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Old 20-07-2012, 21:52   #1
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EPIRB or PLB necessary?

Outfitting my new boat with safety essentials; life raft, pfd's, flares, first aid, etc... Am at the last stage here and can't decide if I need these items. I know, better to have and not need that the opposite, yet they're a big price and my cruising doesn't seem to warrant it. I'm typically in the long island sound and waters just east, nothing offshore and always in sight of land. Still a beginner here.
Are these items necessary in my kit? If so which one, or both.
Thanks!
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Old 20-07-2012, 22:06   #2
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Based on your self description, yes. Probably PLB, attached to your PFD, which I hope you wear at all times.
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Old 20-07-2012, 22:18   #3
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Re: EPIRB or PLB necessary?

I am not familiar with what your local maritime / coastguard requirements are regarding safety gear for vessels in your area but you should consider the following. Don't get lulled into a false sense of security because you are always sailing in the sight of land. Many people have drowned as you would be well aware of in such situations.

Things can and do happen very fast including squalls, knockdowns, accidental gybes, getting knocked or falling overboard etc etc which can all end up in you or your crew ending up in the water.

I have a GPS equipped PLB & always wear it on my belt when sailing as it will do you absolutely no good at all if you suddenly find yourself in the water with the boat sailing away if it is in your sailing bag.

So, at the very least get yourself a GPS enabled PLB which are cheap these days and ALWAYS wear it which is a sign of good seamanship. To use an old catchphrase - how much is your life worth & how much would you be prepared to pay if you found yourself in the water and you thought that dying was a real possibility?

From the items you have mentioned and if you want to cut your expenses I would be leaving out the liferaft as it sounds like in your area rescue would be close at hand if required if you are not going offshore.
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Old 20-07-2012, 22:22   #4
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Thanks for the feedback. Due to some close calls on my day sailer in the last few weeks Im certainly looking at things differently. being my first larger boat I'm still learning. Definitely going to take your advice. Thanks again!
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Old 20-07-2012, 22:30   #5
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Re: EPIRB or PLB necessary?

No worries Greg, glad to assist & it sounds like you have the right approach, enjoy your sailing on your new boat.
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Old 20-07-2012, 22:37   #6
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Re: EPIRB or PLB necessary?

life raft and epirb seem a bit overkill for coasting in long island sound, particularly given the heavy traffic there.

wear your pfd. have a waterproof vhf attached to you. tow a dinghy on a painter or keep an inflatable on deck. wear a harness. all seem better advice then life raft and epirb. but if you do get an epirb, make sure you register it.... unregistered epirbs are suspect and may cause a delayed response....
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Old 20-07-2012, 22:46   #7
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Originally Posted by onestepcsy37
life raft and epirb seem a bit overkill for coasting in long island sound, particularly given the heavy traffic there.

wear your pfd. have a waterproof vhf attached to you. tow a dinghy on a painter or keep an inflatable on deck. wear a harness. all seem better advice then life raft and epirb. but if you do get an epirb, make sure you register it.... unregistered epirbs are suspect and may cause a delayed response....
I agree with all this, except most waterproof VHF's are too bulky to wear 24/7. I know there's one designed for diving that is smaller than my Standard Horizon. Make sure it has built in GPS and DSC. Even better for your sailing area might be the new AIS locator--you'll always be in range.
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Old 20-07-2012, 23:02   #8
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Re: EPIRB or PLB necessary?

We carry two GPS locating Epirbs on board - one in the doorway leading onto the patio and the other downstairs next to our bed. We have flashing strobe lights on our PFD as well as a waterproof handheld VHF. In addition we wear Raymarine MOB lifetags to sound an alarm and place a waypoint incase of an overboard situation. We wear these on our shifts whilst doing an ocean crossing and/or around the islands in foul weather. I am now wanting to get a new device which acts as a personal AIS in the water giving constant position, drift etc. whilst transmitting to all ships AIS systems in the vicinity!
The ocean is NOT a place to be without going 'overboard' (excuse the pun) on safety gear!!!
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Old 21-07-2012, 16:36   #9
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Re: EPIRB or PLB necessary?

For near US coastal cruising a PLB is all you need, assuming you get a GOS integrated one. The only major difference in them and a true EPIRB is the battery life. So if you are close to shore, and USCG rescue you don't need the longer battery.

Honestly I would buy a PLB long before I worried about a liferaft. Rafts are great if you see a reasonable chance of 1) the boat sinking, 2) long periods of time until a rescuer can arrive, 3) you need somewhere safe to live until then.

