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EPIRB: emergency position-indicating radio beacon. This is one of those safety devices that everyone suggests offshore sailors carry on their boat, but no one ever wants to put to use. Essentially, if the boat is sinking, or in some other type of Mayday distress, the beacon can be activated and through the use of satellite fixes, the coast guard can locate you. As each EPIRB is registered to a particular boat they should also know who and what they are looking for.

We recently purchased a used Global-Fix EPIRB from a fellow PDQ owner who is selling his boat (the same guy we purchased the Fortress anchor from). The antenna was damaged so he ordered a new one for it and shipped it separately. Sadly though, after receiving the unit from the US and having paid shipping, customs, etc., we found that the sticker on the EPIRB indicated that the battery was out of date. Guess what? The local-area dealer, who needs to replace the non-user-serviceable battery, told us it would be $400.00 to get it looked after!!! When I contacted the seller to say that I really wasn’t very happy about this unexpected expense he offered to refund half of the money we paid him for it. Not quite as good a deal as we had initially expected but still a good deal once it is all fixed up.

As there is obviously a shelf life on these batteries (5 years I believe) we have decided not to worry about replacing it until next year, closer to our departure date. In the meantime we need to get it re-registered to our boat. If I were to accidentally trip it right now there would be a lot of people looking for a PDQ 36 somewhere in our area!

We have decided to celebrate the acquisition of our new EPIRB by watching a movie tonight: The Perfect Storm. 🙂



    “On November 6, 1991, Andrea Gail’s (the boat the movie The Perfect Storm was based on) emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) was discovered washed up on the shore of Sable Island. The EPIRB was designed to automatically send out a distress signal upon contact with sea water, but the Canadian Coast Guard personnel who found the beacon indicated that it had not been properly armed, rendering it useless.”

  2. The chances of having to use your lifejackets, EPIRB or a liferaft in anger in a ‘perfect storm’ are remote. It’s good that you’re taking steps to clue yourselves up but don’t end up scaring yourselves silly by stuff that is unlikely to happen. It’s quite safe out there most of the time as long as people don’t do stupid things (as I’m sure you won’t).

    • We’re not scared. We certainly wouldn’t want to be watching Perfect Storm (again) if we were. 🙂

      Perhaps ignorance is bliss. We have no plan whatsoever in investing in, and carrying, a liferaft.

  3. Your cat probably won’t sink if holed so from that point of view a liferaft is less of a requirement, although many cat owners still carry them. I say ‘probably’ because I once read an account of a Prout Quest 31 (heavy, old design) that did sink. Your biggest danger, in terms of losing the boat when offshore or away from immediate help, is fire. Do you have several fire extinguishers, located in each hull + the saloon? Do you have a gas alarm? Do you turn the gas off at the bottle after you’ve used it? (a remote gas valve takes the hassle out of doing this). I’m with you on the liferaft issue but I’d make sure other precautions were taken.

    • Yes, fire would be a problem. There are fire extinguishers in each hull and in the cockpit. We do have a remote gas valve but have not YET installed leak detectors.

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