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Old 06-29-2007, 06:15 PM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4

Hi all,

I hope all of your sailing is glorious. My wife, Deb, and I are looking to buy an epirb in the near future and are not exactly sure where we should put our meager money. We live on a 28' sailboat and plan to cruise extensively. Looking on West Marine the prices range from $500 and up. Does it make a difference which epirb you buy? Don't they all do pretty much the same thing? Why would you need a 'big' epirb for your boat when the personal ones call the same people? Is there something I am missing here? The two different models we are looking at currently are the Aquafix 406gps and the Globalfix 406gps. Any suggestions on why we should spend twice as much money on the Globalfix or would the Aquafix be sufficient as the only epirb on board? Thank you in advance.

Be well.

George Wood

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Old 06-29-2007, 10:34 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Home Port: Darwin
Vessel Name: Sandettie
Posts: 1,917

Hi Valella,

The basic differences between 406mhz EPIRBS these days are the manner in which they are activated, the inclusion or not of a GPS and quality of manufacture. While it is easy to advise anyone to go for the top of the range, this may not always be necessary. If you will be sailing offshore, it would be prudent to buy an EPIRB which releases automatically, activates automatically and contains a GPS. The GPS provides a measure of searchable accuracy previously unattainable and the less time you are in the water waiting for rescue, the less chance there is of you and your crew perishing from exhaustion, hypothermia or from drowning in big seas.

Automatic release is also important. Imagine the boat going down in front of you and knowing the EPIRB is still firmly strapped to the boat. Automatic activation becomes important if someone is disabled during the emergency or if seas are so big that immersed crew cannot find the EPIRB or cannot swim through liquid mountains to reach it anD flip the activate switch.

The amount of risk you take by going handheld and hand activated is something only you can assess. Inshore many people still have small 121.5mhz units. The bottom line for EPIRBS is similar to the decision to carry or not to carry a liferaft. Chances are you will never need to use either, but I imagine most offshore sailors (me included) have both a serviced liferaft and a fully featured EPIRB.

It is difficult to justify paying a lot of money for something which we are all 99.9% sure we will never need.....but in my case I just thought of how much I care about me and CB, and the decision became simple.


(PS. 'Gorbachev' when I'm in strife, 'Lady Samurai' when I am getting the 'glare', 'CB' (Cherry Blossom) when I have done a good thing....Praise every god in the cosmos , she has been CB ever since she realised I was a lost cause and there was no benefit in trying to make me more responsible.)

(PPS. The now mature offspring still piddle themselves with laughter whenever I remind Mum that she will not be perfect until she can say 'Around the ragged rocks, the ragged rascal ran'.....Jappos...They can be so entertaining Meanwhile she reminds me I'll never be perfect until....well..never really)



"if at first you don't succeed....Redefine success"!

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Old 06-30-2007, 11:40 AM   #3
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Home Port: Puerto Montt
Vessel Name: Westerly Serenade
Posts: 115


I think you will find that all the 'big' 406s are auto activate on contact with the ocean.....mine is an ACR Sat2 which is manual deploy and lives by the companionway.....I'm a bit wary about 'auto' anything that lives close to the sea ...

However there is that little difference in cost between one with GPS and one without you may as well go for the GPS option.

What I do have is another EPIRB stowed in the liferaft...at the moment it is a mini 121 unit...next time I get the raft serviced I reckon to replace it with an ACR ResQfix or similar...

= Chile,
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Old 06-30-2007, 11:48 AM   #4
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Home Port: Puerto Montt
Vessel Name: Westerly Serenade
Posts: 115

and having read the original question again....and consulted my Westmarine catalogue... it seems that the Aquafix needs to be manually activated while the Globalfix only needs to be in the sea....

I'd pay the extra for the Globalfix.....
= Chile,
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