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EPIRB / PLB safety equipment


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Just out of curiosity, how many of you have either an EPIRB or PLB (personal locator beacon)?

I have always had a PLB for the past 12 years (ACR Aquafix 406).  I had just renewed the registration with NOAA and was placing the sticker on the PLB when I noticed the batteries were due for replacement as of last September.  Figured since I was going to have to send it in for the batteries, lets try a self test.  Guess what...it only made it through part of the self test then flashed an error, so maybe it was the batteries causing the issue.  I contacted the place I have always had it serviced at in the past, and they informed me ACR no longer makes the batteries.  Time for a new one!

The old one was a little cumbersome to carry in your pocket.  I looked at the new ACR ResQlink 425 and liked the idea it had a display screen for both testing and when activated.  The big thing, though, is the size of the new PLBs, they are much smaller than what was available previously with the same battery life.  I ordered one and was impressed when I took it out of the box.  These new beacons are small enough to comfortably fit in your pocket, both on the boat or wherever you may want to carry it.  Price was not too bad if I can get another 10 years out of this.

Since I used to venture offshore in my boat, the PLB was a better fit than the EPIRB.  If I had something larger, the EPIRB would have been nice. But, either one is a good item to have with you.  After my latest round of medical issues over the past 3 years, the PLB is an even better fit for me.  I like to go out in the boat by myself sometimes, and with the beacon in  my pocket or clipped the the inflatable PFD, I have a convenient safety device if an emergency should happen (such as falling off the boat).  This even applies to fishing near shore; if something happens and no other boaters are available to assist, the beacon is a last chance emergency safety net.

If you have either the EPIRB or PLB, great!  Just remember to check the battery  expiration date and do the self test on occasion to verify it is working properly.  If you do not have one, give it some thought and determine if it would be an appropriate thing to have based on what type of boating activities you do.  

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I've got a PLB and a Garmin inReach. The inReach lets me get help for non-life threatening via Satellite texting (up to 10 minute delay due to satellite position) and the PLB for something much more urgent.  

When I had an EPIRB I tested it fairly regularly and replaced batteries when needed. My PLB still has a few years before replacement and I don't test it as often as I did the EPIRB, but I do test it a few times a season. I have the PLB hung on my inflatable. The inReach and a portable VHF are in my grab bag.

My goal is to have lots of safety items and be happy they are never used. 

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  • 5 months later...

I've have this plb:

ACR PLB-375 ResQLink+ 406 Buoyant Personal Locator Beacon

My Batteries expire next year. There are sites that offer battery replacement, I've been looking at.

Also, thinking about upgrading to a sattelite texting unit with real time communication. These require service, but offer tracking and communication.

Edited by greauxpete
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I got the inReach for the texting capability. I can use the tracking, but it costs more per month. I can use the "free" messages for tracking as each message automatically adds the LAT/LONG and a link to the map and when home I can see where I was. Also lets the wife know where I am when I send one. When offshore it sure is nice to have.

I noticed SPOT just added texting to their new unit. I don't know what the monthly cost for theirs will be.

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  • 3 months later...

I just purchased the Garmin Inreach SE+ on Amazon for $220 (factory refurbished) which I thought was a great price. It looked brand new and activated without any issues. Sent a test text to my wife. It uses bluetooth to connect to your phone to enter texts so it's the same as sending a text on your smart phone, but you can write texts from the unit if your phone is lost or damaged. Everything is working. I signed up for the basic plan which is $15 per month with a yearly fee of $25. I can freeze my account in the off season months to reduce costs. As Fullthrottle mentioned, with this plan you get unlimited "preset" texting with predefined messages and recipients (each text gives the sender your position and a link to a map showing your position). All other texts are $0.50 each with 10 free per month.

For example, the 3 preset text messages might look like:

1. heading in

2. everything is ok

3. trouble come get me. 

You also have an SOS button which contacts an emergency call center which will coordinate your rescue.

Better than a PLB in a lot of ways, since you know help is coming in an actual emergency or prevent a rescue from happening if for example; your on a 8 hour limp on the kicker but everyone is safe. In that situation there would be no way to contact the wives and they would be unnecesarily worried (unless you had the Garmin Inreach to communicate).

I still have the PLB for last resort, but this is a cool gadget..

Screenshot_20200123-123835_Drive.jpg

Edited by greauxpete
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  • 2 weeks later...

Fyi, I replaced my plb battery myself on my acr plb-375. (I have never activated my plb, you have to send it in if you have). Batteries were 40 bux on ebay and plug and play.

This is the battery for my plb, you need to look up yours:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/333317352866

Literally 2 screws (be careful there are small waterproof washers on the screws that need to be reinstalled). The battery has a small plug. Pull apart the old plug. Install new plug by plugging it in to the circuit board plug. Line up gaskets and screw it back together. Some may not agree with my decision to diy the battery replacement, but I have the garmin inreach satellite messenger and dsc vhf now, so this is strictly back up.

Edited by greauxpete
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