Boat preparedness for next season.
Ok, I’m going to ask you to spend more money on boating. Yes, I know, you just paid the winter haul out and storage fees, and the last fill up took away the kids collage fund. But now you have nothing to spend on boating (how boring) and maybe if you drop enough hints, the kids for first mate will spring for what I feel, is a very important item you should have on your boat.
Think about it. A perfect day on the water goes bad as you boat suddenly takes on water. Yes, you got off a Mayday and the USCG answered before the battery submerged, shorting out, and then the radio went under. You feel good that the USCG rescue is on the way and they have plenty of resources to find you. But you only got off a brief description (maybe) on where you are. And boy, that waters cold, the boat is mostly submerged with only a slippery hull to hang onto. The waves are pounding you in the face….boy, where the heck are they.
That’s the scene that is driving the USCG to look at seriously making PIB (Personal Location Beacon) or EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) mandatory on boats. Now, no one likes a government agency demanding our lifestyle. But this one makes sense (unlike mandatory life vest). IF you go down, it’s hard to see you, and even if the bottom of the boat is still floating, it won’t have much of a contrast for them to see. So they only have a general area to search, and in our boating area, only the “rubber orange boats” will be out to save you along with TowBoat US, Sea Tow, and other independents tow companies. Even other pleasure boaters would have a tough time seeing you…and it’ perfectly sunny out.
But you had the good sense to purchase as PLB or EPIRB that acts on GPS signals. They work by triangulating off satellites and gives the USCG your coordinates. Zoom, straight line rescue coming your way.
Not only did you get rescued quickly, but the USCG and other agencies saved money to. The cost of finding (too late I might add) four famous football players in the Gulf cost the USCG over 1.9 million and tied up assets that might have been needed for other resources. The USCG estimates that for every one dollar spent on personal safety, it saves 10. So you see why they are thinking of making these life savers mandatory.
It’s proposed that not all boats carry the more expensive EPIRB. One proposal, and a good recommendation if this new proposed rule doesn’t go into effect, is that boats not going more than 25 miles off shore carry a VHF radio with Digital Selective Calling (DSC) feature, that little red distress button on the VHF radio, and that only good if it has a GPS antenna tied to it. For boaters going, say 100 miles off shore, a PLB, and farther, an EBIRB due to their more powerful battery. I’m going to buy one that is the next level up from these recommendations. When it goes off, I want it to go off LOUD!
One company sells a PLB that is the size of a cigarette pack for about $325….how’s that water feel now! Besides, you know if the USCG wants this rule, it’s only a matter of time. Beat the rush, and maybe beat grim circumstances.