I would personally get an ACR EPIRB with integrated GPS. We have had an ACR for 13 years now (I assume it would have worked if ever needed
- and being ACR it will be scrapped at next service
under their aging policy) and they also seem to be the favourite choice of commercial
I would recommend that you get one that turns itself on when placed into water
(many of the recent cheap EPIRBs have to be manually turned on - but without my double checking, as I recall
it all ACR models do turn themselves on in water). This means if you take it with you to a raft or you drop it before tethering it on its leash it will automatically operate even if you cannot recover it. Seems to me easy to remember in an emergency
that the dang thing will turn itself on if you have to leave the boat when you tether it to the raft with its lanyard (EPIRB's work best floating in the water). You can, of course, choose to manually turn it on if wished eg if the boat is not to be evacuated.
Note, I am NOT referring here to the auto release ones that live in a holder above deck
and float free automatically when submerged (generally at around 4m). Like Captain
Jaz I am not a fan of the auto release EPIRBs (known as CAT I) on sailboats as there is just too much for them to foul on (same with auto release liferafts).
I would stay away from the recomendation that has been made to get a PLB as the primary EPIRB for a boat. They are not guaranteed (nor even expected) to float so if you drop it you are likely to wave it goodbye as it goes to the bottom. They also have technical deficiencies in comparison in way of at least shorter transmission
time and poorer radiated signal efficiency. Also, in some countries (the UK for instance) PLB's cannot be registered to either a person or a boat so for those the veracity of an alert by checking with registered contacts can be determined.
MarkJ - the EPIRB's that connect to an external GPS for the fix are left connected all the time until the time of distress
- you do not connect them to the GPS when the distress
occurs (well not any I know of, but if there are I would avoid them like the plague
). This means that they have a fix immediately available to transmit whereas a conventional integrated GPS type has to go through the process of aquiring satellites and calculating the fix before it can transmit a position. So the external GPS type is quicker, not slower. Wotname, I believe it was, gave some information regarding the actual times involved in an earlier thread if interested.
In the end, for oceanic cruising where rescues take some time to arrange, the time in getting a fix as between the GPS and non GPS types is of little relevance in my view. The accuracy of a GPS fix may be of some advantage. If you have to forego something due to budget
, go without the GPS.