But you are ikely no more than a hour or two from helicopter recuse anywhere you are likely to be. So what you really need is a way to communicate to the rescue guys that 1) you need help 2) where you are. Two hours spent floating in the water may suck, and defiantly be uncomfortable, but you will live through it. Just don't forget when abandoning ship to toss overboard everything that will float.
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Old 21-07-2012, 17:14   #10
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Re: EPIRB or PLB necessary?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GreggL View Post
Outfitting my new boat with safety essentials; life raft, pfd's, flares, first aid, etc... Am at the last stage here and can't decide if I need these items. I know, better to have and not need that the opposite, yet they're a big price and my cruising doesn't seem to warrant it. I'm typically in the long island sound and waters just east, nothing offshore and always in sight of land. Still a beginner here.
Are these items necessary in my kit? If so which one, or both.
Thanks!
Slight thread drift but I find a good exercise is to itemize all your safety gear onboard, then sit down and think very hard if there is anything you can do to ensure that it never gets used.
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Old 21-07-2012, 17:21   #11
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Re: EPIRB or PLB necessary?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GreggL View Post
Outfitting my new boat with safety essentials; life raft, pfd's, flares, first aid, etc... Am at the last stage here and can't decide if I need these items. I know, better to have and not need that the opposite, yet they're a big price and my cruising doesn't seem to warrant it. I'm typically in the long island sound and waters just east, nothing offshore and always in sight of land. Still a beginner here.
Are these items necessary in my kit? If so which one, or both.
Thanks!
I would get the EPRIB and PLB's before getting a liferaft.

For coastal sailing I would not carry the liferaft at all. Offshore the admiral and I would have a long talk.
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Old 21-07-2012, 17:48   #12
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Re: EPIRB or PLB necessary?

I think it all depends on where you are going to sail and what other means of asking support (if needed) will be available.

Budget permitting, I would get one for activities where one is likely to be out of immediate contact with other (sailors/trekkers/skiers, etc.) and whenever a mobile could be too vulnerable to depend on (e.g. high humidity, shock, etc).

A Spot or DeLorme communicator can be an option to a PLB / EPIRB in some cases.

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Old 21-07-2012, 19:09   #13
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By the PLB!!!! Ask yourself this question, "Is my life worth $500?"

SPOT devices are not rescue devices. I can tell you from first hand experience that they will fail. Likewise a handheld VHF has limited range. The odds are the need for a rescue will not be on a flat day, but when the sound is choppy and other boats are not around. If no one is around to hear the VHF it is useless, whereas a PLB will summon help.

The best thing to do after buying the PLB is to do a failure analysis. Carefully think through and make plans on how you would deal with failures of the various systems on the boat. That will minimize the probability of needing the PLB.

Bill
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Old 21-07-2012, 20:28   #14
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Thank you for the sound advice.
Been looking into a personal PLB and handheld VHF on my life jacket to begin with. That'll certainly make me feel better. Budget permitting I'll look into a life raft. Only reason I'd like to have one is I don't carry a dinghy because most of my sailing is slip to slip and I just don't have much use for one. If for whatever reason i need another vessel due to any emergency, id love the piece of mind of that option. Hopefully I can ditch the slips soon and start anchoring out, just have to develop those skills a lot further before I'm comfortable overnighting.
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Old 21-07-2012, 20:58   #15
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Re: EPIRB or PLB necessary?

Be carefull of adding a bunch of crap to a lifejacket. A lot of people like to do it, but I think it is bad practice. Not because it wouldn't be nice to have that stuff with you if you ever fall overboard, but because it makes it much less likely that you will have on the lifejacket...

Taken to extremes I know a guy who has a PLB, VHF, knife, whistle, dye marker, sewn in jack lines, knife, visual floatie thing, flashlight, strobe light, laser flare.... Some other stuff I can't remember. The problem is it weighs so much he take sit off all the time because it's uncomfortable.

The only thing I have on mine is a whistle. I might consider adding a PLB, but that's it. If I fall overboard, I want to have the lifejacket on, and the more crap attached, the less likely you are to actually be wearing the thing. Think about it like this.

Taking the junk one by one...

1) Flashlight - ate urging the day useless for a rescue, at night I carry one in my pocket, so it's redundant
2) VHF - If you have a PLB and get knocked off, the other person on board should make an immediate call by VHF to the USCG. If they indicate you have a PLB with you, the coast guard can send them the gps location of the plb instead of scrambling a helo. So you don't need the VHF.
3) knife - I carry one all the time, I don't need a second in the jacket
4) dye marker - really?
5) strobe - see flashlight
6) jack lines - attach them as needed
7) laser flare - see flashlight


On another diatribe... A SPOT is not a rescue device. People have died because the communication between SPOT and SAR teams broke down. They may do other cool stuff, but it isn't something to risk your life on.
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