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Old 15-05-2015, 07:23   #61
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

I've owned & used a SPOT for many years in boat & non-boat related applications, along with two ACR EPIRBS, one auto near the companionway & the other manual in the ditch bag. My understanding is that my two EPIRBS communicate directly with a SAR coordination center, whereas a distress call via the SPOT is first received by a private service center before being relayed to the govt-run SAR centers. The point being that, either way, they wind up being processed through the SAR system, the difference being that in the case of SPOT or DeLorme, there is a private intermediary the transmission gets funneled through. I would think that, to the extent it's even a factor, reliability could only be improved by eliminating this intermediary.

I'm also contemplating purchasing a PLB which I would affix to my PFD when singlehanding. The limitation here is battery life after activation, along with keeping the unit above the water with the antenna pointing to the sky. Not exactly sure how the DeLorme is set up, but it may not be realistic for the DeLorme to serve as a realistic substitute for a PLB in these circumstances, and I'm even more dubious about being able to pull off a two-way communication while bobbing around in the water.

I do think the DeLorme is a groundbreaking comms. device generally, and I would have one if/when my SPOT goes south. As for either device being a viable substitute for an EPIRB, I remain rather dubious for reasons discussed.
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Old 15-05-2015, 07:34   #62
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

LOL!

Just some info:

The aircraft that you "hope" will be looking for you do carry RDF gear. Having been a navigator on a Coast Guard C130, we would use the GPS to get us in the area and RDF to "find" you.

On a nice day, a GPS coordinate is all that is needed. But more often, we are searching in less than ideal conditions. Think 15' seas and clouds down to 100'. We also don't have the "latest" GPS coordinates so you have probably drifted away from the coordinates we have. A waterproof VHF handheld is a strong recommendation to speed that final search and communicate with the rescue team. Remember it's line of sight so you can talk to a plane, heading to the beach, at 18,000' a long ways away.

The InReach is an awesome device and will suffice for most situations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Canibul View Post
The government really doesn't have RDF gear that they can tune to any frequency they want?
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Old 15-05-2015, 08:07   #63
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Would not sailors rescued by other means report if their EPIRB had failed? Surely not every failed EPIRB would result of the loss of all hands. Furthermore, would not we hear of failures after self-tests are performed? If anyone knows of cases of EPIRB failure, please let us know.

I keep my InReach charged and check it before every sail and then tuck it into the ditch bag. The EPIRB is next to the companionway and the standing order is for the first and last person out to secure it.

One fully charged VHF goes into the ditch bag along with a spare battery pack and batteries.

At least one of our iPhones lives in a waterproof case.

I am a big fan of the InReach; use it so friends can track our progress as we travel and it's been dead solid reliable, but I would not forgo the EPIRB as well. I'm a belt, suspenders, and piece of rope sort of bloke.

Fair winds,

Leo
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Old 15-05-2015, 08:26   #64
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leo Ticheli View Post
Would not sailors rescued by other means report if their EPIRB had failed? Surely not every failed EPIRB would result of the loss of all hands. Furthermore, would not we hear of failures after self-tests are performed? If anyone knows of cases of EPIRB failure, please let us know.

I keep my InReach charged and check it before every sail and then tuck it into the ditch bag. The EPIRB is next to the companionway and the standing order is for the first and last person out to secure it.

One fully charged VHF goes into the ditch bag along with a spare battery pack and batteries.

At least one of our iPhones lives in a waterproof case.

I am a big fan of the InReach; use it so friends can track our progress as we travel and it's been dead solid reliable, but I would not forgo the EPIRB as well. I'm a belt, suspenders, and piece of rope sort of bloke.

Fair winds,

Leo
Good post -- thanks.
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Old 15-05-2015, 09:09   #65
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

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Originally Posted by Rustic Charm View Post
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.

I don't dispute 'batteries' can fail. But you can't realistically equate epirb batteries with any of these.
Your logic doesn't make any sense. EPIRBs have been around for at least 30 yrs, these satellite devices like SPOT or Inreach have only been around for a few years. Let's look at all of the vessels that vanished prior to the advent of satellite phones.

If every single vessel is required to have an EPIRB by law, and all of these EPIRBs fire off when a vessel sinks, how do you explain the large number of vessels that have vanished and no EPIRB message was ever received? IF they are so reliable and never fail, then logically, every time a vessel gets abandoned or sinks, an EPIRB MUST have fired off.

But we know, for a fact, that that hasn't always happened. In the vast majority of those cases, survivors were never found. Sure, there have been some amazing rescues where they were stil alive in the life raft 90 days later or something, but there have been probably hundreds of lost vessels and their crews in the last 30 yrs that never got an EPIRB message off.

