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Old 03-21-2012, 10:03 PM   #1
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EPIRB vs personal locator beacons

We're getting ready to visit the Abacos in the Bahamas and this will include crossing the gulf stream. This is not a difficult crossing in fair weather but to be on the safe side I want to carry a EPIRB or PLB. I currently have a ACR EPIRB that came with the boat. It is one of the newer 406 units but the battery is out of date. The cost to replace the battery is about the same as two personal locator beacons (PLB).

What's your opinion, buy 2 new PLB's one for the admiral and one for me, or replace the battery in my current EPIRB. The nice thing about the PLB's is that you can attach them to a PFD. We always wear our auto inflate PFD's.
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Old 03-21-2012, 10:44 PM   #2
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RE: EPIRB vs personal locator beacons

My heart tells me both. We do not currently go offshore in our day sailor and do not own an EPIRB. When we move up to a larger more offshore capable boat we will buy one.

We where looking at PLB's at Bass Pro the other day and decided our next safety investment will be PLB's for our life vests. It seems prudent.
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Old 03-21-2012, 11:27 PM   #3
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RE: EPIRB vs personal locator beacons

Here in Aus a PLB is not allowable as a replacement for an EPIRB and a 406 EPIRB must be carried if venturing more than (I think the regulation states) 2 NMoff shore.
The EPIRB must also be registered with AMSA out here and carry a valid registration sticker as supplied by them ( Australian Maritime Safety Authority)
Underneath is a description of pros and cons for each from an Australian website


A PLB is not a substitute for an EPIRB aboard an offshore vessel, largely because PLBs have a battery life in the neighborhood of only 24 hours. While your approximate location may be determined by the satellite-signaling 406Mhz beacon, it is the 121.5Mhz homing beacon that will bring a rescuer close to you. If you are well offshore, it could be far longer than 24 hours before a surface vessel can reach you. Furthermore, PLBs were designed to be carried by an individual; they lack the robust construction and permanent-mounting capability of a full-sized EPIRB.

For mariners, we believe that a PLB is a great device for two purposes.

First, its short-range 121.5Mhz homing signal is highly useful as an overboard recovery device if have on board a radio direction finder that receives 121.5Mhz.

Second, a PLB can be a life-saver for near-shore fishermen, sea kayakers, and others who do not travel far from shore.

For offshore vessels, our strong advice is to stick to a rugged, vessel-mounted, long-lived EPIRB for the ultimate fall-back safety device for your vessel. Equip yourself and each crew member with a good auto-inflatable vest, a tether, and jacklines and use them. If you want the additional security of a homing device for locating crew overboard, make sure your vessel is also equipped with a suitable RDF.

PLBs are also good if you are maintaining single handed watches at night or during the day for that matter.
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Old 03-22-2012, 04:05 AM   #4
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RE: EPIRB vs personal locator beacons

We're getting ready to visit the Abacos in the Bahamas and this will include crossing the gulf stream.

You will not be out of VHF range for the crossing.

Just follow the sailboats for a good departure forecast and motor on.
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Old 03-22-2012, 06:44 AM   #5
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EPIRB vs personal locator beacons

As a former USCG rescue pilot...I 'm thinking 2 PLBs...that's what I may do for my boat.

The PLBs today are almost as good as the full sized EPIRBs but still in the world of survival...almost ISN"T good enough in all situations.*

If I was crossing large bodies of water...definitely EPIRB..even self deploying...but then again I would have* one or more PLBs also.

But for coastal cruising the PLBs offer more flexibility.

You can argue safety at sea round and round and until you equip your boat with every piece of safety gear available...and have* redundancy in every category...and then some wise guy (usually me) says "what's your life worth?"

All in all I think I would like the redundancy of 2 PLBs.* In colder waters where hypothermia wouldn't allow you to hold the PLB upright..the EPIRB would become a necessity.

A GPS capable PLB should give your EXACT position as soon as it locates the sats...good thing but not necessary as the system is set up for even non GPS EPIRBs/PLBs.* They should be able to find your close position in under an hour.* Which is about the time it takes a rescue resource to get to your near location anyway.



-- Edited by psneeld on Thursday 22nd of March 2012 06:45:31 AM


-- Edited by psneeld on Thursday 22nd of March 2012 06:46:15 AM
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Old 03-22-2012, 07:13 AM   #6
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RE: EPIRB vs personal locator beacons

Quote:
psneeld wrote:
....I 'm thinking 2 PLBs...that's what I may do for my boat...

I believe EPIRBS are registered to the boat*and PLB's are for individuals.* I know when we renew our EPIRB information most of the data we supply is vessel specific.* Remember to register you*EPIRB, which is mandatory, but only about 80% of them are.

We are seeing more and more of the SPOT Satellite messengers.* They aren't a*replacement to an EPRIB but they seem to get good reviews.*
*
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Old 03-22-2012, 07:17 AM   #7
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RE: EPIRB vs personal locator beacons

Quote:
Larry M wrote:psneeld wrote:
....I 'm thinking 2 PLBs...that's what I may do for my boat...

