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Old 13-05-2015, 21:42   #16
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

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Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
If the non Epirb tracking devices are anything like SPOT, they don't have world wide coverage. The SPOT worked in the N. Pacific to about 200 miles out of Hilo, HI, just as advertised. Check the coverage before you ditch your Epirb.
The Inreach uses Idirium so is essentially global. Much better coverage than Spot which uses Globalstar.
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Old 13-05-2015, 22:35   #17
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

As I said, I too carry an EPIRB but it would be my backup used only if the InReach failed. To respond to specific comments:

Yes - the Iridium satellite coverage is essentially global - much better than the SPOT's.

Inreach is IP67 - 30 minute submersion to 1 meter. Most EPIRBS will go deeper to 10 meters. But this isn't how EPIRBs are used. In virtually all cases, they are activated prior to abandoning ship - perhaps then taken to a liferaft. The odds of an EPIRB saving the life of someone swimming in mid ocean without a boat or liferaft are vanishingly small. And it doesn't need to float because it is clipped to your life jacket - a much safer place than floating untethered in a sea.

Homing Signal - The need for homing signals vanished with GPS EPIRBs. The InReach transmits GPS coordinates accurate to 5 meters. This is much more accurate than any homing signal. Location is transmitted with every message so you can send a location every few seconds if you'd like. But a drifting liferaft isn't moving very fast. One can also send "I can see helicopter lights about 3 miles to my east" from the liferaft - something you can't do with an EPIRB

SOLAS "approval" always lags - often dangerously. I believe approved distress signals still include a burning tar barrel, raising your arms slowly, firing a gun at one minute intervals, displaying the code flags NC or a square flag with a ball above or below.

I agree that EPIRBS are required in some areas. Hopefully this will be updated as the rescue services would save money and rescuers' lives if they could have a two way communication with vessels in distress.

I appreciate that I am arguing a point that goes against decades of accepted practice and expert advice.

But EPIRB technology is 30 years old - when there were no mobile phones, Internet, or GPS. it's due for improvement. Perhaps there is some "gotcha" to the InReach that I haven't found. That's why I still carry an EPIRB too.
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Old 13-05-2015, 22:51   #18
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

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Originally Posted by CarlF View Post
As I said, I too carry an EPIRB but it would be my backup used only if the InReach failed. To respond to specific comments:

Yes - the Iridium satellite coverage is global - much better than the SPOT's.

Inreach is IP67 - 30 minute submersion to 1 meter. Most EPIRBS will go deeper to 10 meters. But this isn't how EPIRBs are used. In virtually all cases, they are activated prior to abandoning ship - perhaps then taken to a liferaft. The odds of an EPIRB saving the life of someone swimming in mid ocean without a boat or liferaft are vanishingly small. And it doesn't need to float because it is clipped to your life jacket - a much safer place than floating untethered in a sea.

Homing Signal - The InReach transmits GPS coordinates accurate to 5 meters. This is much more accurate than any homing signal. Location is transmitted with every message so you can send a location every few seconds if you'd like. One can also send "I can see helicopter lights about 3 miles to my east" from the liferaft - something you can't do with an EPIRB

SOLAS "approval" always lags - often dangerously. I believe approved distress signals still include a burning tar barrel, raising your arms slowly, firing a gun at one minute intervals, displaying the code flags NC or a square flag with a ball above or below.

I agree that EPIRBS are required in some areas. Hopefully this will be updated as the rescue services would save money and rescuers' lives if they could have a two way communication with vessels in distress.

I appreciate that I am arguing a point that goes against decades of accepted practice and expert advice. Perhaps there is some "gotcha" to the InReach that I haven't found. That's why I still carry an EPIRB too.
I stand corrected upon the water resistance thing.

I've a relatively new ACR EPIRB but my 15 year old ACR backup unit needs replacement. I'm going to invest time researching this InReach. Thanks for the idea, Carl!
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Old 13-05-2015, 22:59   #19
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Q. Have you got equal confidence in the Inreach WW communications center and your counties MRCC to handle your emergency?
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Old 13-05-2015, 23:01   #20
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Is the fact that most first world countries SAR assets carry 406 receivers and decoders on board important?
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Old 13-05-2015, 23:27   #21
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Wotname,

I think the Inreach will almost always result in a quicker and more useful rescue response than an EPIRB. If I don't get an immediate appropriate reply from the Delorme distress center, I would contact friends ashore who will call the CG. This can be followed with ongoing two way communication with the responding rescue service to coordinate the details of the rescue (they would contact me by email directly on the InReach)

All much better than an EPIRB that is too often a false alarm.

And why would it matter if rescuers have 406 decoders when they can simply enter a 5 meter accurate GPS coordinate into their navigation equipment?


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Old 13-05-2015, 23:32   #22
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarlF View Post
As I said, I too carry an EPIRB but it would be my backup used only if the InReach failed. To respond to specific comments:

Yes - the Iridium satellite coverage is global - much better than the SPOT's.

Inreach is IP67 - 30 minute submersion to 1 meter. Most EPIRBS will go deeper to 10 meters. But this isn't how EPIRBs are used. In virtually all cases, they are activated prior to abandoning ship - perhaps then taken to a liferaft. The odds of an EPIRB saving the life of someone swimming in mid ocean without a boat or liferaft are vanishingly small. And it doesn't need to float because it is clipped to your life jacket - a much safer place than floating untethered in a sea.

Homing Signal - The InReach transmits GPS coordinates accurate to 5 meters. This is much more accurate than any homing signal. Location is transmitted with every message so you can send a location every few seconds if you'd like. One can also send "I can see helicopter lights about 3 miles to my east" from the liferaft - something you can't do with an EPIRB

SOLAS "approval" always lags - often dangerously. I believe approved distress signals still include a burning tar barrel, raising your arms slowly, firing a gun at one minute intervals, displaying the code flags NC or a square flag with a ball above or below.

