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  #1  
Old 01-06-2010
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Class B EPIRB?

Is there any sense in buying an inexpensive ($20) older model Class B EPRIB? I noticed the unit in the link below from ACR on Craigslist and was wondering if it will even provide $20 worth of safety/rescue? Are Class B units still monitored by the USCG? I believe it transmits at 121.5 MHz, but I'm not sure.

I realize the newer Cat I and Cat II units that transmit at 406 MHz are the way to go if you're buying a new EPIRB, but what are your opinions on the Class B unit suiting the needs of a coastal Great Lakes sailor?

Anyway, here's the link: EPIRB Class B
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Old 01-06-2010
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I'd say there's no sense in it even for a coastal Great Lakes sailor (me too). You could try calling the USCG near you and ask their opinion. I'm sure they'll strongly advise against it, but I'd be interested in hearing their response.

The 121.5 MHz may be useful as a homing signal once the CG gets close to your position, but since the satellites won't be monitoring this frequency, a search probably will never be initiated in the first place unless you're able to make a distress call by VHF or cell phone.

If one is concerned enough about safety to carry an EPIRB at all, I feel it's worth the expense to get one of the newer ones, and I prefer ones that have GPS capability as well. Time is of the essence when you're in trouble, especially in the cold waters of the GLs - hypothermia being the #2 killer after no PFD. We don't want rescue services losing time trying to find exactly where we are.

Carrying the obsolete model might give someone a false sense of security and might slow one down in deciding to aquire a new EPIRB that would actually be useful if needed.

Last edited by MC1; 01-06-2010 at 12:47 PM. Reason: (correction)
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Old 01-06-2010
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MC1 - Great info and a very well written perspective. Thanks!

Additionally, I just found this statement on the USCG's website: "The International Cospas-Sarsat System ceased satellite processing of 121.5/243 MHz beacons on 1 February 2009. Although Emergency Locator Transmitters used by aircraft may still be used, alerts from these devices or from 121.5/243 MHz EPIRBs will no longer be acted upon unless detected by an overflying aircraft."

One only needs to read Steve Callahan's book titled Adrift to know the frustrations (battery life, serendipitous timing, etc.) of waiting for an overflying aircraft to notice an EPIRB signal.

The above was basically already stated by MC1, but I thought the USCG's official wording would also be helpful. Looks like a class b EPIRB, even if totally free, probably isn't worth the space it would take up on the vessel.

Anyone else?
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Last edited by kwaltersmi; 01-06-2010 at 12:50 PM. Reason: additional info found
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Old 01-06-2010
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Offer him five and use use it as a dummie safe. Its water proof, can be hidden in plain sight, and nobody would steal that!
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Old 01-06-2010
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The "fresh battery" it needs may cost $100, and be a bear to locate. Although I'm sure ACR would still replace it for maybe $350 R&R charge.

Coastal Great Lakes? Save the money, buy a handheld VHF in an Ewa bag, or some prepaid cell phone airtime.
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Simply not worth the money!...even if someone gave it to you. Likely, you'll end up having to pay to dispose of the battery. The only reason I can think of that someone might want one would be to scavange the electronics out of it.

If you can't afford an EPIRB, your next best bet would likely be a PLB (not a 121.5/243 MHz EPIRB). I know you have to register EPIRBs, not sure about PLBs.

Skipper, J/36 "Zero Tolerance"
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Old 01-07-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J36ZT View Post
I know you have to register EPIRBs, not sure about PLBs.
Yes, you do have to register PLBs as well, they're basically EPIRBS with lower level requirements for battery duration.

A really good overview of EPIRBs, PLBs, etc. is here: Distress radiobeacon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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