Since the most critical time for rescue is the first 24 hrs and no one ashore suspects any problems unless they receive a message, your chances of getting rescued are pretty slim if your EPIRB fails and it's your only device.
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Old 15-05-2015, 09:13   #66
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

"SOLAS "approval" always lags - often dangerously. I believe approved distress signals still include a burning tar barrel, "
Six SOLAS flares, $600? While every third-world fishing boat has a grease barrel on board. That's not obsolete, that's careful thought.
"I don't know but do the satellites handling EPIRB signals also have solar storm and similiar interference issues?"
Military satellites are hardened against EMP, solar flares, and cosmic rays. Cost is no object. Spare satellites are in orbut, and on th ground. Iridium and Globalstar? Built by the lowest bidder. Don't ask the DoD how the military satellites are armored, that's classified. But you can assume that unless they are total fools, the satellites are more robust than civilian ones.
" How many of us regularly test our EPIRB?"
Got a test button? Ever use it? Like, anytime you're going offshore? Or just monthly? A poor workman blames the tools, right?
"Finally, it's a complete mystery why the US CG (and apparently most other maritime SAR organizations) do not publish a distress email address and SMS capable phone number. "
Simple. SPAM. Denial of service attacks. No way to trace, confirm, authenticate the sender. Those "text to 911" systems are still mainly new, unproven, and once one has been attacked--as it will be--you may see a lot of rethinking. The USCG also needs a budget line, from Congress, to implement ANYTHING new. As you may have heard, Congress has suggested the USCG install pay toilets for the help, to defray the cost of toilet paper. (OK, I might be kidding on that. Actually, Congress suggested installing composting toilets, and then selling the resulting fertilizer to raise money. Kidding?)
" EPIRB is like the cassette tape..." Which, along with vinyl, has made a comeback. I can take a 1982 Type IV (metal) cassette tape made from a pristine LP, and play it alongside a CD, and you'll be able to hear the CD is in some ways inferior. Every record pressing plant in the country is at capacity, and there's a vinyl shortage as well. Obsolete? Or as Mark Twain said, the reports of my death have been exagerrated?
"Now if EPIRBs had rechargeable batteries and were left on the charger until needed, "
Yeah, no, batteries don't work that way. Whether they are lead acid or lithium ion (the more powerful and dependable of the two) they actually need a fairly expensive charger in order to avoid cooking the batteries and ruining them. You can't just leave them on a charge, you wind up with batteries that need to be replaced every two years, and charging wires or docks that disconnect and leave them dead, or charging fires (like cell phones and laptops), or...lots of extra complications.
As opposed to a nice stable lithium battery pack that is replaced very simply every fifth year when it still has more than 50% life in it. Yes, they can be replaced simply and inexpensively, the EPIRB makers just don't want to do business that way.
By all means rely on the InReach. And DeLorme, who have done some sketchy things over the years (like placing non-existant streets on maps, intentionally) and who, like Iridium, may one day be sold at pennies on the dollar. The tech industry has seen a lot of that.

Do I like the concept? Sure. Do I think it is "milspec" reliable? ROFL!

Superpower military SAR programs? Ain't dead yet.


socal-
EPIRBs are like fire extinguishers. Having one, does not mean you will always put out a fire. On boats, I've seen them mounted externally in float-free brackets, with WATER in the lens. Electronics tend to not work when they have water in them. But if they are not mounted above deck, they may not float free, or be taken free, making it easy for them to "fail" by failing to deploy.
There can be many reasons for an EPIRB to not send out a signal when a vessel is in trouble. Like the batch of ACR EPIRBs that had defective transmitters. Which is one reason why some EPIRBs generate test messages that confirm the whole system is working. Although, buyers aren't always informed well enough to get them.
Are they perfect? Hell no, but way more affordable, and way more likely to work, than the "aircraft" type that Steve Callahan was adrift with. Out of range of any aircraft. (oops.)
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Old 15-05-2015, 09:20   #67
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leo Ticheli View Post
Would not sailors rescued by other means report if their EPIRB had failed? Surely not every failed EPIRB would result of the loss of all hands. Furthermore, would not we hear of failures after self-tests are performed? If anyone knows of cases of EPIRB failure, please let us know.


Fair winds,

Leo
If their EPIRB failed and they had no other backup, how would they get rescued?

If every EPIRB works every time, and every vessel is required by law to carry one, can anyone please explain to me how so many vessels could have sunk without a single EPIRB transmission over the last 30 yrs. I bet the number is well over 100.
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Old 15-05-2015, 09:31   #68
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

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Originally Posted by Hearts Content View Post
LOL!

Just some info:

The aircraft that you "hope" will be looking for you do carry RDF gear. Having been a navigator on a Coast Guard C130, we would use the GPS to get us in the area and RDF to "find" you.