I agree that EPIRBS are required in some areas. Hopefully this will be updated as the rescue services would save money and rescuers' lives if they could have a two way communication with vessels in distress.

I appreciate that I am arguing a point that goes against decades of accepted practice and expert advice.

But EPIRB technology is 30 years old - when there were no mobile phones, Internet, or GPS. it's due for improvement. Perhaps there is some "gotcha" to the InReach that I haven't found. That's why I still carry an EPIRB too.
Excellent post!
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Old 13-05-2015, 23:34   #23
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

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Is the fact that most first world countries SAR assets carry 406 receivers and decoders on board important?
Do they get GPS coordinates from the transmission?
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Old 14-05-2015, 03:40   #24
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

For the record, my questions in posts 19 & 20 were not rhetorical nor were they intended to be slanted towards Inreach or EPIRB, rather the intention was to promote discussion on these aspects of the issues.
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Old 14-05-2015, 03:52   #25
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

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Originally Posted by CarlF View Post
Wotname,

I think the Inreach will almost always result in a quicker and more useful rescue response than an EPIRB. If I don't get an immediate appropriate reply from the Delorme distress center, I would contact friends ashore who will call the CG. This can be followed with ongoing two way communication with the responding rescue service to coordinate the details of the rescue (they would contact me by email directly on the InReach)

All much better than an EPIRB that is too often a false alarm.

And why would it matter if rescuers have 406 decoders when they can simply enter a 5 meter accurate GPS coordinate into their navigation equipment?


Carl
Fair call especially if based somewhere in North America presumably. I don't know much about what happens in that part of the world.

I do wonder if I could get a speedy and appropriate response from the Delorme distress centre if I was halfway between Australia and New Zealand. Presumably they hand ball the co-co-ordintion of a rescue to either the Australian or New Zealand MRCC and presumably these MRCCs would respond to a request from them in the same manner as receiving an EPIRB alert.

We are talking here of a 1000 nm offshore response!
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Old 14-05-2015, 03:58   #26
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

To further Wotname idea of additional discussion, and Carl yours of if the response center does not reply but you will then contact friend or family, if we set sail tomorrow morning and have an issue say 3 hours out and I set it off and get no response from the response center, my family is several hours behind us and will be fast asleep so who gets the message in a timely manner. I know if I set off my epirb countries around the world can see it and make the appropriate response.
Not really convinced on the other as I am relying on one response center or a friend. Not sure about that.
just a few issues to chew on.
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Old 14-05-2015, 04:02   #27
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

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Originally Posted by socaldmax View Post
Do they get GPS coordinates from the transmission?
I can't speak for all decoders or what different countries fit but yes, if they can decode the data bust, they can usually extract all the information it contains including GPS coordinates.
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Old 14-05-2015, 04:18   #28
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

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…………

Location is transmitted with every message so you can send a location every few seconds if you'd like. …………..
Presumably the GPS engine is updating it's position regularly (very few seconds or at least every few minutes). If so, this is reportably better some (many??) GPS enbedded EPIRB's which have a very ad hoc approach to how often their GPS coordinates are updated. Note, updated rather than transmitted.
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Old 14-05-2015, 06:04   #29
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

I think they look very promising as a primary safety device as well as a back up.

The one concern I have with them, which would lead me always to have an epirb, is that there intention as a 'safety device' is secondary as its main purpose of being used as a tracking device and 'turned on'. This means it's not only possible but likely to be run flat at times and as Murfey's Law always dictates, it will be at a time when its most needed. An epirb on the other hand does not use its batteries unless it's needed. So, it's always ready to go.

The other negative compared to epirbs, are that its not a 'one cost' and it's yours. It's an expensive little device that continues to gobble up dollars. Forget to pay those subscriptions and then where is the help?
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Old 14-05-2015, 12:33   #30
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

I'm all for new technology and agree that some of the SOLAS stuff is so far out of date to be laughable. I object to having to carry explosives on my boat when there are laser flares but the IMO in their infinite wisdom won't approve laser flares for SOLAS.

So we are stuck with the current regs and for many parts of the world that means SARTs and EPIRBs along with pyrotechnics (and maybe a bucket of pitch just in case).

Only issues I can see with this "intouch" system is it appears to be designed to track and keep in touch with a base station rather than scream for help. The scream for help bit is a secondary feature so can you genuinely call it a primary safety system? Secondly I know it uses the Iridium system but having experienced how shockingly poor the coverage can be in remote parts of the world I question the OPs faith in the communications, plus Iridium is notoriously susceptible to space conditions (solar wind/storms etc). Thirdly you have to pay for the service whereas once you have registered your EPIRB with your flag state's relevant authorities it's free.

An EPIRB is also self arming so you fix it to the guardrail and if the excrement hits the air con and you capsize without warning (as did Cheeki Rafiki in the Atlantic) or without being able to get to the grab bag with your "intouch" the EPIRB has already sent out it's scream for help with your GPS position (which is never accurate to 5ft unless you happen to be in sight of a Differential tower which means close to shore, heck I've seen my chartplotter GPS with WAAS differential put me 25m (80ft) onto dry land when I know for a fact I'm 20m away from the beach!!).

Yes there are downsides to the EPIRB such as the battery expiry but that's only the same as pyrotechnic shelf life and disposal problems or remembering to charge the handheld VHF or ensure the AA's in the handheld GPS are good.

Like any prudent navigator I prefer not to rely on a single source of information and when it comes to safety I'll have a belt and braces approach so would have an EPIRB even with this new technology and keep a laser flare or 2 handy with my floating GPS DSC VHF.

Just my 2pence worth.

Keiron
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