland Coastguard on VHF from Cherbourg or Alderney.
Can they pick up you?

I was sat in the Semaphore on the ile de Batz just off Roscoff. Falmouth CG could be clearly heard, over 100 NMs to the north. Quite sure my Standard Horizon VHF and antenna at 15 meters above sea level could not reach that far.
 
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