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Thread: EPIRBs

  1. #1

    EPIRBs

    So has everyone seen the new EPIRB rules? Iím surprised I havenít seen or heard about it.IMG_0963.jpg


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  2. #2

    Re: EPIRBs

    I saw this quite a bit last year but interpreted that it didnt apply to private fishing boats?

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  3. #3

    Re: EPIRBs

    Quote Originally Posted by wahoofishingcrew View Post
    I saw this quite a bit last year but interpreted that it didnt apply to private fishing boats?

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    Iím still trying to decipher it myself


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  4. #4

    Re: EPIRBs

    Quote Originally Posted by wahoofishingcrew View Post
    I saw this quite a bit last year but interpreted that it didnt apply to private fishing boats?

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    Looks like you are correct, I have jumped the gun a bit.


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  5. #5

    Re: EPIRBs

    Quote Originally Posted by shaungonemad View Post
    Looks like you are correct, I have jumped the gun a bit.


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    I did too, its very confusing, but I think for now we are ok.

    I wonder the actual difference a float free epirb would make. I guess if you roll the boat you then have to search around for where it has popped up. Possibly an advantage if the hull sinks immediately. If it only capsizes I would have thought people would cling to the hull and the epirb could be floating away drawing away the search.

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  6. #6

    Re: EPIRBs

    Hopefully we never have to worry about it. It wouldnít surprise me if in a couple of years it will apply to recreational boats.


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  7. #7

    Re: EPIRBs

    As soon as it floats free it will activate and give a location so from there hopefully they can find you but its all a can of worms ,its alright if you have time to grab it ,ill be getting a the next model up when i replace this one being manual activated.

  8. #8

    Re: EPIRBs

    Here is the complete article

    https://www.amsa.gov.au/news-communi...y-january-2021


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  9. #9

    Re: EPIRBs

    There are 3 things that need to be clearly understood about these epirbs.

    .Automatic "turn on" ;

    . Auto "float-free"; and

    . tethering.

    1.
    Auto turn-on means water activated where the water acts as a "switch" to turn the beacon "on" to start transmitting.

    Not ALL water is a conductor of electricity especially freshwater as in dams etc. It depends on the type of contamination present in the water which gives it its conductivity.

    Because not all freshwater is a conductor of electricity, the effectiveness of the "switch" varies. The beacon may not auto turn-on in some types of freshwater.

    Salt water is a conductor, so it should work ok there. That's where you're going to find the types of vessels that these things are designed for.

    The lesson is: Don't assume that the beacon has been activated just because its floating in the water. Check it. Make sure that the water-activated switch has worked. These things have a manual over-ride to allow manual operation.


    2. Float-free doesn't happen by magic or accident. It relies on a hydrostatic release mechanism on the mounting bracket to release the beacon allowing it to float to the surface once the hydrostatic switch operates. Like auto liferafts.

    The hydrostatic release mechanism is triggered by the water pressure at what-ever depth the release is set for and that varies from 1 metre or 4 metres (depending on the size of the vessel).

    Just be aware of that. Don't mistakenly assume anything.


    3. Tethering.

    The beacon needs to be tethered to something that doesn't allow it to "float away" into the distance. Rescue operations will focus on locating the beacon . If the beacon is tethered to you, then (if they find the beacon)......they'll find you.

    If it floats away, then they'll find the beacon but NOT you.

    I had a guy modify a beacon to put a strobe light on the top to better locate at close quarters at night. He brought it to me for a comment about his prototype. The strobe worked ok.

    I asked him the simple question. Does it float?

    He'd never tested it so we went down to local boat ramp in Bundaberg.

    It floated alright but upside down with the antenna pointing straight towards the bottom due to the extra weight of the strobe light on the top of the beacon casing. It turned turtle and was happily floating upside down with the strobe and beacon

    antenna underwater. Back to drawing board.

    Pretty basic stuff being overlooked by assuming something.

    Don't automatically think that the latest auto innovation is suitable for your purpose. eg if your vessel is a small one with flotation (tinnies etc to 4-6m) it may not even sink 1 - 4m below the water's surface so the hydrostatic release may not operate,

    then the beacon may not float free anyway to give a decent signal to the satellite. The water activate switch will probably turn it on ok, but if its underwater (but not far enough for the hydrostatic release to operate), then the satellite will struggle to "hear" its signal.

    Sometimes its the simple mistakes and incorrect assumptions in life that can kill 'ya.

  10. #10

    Re: EPIRBs

    My tethered GME Epirb with strobe light floated right side up
    A bad days fishing has got to be better than any day at work......


