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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There is a current thread discussing different communication systems, and how ongoing changes in technology makes some less functional or useful.
EPIRB I am referring to the "old" type as defined by

"Category I EPIRBs are automatically activated. The automatic activation is triggered when the EPIRB is released from its bracket. Category I EPIRBs are housed in a special bracket equipped with a hydrostatic release. This mechanism releases the EPIRB at a water depth of 3-10 feet. The buoyant EPIRB then floats to the surface and begins transmitting. If you own a Category I EPIRB, it's very important that you mount it outside your vessel's cabin where it will be able to "float free" of the sinking vessel.
Category II EPIRBs are manually activated. If you own one of these, it should be stored in the most accessible location on board where it can be quickly accessed in an emergency"

I can see the Cat I to have some merit been automatically released when mounted on a railing for instance, my concern is the unit drifting away from me when I will like the rescuers zero in my humble body, be it floating with a PFD or in a liferaft.
Have it in the ditch bag.
But is a big piece of plastic to carry, I also carry the personal beacons that have EPIRB plus AIS, plus the
Garmin Explorer with the emergency button to emit distress signals,plus the IridiumGo.
I think I bought the big "old style" EPIRB mostly out of "tradition".
Anyways,as a discussion starter.
 

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With the float free, grab it and activate manually before you sink. However, if you sink or capsize, unexpectedly, then it should trigger automatically. Tie it to yourself or your life raft.

I carry a 406 PLB in a pocket on my PFD. Its permanently tied off to the shoulder strap on my PFD.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
"I carry a 406 PLB in a pocket on my PFD. Its permanently tied off to the shoulder strap on my PFD."
me too.
the tie it to the liferaft is an excellent idea
thanks
believe is a matter of redundancy and backups to have the "old style"?
thanks
 

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With the float free, grab it and activate manually before you sink. However, if you sink or capsize, unexpectedly, then it should trigger automatically.
Ditto. This is the point. You can always choose to take it with you, if there is time. It's in the hydro-release, just in case there isn't.

I bought a new one and had the battery changed in its predecessor for the ditch bag. Pricey redundancy, I guess. However, two EPIRBs going off will definitely convince SARSAT it's a real problem, more than one. Their first protocol is to determine false alarms. A PLB would accomplish the same "we mean it" messaging.
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
reviewing what is on the market
the
MCMURDO SMARTFIND G8 EPIRB AIS - CAT 1 priced 780 and 880 seems the only one with AIS?
battery life 24 hs for personal vs48 hs
looks like the new unit with AIS is a worthy upgrade, adding AIS.
 

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Yep cheap enough to have a few of them. We have a day-pack each as our grab bags each with an epirb & hh vhf. Ais is on the inf lifejacket/harness.

Crazy to have a big epirb that only fires when the boat sinks. How many boats sink instantly without warning?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
the grab or ditch bag is also a concern for me, cannot imagine holding a bag in one hand and make sure don't lose it while jumping and trying to grab the life raft as well as getting inside without loosing it.
The free Practical Sailor just published a special on

"Boxes, Dry Bags, and Tips for a Drier Life"
did not include the link not sure about the copyright thing.

provides a list of recommended bags, got my attention a couple of backpacks, that will solve my concerns about letting go the hand ditch bag?

a thought.


on Amazon

Earth Pak Waterproof Backpack: 35L / 55L Heavy Duty Roll-Top Closure with Easy Access Front-Zippered Pocket and Cushioned Padded Back Panel for Comfort; IPX8 Waterproof Phone Case Included.
cost $65 for a 55 liters size
 

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Crazy to have a big epirb that only fires when the boat sinks
That's not an accurate assessment. The hydro-release EPIRB can be fired manually, just like any other. It's the case mounted to the rail that is triggered open, by the water pressure, and the EPIRB activates in the water.

Ours is mounted essentially next to the raft. Think of it as a holding case, next to the raft. It has an easy quarter turn knob and opens right up. You could easily pull it right out and either manually trigger is, with a switch, or take it with you. The advantage is if you forget it or don't have time. Also, what happens if it's seriously snotty and you lose the ditch bag, while trying to enter the raft. Not impossible.
 
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the grab or ditch bag is also a concern for me, cannot imagine holding a bag in one hand and make sure don't lose it while jumping and trying to grab the life raft as well as getting inside without loosing it.

