Peacefrog

Personal Epirb what to buy?

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Going to be doing a few offshore races this winter and the wife wants me to have a personal epirb. Having never had one or thought of having I am looking for advice. PF.

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I think the McMurdo is still the smallest. But you may want to reconsider the personal Eprib, and go instead with an MOB AIS beacon like the MOB1. It depends a lot on the crew, boat, and waters you are in, but unless single handing your best chance of getting rescued is if your own boat realizes you are gone and has a means to get back to find you. This is where the MOB AIS beacon shines. In the same situation, by the time the information from an Eprib is available to your crew, you're a floater. 

What I tell crew is don't expect to get rescued, therefore best to stay aboard. Oh sure we'll try, but the chances of recovery in anything but flat calm conditions is suspect. Stay on the boat. Once you go over, your life expectancy has suddenly taken a large singularity downwards.....

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I checked the MOB1 out online - 5 of 5 stars. Which is pretty unusual - I wonder if the reviews are self-selecting and those with poor user experience did not enter their opinion.

 

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You cannot go wrong with MOB1.

Stars and reviews are one thing, Independent tests something else.

Looking at the spec for MOB1, it is difficult to go wrong. A good and well-known manufacturer. If set up correctly the AIS should allow your team-mates (or other boats in the area) to turn around and pick you up. The DSC functionality is subject to a EPIRBs, PLBs registration at The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) for UK. Other countries got their own agency. The PLB is assigned to your vessel.

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I believe some of the AIS models now also do DSC....   only this is useful to the boats around you.   Get this first and the EPIRB 2nd.

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I've got all of the above. A McMurdo PRB, the MOB1, also the Raymarine MOB system and an inReach. If I'm on watch alone, I take the MOB1. It is DSC and will alert your boat, if no acknowledgment within a few minutes it will do an "all ships" DSC emergency call (at least in the US, it varies by country).

The PRB will signal NOAA, they will then make a bunch of phone calls since 99% of the signals are false, then (having no way to contact the boat) muster up some SAR resources to go have a look. I'd guess 2 hours minimum, perhaps 4 hours realistically before a helicopter is on scene. The off watch will appear on deck 2 hours later and say "where the hell did he go?". Floater.

The Raymarine MOB will alert the crew within about 30 seconds with an earsplitting horn, and set a waypoint as the go to waypoint at that location (already 30 seconds behind). By the time the crew reacts, gets the sails sorted and the engine on, they'll be a mile or two away. With luck and good fortune, they may be able to go back to the waypoint and wander around and find where I've drifted to, provided it's daylight, not much of a seaway, etc. Otherwise, possible floater. 

With the MOB1, the crew will be alerted with an earsplitting horn (as soon as I set the MOB1 off), and an AIS target will automatically appear on the chartplotters at the helm and nav station. They can take their time sorting the boat, and navigate right to where I am, or within 30 feet or so anyway. I have to be conscious, activate the MOB1 without loosing it (it doesn't float), and it has to work (but you can test it). If it's only for you, it can be rigged to deploy automatically when your vest inflates, and be tied to it so it won't sink. To work properly it needs to be programmed with the MMSI of the boat, but it will work nonetheless (they just won't get the initial DSC call). I have high confidence the boat will get back to me. Fishing me out is another set of issues. 

The inReach has the same issues as the PRB, with the added value that you can type in your epitaph while waiting for rescue as you slowly slip into hypothermic unconsciousness. 

Sailing solo in crowded or inshore waters I'd still take the MOB1. Offshore the PLB. 

My personal plan is to stay on the boat. 

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I've got an ACR Res-Q-Link. I have no idea how well it works, and I have no intention to as well. However, it does do the USCG/COSPAS thing, it floats and has a strobe.

Pretty small, never had an issue with airlines, customs, etc., and it folds up nicely inside my deckvest.

I hope I never have to report on how well it worked...

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9 hours ago, Caca Cabeza said:

I've got an ACR Res-Q-Link. I have no idea how well it works, and I have no intention to as well. However, it does do the USCG/COSPAS thing, it floats and has a strobe.

Pretty small, never had an issue with airlines, customs, etc., and it folds up nicely inside my deckvest.

I hope I never have to report on how well it worked...

Then I think you should test it!

