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Old 12-05-2015, 21:37   #1
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Are EPIRBs dead?

I figured the title would get some attention. I actually do have an EPIRB (and a PLB) but they are now the backup. But after a year with my Delorme Inreach it is my primary offshore communications system (I believe the Yellowbrick is very similiar).

When the EPIRB's batteries reach EOL I may just get a 2nd InReach instead of replacing the EPIRB. I won't go offshore without an Inreach -- even on someone else's boat.

As a distress communication it beats the EPIRB hands down as it provides two way communication with a staffed 24/7 rescue center or anyone with an email address - like your family. The EPIRB just blinks. Waterproof and 4 day battery in a package the size of most PLBs can be clipped to the life jacket on the way to the liferaft. And it worries me that my EPIRB can't really be tested until I'm in a liferaft. I know the InReach works.

As a global offshore communicator, mine is always turned on (it works fine sitting on the chart table sending through the fiberglass overhead). If someone sends me a message, it beeps until I read it. An end to checking for traffic. And an end to coordinating once a day Ham or SSB schedules. While each email can only be 160 characters long, anyone under age 30 will tell you that's plenty.

In my experience it is far more reliable than Ham, SSB, or Sat phone. So far, the InReach has always found an Iridium satellite and sent the message within two minutes - regardless of weather, time of day, traffic, etc - No propagation worries. No dropped calls. No "try again later".

The only thing I miss are GRIB files. But it's easy to have a shore side friend send you abbreviated weather as needed in 160 character pieces - and Ocens will do it for $8 a month.

The Delorme costs $300 and the service starts at $15 a month and $0.10 a message with no contract. As I mentioned, I believe the Yellowbrick is very similiar.

Carl
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Old 13-05-2015, 00:04   #2
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

In a real emergency, I would still want both.
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Old 13-05-2015, 02:27   #3
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

My first experience with EPIRBs was in the late eighties. Thing was about six inches in diameter and two feet long and it was heavy. I think it had a separate antenae you had to screw on before firing it up.

It used VHF to alert airplanes overhead, which made it sort of a novelty since where we were, there weren't really any airplanes overhead.

"If you push this button someone will come, maybe"

At the the time, if you wanted travel past the fringe, the emphasis was on having the knowledge, skills, and resources required to be safe. Now the emphasis is on pushing a button. I guess that's what you call progress.

I still have those skills and knowledge, btw. They don't have an EOL except for my own.
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Old 13-05-2015, 02:45   #4
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Looked kinda like this one but older.
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Old 13-05-2015, 04:46   #5
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Time marches forward and like the old sailors faced with the new-fangled steam engines hanging onto their sails for a "back-up", everyone still wants to hang onto their "backups", until the backups either stop working, become EOL, or enough fellow sailors begin finding humor in the continued reliance.

We ... for the most part, don't like change ... don't trust change ...
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Old 13-05-2015, 04:59   #6
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Not only are they not dead, but they are a lawful requirement in great parts of the planet, including my bit.
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Old 13-05-2015, 10:51   #7
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

The InReach worked well in land based use for us (operating a remote gold claim) and I have been very impressed. I also have been a licenced HAM since 1990 and am active there as well.
I live by the idea that two is one and one is none. This is one place where redundancy is a good thing. InReach, VHF, SSB and Satellite Phone. One way or the other you will get the message through. Also SSB will work without any infrastructure what so ever, so you aren't relying on anything besides your radio and the operator on the other end.
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Old 13-05-2015, 14:06   #8
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

I will accept these as a replacement for an EPIRB as soon as one of them is SOLAS approved. For now they aren't even close, or really even trying to be. Just a few major issues...

They don't transmit on 406MHz, which means they can't be used for rough approximation of location.
They don't transmit on 121.5Mhz, which means they can't be used for close in homing
They don't transmit regularly, but instead turn on every 10 minutes and send an update.

don't get me wrong, I would really want both. But if i could only have one I would choose and EPIRB.
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Old 13-05-2015, 14:50   #9
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

The government really doesn't have RDF gear that they can tune to any frequency they want?
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Old 13-05-2015, 16:47   #10
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Canibul View Post
The government really doesn't have RDF gear that they can tune to any frequency they want?
Presumably somewhat tongue in cheek

However while some arms of the government may have very sophisticated locating devices these aint the ones that come and pluck you from the ocean.

The guys who could find you anywhere mostly aren't interested in you unless you have been very naughty .

I concur with Stumble's post and others who dont believe the EPRIB has died. It will one day but right now is alive and saving lives.
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Old 13-05-2015, 17:12   #11
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarlF View Post
I figured the title would get some attention. I actually do have an EPIRB (and a PLB) but they are now the backup. But after a year with my Delorme Inreach it is my primary offshore communications system (I believe the Yellowbrick is very similiar).
Carl
Great idea, that inreach. Checked out "Hands-on Gear Review" DeLorme InReach SE Satellite Messenger Review - OutdoorGearLab and noticed something a bit disconcerting: It's rated as water resistant. But there is a flotation jacket available. So I guess it'll work until it doesn't. Maybe keep it a zip-lock plastic bag or something.

Seems like a good product/idea. Thanks for starting the thread, Carl.

James
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Old 13-05-2015, 18:01   #12
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

This is like the SPOT debate that has occurred in the past.

I know SPOT has a disclaimer that it is not a life saving device. I would wager a tall Jack Daniels that inreach is the same.

If my sorry butt needs a rescue, I would want a device built and certified to save sorry butts. Either a PLB for coastal or epirb for off shore. Preferably one by ACR.


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Old 13-05-2015, 18:06   #13
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stumble View Post
I will accept these as a replacement for an EPIRB as soon as one of them is SOLAS approved. For now they aren't even close, or really even trying to be. Just a few major issues...

They don't transmit on 406MHz, which means they can't be used for rough approximation of location.
They don't transmit on 121.5Mhz, which means they can't be used for close in homing
They don't transmit regularly, but instead turn on every 10 minutes and send an update.

don't get me wrong, I would really want both. But if i could only have one I would choose and EPIRB.
What he said.....
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Old 13-05-2015, 21:09   #14
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

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.
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Old 13-05-2015, 21:34   #15
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Quote:
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.
InReach uses the iridium network which is 100% worldwide

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