Practical Sailor provides a list of recommended bags, got my attention a couple of backpacks, that will solve my concerns about letting go the hand ditch bag?

a thought.


on Amazon

Earth Pak Waterproof Backpack: 35L / 55L Heavy Duty Roll-Top Closure with Easy Access Front-Zippered Pocket and Cushioned Padded Back Panel for Comfort; IPX8 Waterproof Phone Case Included.
cost $65 for a 55 liters size
If you're worried about losing the ditch bag or the EPIRB, tie them to something. Like your waist. Though it would probably be better to tie them to the Liferaft, where all the crew can benefit from them, not just you. If you get separated from them and the Liferaft, they're not going to be happy if only you have the EPIRB and ditch bag. If you're sailing solo, even you would be better off in the Liferaft with the EPIRB and the ditch bag attached to it. Should a ditch bag be waterproof or watertight? Waterproof keeps out rain, but probably wouldn't keep contents (like a phone) dry if it were submerged. Watertight would keep everything dry, but would be so bouyant that it might get trapped under an overturned boat. Anyone attached to it would have to cut it loose in order to swim out from under the boat. Auto-inflating life vests and tethers can have this same problem, which is why there are tools for puncturing vests and for cutting tethers. They come in sheaths so they don't accidentally do what they're supposed to do at the wrong time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
If you're worried about losing the ditch bag or the EPIRB,
==============================
thank you

I guess never put much thought about it, sort OK, have checked all boxes, have EPIRB, PFD. Personal beacons, knives, etc. etc.,
hard to think how chaotic and really crazy it could be, if a sinking is either sudden or sea conditions are so rough.

I was looking at the backpack thing as mentioned earlier if nothing else because it will free my hands, the idea of having the ditch bag tied to the life raft is also a way, will need a cover to protect from UV degradation.

Another thought, if conditions deteriorated and enough warning time is given (not applicable if sinking is sudden) perhaps the use of a dry suit ?

Swimming into a liferaft soaking wet and shivering, unable to dry out?
I guess, will have to choose to sink in the Caribbean?
 

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If you're worried about losing the ditch bag or the EPIRB, tie them to something.
I used to have a liferaft that would be manually deployed. My plan was to snake the painter through the ditch bag handle, then attach the painter to the boat. In theory, it shouldn't get far, but I've never been all that certain that pulling the raft back toward the wreckage to retrieve it would always be safe. Of course, if the mother ship were really taking a dive, it would tear the painter off the raft (which it's designed for).

Now I have the raft in a rail mounted container, whose painter is already permanently attached (can't be snaked through the handles, unless the bag were on the deck permanently). I'm thinking of putting a large stainless carabiner on a tether to the ditch bag than could be attach around the painter or maybe directly to the raft. I sure hope this all remains academic.
 
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Nothing, I repeat nothing beats having an Iridium 9555 portable sat phone in a waterproof case with an extra battery for handling an off shore emergency. Within seconds, you can dial direct to anyone, any agency, medical staff or coast guard anywhere in the world. For about $500 in initial equipment cost.

We also have two epirbs, two personal epirbs on the lifevests, two personal ais units on the lifevests, but personally, I’m grabbing the Iridium 9555 first.
 

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Two weeks ago whilst 400 miles off shore somewhere between Newport, RI and Antigua, we got to see first-hand how ineffective an epirb unit functions during an emergency. Another boat about 100 miles away set off their epirb for what turned out to be a non-life threatening emergency issue, which then lead the US coast guard to spend hours flying from boat to boat attempting to locate the distressed boaters. It took the coast guard hours of flying all over the area just to contact them on vhf, we were able to hear one side of the entire fiasco on our radio.

Now if they‘d had an iridium 9555 sat phone onboard instead of the epirb, the entire escapade could have been avoided by both the coast guard and the distressed/bewildered.
 

