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Old 14-05-2015, 20:49   #46
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

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Originally Posted by socaldmax View Post
Of course not.

Flat batteries = dead EPIRB = no rescue = dead sailors = no one to come back onto a website to tell you they died because their EPIRB was dead.
……..
This is not quite true, a failed battery would show up in the self test function.
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Old 14-05-2015, 20:56   #47
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

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Another question for all.

Do you think the Inreach communications centre (company and staff) would be held to the same level of accountability as a governmental MRCC should there be stuff up with handling an distress alert?

Being a private outfit and with corporate image and money at stake, would they do it better or worse?
Considering the US gov't (and state gov'ts) are now outsourcing just about everything (my defense contractor career was entirely founded on gov't engineers being totally incapable of doing their jobs) including military aircraft maintenance, fwd deployed base food preparation, prison administration, mercenaries for hire, street maintenance, street light maintenance, traffic light maintenance, landscaping, etc. I'm going to say yes, private firms do it better.

All one has to do is look at the bloated bureaucracy that is the IRS, USPS, INS, CBP, hell, the entire DHS constellation of agencies and one can soon realize that pretty much all private corporations are far faster, more diligent, more streamlined, more efficient and far more accountable (you can fire a civilian employee, you can't fire a gov't employee or a USCG member) because the loss of one's job and income is a powerful source of motivation.

I've met some sharp and highly motivated civil servants, but they soon get sucked into the quagmire that is gov't bureaucracy.

A prime example of private sector vs gov't: the F-35 nightmare compared to SpaceX. No comparison in terms of efficiency, speed, results and accountability.

No offense to any nation's coast guard, but I'm sure you're as aware as I am of how many times they've gone out and searched for 2, 3 or 4 days and given up. Then after public outcry and the families stirred up social media, they went back out a week later and did a couple more days of searching. It kind of makes me wonder how they decide when to search for a month and when they search for 3 days.
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Old 14-05-2015, 21:09   #48
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

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This is not quite true, a failed battery would show up in the self test function.
How often does the self test function get performed? What if one is in the middle of a 2,000 mi voyage (obviously when one needs it the most) and the self test function indicates a dead battery.

What then? You can't recharge it, you can't replace it, its a brick. At that point, you look at your Inreach (if you have it) and say, "Glad I have a backup."


Also, ponder this. If all of these EPIRBs always work, and they have auto release mechanisms, and they automatically activate when exposed to water, how does one explain the number of vessels lost at sea that never transmitted (or a transmission was never received) a distress call. I don't have the statistics, but I recall a large number of search operations started because families lost track of their loved ones via sudden loss of comms (SPOT or Inreach, or SSB) and yet these completely automatic, highly reliable EPIRBs did not transmit.

Kinda makes me question just how reliable they really are. As I said before, you hear about the ones that worked, but you're not going to hear about he ones that didn't work, unless they had another backup emergency locator.
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Old 14-05-2015, 21:29   #49
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Wotman,

How can you argue that the EPIRB's unacknowledged and limited message is better than a two way SMS communication? The EPIRB will only communicate that it has been activated, a registration number, and its current location. Nothing more.

By contrast, the InReach can provide SAR personnel the same information they request during a VHF distress call including number of people aboard, ages, injuries, type of emergency, aid required, vessel floating or abandoned. underway or or adrift, estimated time until abandonment, availability of a life raft, and so on.

i agree that the InReach is very new compared to the EPIRB and may prove to have limitations and weaknesses that aren't immediately obvious -- but in a distress situation, I would always prefer a two way SMS communication with SAR personnel to what an EPIRB transmits.
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Old 14-05-2015, 22:58   #50
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

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Originally Posted by socaldmax View Post
Of course not.

Flat batteries = dead EPIRB = no rescue = dead sailors = no one to come back onto a website to tell you they died because their EPIRB was dead.

thats a real alarmist thing to say. Statistically very few people die from such emergencies. If Epirb are that unreliable, then there MUST be people out there who can report that their epirb didn't work. MUST BE.

When it comes to batteries, I've seen all kinds of things. I've seen alkaline AA batteries that were made with reversed polarity. I've seen brand new alkaline batteries that died right out of the package, the rest of the batteries in the package were fine. I had a laptop battery die within 2 weeks of buying the laptop.

