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Author Topic:   The best EPIRB to get
diveorfish posted 03-11-2003 12:29 PM ET (US)   Profile for diveorfish   Send Email to diveorfish  
I would like to purchase an EPIRB fairly soon. Based on the experiences of others, what are the best brands and best type for a 23-foot boat? Opinions much appreciated.
captbone posted 03-11-2003 12:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for captbone  Send Email to captbone     
I like the ACR, it is a very good unit and cheap. But having said that, I would only recommend buying that last. I would much rather have survial suits then a EPIRB. You are going to be fishing in a small area anyway. Maybe 50 miles offshore and 50 miles from your inlet. Epirbs are designed for far offshore. They are coming out with a personnal EPIRB now and it will be approved by July (biggest mistake for the US market) but that would be a good tool for you. I would rather have a rigid raft that you put on the hard top for certain trips and good survial suits. Just my 2 cents
diveorfish posted 03-13-2003 11:01 AM ET (US)     Profile for diveorfish  Send Email to diveorfish     
I guess this topic didnít get much play but thanks for your input Captbone. You made some good points. Our water is about 50 degrees and the EPRIB would allow folks to find you but you could be dead already. The thing is I routinely have on average a total of 5 passengers including my self. I donít know if a raft that would accommodate that many would fit on my 23 ft boat. I doubt my buddies would buy a survival suit for occasional albacore trips. I guess I will investigate more.
captbone posted 03-13-2003 11:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for captbone  Send Email to captbone     
If you have a hard top, then I would look into one of those hard foam rafts like what the ferrys and party boats use. THey make them in many sizes and they are affordable. I would not recommend a inflatable raft because of the annual packings involved (gets expensive and a pain). Since you carry that many people I do not think survival suits would be smart either ( just too much money). Good luck
larimore posted 03-14-2003 08:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for larimore  Send Email to larimore     
Out of curiosity, why would you want a rigid raft when you are already in one ?

If you do get an epirb, get a 406 model so that you will be found sooner.

Barry posted 03-14-2003 09:44 AM ET (US)     Profile for Barry  Send Email to Barry     
If you're going to invest in an EPRIB I would recommend the ACR GlobalFix 406 with Integral GPS. I would go with a Category II, manually deployed unit. The units with the integral GPS have two important benefits - 1) they can reduce the time to notification from the average of 46 minutes to an average of 4 minutes and 2) they reduce the search radius from 2 nm (12.5 square nm) to .07 nm (0.014 square nm). Bottom line is you may get rescued much quicker with the GPS model which will be very important if you have abandoned ship.

About the only reason to abandon ship (and the only reason to consider a liferaft in a Whaler) would be in case of fire. Your Whaler may not sink but it can still burn.

Obviously EPIRBs are typically used when other methods of communication fail. In other words, the boat is out of cell phone or VHF range. Another offshore communication option to consider would be a satellite phone. The Globalstar satellite phones have a range of 200 nm and only cost about $500 (plus $20 a month, plus $.99/min., plus ?) The entry cost is less than half the cost of an EPIRB with GPS. However I don't believe the phone is waterproof so using it in the water would be a challenge.

diveorfish posted 03-14-2003 01:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for diveorfish  Send Email to diveorfish     
Larimore: I was curious as well until someone pointed out that a Whaler could still catch fire. I donít know what the odds of catching fire are but when you are standing on 166 gallons of gas it is something to think about.

You guys have brought up some interesting points. I think the issue of safety gear is worth pursuing further. I think I will post a thread to the General forum.

captbone posted 03-14-2003 07:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for captbone  Send Email to captbone     
IMO, I would stay away from the satalite phones, if you are in a hurry, you will be swimming in 10ft waves trying to keep the phone dry making a phone call. After hearing all the options, the ideal set up for you would be a EPIRB, ALso get some wool clothes to add to the ditch bag, they will keep you warm even when wet. Also keep on eye on the national fisherman magazine, they have some good deals on survival suits.
Barry posted 03-14-2003 09:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for Barry  Send Email to Barry     
Check eBay for deals on survival suits.
weekendwarrior posted 03-15-2003 07:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for weekendwarrior  Send Email to weekendwarrior     
I'm not familiar with survival suits, but how about a regular wet suit? You can get them for $100 at the local dive shop. Again I'm not familiar with a survival suit or its advantages so maybe that is better.
jimh posted 03-15-2003 01:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Assume that on your 23-foot Boston Whaler you might at maximum venture 50-miles offshore. I know that is an arbitrary number, but it seems to me an appropriate one.

Assume you have a VHF radio and your antenna is about 10-feet above the water.

Assume your national life-saving service (Coast Guard) maintains a radio watch in your waters, and their antenna is at least 300-feet above the water (which is typical).

The range of VHF communications would be roughly:

RANGE[miles] = 1.5 X SQRT(HEIGHT[feet])

(Don't forget to compute both ranges and add them together.)

or about 30-miles.

If you had an emergency and transmitted a MAYDAY via VHF Marine Radio, you might not be heard by a coastal radio station.

If we raise our boat antenna to 15-feet and our coastal antenna to 500-feet, the range improves to about 40 miles.

In order for a coastal station to reliably hear signals from boats 50 miles offshore, it should probably have an antenna about 1000-feet above the water.

The coastal station might be located on a bluff or inland hill and gain several hundred feet of elevation above the water, so it is not totally unreasonable to anticipate antennas of 1000 feet of height.

A good example is in Georgian Bay, where the Canadian Coast Guard has a radio tower just north of Wiarton, located on the top of the biggest hill in the region. I estimate this hill is at least 500 feet above lake level. On the top of the hill is an antenna tower at least 500-feet tall. This coastal station can "hear" at least 50-miles offshore.

A good indication of the range of your coastal station is the ability to receive the continuous marine broadcast transmissions. In the case of the installation in Wiarton, we can often copy their signal at more than 50-miles away, with much terrain in the path. I am sure that over open water the signal could be received well beyond 50 miles.

In fact, coverage is limited by interference from other transmitters in the region also transmitting on the same channel with the continuous marine broadcast material.

captbone posted 03-15-2003 11:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for captbone  Send Email to captbone     
The difference between survival suits and wetsuits is pretty great. A survival suit is a floatation device. A wetsuit may float but nothing like a survival suit. Also a survival suit can be put on very quickly even in the water and is bright orange, and is more a dry suit then a wet suit. They are big and bulky but are a your best piecie of survival great in cold water. A wet suit is better than nothing but if you are a serious offshore person than a survival suit is a great piecie of equipment. Also I do not have much faith in the numbers for the range of VHF. It is a line of sight device but the conditions effect it so greatly. The equipment that the USCG has is great. Also long as you are within say 150 miles of a USCG station they will hear you. At USCG Rockaway on the south shore of LI, I could do a radio check with Sta Cape Hatteras on a cloudy day.
reelescape1 posted 03-16-2003 11:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for reelescape1  Send Email to reelescape1     
Get the 406 with built in gps....I chose the manual model.
diveorfish posted 03-17-2003 10:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for diveorfish  Send Email to diveorfish     
Thank you for input gentleman. Based on the feedback from this thread and the safety gear thread on the general forum, I think an EPIRB with GPS is in my future. I will also take a serious look at the survival suits. This year I want to hit the Northern California Albacore run and I want to be safe doing it. I will also try to hookup with some running mates.

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