  11. #11

    Re: EPIRBs

    Quote Originally Posted by Ronje1 View Post
    There are 3 things that need to be clearly understood about these epirbs.

    .Automatic "turn on" ;

    . Auto "float-free"; and

    . tethering.

    1.
    Auto turn-on means water activated where the water acts as a "switch" to turn the beacon "on" to start transmitting.

    Not ALL water is a conductor of electricity especially freshwater as in dams etc. It depends on the type of contamination present in the water which gives it its conductivity.

    Because not all freshwater is a conductor of electricity, the effectiveness of the "switch" varies. The beacon may not auto turn-on in some types of freshwater.

    Salt water is a conductor, so it should work ok there. That's where you're going to find the types of vessels that these things are designed for.

    The lesson is: Don't assume that the beacon has been activated just because its floating in the water. Check it. Make sure that the water-activated switch has worked. These things have a manual over-ride to allow manual operation.


    2. Float-free doesn't happen by magic or accident. It relies on a hydrostatic release mechanism on the mounting bracket to release the beacon allowing it to float to the surface once the hydrostatic switch operates. Like auto liferafts.

    The hydrostatic release mechanism is triggered by the water pressure at what-ever depth the release is set for and that varies from 1 metre or 4 metres (depending on the size of the vessel).

    Just be aware of that. Don't mistakenly assume anything.


    3. Tethering.

    The beacon needs to be tethered to something that doesn't allow it to "float away" into the distance. Rescue operations will focus on locating the beacon . If the beacon is tethered to you, then (if they find the beacon)......they'll find you.

    If it floats away, then they'll find the beacon but NOT you.

    I had a guy modify a beacon to put a strobe light on the top to better locate at close quarters at night. He brought it to me for a comment about his prototype. The strobe worked ok.

    I asked him the simple question. Does it float?

    He'd never tested it so we went down to local boat ramp in Bundaberg.

    It floated alright but upside down with the antenna pointing straight towards the bottom due to the extra weight of the strobe light on the top of the beacon casing. It turned turtle and was happily floating upside down with the strobe and beacon

    antenna underwater. Back to drawing board.

    Pretty basic stuff being overlooked by assuming something.

    Don't automatically think that the latest auto innovation is suitable for your purpose. eg if your vessel is a small one with flotation (tinnies etc to 4-6m) it may not even sink 1 - 4m below the water's surface so the hydrostatic release may not operate,

    then the beacon may not float free anyway to give a decent signal to the satellite. The water activate switch will probably turn it on ok, but if its underwater (but not far enough for the hydrostatic release to operate), then the satellite will struggle to "hear" its signal.

    Sometimes its the simple mistakes and incorrect assumptions in life that can kill 'ya.
    Ronji1, nice response. I had similar thoughts when reading about these new units.

    I have sent an email asking questions about it with a scenario where the EPIRB does not reach the 1 metre depth.

    Iíll report back if and when I get a response.


    Shakey - If only I lived near the coast

  12. #12

    Re: EPIRBs

    Shakey...

    With the ever-increasing costs of putting satellites in orbit, the international players in satellite based rescue alerting systems are moving away from low earth orbiting sats (LEOs) towards medium earth orbiting sats (MEOs). Because MEO orbits are higher, their "footprint" on the earth's surface is larger therefore less satellites are needed to do the same job.

    Therefore launching and maintenance costs are less.

    The downside is that the signal from the epirb, ELT or PLB has to travel further to reach the satellite.

    That means either higher powered beacons and/or clearer unimpeded signal paths are needed.

    The proposed newer system is less tolerant of those marginal signals like those from the smaller vessels whose hydrostatic releases don't work due to lack of depth.

    Beacons with clear unimpeded paths will work OK despite the extra signal distances involved.

    There will be some MEOs in use already.

    I have a 406 epirb but there's no way that I'll be buying a float-free one.

    The area where the effect will be felt more is with PLB (personal locator beacons) used by hikers/travellers and in a land environment where there hills/trees to impede the signal.

    PLBs are smaller to reduce bulk and weight so have less efficient antennas and shorter battery life. Not a good combination when every bit of signal to the satellite counts.

    Be interested in what their response is to you about smaller vessels like recreational tinnies. I'm predicting that it'll be full of generalities and short on specifics.

    With tinnies, the bottom line is this:

    Legislation wants tinnies NOT to sink as per positive flotation requirements.

    The float-free satellite system WANTS vessels to sink (if only far enough to enable the hydrostatic release to operate) and the deeper it sinks the better.

    So there are 2 competing safety requirements straight off.

