Know How: EPIRBS

Author:
Publish date:

When calamity strikes, there’s no substitute for an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), a device that should be considered as important as a liferaft. This satellite-monitored electronic signaling device is registered to—and carried by—the vessel, not an individual, and operates on a frequency of 406 MHz to directly contact search-and-rescue (SAR) authorities around the world. The device also typically includes a strobe light and a 121.5 MHz homing beacon to allow SAR crews them to pinpoint a stricken vessel’s exact location once they’ve arrived on the scene—no small task at night in a storm, for example.

safelink_epirb_front1

EPIRBs are stored in a permanently mounted onboard bracket and can be activated manually or automatically with a hydrostatic release mechanism. Because an EPIRB’s 406 MHz distress signal is only received by SAR professionals, not local maritime traffic, the U.S. Coast Guard is encouraging the development of EPIRBs that also transmit Digital Selective Calling (DSC) signals that will alert other nearby vessels with DSC-enabled VHF radios.

Unlike EPIRBs, Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) are registered to and carried by individual sailors. Some PLBs feature both manual and hydrostatic activation, while others are only manually operated. These pocket-sized devices also broadcast a 406 MHz signal that is received by satellites, and typically include strobes and homing beacons. Like EPIRBs, PLB signals cannot be detected by local traffic, but DSC-enabled models are available that can be “heard” by nearby mariners who are also carrying DSC-enabled VHFs.

Offshore sailors are highly encouraged to carry an EPIRB and a set of PLBs, as these technologies have proven to save lives in otherwise desperate situations. 

Photos courtesy of (from left) Kannada Marine, ACR, Ocean Signal, Acr

NB&G 2017

Related

190219NEEL51

Video Tour: Neel 51 Trimaran

At this past fall’s Annapolis Boat Show, SAIL magazine had a chance to corner Neel Trimarans founder Eric Bruneel and have him give us a tour of the accommodations aboard the new Neel 51, winner of the “Multihull over 50ft” category in the 2019 Best Boats contest. For a complete ...read more

IMG_0173

Electronic “Flares” for Cruisers

The United States Coast Guard requires that all boats operating in coastal waters or on the high seas carry a selection of visual distress signals. Almost invariably, such signals include the pyrotechnic type, either handheld or fired from a flare pistol, but surely there are ...read more

M2-HOOK-TOP-AND-CHAIN-1

Gear: M2 Chain Hook from Mantus

Stay Hooked Chain hooks on anchor snubber lines tend to fall off when you least want them to. Not so this latest example from Mantus. The M2 Chain Hook is secured to the chain by a simple elastic strap, so it won’t come off when the snubber loosens. Made from corrosion-resistant ...read more

shutterstock_349918991

Successful Surf Landings with Wheels

“Ready to take the dink ashore?” Never had those words invoked as much anxiety as when my husband, Jeff, and I first moved to the Pacific Coast. Why? Because we had exactly zero experience with dinghy surf landings, and the possibility of being flipped upside down along with our ...read more

Sail2010_597

How to: Find Good Values on Charter Vacations

So, you want to find a great deal on your next charter vacation? Sure, you can scour the internet, hope for Black Friday deals or ask friends. But an even better way to find good prices on charter boats is to go to a boat show. Not only do charter companies like The Moorings, ...read more