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Old 28-11-2015, 22:05   #1
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Personal Locator Beacon as boat's EPIRB?

The boat we just bought has an ACR EPIRB Model 2744 which expired in 2008. I think I have figured out that that model is no longer being serviced and I should buy a new one. However, there is an ACR AquaLink Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) Model #350B on board that is good until 03/2018. I am thinking that for coastal cruising in Baja California, the PLB could serve as the boat's EPIRB. Is that a dumb idea?

I gather that is what the former owner was doing.
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Old 28-11-2015, 22:29   #2
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon as boat's EPIRB?

You'll run into some disagreements on this but I think a PLB is perfectly fine for your intended use.

The PLB has the same transmit power but less battery life than the EPIRB (24hr instead of 48hr). But if your PLB has an onboard GPS (most do), the chopper will be overhead in far less than 24 hours in your cruising waters.

The PLBs are waterproof but won't float like an EPIRB. But very few EPIRBS are activated while swimming. They are turned on in the distressed boat before it sinks. Even if you have to get in the water, I prefer a PLB that's small enough that I can clip it to myself. Less chance of it getting away.

But whatever you do, be sure to register the PLB or EPIRB in the database so they know who needs rescue - https://beaconregistration.noaa.gov/rgdb/
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Old 28-11-2015, 23:11   #3
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon as boat's EPIRB?

Worst case scenario:

The risk is that you're betting that you'll not be rescued before the PLB battery fails. And bear in mind that you have to get the PLB antenna out of the water for it to transmit successfully -- for the term of its battery life, when you're struggling to stay alive.

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Old 28-11-2015, 23:18   #4
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon as boat's EPIRB?

For the sake of safety, just buy a new GPS Epirb.. $200 will get you one and you have peace of mind.
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Old 29-11-2015, 08:18   #5
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon as boat's EPIRB?

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Originally Posted by Rustic Charm View Post
For the sake of safety, just buy a new GPS Epirb.. $200 will get you one and you have peace of mind.
Best advice, take it. What is a life worth anyhow?
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Old 29-11-2015, 08:24   #6
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon as boat's EPIRB?

Have never seen a full-function EPIRB for less than $400-700. Yea, my life is worth it, but for semi-coastal cruising (Baja, Bahamas) I think a PLB is perfectly adequate. That is what I have, use both on my boat and carry when I am doing deliveries up-down the eastern seaboard.
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Old 29-11-2015, 09:13   #7
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon as boat's EPIRB?

As a delivery captain I used a personal EPIRB all the time. The main difference is battery life and registration process.

You can register or change the registration of the personal EPIRB to be associated with the vessel to. Which is how EPIRB's are usually setup.
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Old 29-11-2015, 09:24   #8
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon as boat's EPIRB?

Quote:
Originally Posted by coolboat30 View Post
The boat we just bought has an ACR EPIRB Model 2744 which expired in 2008. I think I have figured out that that model is no longer being serviced and I should buy a new one. However, there is an ACR AquaLink Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) Model #350B on board that is good until 03/2018. I am thinking that for coastal cruising in Baja California, the PLB could serve as the boat's EPIRB. Is that a dumb idea?

I gather that is what the former owner was doing.
I think it is safe to punt your life, life of your crew and guests and your boat for $200.
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Old 29-11-2015, 09:44   #9
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon as boat's EPIRB?

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Originally Posted by Tim L. View Post
Have never seen a full-function EPIRB for less than $400-700. ----
Me either.
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Old 29-11-2015, 10:12   #10
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon as boat's EPIRB?

Good post and I concur with Carl.

In my new Budget Marine catalogue the cheapest EPIRB is USD$851.40


Quote:
Originally Posted by CarlF View Post
You'll run into some disagreements on this but I think a PLB is perfectly fine for your intended use.

The PLB has the same transmit power but less battery life than the EPIRB (24hr instead of 48hr). But if your PLB has an onboard GPS (most do), the chopper will be overhead in far less than 24 hours in your cruising waters.

The PLBs are waterproof but won't float like an EPIRB. But very few EPIRBS are activated while swimming. They are turned on in the distressed boat before it sinks. Even if you have to get in the water, I prefer a PLB that's small enough that I can clip it to myself. Less chance of it getting away.

