Originally Posted by Sapphire
Do I need a personal EPIRB if I have a handheld DSC radio ?
I have my VHF/DSC licence already and my intended activities on the water are cruising around the solent never going more than 3nm from the shore. Sometimes solo and sometimes with two or three other adults on board.
First things first - do you have a fixed DSC/VHF on board? You are far more likely to need that before the sh1t properly hits the fan to get out of a problem than you are to hit the big red button. So if you have no VHF then in my opinion the VHF is more important than an EPIRB. EPIRB can take time to get a fix, and doesn't relay the nature of your distress so means you may get multiple or wrong resources tasked to your incident. A helicopter ain't much use to tow you home, but is possibly going to be first to reach you (although there is so much traffic in the Solent that may not be the case).
If you are thinking 'What happens if I'm in the water away from the boat' then I think the arguement is possibly slightly less for VHF. In this case you are looking at a PLB rather than an EPIRB. But there would be a heck of a lot of reassurance that help is on its way which you don't get from an EPIRB / PLB.
Boating in the Solent you are never far from help. In addition even if you are out of range of a Coastie Antenna for some reason then there remains a good chance a Commercial Vessel will pick up your distress message and then relay it. Surprisingly little traffic appears to come through on CH70 down there so its unlikely to be ignored.
If you think you'll start to go elsewhere then a PLB may be more important if the amount of nearby traffic reduces.
Bear in mind that while close to shore means you will hopefully be near an antenna it also means you may be blocked by cliffs etc and so fail to get line of sight. PLB uses overhead satellites and they are tested in valleys etc for land use so you would probably be fine in all but the craziest of locations.
MustRIB used his PLB in anger during the summer after he went for a swim and his VHF was destroyed on impact. I think he's the first on here to have had to do it (certainly the first to have done it so publically!) I think many would have felt the PLB was overkill. If you do decide to have just HH VHF you need to think about how it will be carried so that in an emergency it is accessible, but also doesn't get damaged by the emergency.