I believe EPIRBS are registered to the boat*and PLB's are for individuals.* I know when we renew our EPIRB information most of the data we supply is vessel specific.* Remember to register you*EPIRB, which is mandatory, but only about 80% of them are.

We are seeing more and more of the SPOT Satellite messengers.* They aren't a*replacement to an EPRIB but they seem to get good reviews.*
*

*so who cares about the boat info?* if I need a rescue I want them to come to me...not the boat.*

SPOT doesn't use the SARSAT system..it uses low orbiting comms satellites that have a dismal track record...definitely NOT betting my life to a civilian system without a few decades worth of track record and lots of glossy advertising.
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Old 03-22-2012, 08:34 AM   #8
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RE: EPIRB vs personal locator beacons

How far out of date is your EPIRB? The recommended change period is usually about half the actual expected life of the battery. If it's less than about two years out of date, I'd think about keeping the Epirb aboard and buying the two PLBs. Change the battery when you can afford too. Be sure that the Epirb and PLB are registered correctly. Did you change the registration on the EPIRB when you bought the boat? If you decide to buy the PLBs I'd love a chance to quote you on them. We sell the ACR brand. If you're going to start your crossing from Miami, stop into my store and say hello.
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Old 03-22-2012, 09:11 AM   #9
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EPIRB vs personal locator beacons

Why don't you call the Coast Guard?*

I plan on having both plus a life raft and wet/dry suits.* If you think you need a EPIRB or PLB then you should also have what is necessary to survive until they get to you.* I mean what good are they if you a dead before they get to you?*

*

I figure If you have it you probable will not needed it, BUT if you did NOT you probable wish you had.*Also back up for the back up.


-- Edited by Phil Fill on Thursday 22nd of March 2012 09:11:43 AM
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Old 03-22-2012, 09:34 AM   #10
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RE: EPIRB vs personal locator beacons

Quote:
Phil Fill wrote:
Why don't you call the Coast Guard?*

I plan on having both plus a life raft and wet/dry suits.* If you think you need a EPIRB or PLB then you should also have what is necessary to survive until they get to you.* I mean what good are they if you a dead before they get to you?*

*

I figure If you have it you probable will not needed it, BUT if you did NOT you probable wish you had.*Also back up for the back up.



-- Edited by Phil Fill on Thursday 22nd of March 2012 09:11:43 AM
*While I do normally agree with the thermal protection...they are crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas so water survival time unprotected (except for a strange extra cold notherner blowing through) is long enough...espoecially with all the potential rescue resources available close by.

Also not sure what you mean by "Why don't you call the Coast Guard?* "...in most emergencies where I need the Coast Guard...the first thing I'm doing is setting off the EPIRB/PLB...THEN seeing if I can get a resonable and intelligent radio conversation while I'm handling my emergency.
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Old 03-22-2012, 09:53 AM   #11
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RE: EPIRB vs personal locator beacons

Quote:
psneeld wrote:Phil Fill wrote:
Why don't you call the Coast Guard?*

I plan on having both plus a life raft and wet/dry suits.* If you think you need a EPIRB or PLB then you should also have what is necessary to survive until they get to you.* I mean what good are they if you a dead before they get to you?*

*

I figure If you have it you probable will not needed it, BUT if you did NOT you probable wish you had.*Also back up for the back up.



-- Edited by Phil Fill on Thursday 22nd of March 2012 09:11:43 AM
*While I do normally agree with the thermal protection...they are crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas so water survival time unprotected (except for a strange extra cold notherner blowing through) is long enough...espoecially with all the potential rescue resources available close by.

Also not sure what you mean by "Why don't you call the Coast Guard?* "...in most emergencies where I need the Coast Guard...the first thing I'm doing is setting off the EPIRB/PLB...THEN seeing if I can get a resonable and intelligent radio conversation while I'm handling my emergency.

I meant to call them to ask what they recommend.*

However, I do have the Coast Guard on speed dial on my cell phone, as well as US Baot towing, so I would probable call them on the cell and/or VHF long before having to deploy a beacon.
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Old 03-22-2012, 01:57 PM   #12
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EPIRB vs personal locator beacons

Quote:
Phil Fill wrote:psneeld wrote:Phil Fill wrote:
Why don't you call the Coast Guard?*

I plan on having both plus a life raft and wet/dry suits.* If you think you need a EPIRB or PLB then you should also have what is necessary to survive until they get to you.* I mean what good are they if you a dead before they get to you?*

*

I figure If you have it you probable will not needed it, BUT if you did NOT you probable wish you had.*Also back up for the back up.



-- Edited by Phil Fill on Thursday 22nd of March 2012 09:11:43 AM
*While I do normally agree with the thermal protection...they are crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas so water survival time unprotected (except for a strange extra cold notherner blowing through) is long enough...espoecially with all the potential rescue resources available close by.

Also not sure what you mean by "Why don't you call the Coast Guard?* "...in most emergencies where I need the Coast Guard...the first thing I'm doing is setting off the EPIRB/PLB...THEN seeing if I can get a resonable and intelligent radio conversation while I'm handling my emergency.