On a nice day, a GPS coordinate is all that is needed. But more often, we are searching in less than ideal conditions. Think 15' seas and clouds down to 100'. We also don't have the "latest" GPS coordinates so you have probably drifted away from the coordinates we have. A waterproof VHF handheld is a strong recommendation to speed that final search and communicate with the rescue team. Remember it's line of sight so you can talk to a plane, heading to the beach, at 18,000' a long ways away.

The InReach is an awesome device and will suffice for most situations.
Thank you for your service!

I'm hoping that someday they'll come up with a system that will give you the latest GPS coordinates as you're approaching. It's possible, it just needs some cooperation from all parties involved.

Does the EPIRB update it's GPS position as it transmits over the next 24-48 hrs? Would there be some way to pass those coordinates along via radio to the plane? Or, even better, via satcomm.
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Old 15-05-2015, 09:33   #69
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by socaldmax View Post
If their EPIRB failed and they had no other backup, how would they get rescued?

If every EPIRB works every time, and every vessel is required by law to carry one, can anyone please explain to me how so many vessels could have sunk without a single EPIRB transmission over the last 30 yrs. I bet the number is well over 100.
Has anyone claimed that EPIRBs work 100% of the time? Clearly they do not.
EPIRBs Failure - The Investigation Continues - gCaptain Maritime & Offshore News

Some accidents could be so sudden and catastrophic that the EPIRB could not be activated or went to the bottom with the ship.

Have sailors with failed EPIRBs been rescued by other means? I would think so, but I can't point to any specific report of such. I'd be interested in seeing it if anyone knows of it.

That an EPIRB can fail is beyond doubt; that's why back up systems are important, but the fact that some may fail is no reason not to carry one.


Fair winds,

Leo
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Old 15-05-2015, 09:43   #70
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Worth reading the Aegean incident report if you are interested In Epirb vs Inreach/spot: http://www.ussailing.org/wp-content/...port-FINAL.pdf

Note there are a couple appendixes specifically examining various aspects of this question.

Inreach and spot both use the same third party private "rescue center".
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Old 15-05-2015, 10:06   #71
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

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Originally Posted by Leo Ticheli View Post
Has anyone claimed that EPIRBs work 100% of the time? Clearly they do not.
EPIRBs Failure - The Investigation Continues - gCaptain Maritime & Offshore News

Some accidents could be so sudden and catastrophic that the EPIRB could not be activated or went to the bottom with the ship.

Have sailors with failed EPIRBs been rescued by other means? I would think so, but I can't point to any specific report of such. I'd be interested in seeing it if anyone knows of it.

That an EPIRB can fail is beyond doubt; that's why back up systems are important, but the fact that some may fail is no reason not to carry one.


Fair winds,

Leo
Oh, I'm not saying don't carry an EPIRB, this is all in response to Rustic Charm's assertion that nobody's ever been rescued and reported that their EPIRB failed. Logically, if you EPIRB failed and you have no backup, your chances of getting rescued are pretty close to zero since no one is going to start looking for you until you're overdue, which could be quite a while later.

I agree with you, we should all carry EPIRBs and a couple of other backups.
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Old 15-05-2015, 10:21   #72
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

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Originally Posted by Rustic Charm View Post
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?
That was my thought. What happens when there's a billing issue or mistake and the service is cut off (as was with Rebel Heart Sat Phone)?
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Old 15-05-2015, 10:27   #73
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

100 % worldwide? Don't go to Antartica with it!
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Old 15-05-2015, 17:03   #74
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
"SOLAS "approval" always lags - often dangerously. I believe approved distress signals still include a burning tar barrel, "
Six SOLAS flares, $600? While every third-world fishing boat has a grease barrel on board. That's not obsolete, that's careful thought.
"I don't know but do the satellites handling EPIRB signals also have solar storm and similiar interference issues?"
Military satellites are hardened against EMP, solar flares, and cosmic rays. Cost is no object. Spare satellites are in orbut, and on th ground. Iridium and Globalstar? Built by the lowest bidder. Don't ask the DoD how the military satellites are armored, that's classified. But you can assume that unless they are total fools, the satellites are more robust than civilian ones.
" How many of us regularly test our EPIRB?"
Got a test button? Ever use it? Like, anytime you're going offshore? Or just monthly? A poor workman blames the tools, right?
"Finally, it's a complete mystery why the US CG (and apparently most other maritime SAR organizations) do not publish a distress email address and SMS capable phone number. "
Simple. SPAM. Denial of service attacks. No way to trace, confirm, authenticate the sender.
Those "text to 911" systems are still mainly new, unproven, and once one has been attacked--as it will be--you may see a lot of rethinking. The USCG also needs a budget line, from Congress, to implement ANYTHING new. As you may have heard, Congress has suggested the USCG install pay toilets for the help, to defray the cost of toilet paper. (OK, I might be kidding on that. Actually, Congress suggested installing composting toilets, and then selling the resulting fertilizer to raise money. Kidding?)
" EPIRB is like the cassette tape..." Which, along with vinyl, has made a comeback. I can take a 1982 Type IV (metal) cassette tape made from a pristine LP, and play it alongside a CD, and you'll be able to hear the CD is in some ways inferior. Every record pressing plant in the country is at capacity, and there's a vinyl shortage as well. Obsolete? Or as Mark Twain said, the reports of my death have been exagerrated?
"Now if EPIRBs had rechargeable batteries and were left on the charger until needed, "
Yeah, no, batteries don't work that way. Whether they are lead acid or lithium ion (the more powerful and dependable of the two) they actually need a fairly expensive charger in order to avoid cooking the batteries and ruining them. You can't just leave them on a charge, you wind up with batteries that need to be replaced every two years, and charging wires or docks that disconnect and leave them dead, or charging fires (like cell phones and laptops), or...lots of extra complications.
As opposed to a nice stable lithium battery pack that is replaced very simply every fifth year
when it still has more than 50% life in it. Yes, they can be replaced simply and inexpensively, the EPIRB makers just don't want to do business that way.
By all means rely on the InReach. And DeLorme, who have done some sketchy things over the years (like placing non-existant streets on maps, intentionally) and who, like Iridium, may one day be sold at pennies on the dollar. The tech industry has seen a lot of that.

