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Edo Kazumichi 10-25-2008 10:21 PM

EPIRBs - Who's comin'?
Poke around the COSPAS-SARSAT website and you will find nice diagrams of the system and an explanation of how it works. EPIRB goes off, satellites pick up the signal and relay it to "Mission Control Centers", "Rescue Coordination Centers", or "Search and Rescue Points of Contacts" who will arrange to have your soggy butt pulled from the drink.

That's all well and fine and good for those nestled in the motherly embrace of the USCG or similarly well-trained and equipped rescue armadas. We know it's them who're coming. But what about out there in the middle of the Deep Blue or off the coasts of some of the less enlightened bits on the political map? Who's going to come pick you up out there? A warship? A passing tanker? A couple of local saints in a fishing boat?

Thanks in advance!

sailingdog 10-25-2008 10:38 PM

It depends... in many cases a commercial ship will be diverted to effect rescue if they're the closest asset available. Some of the posters on this forum are USCG or other SAR personnel and can probably answer in greater detail.

sailaway21 10-25-2008 11:02 PM

Depends on where you're at out upon the briny. If you're near a shipping lane you'll probably be picked up by a merchant ship. And I mean a steamship shipping lane offshore. Which may not exactly be close to your sailing route even though you and the merchant ship may well have the same general destination. Warships and fishing vessels tend to be found more close to shore, the latter depending on the size of the continental shelf. And they tend to spend a lot of time in port as well so you're not as likely to see one or, rather, a fleet. Chances are it'll be a merchantman or a deep sea fisherman who answers your call.

Omatako 10-27-2008 03:10 AM

Yep, I agree with Sway, depends on where you are. I know that in the Indian Ocean if you're more than 100 miles off-shore, your EPIRB has about the same value as tits on a rain barrel. There is no SAR of any description, there is precious little commercial shipping other than hugging the coast and the fishing vessels don't have radios switched on unless they need to use them.

I have sailed close enough to fishing boats off Sri Lanka and Indonesia to throw empty beer cans onto their decks and they still don't answer the radio.:)

The flipside of that is anywhere in the South Pacific or Australasia, the EPIRB is indispensible and will be reacted to in very quick order by NZ or Australia and the SAR that will follow will be a benchmark performance. NZ even today encourages owners of the older pre 406 units to continue using them if they can't afford the replacement and they are still reacted to.

But it is of considerable importance that the EPIRB is correctly registered with the correct authority, else the rescue efforts will be compromised.

zz4gta 10-27-2008 01:24 PM


Originally Posted by Omatako (Post 390972)
I have sailed close enough to fishing boats off Sri Lanka and Indonesia to throw empty beer cans onto their decks and they still don't answer the radio.:)

Try thowing full beers, I bet they'll pick up then. ;)

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