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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. 

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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