Originally Posted by MarkofSeaLife
.....The phone is much quicker. You describe he situation, and have your own nationals liaising with the rescuing country.
Of course you still set off your own EPIRB so you rate of drift is calculated etc.
Agreed the phone is undoubtedly quicker, though newer EPIRBS that have an onboard GPS send an instant location with the distress message. You're right though that older style EPIRBS (still being sold) which don't have GPS can take an hour or two for a fix, and then another hour or two or four to establish drift. See the coast quote from a coast guard article at the end of this post for clarification.
I forgot to mention the sat phone as a viable technological option and thank you for pointing it out. I think the VHF/HF radios have the advantage over EPIRB of being able to describe the situation and coordinate directly (or indirectly) with your recuers and the Sat phone certainly adds that additional benefit with unlimited range.
Another plus of the sat phone is that it can be a BUDGET minded option. There are companies that will rent you a phone for a week or few for you to have for your crossing. Then, you FedEx it back to them once you're safely on the other side of the ocean and now within VHF range. This company was the first to come up in a google search and they list SatPhone rentals at $112/month. Iridium Satellite Phone Rental Kits, Fees and Rates by Globalcom
Article from the coast guard on the above GPS/Location issue here:
Emergency Position Indicating Radiobeacon (EPIRB)
EPIRBs detected by the GEOSTAR system, consisting of GOES and other geostationary satellites, send rescue authorities an instant alert, but without location information unless the EPIRB is equipped with an integral GPS receiver. EPIRBs detected by COSPAS-SARSAT (e.g. TIROS N) satellites provide rescue authorities location of distress, but location and sometimes alerting may be delayed as much as an hour or two. Although these EPIRBs also include a low power 121.5 MHz homing signal, homing on the more powerful 406 MHz frequency has proven to be a significant aid to search and rescue aircraft. These are the only EPIRB types which can be sold in the United States.
A new type of 406 MHz EPIRB, having an integral GPS navigation receiver, became available in 1998. This EPIRB will send accurate location as well as identification information to rescue authorities immediately upon activation through both geostationary (GEOSAR) and polar orbiting satellites. These types of EPIRBs are the best you can buy.