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19 hours ago, DDW said:

With the MOB1, the crew will be alerted with an earsplitting horn (as soon as I set the MOB1 off), and an AIS target will automatically appear on the chartplotters at the helm and nav station. They can take their time sorting the boat, and navigate right to where I am, or within 30 feet or so anyway. I have to be conscious, activate the MOB1 without loosing it (it doesn't float), and it has to work (but you can test it). If it's only for you, it can be rigged to deploy automatically when your vest inflates, and be tied to it so it won't sink. To work properly it needs to be programmed with the MMSI of the boat, but it will work nonetheless (they just won't get the initial DSC call). I have high confidence the boat will get back to me. Fishing me out is another set of issues. 

My personal plan is to stay on the boat. 

2

My choice is staying on board. Picked up several good reports from the MOB1. If you need to use it at night in bad weather, both you and the people onboard need to know how to best use it and find you. Test your device, and how to use it. 

Sailing solo? Well, stay onboard.

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Did the IDA Lewis this year - defender pulled the ACR as there were some problems (my crew sent her's back too).  I got the MOB1 - cause it has AIS, and DSC callout, and i can re-program the MMSI number of the boat i am going to sail on at home - easily!

What ever you do - make sure the boat/skipper can support your new electronics.  That was the almost fatal flaw on Doghouse's boat in the Chicago Mac.. (ps I am from the same club as doghouse)

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4 hours ago, Mogle said:

My choice is staying on board. Picked up several good reports from the MOB1. If you need to use it at night in bad weather, both you and the people onboard need to know how to best use it and find you. Test your device, and how to use it. 

Sailing solo? Well, stay onboard.

The MOB1 is pretty easy to use, but you'd definitely want to familiarize yourself with it's use prior to getting wet. If the boat has AIS on the chartplotter, then nothing much needs be done other than turn around and head for the AIS mark. If the boat doesn't have AIS on the chartplotter, the the MOB1 isn't that useful. 

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12 hours ago, DDW said:

The MOB1 is pretty easy to use, but you'd definitely want to familiarize yourself with it's use prior to getting wet. If the boat has AIS on the chartplotter, then nothing much needs be done other than turn around and head for the AIS mark. If the boat doesn't have AIS on the chartplotter, the the MOB1 isn't that useful. 

many VHF have in-built AIS these days..

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My point was to make it useful to the idiot crew, you need to draw a picture - like on the chartplotter. If the VHF/AIS is interfaced to the chartplotter, great. If all it gives you is a latitude and longitude, then with many crew you might as well kiss your ass goodbye. It needs at least to give a bearing and distance, and a good indication of which target is the MOB. 

These days the usefulness of a chartplotter at the helm with AIS displayed is so overwhelmingly positive and so inexpensive, every boat should have one. 

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17 hours ago, duncan (the other one) said:

many VHF have in-built AIS these days..

Many is a bit of an overstatement.  In fact it is very few - and only the Rx part

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Our whole crew had MOB1s for a Hawaii race a few years ago and I think they're a good piece of gear because they "self ignite" when your PFD inflates.  I have a ResQLink PLB in my PFD and my VHF is normally attached to me (DSC, but not AIS).  I think we had 5 InReaches onboard...there was a line-up for USB charging spots, but I think these devices are fantastic.  I use mine as much off the boat as on.

My thoughts were (and still are):  MOB1 OR the VHF with DSC works well >if< your crew realizes that you are AWOL or if there are other boats nearby.  MOB1 has the advantage of self starting where everything else needs you to actively turn something on.  VHF has the advantage that you can try to direct a boat to you (assuming you're treading water and are functional).  Inreach was great for cheap boat-shore ongoing communication (mostly "all is good, don't worry about anything" updates).  I don't bother having it in my pocket because it would be useless to try to use while visiting fish AND I have a PLB.  The realistic purpose of the PLB was/is to help others find my body if I break Rule One.

Rule One:  Stay on the fuckin' boat. 

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The MOB1 will direct the crew to you if they have AIS in on the plotter - even if you are unconscious. If they are a mile away and you are in the water with a seaway, you may not be able to see them to direct them. If the boat's VHF has properly set up DSC, the MOB1 will alert them that something is wrong, as they will get a DSC call, then an emergency all ship's call if they ignore the first one. 

I love the inReach, but not a great MOB tool. I agree with Rule One. 

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