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Old 22-03-2011, 12:04   #1
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How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts Ever Save Lives ?

I know they come in handy during races where caution might take a second seat to all-out speed, but how often are they useful for cruising ?

IOW, in how many cruising emergencies do they actually save lives ?

"Adrift" is one good example, and I guess you might say that Abby wasn't racing around the world so that's a marginal second case, but how many others are there ?

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Old 22-03-2011, 12:15   #2
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

I could care less what others experience is. I want it to save my butt when I have to step up to the raft and want some assurance that the Rescue folk will know to look for me.

Really don't understand why you are asking for this information unless you are trying to justify not carrying an Epirb or Life Raft. I've sailed LONG distances without raft or Epirb. A lot more comforting to know that I have something besides my birthday suit to climb into should the boat play submarine. Before the Epirb, there was no way but a HF radio to tell people that you were in distress once you were more than a few miles off the coast or shipping lanes. The HF wasn't all that good unless you had a lot of time to get ready to abandon ship.
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Old 22-03-2011, 12:28   #3
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

It's life insurance! Hopefully, that never gets used. If one goes prepared then Murphy is likely to leave one alone.
It goes hand in hand, risk takers are just that or just plain cheap and cheat themselves, as well as putting a time burden on other people in a rescue.
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Old 22-03-2011, 12:36   #4
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

EPIRBS are pretty useful. Second hand I've heard of lots of rescues, first hand I've heard of two while at sea, with the SAR guys relaying the coordinates of an EPIRB alarm and then coordinating the rescue.

Lots of EPIRB emergencies don't mean sinking necessarily, so it's not really 1-to-1 with life rafts.
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Old 22-03-2011, 12:39   #5
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
Really don't understand why you are asking for this information unless you are trying to justify not carrying an Epirb or Life Raft.
Because taking anything on uniformed faith is stupid.



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Old 22-03-2011, 12:58   #6
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

They're kinda like parachutes. Most of the time ya just sit on them but when the wings fall off, ya wouldn't wanna be without one...
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Old 22-03-2011, 13:21   #7
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

I have a 6 man Givens offshore liferaft that I'm taking off the boat. It's secured all the way forward on the foredeck, which is not where I would like it. Mainly it's too dang heavy for just the two of us at 100 lb plus. Since we have no plans for crossing oceans, I may replace it with a smaller, lighter, 4 person coastal liferaft. I haven't decided.

However, we do carry a 406 mHz epirb and that is definetely not coming off the boat. I've repeatedly told my wife that if the fit hits the shan, we grab the epirb first and then worry about the liferaft. Normally we are within a hundred miles or so of some coast and if within range of the coast guard I would expect to see them within a few hours or so. There is the possibility of hypothermia at some times of the year but at least they could find the bodies. The hypothermia question is why I'm still considering a smaller coastal liferaft.

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Old 22-03-2011, 13:23   #8
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

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They're kinda like parachutes. Most of the time ya just sit on them but when the wings fall off, ya wouldn't wanna be without one...
You're actually getting to the rub of my question.

The supposed reason why there are no parachutes on airliners is because more people are expected to die from using them when they would have been safer not using them (Of course, it could just be greed, not wanting to carry non-paying weight on board). I am wondering if the same might be true for rafts since the prevailing wisdom is to stay with the ship and in the famous race disasters many of the fatalities were due to abandoning ship for the raft.

The EPIRB may be similar to anti-lock brake systems and other protective gear, they inspire a confidence in safety which encourages more reckless driving. I haven't seen recent studies but know that early studies showed that ABS did not reduce accidents once drivers got used to them. The EPIRBs do risk more rescuers lives with all the false alarms but maybe they still save more, that's what I'd like to understand.

In the case of both rafts and EPIRBs there is also a vested financial interest in promoting both. There's an interesting TED talk on a related topic at Steven Levitt on child carseats | Video on TED.com but it's a 10-15 minute talk so don't click unless you're really interested.

Thanks,



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Old 22-03-2011, 13:31   #9
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

we sailed 6000 miles in gulf of mexico in leaky old boat(his not mine) and didnt have life raft or epirb....i dont have one of either with my formosa. i do have multiple dinghies and kayaks and spot so momma can see where to place the flowers. she will place them for my boatkat. he deserves them.
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Old 22-03-2011, 13:33   #10
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

The old 121 epirb did indeed provide quite a few false alarms, some maliciously by intent and some by accident. I remember a particularly hard landing when I was a student pilot that I thought might have set of the aircraft's epirb, but that's another story.

Now with the 406 epirbs there will still be false alarms but part of the process when the signal is received is to look up who it's registered to, the old ones weren't registered. Next they contact the people listed as contact reps for the registered owner and ask about boat. If the contact rep says "Yes, so and so, is sailing between X and Y" and that is more or less the position of the epirb, a rescue mission is launched. It might still be a false alarm, someone might have accidentally triggered the epirb. But it is definitely much more difficult for jerks to activate because they are bored or drunk or something. Also, keep in mind, the newer models incorporate gps so at least the SAR will know its located at sea and they can find it much more quickly.

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Old 22-03-2011, 13:45   #11
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

The EPIRB needs to be registered with NOAA in order for anyone to respond if it is activated. All non-registered EPIRBs are ignored totally, and they will not respond to them.
So when you do acquire an EPIRB, please register with NOAA, a simple phone call to them may save your life.
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Old 22-03-2011, 13:46   #12
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

I don't have an EPIRB, but do have dinghy as life raft, (plus an inflatable spare). If I had to choose I would pick EPIRB. Good chance of rescue before needing life raft. To answer question, you'll only need them once. Some people don't carry either, they don't want anyone to risk life to rescue them. The area I currently cruise in, I have a good chance of self rescue. In the end you have to make your own informed decision.
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Old 22-03-2011, 13:51   #13
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

IF or when you get the EPIRB, spring for a SART also. This is an emergency Radar Transponder so when S&R comes into your area, it will show up on their X band radar and lead them straight to you.
A minor detail to ease their search for you.
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Old 22-03-2011, 13:53   #14
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

In regards to planes and parachutes:

After I started skydiving it really freaks me out to get on a plane and not have a parachute rig on.
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Old 22-03-2011, 14:00   #15
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

I would rather have a EPIRBS and not use it than to wished I wasn't so cheap not to buy it at a time of need. My guidance system are the USCG recommended items to have aboard.
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