EPIRB vs Spot - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 20 Old 11-21-2008 Thread Starter
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EPIRB vs Spot

With Christmas coming up, I am very interested in getting a personal locator beacon of some sort. I am very interested in the ACR EPIRBs and SPOT. While I mainly stay inshore, I often find myself in quite remote locations (kayak trips in the Everglades...).

Not considering cost (spot is cheaper but w/ an annual contract) which would you go with. The EPIRB seems like it might be a more reliable/proven device, but SPOT has the advantage of being able to check in with home (and track your location) which is a nice feature.
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post #2 of 20 Old 11-21-2008
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BW, Epirbs are required by law in Portugal from coastal unrestricted (level 3)up...

I would feel much happier with the reliance of an EPIRB, but the SPOT system is better if you are willing to show where you are to a "private audience"..

If you just stay near by..SPOT..if you go more than 12 miles from the coast EPIRB
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post #3 of 20 Old 11-21-2008
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I believe that the SPOT is a very different device from an EPIRB, which is a single purpose emergency/distress signal. I think the SPOT is a good idea to keep your family and friends posted about where you are and what you're up to...but not good as a safety device.

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post #4 of 20 Old 11-21-2008
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Spot - is a designer device. believe the hype and well it would not be my life I would risk.. Eprib - while not social - satellites unite.

-- Jody

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post #5 of 20 Old 11-21-2008
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SPOT is satellites unit too. There is very little difference in how they both work.
However signal from EPIRB goes directly to SAR and signal will activate SAR operation immediately.

SPOT signal will go to your contact and, if you wish to 911 service. There will be lug before any of them supply Coast Guard with all necessary information.

So I'd go with PLB for now. It is cheaper on long run too...

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post #6 of 20 Old 11-21-2008
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One of the local marine safety instructors was touting the SPOT as a "$150 EPIRB" We corrected him... it most certainly is NOT anywhere equivalent to an EPIRB. A cell phone in a waterproof case would be far more valuable. They are GPS enabled too ya know. SAR can home in on an EPIRB signal.. can't do that with SPOT even though for most cases the response time is probably about the same. I have tried to "check in" with mine and not have it actually get a message out for 6 hours, if ever, and even the the coordinates are about 1/2 mile off. No telling if it would work when you really need it. An EPIRB signal will get somewhere at least, it will get detected. Ask you local USCG or CAP people. They find them upside down buried under piles of trash in dumpsters when people improperly dispose of them. Try to get a SPOT signal out in that kind of condition!
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post #7 of 20 Old 11-22-2008 Thread Starter
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Great advice everyone.
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post #8 of 20 Old 11-22-2008
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We had that discussion. SPOT signal in case of 911 call will go to SPOT's private response center, that will in turn contact appropriate authorities. It does not go to "your contact" as previously mentioned. While it does not go to government run center, it does go to people dedicated to the purpose that will make sure someone will be sent to rescue you. The center is ran by search and rescue company and additional SAR insurance is sold pretty cheaply with SPOT, giving you additional rescue options beyond government help.

SPOT also gives you real verifiable service, which you can test and see really working anytime. With EPIRB you have to wait till real emergency to find out if it works, which probably isn't a good time to realize you have a faulty unit (and no, "self check" is most certainly NOT a valid test - I can tell you that as a software engineer).

So, personally if I had the money - I'd have both anyway - why not. However, since I am not filthy rich - I choose SPOT.

Note: SPOTs satellite coverage is not as comprehensive (it is Globalstars *data* link coverage) and if I planned to sail outside SPOT coverage area, I would choose EPIRB. However, since that is absolutely impossible as I don't plan to sail in extreme lattitudes - it's a purely theoretical note.
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post #9 of 20 Old 11-22-2008
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Get someone to get you the EPIRB for x-mas, and buy yourself the SPOT

I sail.
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post #10 of 20 Old 11-22-2008
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Just remember one key difference. The EPIRB is linked to the boat. It can not be used for any other boat... The SPOT can be moved from boat to boat, much like a PLB, which is another alternative. PLBs are like down-sized EPIRBs with slightly lower capabilities—but are registered to a person, not a vessel.

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—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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