Since the introduction of Emergency Position Indicating Beacons, the satellite based SOS signaling devices have saved thousands of lives at sea. The technology continues to improve and modern EPIRBs can pin point a boat or liferaft with incredible accuracy. Author Carol Bareuther delves into what’s new and what to look for in a comprehensive article in All At Sea magazine.
The Latest in EPIRBS
by Carol Bareuther
“It was supposed to be a routine recreational passage from the Bahamas to Maryland. Yet, fate decided otherwise when without warning and in 20 knots of breeze, the mast came crashing down aboard the 36-foot catamaran, Cata-Tonic. The accident didn’t injure owner Jon Rodnon and his two crewmembers, and didn’t put the vessel in immediate danger, but it did knock out communication since the VHF antenna was attached to the top of the mast. Plus, their location 40 miles offshore the coast of North Carolina, meant no cell phone coverage. The situation soon worsened when the mast, rig and sails cast into the sea from the crash threatened to either drag the vessel into a capsize or hole the hull. That’s when Rodon did something he had prepared for, but hoped to never use. That is, he activated the McMurdo Smartfind Plus G5 EPIRB he had rented from the BoatUS Foundation for the trip. Ten minutes later, U.S. Coast Guard watchstanders diverted a cutter to assist. Thirty-five minutes later, the cutter’s crew fired a heaving line to the catamaran and ferried over hydraulic bolt cutters that enabled Rondon and crew to cut themselves free, start engines and safely motor to port for repairs. Rondon returned the rented EPIRB to BoatUS with a note: “This unit saved our lives. Thank you. You guys rock!”