Thursday, October 8, 2015

EPIRB's and PLB's


ACR Global Fix Pro GPS Cat II
My strongest emotion is apathy and my greatest skill is procrastination but the calendar is relentless. With only a couple of weeks to go my first priority is to go over everything on Reboot that needs to be fixed and that might have to be shipped in. Emergency equipment is always highest on my list. Reboot has an old Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPRIB) that still passes the self test. However the newer EPRIBs have a GPS function that reduces the search area from a radius of about 50 miles to a few feet. I spoke to the tech at ACR and he told me that even if a unit passes the self test one does  not know how long the battery  will last. I decided it was time to bite the bullet and purchase a new unit. Fortunately the price has dropped to about 1/3 of the cost of my original EPIRB. I purchased an ACR Global Fix Pro GPS for Reboot.

Since I single hand most of the time I was torn between purchasing an EPIRB and a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB.) PLB's are functionally equivalent to EPRIB's with the exception of smaller batteries. Until recently they also did not float - a problem for a ship board emergency device. They are intended to be worn on one's life jacket hence are smaller than an EPRIB. My thought was that if I were to fall or be swept overboard having an EPRIB in the cabin would not do me much good.

ACR ResQLink+ 375
Since I am taking crew more frequently (and frankly since the prices have dropped to a point where they are more affordable) I decided to get a PLB for the watch stander in the cockpit. On my last trip Michael was swept across the cockpit by a boarding wave after he had detached his harness to come into the cabin. A little bit bigger wave of a different direction and he could have gone overboard. As it was his forward motion was stopped by taking a header into the winch. At least he stayed on board but took a nasty cut. ACR has updated their ResQLink to the ResQLink +. The difference is that the ResQLink + floats. A very valuable upgrade. When I am single handing I will wear it for personal protection.

I note in passing that ACR is running rebates on both devices. It reduced the pain at least a little bit.

With the advent of the Internet it pays to shop around. I ended up ordering from Defender - I have done a lot of business with them in the past and they have great customer service. The prices with West Marine were similar (WM at little more expensive) but what tipped the scales was sales tax. Since West Marine has stores in Virginia they are obligated to collect sales tax. The cost of the sales tax was more than the cost of the shipping from Defender.

Fair winds and following seas :)

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