I've had 3 sets of 900CCA batteries die in my truck in less than 6 months ea. (it uses 2 batteries) and there's no short. I also had a 12v car battery last 12 yrs, according to the label on the battery and Costco's records.

Things happen, especially with batteries. If I'm going to entrust my life to a battery powered device, I'm going to have 2 other backups for it just in case.
I don't dispute 'batteries' can fail. But you can't realistically equate epirb batteries with any of these.
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Old 14-05-2015, 23:00   #51
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

There is ample data on rescues using EPIRB's and other devices. Odd you quote none of it to make your point. Are you aware of the elaborate EPIRB support structure ? 3 satellite systems at 3 altitudes (LEO, MEO, GEO) ? Are you aware that every CG asset that flies has specialized gear to track both frequencies for in close local tracking ? Not the case for Iridium based systems.
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Old 14-05-2015, 23:06   #52
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

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Originally Posted by socaldmax View Post
How often does the self test function get performed? What if one is in the middle of a 2,000 mi voyage (obviously when one needs it the most) and the self test function indicates a dead battery.

What then? You can't recharge it, you can't replace it, its a brick. At that point, you look at your Inreach (if you have it) and say, "Glad I have a backup."

i don't think your thinking this through. Quite clearly you 'test' an epirb before you leave, not half way throug a voyage. For thise living on their boat or doing extended voyages, you check it as per the instructions that came with it. Every six months or once a year I think sime recommend. I've got no dispute with having a back up

Also, ponder this. If all of these EPIRBs always work, and they have auto release mechanisms, and they automatically activate when exposed to water, how does one explain the number of vessels lost at sea that never transmitted (or a transmission was never received) a distress call. I don't have the statistics, but I recall a large number of search operations started because families lost track of their loved ones via sudden loss of comms (SPOT or Inreach, or SSB) and yet these completely automatic, highly reliable EPIRBs did not transmit.

NO! Most people do not have automatic epirbs, usually due to their cost which is roughly double the cost of a manual epirb. Most epirbs on boats are manually activated and if you don't 'turn it on' then it will sink with the boat, forever gone. Likewise, throwing a perfectly good epirb in the water without turning it on, won't get u saved.

Kinda makes me question just how reliable they really are. As I said before, you hear about the ones that worked, but you're not going to hear about he ones that didn't work, unless they had another backup emergency locator.
You are completely wrong. If there are so many epirbs that fail out there, then there would be statistics on it. Someone, somewhere must know of someone somewhere that's had an epirb that has failed by test or during an emergency. It's just unrealistic to claim they have all died!
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Old 15-05-2015, 02:01   #53
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

" And it worries me that my EPIRB can't really be tested until I'm in a liferaft."
Then you have an obsolete EPRIB. There are quite a number now that provide for actually SENDING a test message, the receipt of which can be confirmed by email.

As to InReach and the reliable Iridium network, perhaps you had forgotten that Iridium was going to destroy all of their satellites when they filed bankruptcy? That's right, the company went broke and all service was literally to be brought down in flames. Then someone else bought it up for a couple of cents on the dollar, and what you have now only exists because the original people who financed Iridium lost their investment.

But surely, you say, THAT would never happen again....or could it?

Of course, the government satellites supporting EPIRBs could also be shut down, but which one do you want to literally bet your life on?
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Old 15-05-2015, 02:10   #54
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

> 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!!).

In that situation, it's the chart that's out - not the GPS.
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Old 15-05-2015, 04:56   #55
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Are EPIRBs dead?

Dare I ask if HF radio is fairly close to death? I started in aviation 30 years ago and it was essential then. Now it is just a nuisance on the infrequent occasions we have to use it.

For ocean travel can all the functions of HF now be replicated by newer and better technology?


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Old 15-05-2015, 05:24   #56
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

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Dare I ask if HF radio is fairly close to death? I started in aviation 30 years ago and it was essential then. Now it is just a nuisance on the infrequent occasions we have to use it.

For ocean travel can all the functions of HF now be replicated by newer and better technology?


