Register your EPIRB

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Mark Gawler
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Register your EPIRB

Post by Mark Gawler »

MCA - Remember - register their emergency beacon! A beacon was activated last night and found several hours later on a boat in a marina. The emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) was activated at midnight last night but was not registered and coastguards were therefore unable to track down the owner of the vessel.
This is free – go to https://forms.dft.gov.uk/mca-sar-epirb/

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Re: Register your EPIRB

Post by Chris Bolton »

This is important, and applies equally to PLBs which most sea kayakers carry rather than EPIRBs.

If using a PLB outside the UK, check the registration requirements with the relevant coastguard; when I went to Canada they just asked me to tell the UK registry that I was using it in Canada; if I'd activated it, the message would have gone back to the UK registry, and knowing I was going to Canada they would then treat it as genuine and told the Canadians.

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Re: Register your EPIRB

Post by PhilAyr »

Bear in mind though its taking them about five months to do that.

I applied to register my PLB in June 2017 and only received confirmation of registration late November 2017 along with this note :
I do apologise for the longer than anticipated delay, due to changing computing systems, low staffing levels and an unprecedented level of registrations and enquiries. Please find attached a copy of the database entry for your beacon as input today, please check that this input is correct or email back any amendments.

It's important to note that they will still activate a rescue but they will not know who or what it is they are rescuing until the PLB is registered on the database.

Phil

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Re: Register your EPIRB

Post by Northern Blue »

PhilAyr wrote:
Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:25 am
Bear in mind though its taking them about five months to do that.

I applied to register my PLB in June 2017 and only received confirmation of registration late November 2017 along with this note :
I do apologise for the longer than anticipated delay, due to changing computing systems, low staffing levels and an unprecedented level of registrations and enquiries. Please find attached a copy of the database entry for your beacon as input today, please check that this input is correct or email back any amendments.

It's important to note that they will still activate a rescue but they will not know who or what it is they are rescuing until the PLB is registered on the database.

Phil
Agreed Phil,

I registered my PLB back in November and there was nothing online to suggest my registration had gone through, resulting in me emailing MCA directly. They confirmed that they had received my registration, but there would be a several month wait for written confirmation, but with the same reassurance that an activation would be responded to.

I'm still waiting for written confirmation.

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Re: Register your EPIRB

Post by Rainshine »

When I registered my PLB with MCA towards the end of 2016, I received email confirmation along with a pdf copy of my database entry details pretty quickly. It took over a year for the confirmation of registration letter to arrive by post mind you!

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Re: Register your EPIRB

Post by ron-t »

Hi

Never mind how long it takes to register - according to the original post it took the various rescue services involved in processing the distress signal several hours to actually locate the EPIRB - whether it was or wasn`t registered isn`t significant.

It doesn`t fill me with much faith in a PLB as a distress signal system if it takes that long to find an EPIRB - or am I reading this wrongly or not understanding something ?

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Re: Register your EPIRB

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

Hi Ron just heard about this from a coastguard friend. Apparently the EPIRB's position was quickly found to be in the marina but it took some time to find out which of the many boats it was in because it was not registered. I am certainly not binning my PLB yet!

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Re: Register your EPIRB

Post by Northern Blue »

That makes sense Douglas, much easier to pick up on a signal mid ocean, or on a deserted coastline.

Similar to the early days of vehicle 'Tracker' systems, that would quickly direct us in to an area of lock up garages, but would leave us to identify which one contained the stolen vehicle.

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Re: Register your EPIRB

Post by ron-t »

Hi

Thank you for that clarification, that makes sense, and is somewhat reassuring.

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Re: Register your EPIRB

Post by Rod81 »

You may not always get a fast response! The sad loss of three crew in Mingulay Bay highlighted that the system doesn’t always get the resources to you quickly.
The MAIB report is well worth a read

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Re: Register your EPIRB

Post by Jim »

However quickly a distress signal is picked up the response time will depend on how close the various SAR assets are to you when they are deployed and how fast each can travel - you may be several hours away from an all weather lifeboat, or out of range of a faster inshore boat, which is why other vessels are called on to join in if they can. Helicopters are great unless they are grounded due to weather. If several emergencies happen simultaneously some assets may already be deployed elsewhere, or available but still several hours past where they are normally based and may need to refuel en-route.

The point of the original thread however, is that if your beacon is registered and goes off by mistake, there is a good chance that you can be contacted to determine that there is no emergency and the assets returned to base. If you cannot be contacted either because your beacon is not registered or because you have an emergency and no other way of making contact, or any other reason, assets will be deployed that could have been returned to standy for a real emergency, cutting down the time it takes them to respond for someone else. False activations are an accepted phenomen, but we can all help to avoid tying resources up investigating them by registering our devices.

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Re: Register your EPIRB

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

A sobering read Rod, thank you. We should never underestimate the risks run by others to put fish on our plates. One of my family was lost at sea when he fell overboard from a commercial fishing boat. In this sad MAIB case there was a 43 minute delay between the EPIRB signal being received and SAR teams being requested. I sure that the reasons for this will have been analysed and action taken to prevent recurrence. The fishermen were off duty and not dressed for immersion when their boat sank. In April the water is still very cold and most people who drown after falling into very cold water without thermal protection do so within one minute. This is either due to massive involuntary inhalation of water due to the mammalian gasp reflex or due to heart failure or stroke due to the very rapid rise in heart rate and blood pressure.

I do not think anyone expects the SAR teams to arrive within minutes, regardless of how the alarm is raised. A PLB is not a get out of jail free card, you still need to be prepared and responsible for your own safety. Of course you might also need to activate a PLB due to an accident on land...

