Originally Posted by hellosailor
Midland, in the US, I thought water activation requirements varied with class or type. Even if it was required (here, there, or both) I still call it a design flaw if that function is not prominently marked on the gear
I couldn't comment on whether USA accepts EPIRB's that can only be manually activated (it is not mentioned in the CFR but the CFR refers to other documents eg FCC one, that I do not have) - I do know that of the EPIRB's approved in USA as at the late 2007 list I have there is no model that has to be manually activated ie all have the be able to be manually and water activated. If they don't accept non water activated EPIRBs that is a good thing in my view.
Without checking further, some of the countries I know off hand that do accept non water activated ones are NZ, UK and Australia
. I have been told, not authoratively, that the change in the specification came about by request of NZ and Australia
following their decision not to provide official DSC VHF
coverage of their Sea Areas A (means roughly coastal) due to the extent of their uninhabited coastlines and the desire to get cheaper EPIRBs to encourage take up of them (by pleasure users that is, most commercial
have to be CAT 1 EPIRBs which are obviously they are water activated
) - I am not sure how NZ came to this decision though because they actually do have non DSC VHF
coverage of the whole coastline (whereas Australia has no official federal coverage of ANY of its coastline - is MF/HF DSC only).
you refer to may be the Class A, B, C etc that the USA uses for classifying EPIRBs but as far as I know (I don't have a copy of the FCC document) it only refers (generally) to the frequency of operation eg Class A & B beacons are 121MHz beacons and the sale
of those has been prohibited in the US for some years now.
The base specification for EPIRBs is the Cospas/Sarsat one and this cannot be compromised by nations as Cospas/Sarsat are the organisation responsible for the security
of the whole system - all EPIRBs have to be tested by a Cospas/Sarsat approved laboratory as meeting this specification. Nations have some options for the coding of beacons as fields are included in the transmitted string for national use, and may, of course only allow the use/sale of ones with complete or otherwise of the Cospas/Satsat functionality.
With respect to unintentional water activation I think you are dramatising the case somewhat. The Cospas/Sarsat specification requires that EPIRBs be designed to prevent inadvertent activation and a further protection is required in that the specification also requires that the distress alert must not be transmitted by the beacon until at least one transmit repeat cycle has elapsed (a cycle is 50 secs so after activation the second burst is at approx 100seconds). There is also a bit in the message which indicates if the beacon is able to be water activated or if of manual activated type only - HOWEVER this is in a user field so a nation may use these bits for something else as far as I understand.
Furthermore, as far as I know ALL water activated EPIRBs have for some years come with a holder which magnetically prevents water activation while in it.
So, a casual "wetting" as you describe it should not initiate an alert - ordinarily an alert should not be sent unless the EPIRB is placed in water and it is in the water contunually for at least 50 secs. So, if a "wetting" has set of an EPIRB it likely does not comply with the specification.
Maybe you can give some examples of where casual "wetting" of an EPIRB has initiated a distress alert? I do know of alerts originating from EPIRBs accidently getting into water eg boats sinking at their berth in the marina, I am asking about accidental casual "wetting" which I interpret your concern as meaning being splashed, for example.