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I don't think HF is obsolete. Weather data is available free via HF. Plus many times the SAR team will vector other boats to help. These boats are usually to far away for VHF so HF is the bomb for communicating during an emergency. It covers a huge range and never gets cut off by the sat company for lack of paying a bill. And since multiple listeners can hear a single call (unlike sat phone) it saves a lot of time when time is in short supply. I think new age sailors that believe sat phones are all they need are mistaken. Likewise PLBs did not fair well in the Cheeki Rafiki disaster. A real EPIRB and real HF SSB set are the two most important systems for an ocean crossing boat. Satellite and PLBs are nice to have a IMO.
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Old 15-05-2015, 05:49   #57
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

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Originally Posted by DavefromNZ View Post
Dare I ask if HF radio is fairly close to death? I started in aviation 30 years ago and it was essential then. Now it is just a nuisance on the infrequent occasions we have to use it.

For ocean travel can all the functions of HF now be replicated by newer and better technology?


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Such as ?
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Old 15-05-2015, 06:29   #58
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

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Originally Posted by socaldmax View Post
Considering the US gov't (and state gov'ts) are now outsourcing just about everything (my defense contractor career was entirely founded on gov't engineers being totally incapable of doing their jobs) including military aircraft maintenance, fwd deployed base food preparation, prison administration, mercenaries for hire, street maintenance, street light maintenance, traffic light maintenance, landscaping, etc. I'm going to say yes, private firms do it better.

All one has to do is look at the bloated bureaucracy that is the IRS, USPS, INS, CBP, hell, the entire DHS constellation of agencies and one can soon realize that pretty much all private corporations are far faster, more diligent, more streamlined, more efficient and far more accountable (you can fire a civilian employee, you can't fire a gov't employee or a USCG member) because the loss of one's job and income is a powerful source of motivation.

I've met some sharp and highly motivated civil servants, but they soon get sucked into the quagmire that is gov't bureaucracy.

A prime example of private sector vs gov't: the F-35 nightmare compared to SpaceX. No comparison in terms of efficiency, speed, results and accountability.

No offense to any nation's coast guard, but I'm sure you're as aware as I am of how many times they've gone out and searched for 2, 3 or 4 days and given up. Then after public outcry and the families stirred up social media, they went back out a week later and did a couple more days of searching. It kind of makes me wonder how they decide when to search for a month and when they search for 3 days.
Interesting…
This is not the state of affairs in Australia as far as I can tell. In fact I would suggest the opposite is true here.
I wonder what others think say in Canada or Europe.
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Old 15-05-2015, 06:53   #59
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

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Wotman,

How can you argue that the EPIRB's unacknowledged and limited message is better than a two way SMS communication? The EPIRB will only communicate that it has been activated, a registration number, and its current location. Nothing more.

By contrast, the InReach can provide SAR personnel the same information they request during a VHF distress call including number of people aboard, ages, injuries, type of emergency, aid required, vessel floating or abandoned. underway or or adrift, estimated time until abandonment, availability of a life raft, and so on.

i agree that the InReach is very new compared to the EPIRB and may prove to have limitations and weaknesses that aren't immediately obvious -- but in a distress situation, I would always prefer a two way SMS communication with SAR personnel to what an EPIRB transmits.
Hmm… I wasn't aware that I was arguing that an EPIRB is better than the SMS comms. It certainly wasn't my intention.

Let me try again.

Best practice communication consists of a message transmitted by some medium, acknowledgement that the message was received and that it meaning is understood by all parties. This is how we communicate every day by talking face to face, by radio or whatever.

I did suggest that using SMS or email to communicate with emergency response organistaions is not best practice as it fails two of the three basic tenants i.e. no immediate acknowledgement or confirmation of understanding.

I also concur that an EPIRB fails the best practice test is so far that there is no immediate acknowledgement of receipt of message. However I believe that all parties fully understand the intent of the message .

With regard to the lack of acknowledgement, I would add that the COSPAS/SARSAT technology used is both mature and robust so there is a good expectation that the message will be received by the relevant MRCC.

Inreach seems to satisfy best practice if their 24/7 comms centre responds immediately to your SMS.
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Old 15-05-2015, 07:21   #60
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Holy Serfdom, batman!

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Another question for all.

Do you think the Inreach communications centre (company and staff) would be held to the same level of accountability as a governmental MRCC should there be stuff up with handling an distress alert?

Being a private outfit and with corporate image and money at stake, would they do it better or worse?
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