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Old 05-02-2023, 11:57   #1
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Solo Sailing: PLB or EPIRB?

This season (well, maybe the season,....) I hope to get out of the Chesapeake Bay and out on the Atlantic, going beyond cell coverage. I have neither a PLB nor EPIRB. I plan to be tethered most of the time, so going over the side is not my major concern, though it should always be a concern.

OK, as I plan for most of this sailing to be solo, which equipment would cover me for most situations?
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Old 05-02-2023, 12:38   #2
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Re: Solo Sailing: PLB or EPIRB?

Don’t skimp. Just buy both. Keep the PLB in your pocket or on your PFD and keep the EPIRB in a ready to go spot on the boat. It is nice to have a backup just in case. And each has its own advantage.
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Old 05-02-2023, 13:11   #3
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Re: Solo Sailing: PLB or EPIRB?

I have both an EPIRB and a Garmin InReach.
The EPIRB stays with the boat. The InReach has a charging cradle at the nav station and is supposed to go in my pocket when I'm away from the boat.
The InReach is a bit of an extravagance because it comes with a monthly subscription fee. However, it allows friends and family to keep track of where I am, as well as limited messaging when out of cell range, and satellite SOS function. The reasoning behind this was that I do go on long dinghy and kayak rides across open water, and hikes in remote places.
It has been a problem to get into the habit of actually carrying the InReach.
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Old 05-02-2023, 13:20   #4
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Re: Solo Sailing: PLB or EPIRB?

For the Bay, your VHF is probably good enough and a hand held on your person.

I've sailed the Bay like that for years singlehanded but have been on boats since the 60's so "usually" am in tune with the motion.

This day and age I'm thinking my next purchase should I venture out passed say the Chesapeake Light (Tower) which is about 16 miles offshore in the Atlantic will be a PLB. (like the Garmin inReach mini)

They seem to be the perfect size to keep on you at all times maybe in a fanny pack or something similar
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Old 08-02-2023, 22:28   #5
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Re: Solo Sailing: PLB or EPIRB?

I'd agree that having both is preferable but if you have only one, get the EPIRB. If it were me I'd be getting one like the ACR 2851/2852 or McMurdo G8 with AIS.
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Old 09-02-2023, 02:23   #6
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Re: Solo Sailing: PLB or EPIRB?

Technically if one was to have one on a vessel it would be a EPIRB..but personally prefer to carry the PLB on both my motorcycle and transfer to my boat..this is just a personal choice..
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Old 09-02-2023, 02:43   #7
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Re: Solo Sailing: PLB or EPIRB?

I read EPIRBs are designed to transmit for at least twice as long as a PLB so at least 48hrs vs 24 hrs.
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Old 09-02-2023, 06:06   #8
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Re: Solo Sailing: PLB or EPIRB?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. D View Post
This season (well, maybe the season,....) I hope to get out of the Chesapeake Bay and out on the Atlantic, going beyond cell coverage. I have neither a PLB nor EPIRB. I plan to be tethered most of the time, so going over the side is not my major concern, though it should always be a concern.

OK, as I plan for most of this sailing to be solo, which equipment would cover me for most situations?
ďI plan to be tethered most of the timeĒ. Itís a personal decision, but when offshore Iím tethered 100% of the time. I have an ACR EPIRB and an inReach Explorer. The EPIRB stays with the ditch bag and SHOULD make it into the life raft with me but the inReach is always with me so as long as I make it into the life raft I will be able to initiate an SOS and communicate via text/email.
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Old 09-02-2023, 06:31   #9
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Re: Solo Sailing: PLB or EPIRB?

I have both, but if you have to choose one, make it the PLB.



EPIRB: with the boat (usually in the grab bag)
PLB: on your person (usually in your life vest)


EPIRB has different advantages over PLB, but those advantages are to naught if you don't have it with you. There are a lot of ways you can get separated from your grab bag. I always have my PLB on my person when offshore.


When we went to Greenland, the crew was all required to each have a PLB.
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Old 09-02-2023, 06:40   #10
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Re: Solo Sailing: PLB or EPIRB?