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400 miles out, an airplane at 200 mph would take two hours to get there - not including the time to scramble the crew. (Or was it a helicopter? 400 miles is a bit far for a helicopter, no?) And if they were 100 miles farther out than you, 500 miles for the plane to go. So yes, hours to locate the distressed vessel. Can you name the vessel so we can look up the SAR file? Having the distressed vessel use a satphone to discuss their issue with the Coast Guard might have avoided sending the aircraft. We don't know what the emergency was, however, so it is hard to tell. It seems like the Coast Guard did find them and that the EPIRB functioned properly. Your overhearing the CG side of VHF was probably due to the height of the plane transmitting. Their speed meant they traversed wide swaths of ocean simply circling around. Was the distressed vessel rescued by another vessel? You were obviously too far away to be of any assistance. From experience, satphones are not 100% reliable either; there can be gaps in transmission and in receiving. Perhaps a SSB radio would have provided similar communications options to the distressed vessel. Not everyone can afford all this equipment, so they go with, and have to use, what they have. Or, like New Zealand and Australia, should we require everyone to have this equipment (and more) before sailing beyond coastal waters? It would be a lot safer if everyone were required to have six watertight bulkheads, immersion suits for every crew member, flotation bags sufficient for keeping the boat afloat, as well as radios, EPIRBS, AIS, Radar, and three life rafts.
 

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400 miles out, an airplane at 200 mph would take two hours to get there - not including the time to scramble the crew. (Or was it a helicopter? 400 miles is a bit far for a helicopter, no?) And if they were 100 miles farther out than you, 500 miles for the plane to go. So yes, hours to locate the distressed vessel. Can you name the vessel so we can look up the SAR file? Having the distressed vessel use a satphone to discuss their issue with the Coast Guard might have avoided sending the aircraft. We don't know what the emergency was, however, so it is hard to tell. It seems like the Coast Guard did find them and that the EPIRB functioned properly. Your overhearing the CG side of VHF was probably due to the height of the plane transmitting. Their speed meant they traversed wide swaths of ocean simply circling around. Was the distressed vessel rescued by another vessel? You were obviously too far away to be of any assistance. From experience, satphones are not 100% reliable either; there can be gaps in transmission and in receiving. Perhaps a SSB radio would have provided similar communications options to the distressed vessel. Not everyone can afford all this equipment, so they go with, and have to use, what they have. Or, like New Zealand and Australia, should we require everyone to have this equipment (and more) before sailing beyond coastal waters? It would be a lot safer if everyone were required to have six watertight bulkheads, immersion suits for every crew member, flotation bags sufficient for keeping the boat afloat, as well as radios, EPIRBS, AIS, Radar, and three life rafts.
I don’t remember hearing the name of the vessel or even if the coast guard was calling them by name, but I heard from other off shore cruisers that the distressed crew were participants in the Salty Dawg rally, so I guess you can dig a little and figure it out for yourself. Someone told me it was a mechanical failure of the forestay which caused them to want to abandon ship. Seems to me that a simple sat call to the coast guard could have talked them through a basic temporary repair using the jib halyard. But I don’t know the actual facts, this is what I heard in conversation, nothing confirmed. I believe I remember the Coast Guard hailing “vessel in distress, vessel in distress, please respond” over and over again. Then hailing other vessels by name (ais) within a hundred miles to inform them that someone had set off an epirb and to be on the lookout. No coordinates.

Meanwhile, I’m sticking with my Iridium 9555 sat phone as a first choice based on my actual real life experiences during off shore passages. Others can do as they wish.
 

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A personal ais locator is a fantastic feature for any life vest after a three point tether properly in use on a properly run series of inboard jacklines. The crew onboard has a good chance of locating and rescuing a man (or woman) overboard long before the coast guard arrives to recover the body.
 

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the grab or ditch bag is also a concern for me, cannot imagine holding a bag in one hand and make sure don't lose it while jumping and trying to grab the life raft as well as getting inside without loosing it.
You should have a long tether for the bag so that you can clip it to yourself (or the raft, as circumstances permit) and be able to swim freely.

Now if they‘d had an iridium 9555 sat phone onboard instead of the epirb, the entire escapade could have been avoided by both the coast guard and the distressed/bewildered.
In theory the CG should have been able to home directly on the EPIRB signal. That is one of the reasons for an EPIRB, that responders are not dependent on having stale coordinates relayed to them from shore, or playing a game of telephone. ("Oh, you meant fifty-seven degrees North?")

I suppose if there was a race with many boats involved, it may have seemed simpler at the time to simply ask. Or, if the beacon was switched off: I recall hearing of a case where someone was gifted a PLB and was told or thought it was an avalanche beacon. Turned it on each time they went skiing and took quite some time before it was tracked down.
 
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