I meant to call them to ask what they recommend.*

However, I do have the Coast Guard on speed dial on my cell phone, as well as US Baot towing, so I would probable call them on the cell and/or VHF long before having to deploy a beacon.

You won't use a cell in most locations more than 5 miles offshore....and in most emergency cases I would never trust a cell as long as there is potential to get it wet...at that point you are much better off using the VHF...especially if it's DSC, you have it's MMSI programmed and connected to a GPS.

Plus...have you ever called the USCG?* Most of our boats would sink by the time you get the right person on the phone...so just hope that if you start spewing Mayday and a position...at least the person answering the phone migh jot it down.*

And don't HESITATE to use an emergency beacon at the beginning of your emergency!


-- Edited by psneeld on Thursday 22nd of March 2012 01:58:37 PM
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Old 03-22-2012, 03:12 PM   #13
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RE: EPIRB vs personal locator beacons

I do not know what the personal units cost but you can get your EPIRB battery replaced by an authorized center for $258!!! Good for 5 years.

Service center (Ft. Lauderdale) advertises on EBay under EPIRB battery.

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Old 03-24-2012, 05:33 PM   #14
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EPIRB vs personal locator beacons

The Hull Truth boating forum just did a group buy of Resqlink PLB for under 200 bucks with rebate. They also did a group buy of Standard Horizon floating handheld VHF radio with GPS. Also under 200. At these prices, it's foolish not to have these items aboard. What if your electrical system goes out? What if.......

I have a regular larger Epirb and a PLB. I also have an offshore life raft and a back up GPS and Handheld VHF in ditch bag. Next for me is Sat Phone. But I also fish offshore in my small boat. Can you ever have enough safety equipment. No. And redundancy doesn't hurt.

*

Contact me if you need more info on the gear.


-- Edited by Moondance on Saturday 24th of March 2012 05:33:53 PM
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Old 03-25-2012, 02:46 PM   #15
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RE: EPIRB vs personal locator beacons

It looks like the difference between a PLB and EPIRB is the SAR/SAT broadcast time of 48 hrs for a EPIRB and 30 hrs for a PLB, and the EPIRB will additionally broadcast on 121.5. Correct??
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Old 03-26-2012, 05:10 AM   #16
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EPIRB vs personal locator beacons

Quote:
timjet wrote:
It looks like the difference between a PLB and EPIRB is the SAR/SAT broadcast time of 48 hrs for a EPIRB and 30 hrs for a PLB, and the EPIRB will additionally broadcast on 121.5. Correct??
*Not really...the main difference is that an EPIRB will float by itself and transmit properly. The PLB has to be held upright.* I think the 2 devices are EXACTLY the same except for the float upright case and MAYBE a bigger battery.

Here's the transmit time specs for my PLB...

*Typical 35 Hours @ -4F (-20C)

*Longer in higher ambient temperatures

Plus they all transmit on 121.5...that's how the rescuers home in on you...

*

*

*



-- Edited by psneeld on Monday 26th of March 2012 05:12:30 AM



-- Edited by psneeld on Monday 26th of March 2012 05:13:01 AM


-- Edited by psneeld on Monday 26th of March 2012 05:13:57 AM
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Old 03-26-2012, 05:15 AM   #17
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RE: EPIRB vs personal locator beacons

Scott

I could not find anywhere on the ACR website a mention of the PLB's transmitting on 121.5.

Are you sure they do?
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Old 03-26-2012, 05:48 AM   #18
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RE: EPIRB vs personal locator beacons

Quote:
timjet wrote:
Scott

I could not find anywhere on the ACR website a mention of the PLB's transmitting on 121.5.

Are you sure they do?
*Absolutely sure...otherwise the rescuer's could waste a lot of time trying to find you without the homing signal.* Not all EPIRBs/PLBs have GPS.


Head offshore with confidence. With three


levels of integrated signal technology GPS


positioning, a powerful 406 MHz signal and


121.5 MHz homing capability the AquaLink


quickly and accurately relays your position to


a worldwide network of Search and Rescue


satellites, reducing search time and increasing


your chances of survival. Its reliable signaling


technology that has saved more than 25,000



lives since 1982.



*
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Old 03-27-2012, 04:18 AM   #19
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RE: EPIRB vs personal locator beacons

"Head offshore with confidence."

Serious OFFSHORE requires a far different vessel than most recreation trawlers .

Why get set for 500-2000 miles out , if it would be a serious mistake top go much beyond an hour or two outside?
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Old 03-27-2012, 04:48 AM   #20
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RE: EPIRB vs personal locator beacons

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"Head offshore with confidence."

Serious OFFSHORE requires a far different vessel than most recreation trawlers .

Why get set for 500-2000 miles out , if it would be a serious mistake top go much beyond an hour or two outside?
Offshore is anyplace I can't stand up or beach the boat in 10 minutes.*

*Even coastal cruisers wind up outside of VHF or cel phone range so having the "confidence" of PLB/EPIRB is nice
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