I have carried an PLB for about 13 years now. In 2010 I encountered an emergency situation on the uninhabited Island of Gunna between Coll and Tiree. We had arrived from Tiree at sunset and had set camp at the top of steep dunes. Unfortunately I slipped on the soft sand, my foot was anchored up above the ankle by the sand and I went over my leg sideways down the slope. I dislocated my knee and my lower leg and foot were twisted 180 degrees and pointing backwards. It was quite sore and my lower leg had turned white and cold due to the artery at the knee being compressed. There was no mobile phone reception or VHF reception and there was no high hill that my friends could have climbed to get better reception. One of my friends let off a parachute flare and I asked for my PLB which was on my BA to be brought to me. One of my friends offered to paddle the 4km across Gunna Sound to Tiree and raise the alarm by running to the nearest house but it was getting dark and the tide had turned and a wind got up which would have made that risky. I was just about to press the PLB button when I thought about how long it would take for a helicopter to fly from Prestwick or Stornoway then take me to hospital. By coincidence there had been a TV Rescue 999 program on just a few weeks before, about a walker who had sustained a similar injury running down a steep sand dune on Islay. He was in mobile phone range but even so it took over 5 hours to get him to hospital. I really did not think I could last that long, the pain was so bad, so I decided to relocate my own knee then strap myself up with a walking pole and duct tape. Emergency over, I decided to stay that night ion Gunna then paddle back to Portuairk on Arnamurchan where we had left the cars over the next 2 days.

No-one ever came to see about the parachute flare. Once we were back in mobile reception I phoned the Coastguard just in case they were looking but no one had reported it.

Douglas

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Re: Register your EPIRB

Post by Daker »

Douglas Wilcox wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 1:56 pm
A sobering read Rod, thank you.
Indeed, and as you say, no way any of us should be considering a PLB as our 'Get of jail free' card.

Like others above, I have been waiting over 5 months on confirmation of my PLB registration but it does make me wonder if NOT having anyone to contact might actually speed up the process of sending resources to the signal location.
Douglas Wilcox wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 1:56 pm
so I decided to relocate my own knee then strap myself up with a walking pole and duct tape. Emergency over, I decided to stay that night ion Gunna then paddle back to Portuairk on Arnamurchan where we had left the cars over the next 2 days.
Brilliant story but a bit hard core for most folk I suspect. :-)

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Re: Register your EPIRB

Post by CharlieS »

Not about registration but I have a good news customer service report.

I sent my Ocean Signal RescueMe PLB1 back to them with a broken aerial last week, three and a half years after purchase, and had a very good experience with them. They responded promptly and cheerfully, and they examined it, and repaired it without charge. Return was delayed one day by heavy snow but I don't think anyone could hold that against them.
I'm very happy with them as a company.
The product hasn't been tested in anger but I like the small size which makes it easy to keep on your person, and the case was easy to adapt with some velcro for fastening to the sweety hatch as per a recent safety video posted on this forum.

Charlie

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Re: Register your EPIRB

Post by Daker »

That's good to know re customer service as one of my big concerns when buying was whether the aerial might be susceptible to damage with it being able to be unwound + rewound by the user.

The suggestion re attaching to boat in order to keep aerial upright is an interesting one as it assumes your boat will be staying upright and that you will be staying with your boat.

Yes, you can tether yourself to the boat but my personal gut feeling is that I want the PLB on my person even if that means the aerial is possibly not in the optimal position.

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Re: Register your EPIRB

Post by Chris Bolton »

with it being able to be unwound + rewound by the user
Not knowing which PLB model you have, is that in reference to the Ocean Signal RescueMe? The aerial on the McMurdo Fastfind unwinds when you remove the sealed cap, but that's a one-off. Once unsealed and unwound it would need to be returned for servicing. You test it with it still sealed.

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Re: Register your EPIRB

Post by Daker »

Chris Bolton wrote:
Mon Mar 05, 2018 2:33 pm
with it being able to be unwound + rewound by the user
Not knowing which PLB model you have, is that in reference to the Ocean Signal RescueMe? The aerial on the McMurdo Fastfind unwinds when you remove the sealed cap, but that's a one-off. Once unsealed and unwound it would need to be returned for servicing. You test it with it still sealed.
Yes, the RescueMe can be rewound by the user so potentially can be used more than once.
Altho if it was used in anger you may want to replace it anyway, unless only deployed for a very short period of time, to ensure sufficient remaining battery life.

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Re: Register your EPIRB

Post by CharlieS »

The suggestion re attaching to boat in order to keep aerial upright is an interesting one as it assumes your boat will be staying upright and that you will be staying with your boat.

Yes, you can tether yourself to the boat but my personal gut feeling is that I want the PLB on my person even if that means the aerial is possibly not in the optimal position.
The video that made me think of this is here:

(3 minutes in)

The value of the velcro on the boat is partly about sequence of actions in a rescue situation. As discussed above, a PLB is your surest way of summoning help but it isn't quick, so you need to fire it at the very beginning of realising that you need help. If you do that then there'll be other things you'll want to do afterwards -extra hats, gloves, chocolate, trying again for mobile signal/VHF reception etc. But, if the PLB requires vertical orientation for a long time then that means you lose the use of at least one hand, and possibly both. Velcro on the top of your helmet?

Charlie

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Re: Register your EPIRB

Post by sleepyfolk »

ACR give you a new one free if you have to use it in a rescue situation https://www.acrartex.com/products/catal ... =ppc&ttv=2

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