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Best EPIRB to have on board for 2019

If you spend any time at all off shore, whether sport fishing, diving, cruising or exploring new waters—you should have an EPIRB on board. An Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon can summon help to your location in the event of an emergency, no matter where you are, in short order. EPIRBs are very affordable—they range in cost from a few hundred dollars to several hundred depending on features. What price tag do you put on your life and that of your family and friends who are aboard? Click HERE for a short course about EPIRBs from the US Coast Guard.

Below are five EPIRBs that come highly recommended. The list is part of an exercise MEJ does every year in our Buyers’ Guide. It works like this: We ask manufacturers to identify the one model they produce in a particular category that they consider to be their Best & Brightest—not necessarily the most technically advanced or newest but rather the one they rate highest in the product line for one reason or another. Could be the functions and features it offers, or maybe it breaks new ground in maximizing effectiveness or utility, or maybe it’s the most popular as measured by sales to boaters. 
The Best & Brightest list includes 16 categories of electronics, from autopilots and fishfinders to radar and satellite TV. Last week we told you about several personal survival devices that are well worth considering having aboard. (Jon-Pls add hyperlink to last week’s blog)

Simrad EP70 GPS-EPIRB safety and rescue locator beacons maximize the chances of user survival and recovery by providing rapid notification to rescue authorities of distress situations, enabling them to use satellite location technology with extreme accuracy anywhere in the world. Highly rated by maritime professionals as well as recreational users, Simrad EP70 EPIRBs are designed to be used as a primary alarm for vessels in distress, and when activated, transmit the ID of the ship in distress. The unique high-intensity LED built in to the top of the antenna ensures optimal visibility in the toughest conditions.

The award-winning ACR GlobalFIX V4 EPIRB is available in both Category 1 auto-deploy (for GMDSS) and Category 2 manual brackets. Designed to incorporate the latest in marine lifesaving technology, the GlobalFix V4 uses its high-efficiency electronics to directly send your distress alert to search and rescue around the world. Features include an all-new, user-replaceable battery pack, which has a 10-year replacement interval, reducing the overall ownership cost. It also has an energy-efficient, four LED array strobe light and a new wrist strap for hands-free carrying in an emergency evacuation. Manual activation of the EPIRB is simple and there is a protective keypad cover to help prevent false alarms. The GlobalFIX V4 has two functional self-tests to monitor the beacon’s transmission, power and battery performance and GPS acquisition.

The multi-award winning SmartFind G8 AIS is the world’s only EPIRB that uses four search and rescue frequencies to accelerate the search and rescue process. As well as the 406 MHz distress and 121.5 MHz homing frequencies, the G8 EPIRB includes an AIS signal that allows localized recovery in an emergency. The revolutionary G8 AIS also includes multiple constellation GNSS receivers and is the first EPIRB to include the newly activated precision Galileo service as well as GPS, allowing pole to pole coverage and faster location detection. 

Featuring a huge 10-year battery life, the Ocean Signal rescueME EPIRB1 provides the boat’s essential link to the emergency services within the most compact device on the market at just 7 x 3.5 in. The Class 2 GPS EPIRB automatically activates once the unit has been immersed in water, communicating the location via the 406 MHz Cospas-Sarsat satellite system with position provided by an integrated 66-channel GPS receiver and 121.5 MHz homing beacon. Two high-brightness strobes maximize visibility. A retractable antenna provides maximum protection and reduced outline for easy stowage within a grab bag, or the EPIRB can be mounted within its manual release bracket. The antenna is deployed with a gentle pull, using one hand. A simple protective tab over the operating keys prevents inadvertent activation. 

The water-activated, GPS-equipped MT603FG from GME is an advanced MEOSAR-ready 406 MHz digital EPIRB. Designed, engineered and manufactured in Australia, the MT603FG has obtained International Cospas-Sarsat and US FCC approval. Boasting the latest advances in emergency beacon technology, the MT603FG ensures the safety of your vessel and crew in emergency situations, regardless of your location. The MT603FG features an integrated 66-channel GPS receiver delivering greater position accuracy and faster location fix than previous models. Bosting zero warm-up digital technology, the MT603FG acquires and transmits accurate latitude/longitude and personal identification information to rescue authorities as soon as possible.
Category 1 vs 2: What’s the difference?

Category I

406/121.5 MHZ. Float-free, automatically activated EPIRB. Detectable by satellite anywhere in the world. Recognized by GMDSS.

Category II

406/121.5 MHZ. Similar to Category I, except is manually activated. Some models are also water activated.

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Comments | Leave a Comment
Page 1 of 3 ( 13 comments)

Jp:(8/11/2018 5:28:29 PM) "I have a 2018 Yamaha f40 la and Humminbird helix 7 di , I would like to leverage the nema 2000 capability of the helix 7 to display engine info, what do I need , Humminbird does have a gateway and lowrance makes a Yamaha nema cable, but I'm reading connectors are proprietary . How can I get what is needed?

Since these products are not NMEA 2000 certified there is little assurance that they will share data with each other.

1. Here is the link to see all NMEA 2000 certified products:

2. The NMEA 2000 cables and connectors are from many manufacturers: Here is the link for approved cables and connector manufacturers:

AC/DC grounding distance:(8/2/2018 1:29:35 AM) "What about the grounding points of AC /DC systems? can they be grounded at the same point?
If one system has both AC and DC can they both be grounded to a common buss-bar that has only one conection to the hull?

Here's what Ed Sherman, electric tech guru at the American Boat & Yacht Council, said:

The ultimate goal should always be to tie ac and dc grounds together on board at a single point. In ABYC Standard E-11, it is described as “the engine negative terminal or its buss.” It is most commonly done at a buss."
Hard-Over with Brushed APilot Pump:(12/18/2017 5:37:05 PM) "Jim.
What do you mean by ...."Garmin GHP 20 with SmartPump...Because it is a brushless system, it is fail-safe and won’t execute a hard-over turn the way a brushed pump can."

Thanks for the note. Since the description came from Garmin I contacted the company for an explanation. Here's what one of their engineers told me:

On brushed DC actuators, a single-point failure in the drive circuit (shorted wire or blown component inside the controller) could cause the motor to run full speed in one direction and take the rudder all the way to one rail. A brushless actuator relies on timing-controlled commutation, so a short or component fail would cause the actuator to stop moving rather than moving at full speed.

Hope this helps,

trawlerdeejay:(10/13/2017 3:46:51 PM) "Excellent article. I had no idea what the differences were between o183 and 2000, Thank you so much."
Darryl:(3/27/2017 10:17:15 PM) "Putting the MSRP with each unit reviewed would have been helpful. If each unit was actually tested, the reports on each unit would have been helpful too.

Thanks Darryl---we generally don't mention prices due to confusion over so many variations---MSRP (mfg. suggested retail price), MAP (min. advertised price), MRP (min. resale price) and then there are internet prices on some websites that go their own way. But your point is well taken--buyers need to know if something is in their price range. We'll work on it.
There is independent testing of some of these products on sites like but the information we receive from manufacturers rarely cites the results of any shootouts they may conduct against the competition's products. "
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