Know How: EPIRBS - Sail Magazine

Know How: EPIRBS

Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0

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

01-Lead-photo

Boat Review: Gunfleet 43

Many couples dream of selling up and casting off, but the prospect of downsizing can be daunting. How do you pack your life into some 40ft of LOA after living in a 2,000ft house? Maybe the British-built Gunfleet 43 has the answer. No, you can’t bring your hot tub, but with the ...read more

2017-05-22-154228

Cruising: the Aleutian Islands

The rain blew sideways as we beat to windward.Rock!A welter of whitewater appeared fine to starboard. Were our charts for the Aleutian Islands off? In the past few years, we’ve become accustomed to the fine charting in Alaska—could there be an uncharted reef off the Kilokak ...read more

04-Cup-Congressional-Cup--14-Credit-Bronny-Daniels700x

36th America's Cup: American Magic

While much of the yacht racing world has had its eyes glued to the Volvo Ocean Race these eight past months, the behemoth that is the America’s Cup has also been slowly but surely lurching into motion, following the publication of the official AC75 class rule in late March.Here ...read more

180521-Lead2048x

Volvo Fleet Heads to Europe

After days of rain, calms and fog, the Volvo Ocean Race Race fleet enjoyed perfect sailing conditions for the start of Leg 9 in Newport, Rhode Island, on Sunday. It then promptly plunged back into yet more fog as it headed offshore toward the finish in Cardiff, Wales, a little ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comImpeller Practice Engine raw-water pump impellers don’t last forever. Even if they are not destroyed by running the engine dry following a blockage, they still deteriorate with the years. If you’ve never ...read more

Waves1(1)

Know how: Weather 101, Basics

OverviewThe first thing to know is that “Weather 101, Basics” is a science course. Its goal is to prepare boaters for a second course launching later this year called “Weather 202, Advanced.” Taken together, these classes are designed to teach boaters to become their own weather ...read more