Do I like the concept? Sure. Do I think it is "milspec" reliable? ROF

Superpower military SAR programs? Ain't dead yet.


socal-
EPIRBs are like fire extinguishers. Having one, does not mean you will always put out a fire. On boats, I've seen them mounted externally in float-free brackets, with WATER in the lens.
Electronics tend to not work when they have water in them. But if they are not mounted above deck, they may not float free, or be taken free, making it easy for them to "fail" by failing to deploy.
There can be many reasons for an EPIRB to not send out a signal when a vessel is in trouble. Like the batch of ACR EPIRBs that had defective transmitters. Which is one reason why some EPIRBs generate test messages that confirm the whole system is working. Although, buyers aren't always informed well enough to get them.
Are they perfect? Hell no, but way more affordable, and way more likely to work, than the "aircraft" type that Steve Callahan was adrift with. Out of range of any aircraft. (oops.)
Pretty accurate summary of the thread
Thanks.
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Old 15-05-2015, 17:52   #75
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by socaldmax View Post
Your logic doesn't make any sense. EPIRBs have been around for at least 30 yrs, these satellite devices like SPOT or Inreach have only been around for a few years. Let's look at all of the vessels that vanished prior to the advent of satellite phones.

If every single vessel is required to have an EPIRB by law, and all of these EPIRBs fire off when a vessel sinks, (NO THEY DONT) how do you explain the large number of vessels that have vanished and no EPIRB message was ever received? IF they are so reliable and never fail, then logically, every time a vessel gets abandoned or sinks, an EPIRB MUST have fired off.(NO, that's not how they work)

But we know, for a fact, that that hasn't always happened. In the vast majority of those cases, survivors were never found. Sure, there have been some amazing rescues where they were stil alive in the life raft 90 days later or something, but there have been probably hundreds of lost vessels and their crews in the last 30 yrs that never got an EPIRB message off.

Since the most critical time for rescue is the first 24 hrs and no one ashore suspects any problems unless they receive a message, your chances of getting rescued are pretty slim if your EPIRB fails and it's your only device.
Socaldmax, you don't have an epirb do you? OR do you not know how they work?

Firstly, it's not correct that every single vessel has to have them. NO. I would certainly hope that all commercial vessel's have them.

Secondly, ONLY automatic, self activating epirbs will turn themselves on when they are immersed in water, usually at a certain depth. Few recreational vessels have these because they are double the cost of a non automatic epirb. This means, that for people to activate an epirb, they have to physically grab them and activate them and turn them on. There are known situations where both small recreational vessels and large container ships (such as off the UK last year) where the vessels have gone down so quickly that it's presumed no one had a chance to activate an epirb. This is hugely different than someone ''activating'' one, turning it on and it then failing.

And lastly, whilst Epirbs were invented about 1970, which is when the very first commercially registered beacon was put on the market. IN 1990 the first float free marine beacon was produced. Now I don't know a lot of the history and it's a little difficult just to google it for some reason. But I know that the epirbs operating right up into the mid 2000's were not as reliable as the digital 406mhz we now use. And with the gps units now becoming popular they are even more reliable.

Again, apart from you stating it, there does not seem to be any common statistics of epirb's commonly failing. With their world wide use, if they were that unreliable, there would have to be some well known statistics. What we do know is that over 20 000 people have been rescued since the system began being used and in 2010 2380 people were rescued alone in over 641 situations. That's pretty damn impressive.
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