    The result is a compromise meaning that use of a float-free (where sinking is a requirement) epirb in a tinny (designed NOT to sink) is a safety compromise for the user.

  13. #13

    Re: EPIRBs

    This is the response I received from AMSA

    Hi Michael,

    Thank-you for your enquiry.

    The Float free EPIRB carriage requirements are for domestic commercial vessels. A Float Free EPIRB is designed to deploy when the vessel sinks to a depth of between 1 to 4 metres. I recommend you check the beacon manufacturer website for the depth of deployment for each beacon model. Float Free EPIRBs should not be installed on vessels with level floatation. If your vessel has level floatation then you should install an EPIRB with a manual release bracket. As an additional safety measure you may like to consider wearing a PLB in your lifejacket. A manual release bracket EPIRB and PLB will require the person in distress to activate the beacon.

    For further assistance please contact me.

    Kind Regards,


    Linda Berryman
    ADVISOR RESPONSE SYSTEMS
    SYSTEMS SAFETY | POLICY & REGULATION
    AUSTRALIAN MARITIME SAFETY AUTHORITY


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  14. #14

    Re: EPIRBs

    Quote Originally Posted by Ronje1 View Post
    Shakey...

    With the ever-increasing costs of putting satellites in orbit, the international players in satellite based rescue alerting systems are moving away from low earth orbiting sats (LEOs) towards medium earth orbiting sats (MEOs). Because MEO orbits are higher, their "footprint" on the earth's surface is larger therefore less satellites are needed to do the same job.

    Therefore launching and maintenance costs are less.

    The downside is that the signal from the epirb, ELT or PLB has to travel further to reach the satellite.

    That means either higher powered beacons and/or clearer unimpeded signal paths are needed.

    The proposed newer system is less tolerant of those marginal signals like those from the smaller vessels whose hydrostatic releases don't work due to lack of depth.

    Beacons with clear unimpeded paths will work OK despite the extra signal distances involved.

    There will be some MEOs in use already.

    I have a 406 epirb but there's no way that I'll be buying a float-free one.

    The area where the effect will be felt more is with PLB (personal locator beacons) used by hikers/travellers and in a land environment where there hills/trees to impede the signal.

    PLBs are smaller to reduce bulk and weight so have less efficient antennas and shorter battery life. Not a good combination when every bit of signal to the satellite counts.

    Be interested in what their response is to you about smaller vessels like recreational tinnies. I'm predicting that it'll be full of generalities and short on specifics.

    With tinnies, the bottom line is this:

    Legislation wants tinnies NOT to sink as per positive flotation requirements.

    The float-free satellite system WANTS vessels to sink (if only far enough to enable the hydrostatic release to operate) and the deeper it sinks the better.

    So there are 2 competing safety requirements straight off.

    The result is a compromise meaning that use of a float-free (where sinking is a requirement) epirb in a tinny (designed NOT to sink) is a safety compromise for the user.
    Ronje1 I just found this and I donít think Iíll rushing out to but a float free EPIRB

    Image1617151148.273291.jpg


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  15. #15

    Re: EPIRBs

    Thanks Shakey

    Wise choice.

    The flow chart is for Domestic Commercial Vessels (DCVs) but useful for recreational vessel info (especially the options for vessels <7m + positive/level flotation vessels).

    What they don't tell you is why the flowchart goes in certain directions. Obviously, they acknowledge that the existence of level/positive flotation on a vessel affects the requirements.

    But they don't tell you why. The actual reason is what we discussed. (Compromised performance)

    What they're acknowledging is that the EPIRB release MAY NOT WORK under certain conditions so the requirement is dropped for those conditions.

    Mind you, after giving the story of how simple the process apparently is, dropping into the spiel a qualification that the bloody thing may not actually work under some circumstances, would do wonders for the confidence of vessel operators being told that they must fit one.

    A recreational guy comes along and believes that the float-free is the greatest thing since sliced bread and fits one to a level/positive flotation recreation vessels and heads off confident that eveything is ok.

    Its not but the rec guy doesn't know that.

    Because his vessel has positive buoyancy, the float-free epirb probably won't float free at all. It'll remain attached to the bracket but transmitting from underwater thus reducing its effective satellite range with the rec guy scratching his head wondering why helicopters and rescue vessels aren't appearing over the horizon.

    We all just need to remember that an epirb, elt or plb is NOT a rescue device. It doesn't guarantee rescue.

    It's simply an alerting device designed to activate a response.

    All this sounds simple on paper but actually locating a distressed vessel is never as easy as it seems (beacon or not). Easier in daylight but throw in darkness and things change dramatically.

    Like you, I won't be fitting a float-free one.

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