I use an inreach for tracking and messaging offshore. But I donít consider it a replacement for an epirb or PLB. The inreach SOS goes through a more limited satellite network and a commercial company for screening before being reported to search and rescue. Or, at least thatís what I found when I was researching what I wanted a few years ago. Compared to the overall costs of a big trip I felt it was a good idea to have both.
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Old 09-02-2023, 06:41   #11
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Re: Solo Sailing: PLB or EPIRB?

I made this decision when sailing solo on the Great Lakes and chose a PLB (ACR ResQLink, about $350) attached to the belt of my inflatable PFD. I found that the promise to always be clipped in did not hold longer than a new year's resolution - too inconvenient. I was always able to keep my promise to wear my inflatable PFD, including around the dock where many MOB happen due to line handling, washing up, sail handling, etc.. It was the first thing to go one when I go onboard, and the last thing off when I locked the boat up. My biggest fear was watching my boat sail away from me on autopilot.

An alternative (about the same price) is a RescueMe MOB1, which is AIS based and can fit within your inflatable PFD cover (it's automatic too). You do not get the satellite coverage, but within a limited body of water with a great deal of commercial traffic, the VHF coverage is probably good. With either tool you need to register (free with the purchase), but there is no monthly fees.

The comment about the length of time for an EPIRB vs PLB is not relevant for the Chesapeake. The Coasties can overfly the whole thing in an hour, and they will if they get a GPS distress signal. A EPIRB is a big thing, so you are not going to carry it around with you.
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Old 09-02-2023, 07:19   #12
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Re: Solo Sailing: PLB or EPIRB?

If you want to maximize your chances of survival, get all three, EPIRB, PLB and a messenger. I like the messenger best because it helps with the anxiety once you get a response from loved ones who will organize the rescue. Close to shore, a PLB is probably the most robust method (always on you, will show up on the AIS, easier to switch on; limited battery life but unlikely that you will survive for longer than 24 hours anyway).
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Old 09-02-2023, 07:28   #13
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Re: Solo Sailing: PLB or EPIRB?

A PLB would be more sensible for your application than a EPIRB, as it is for most sailors.

Combined PLB and AIS distress beacons have just been released and these would be better still.
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Old 09-02-2023, 07:30   #14
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Re: Solo Sailing: PLB or EPIRB?

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Originally Posted by Dr. D View Post
I plan to be tethered most of the time, so going over the side is not my major concern, though it should always be a concern.

OK, as I plan for most of this sailing to be solo, which equipment would cover me for most situations?
PLB, and wear it when on deck.

10 years ago fellow sailor over here on the West Coast went over the side in rough conditions. The boat was found on the beach with his harness in the closed position and tethered to the boat.

Clearly he slipped out of his harness either involuntarily when tossed off his boat or perhaps voluntarily while being dragged.

His body was found 3 days later.

Our shorthanded offshore races have mandated registered PLB's ever since. An AIS beacon or VHF handheld or Garmin Inreach would also help in a rescue situation, but only the PLB notifies the USCG directly hopefully eliciting a quick response.

BTW, rig your jacklines so you don't go over the lifelines. Consider rigging them in two segments: 1) cockpit to mast 2) Mast forward down centerline. Have hard attachment points at working locations: cockpit, mast and forward.

If you are crossing oceans to Bermuda or elsewhere where assistance may be more than 24 hours out, then an EPIRB is appropriate.
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Old 09-02-2023, 08:01   #15
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Re: Solo Sailing: PLB or EPIRB?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. D View Post
This season (well, maybe the season,....) I hope to get out of the Chesapeake Bay and out on the Atlantic, going beyond cell coverage. I have neither a PLB nor EPIRB. I plan to be tethered most of the time, so going over the side is not my major concern, though it should always be a concern.

OK, as I plan for most of this sailing to be solo, which equipment would cover me for most situations?
Beside the PLB I mentioned if you are going lower Chesapeake Bay then out into the Atlantic the Coast Guard VHF tower is quite high as I understand it and can pick up transmitted VHF radio calls quite for out.

Also we have ships coming in from the NE and SE so that is additional plus all the fishing boats that are just offshore during the season

It's pretty busy out there even this time of year.

https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais...ry:36.1/zoom:8

https://www.charts.noaa.gov/OnLineViewer/12221.shtml
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