Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Calgary, AB, Canada
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Re: EPIRB or PLB for coastal cruising
The differences between EPIRBs and PLBs
Personal Location Beacons work in exactly the same way as EPIRBs by sending a coded message on the 406 MHz distress frequency which is relayed via the Cospas-Sarsat global satellite system.
However, there are a number of differences between them. PLBs are designed to be carried on the person so they are much smaller, some such as the Fast find are not much larger than the size of a mobile phone. PLBs are designed to be used anywhere in the world, on the sea and also on land. Some don't float but may come with an additional floatational sleeve which they should be carried in.
PLBs, once activated, will transmit for a minimum of 24 hours; while the battery life on an EPIRB is at least double (a minimum of 48 hours). An EPIRB is registered to a vessel, whereas a PLB is registered to a person. This means that if you are crewing a yacht and you swicth to a new yacht the plb is still correctly registered; however, if you have an EPIRB and buy a new yacht you will need to re-register it when installing in your new boat.
Since I do not own a boat I carry an PLB (Aqualink). It floats and is waterproof. It also has a clip to attach to my pfd and a lanyard to prevent loss.
On ocean deliveries we have an EPIRB.
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Last edited by jackdale; 03-22-2013 at 03:09 PM.