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Old 11-25-2012
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Do I Need an EPIRB?

My Mum-in-Law is nervous about her daughter going out an such a large ocean in a small boat and wants to buy me an EPIRB. I'm not sure she knows how much they cost ($700US and up), but let's assume she does. I have a Catalina 25 and don't see myself going much larger; I intend to daysail and overnight out of Portsmouth Harbor (NH, USA) with cruising trips once or twice a year up the Maine coast for a week or two at a time.

Obviously, if my boat disappears beneath the waves and I find myself doing an inventory of my buoyant gear, an EPIRB would be a great comfort (as would a few packets of saltines and a romance novel); but I wonder if that is the best use of $700+ for safety gear. Do other sailors doing what I do have them?

In my reading, it seems like the most likely fate to befall a 'squared away' sailor close to the coast is being run down by a 'less squared away' sailor or a merchant ship. I don't wish to tempt fate, but let's assume that I don't blow my boat up, burn it down, end up as an MOB, or hit a marked reef. I know that is assuming a lot, bear with me. That leaves 3 fates:

1. Massive or multiple gear failure that leaves me with the Westerlies pushing me further and further out to sea.

2. Hitting a shipping container. (a favorite of many paranoids)

3. Being run over by a 'yahoo'.

Since the automatic EPIRBs are even more expensive, I'd be getting one that is manually deployed; if someone on board is able to that, it seems like a VHF with the new AIS capability would be nearly as good. I understand they have a 'mayday' button of some sort that transmits your coordinates. Then again, that requires that the boat is in more or less one piece after the incident. And now I've gone and talked myself back into an EPIRB.

So I guess the question is, "What's the best use of a $700 safety budget for a coastal cruising boat?."

1. EPIRB
2. Chartplotter and AIS VHF
3. Assortment of jack lines, tethers and good PFDs

Thanks,

Ken
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