Here is a timeline transcript of a well known accident that happened recently off the coast of Ireland. Bear in mind the vessels involved were equipped to the highest standards and the peopled involved were extremely experienced. Note here the exact timings the PLB's were turned on at 17.45 - 17.50 The pings were not seen by anyone until 18.29. People were in the water and a mayday was not declared until 19.30. In cold water they would probably have been dead. If anyone had an AIS or a VHF the rescue would have begun immediately. The facts of this bear disaster have been analysed carefully and like any accident there are a chain of events. What rests with me is that PLB / EPIRBS are subject to delays I would not be comfortable with if I needed immediate help.
Full info on this particular accident here.
est 1745-1750 BST - both PLB's (on top of the boat) were turned on.
about 1809 BST - ICAP LEOPARD (another 100 ft maxi) passed 3-400m to leeward. All efforts to hail or
otherwise alert them failed.
about 5 min later - two Volvo 70's (GROUPAMA and ABU DHABI) and later an IMOC 60 sailed by to leeward.
All efforts to hail or alert them failed.
1829 BST (about 39-44 min after 2 PLB's were activated) Valentia Maritime Rescue Sub-Center (MRSC)
received data confirming the location of the person registered as holder of both PLB‟s. At first the call over
VHF was "Gigi Bernard competing in the Rolex Fastnet Race", who was thought to be a crew member of one
of the French mulithulls in the race. Later, with the help of another race boat's (ICAP Leopard) navigator "G.
G. Bernard" was determined to be the Point of Contact for "George David" and connected him to the race
boat RAMBLER 100 which was no longer showing on AIS. (all of RAMBLER's PLBs were registered to "George
David"). Rambler‟s sat phone number was given to MRSC Valentia by ICAP Leonard‟s navigator.
1851 BST PAN PAN Declared by Valentia MRSC. Baltimore RNLI Lifeboat dispatched from Fastnet Rock where
they were taking photos of boats and sent to the PLB position to search for an individual PLB (Gigi Bernard).
1930 BST - after trying to call RAMBLER's Sat Phone and getting no answer a MAYDAY was declared by
Valentia MRSC. Two helos and local craft assigned to the search.