But whatever you do, be sure to register the PLB or EPIRB in the database so they know who needs rescue - https://beaconregistration.noaa.gov/rgdb/
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Old 29-11-2015, 11:05   #11
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon as boat's EPIRB?

Quote:
Originally Posted by coolboat30 View Post
The boat we just bought has an ACR EPIRB Model 2744 which expired in 2008. I think I have figured out that that model is no longer being serviced and I should buy a new one. However, there is an ACR AquaLink Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) Model #350B on board that is good until 03/2018. I am thinking that for coastal cruising in Baja California, the PLB could serve as the boat's EPIRB. Is that a dumb idea?

I gather that is what the former owner was doing.
Coolboat,

A PLB [once properly registered and tested] will serve your stated intent for the adventures you describe.

You are already aware of the trade-offs between a PLB and an EPIRB, so you can make your own risk assessments.

Since an EPIRB is registered to a vessel, and a PLB to an individual, following is what we wrote on the online registration form for a PLB we had packed with our liferaft during the last recertification:

We added 'Boating' to the 'Other' field in the 'Specific Usage' line; chose 'Boat' in the 'Type' line; and in the "Additional Data" field we added the following:
Quote:
Used as life raft PLB on US Documented 43ft Sailing Vessel DENALI ROSE 663100

Back-up to vessel GPS EPIRB# 2DCCXXXXXXXXXXX

Iridium Sat Phone: From US: 480-768-2500 Ext XXXX-XXXX-XXXX

Automated vessel position: Denali Rose
We also have 2 other PLB's registered to each of us as individuals that also mention [in the registration form 'Additional Data' field] they may be used from the boat. [We venture into some pretty remote areas on land and sea so these are always on our person as we travel...]

Whenever we make decisions- particularly where risk assessments are involved- we remind ourselves that it is not a one-time decision; but needs to be revisited whenever any of the original parameters or assumptions change.

I hope your adventure is everything you hope for.

Cheers!

Bill
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Old 29-11-2015, 11:16   #12
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon as boat's EPIRB?

For coastal cruising, a PLB kept religiously on your person is superior to an EPIRB. That's because less risk that crew will get separated from the device.

Near coasts and within helicopter rescue distance, the second day of battery life offered by an EPIRB is very unlikely to be of any use.

Also, VHF DSC is likely to be your primary emergency signalling in any case.

I would not, personally, spend money on an EPIRB if you are not sailing more than 200 miles from land, but would be religious about PLBs, maybe one for each crew member.

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Old 29-11-2015, 11:22   #13
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon as boat's EPIRB?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim L. View Post
Have never seen a full-function EPIRB for less than $400-700. Yea, my life is worth it, but for semi-coastal cruising (Baja, Bahamas) I think a PLB is perfectly adequate. That is what I have, use both on my boat and carry when I am doing deliveries up-down the eastern seaboard.

I recently bought an ACR GPS EPIRB for $300 after a $75 rebate.


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Old 29-11-2015, 11:40   #14
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon as boat's EPIRB?

Defender has the Category I ACR EPIRB for $399 and they mention a Black Friday instant rebate of $50 although it showed up in my cart without the rebate. Maybe it only shows up on checkout. For $100 more you can get the Category II model with Automatic Hydrostatic Release from its bracket, plus it comes in a nice looking case. Does that case serve any purpose other than aesthetics?

Adding digital display adds $200 to the price of either model.
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Old 29-11-2015, 12:29   #15
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon as boat's EPIRB?

I think lots of people are forgetting this is an international forum (including me) and where $ get quoted it's got to be converted to where ever you are.

One reason US epirbs may be more expensive is because US Epirbs seem to be sold only as automatic on when in the water, where as the main type sold in Australia are fully manual models. $299 is a common price here with $245 coming up occasionally on special sales or promotions.

PLB's are definitely a benefit. If I full over I'd much sooner rely on a plb than crew coming looking for me.

BUT, most people this way go down within 200 miles, within our waters. Life is too precious in my opinion to take a 'punt'. There are many occasions when a chopper can't come to you and others when it will take days for a ship to be diverted to you. If you need to set one off, chances are it will be during bad weather. For me, $299 (to keep the purist happy I ammended it up) is good money for peace of mind.

And in Australia, if your heading beyond 10 miles from shore your required to carry an epirb. Don't think a plb cuts it (not entirely sure).
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