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Old 07 February 2002, 06:22   #1
Country: USA
Town: Jacksonville, Florida
Make: Nautica / former Police boat
Length: 5.89
Engine: 115 Yamaha 4-stroke
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 28

Good day from the other side of the big pond, do you Brits use EPIRBS as a safety device or find the need? A friend lost his conventional boat (27 ft ) and all his equipement, (50% since recovered) He was also at sea for 35 hours adrift, all he had to keep his buttox afloat and alive was his dry suit, BCD, mask,flippers and the ability to talk to god. He was nearly run over by the freighter that accidently picked him up. The incident had happened at nite whilst asleep, his partner was picked up 8 hours after their vessel sunk. An EPRIB unit would have had them hooked and brought to safety, they were in the gulfstream, current there runs northeast and at times runs 3-4 knots, point being you don't stay in one spot to long. When you are off 30-40 nautical miles offshore, no land in sight . Now, is it worth it the expense, sure...for a conventional boat, how about a RIB ?
Epirbs here in the states are very expensive, I don't have one and am in argument with my boss, (my wife) about gettig one and its purpose, especially having an RIB. I am not saying that a RIB in invulnerable, however I don't believe it would sink as a conventional boat...........Comments ????

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Old 07 February 2002, 06:48   #2
John Kennett's Avatar
Country: UK - England
Town: Brighton
Length: 3m +
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 6,856
I would definitely get one if I was cruising offshore on my own. Crusing in company, relatively close to shore, or in busy waters makes it less necessary.

Except in conditions where they are genuinely necessary, I think that the general carrying of EPIRBS should not be encouraged. The reason for this is that it is too easy to unknowingly create a false alarm that has to be investigated by the rescue authorities -- the range is huge and there is no way to discriminate between genuine and spurious alarms.

Without doubt they are fantastic, lifesaving bits of kit. However if abused they have the potential to really affect the ability of the rescue services to assist in genuine cases.

I haven't seen recent figures, but the last set I saw showed that the massive ajority of EPIRB alarms were false. I expect that this has changed somewhat as people get more used to the kit and designs improve, but I doubt that it has changed all that much!


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Old 07 February 2002, 11:01   #3
Country: UK - England
Town: Shaftesbury
Make: currently boatless (formerly Tornado)
Length: 5.4
Engine: Mariner 40
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 35
There is a great deal of truth in what John says, sadly statisitics are hard to come by for the period after Aug 2001 but in many respects Epirb distress calls are not quite as bad as DSC (Digital Selective Calling). This may become worse as more pleasure craft are fitted with VHF DSC sets.

Something in the region of 96% of Epirb alarms are false..

The figures for DSC are worse with about 1 in 500 being a real distress call, quite frightening when yoiu consider that the majority of those DSC calls (on HF as well as VHF) would be made from commercial vessels with professional crew and qualified radio operators.(Based on GMDSS published figures).

As far as I understand it the "Panic Button" on DSC sets has to be held in for at least 5 seconds before the alarm call is sent to try and alleviate the problem but that on many Inmarsat systems connected to a computer the alarm is raised by pressing the "Esc" key twice, rather too easy to do.

Perhaps a compromise that would fit John's suggestion would be to carry an Epirb in its disarmed state and only to arm it when a trip presents the kind of situation that would make its deployment more likely
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Old 07 February 2002, 14:12   #4
Country: UK - N Ireland
Town: Bangor
Make: Shakespeare
Length: 7m +
Engine: O/b 225
Join Date: Jan 2001
Posts: 188
I bought one of the cheaper low frequency EPIRPs last year for use on the RIB (RB4) and on other boats. It was about 140 and has a test switch on it which flashes a LED to prove it works without actually sending a distress signal. You actually have to break off a plastic tab to set it off, so its hard to see how it would be set off accidentally. I recently heard a call to the local coastguard from a "new owner" of an EPIRP asking could he switch it on for them to prove it was working - is this the real reason there are so many false alarms? [Naturally the Coastguard said NO!]
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Old 07 February 2002, 16:02   #5
Country: UK - England
Town: Sevenoaks
Make: Avon
Length: 4m +
Engine: 40hp Mariner
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 79
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cheap Epirb...

I agree with John's feelings about false alarms becoming too common but feel you can't have enough safety equipment - as long as you know how to use it.
I got one last year from . It's second hand (and ex-Camel Trophy again ) Went for the small one which seemed more useful for RIB use. No test feature but seems to be very hard to activate by accident! Also registered on manufacturers web site. Seemed a good deal. Hope I never have to use it!
Hope this helps.
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Old 08 February 2002, 07:36   #6
Country: UK - England
Town: Upavon, Wiltshire
Boat name: Dromedary
Make: Ribtec
Length: 6.55
Engine: Honda 130
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 183
I have one of the "cheap" style EPIRBs and it fits in a neat little bag together with a small strobe/torch both are waterproof so if the worst happens this bag should get some assistance to me. I think the company that makes them is ACR.

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Old 11 February 2002, 00:19   #7
Country: Greece
Boat name: SUN KISS II
Make: Nuova Bat 9 Falcon -
Length: 5m +
Engine: Outboard Mercury 115
Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 639
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Could someone,

Post a photo of this EPRIB system ? I haven't got a clue how it looks like.

Michael a.k.a "Bat Falcon"

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