Was doing a little research on tall ships and across an account of the sinking of the Canadian tall ship Concordia 2 years ago.
Read the parts about the EPIRB and how long it took the Brazillions to get off their butts and send a plane out. Scary stuff.
All aboard successfully abandoned ship. As the capsizing was so fast, no radio distress call was made but a distress radiobeacon (EPIRB) was hydrostatically released and automatically activated when the vessel sank.
The Concordia sank at 1423 hrs local time Wednesday. At 1425 Concordia's Bosun Geoffrey Byers swam to retrieve the EPIRB and brought it aboard the rafts. The Captain directed that someone hold the EPIRB upright at all times and keep it safe from damage. The EPIRB signal was received at 1505 hrs by the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-12. The position of the sinking, 27°28′S 40°53′WCoordinates: 27°28′S 40°53′W, was resolved at 1525 local time. The TSB report noted the EPIRB database only listed one telephone number for the Concordia and that number had not been in service since 2004.
The following morning at 0806 hrs the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre Brazil sent a fax to Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Halifax requesting information about the Concordia. After attempting to contact the Concordia a Brazilian Air Force aircraft was dispatched at 17 hrs local time Thursday and sighted the liferafts 3 hours later.
The survivors spent nearly 30 hours in liferafts before the aircraft spotted them. Flares were fired from the rafts, and the aircraft blinked its landing lights in response and directed nearby merchant ships to the scene. The lights of the Mitsui O.S.K. Lines woodchip carriers Hokuetsu Delight and Crystal Pioneer were sighted by the survivors at 1:30 am local time and the rescue was completed by 8 am local time.
41 hours after the sinking the crew were safely aboard the rescue ships. All 64 people (48 students, eight teachers and eight crew) who were on board were rescued from 3 large and 1 small liferafts.
Maybe a PLB isn't good enough.
Maybe a sat phone is very important so you can ring your own country and get them to tell the country your wrecked near to get activated.
Heard a similar story a few years ago of a boat sunk near Costa Rica and took 3 days before they started the search, that's 3 days AFTER they set off the EPIRB.