On the water, help is often still a bit further away than on land. Usually communication and precise positioning are the main problems when looking for assistance. The technology has not stopped in recent years, however, and with EPIRBs, PLBs and AIS-MOB beacons offer more reliable and affordable tools ever. But you can not blindly trust the manufacturer: the information about his product is occasionally somewhat flattering. Varen tries to distinguish forest and trees.
On inland water
On the inland waterways and the larger rivers, the GSM via the number 112 will often be the fastest means of coming into contact with the emergency services in case of emergency. The correct positioning remains important, whereby striking elements such as bridge names or specific buildings can act as a beacon. The nature of the emergency must also be mentioned.
Of course, we can also use the radio to communicate with ships in the area, locks and via the block channels. The radio is particularly advantageous on larger water. His range is much larger, a lot of people can listen in and possibly help directly, his battery never really goes flat, unlike the battery of the mobile phone, which of course is almost empty at the moment we need it …
Larger water and sea – the sailing area is decisive
The story is therefore different on larger water and at sea. Gradually the GSM signal disappears and the radio remains with us, with or without DSC. The internationally responsible maritime authority IMO also recommends using GMDSS and therefore also DSC at sea. This last type of radio is equipped with the familiar red button which is pressed in case of an emergency. This starts a whole procedure that both the ship’s identity, the position if the radio is linked to a GPS receiver, and transfers the nature of the emergency to a rescue center. All this happens almost instantaneously, extremely easy and error-free with proper programming of the device: you will see a selection screen on which you simply indicate which emergency is applicable.
But also here the distance plays an important role: such a rescue center covers an area up to about 50 kilometers off the coast, the A1 zone. Depending on our antenna height, it also continues here after some time. Naturally, shipping within the VHF range remains approachable and it can send the emergency call (distress relay).
The distance, therefore, plays a huge role. To be able to receive a distress signal throughout the world and to react efficiently, COSPAS-SARSAT, a global satellite system, exists for example.
There may be situations in which you have to send an emergency signal because you have ended up in a difficult situation with your ship. Emergency radiobags have been developed for such situations. These are portable radio transmitters that can only be used in emergencies and send an alarm in such a situation.
In the Netherlands, only the devices for emergency signals that comply with the European product guidelines are allowed. You can recognize this by the CE marking on the device. The manufacturer at this moment declares that the equipment meets the essential requirements.
George Kniest Boat Equipment sells emergency radii beacons of different brands and types. Feel free to take a look at our store and ask our staff for advice. Regularly there is a nice offer.
EPIRB or PLB
There are different types of emergency radiator beacons. The two main types for which regulation has been developed are EPIRBs and PLBs. Also, other systems are developed, for which appropriate regulations have to be made.
Information about PLBs and other systems can be found elsewhere on our site. On this page, you will find information about EPIRBs.
What is an EPIRB
The abbreviation EPIRB stands for Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. This type of emergency radii beacon reports the position of the ship in an emergency. They are specially designed for life-threatening emergencies. Some systems switch themselves on when the ship sinks; others have to be switched on manually.
How to use an EPRIB
When the EPIRB is switched on, it continuously transmits a signal on two frequencies. Namely at 406 MHz and 121.5 MHz. The first signal goes directly to the satellite so that the alarm is triggered. The signal at 121.5 Mhz can be picked up by lifeboats and rescue helicopters that determine the location of the EPIRB using radio auctions.
With an EPIRB system, you can also be received all over the world via a satellite system that is used for this purpose (COSPAS-SARSAT). Some types of EPIRB not only transmit your MMSI code but also transmit position data via the GPS (Global Positioning System). Did you know that aircraft cockpit personnel listen to the emergency frequency during flights? If you are in distress, your distress signal will also be picked up by aircraft.
For efficient use of your EPIRB, it is essential that you register the corresponding frequency use. After registration, you will be assigned an MMSI number (Maritime Mobile Service Identity). Using this number, the international Search And Rescue (SAR) organizations know which ship is in distress. The Dutch Coast Guard ensures that your MMSI number is registered internationally after you have registered with the Radiocommunications Agency. The agency is housed at the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
The expert staff of George Kniest Boat Equipment can help you with programming your MMSI number.
In addition to your registration with the Radiocommunications Agency, you also need a Limited Maritime Radiocommunications Certificate (Marcom-B) for the use of your EPIRB. This is a more extensive certificate than the Basic Certificate for Mariphone. To obtain a Limited Certificate Maritime Radiocommunication, you must do both a theory and a practical exam. There are several courses that you can use to prepare for this exam. More information on this can be found on the site of exam bodies.
If you already have a Basic Certificate of Mariposa, you only need to take one module to get a Limited Certificate Maritime Radio Communication. This is the GMDSS exam module (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System). Of course, Marcom-A also satisfies.
An alternative to Marcom-B is the SRC. This concerns the Short Range Certificate VHF course. After completing this one-day course, you will take an exam immediately on the same day. During the very practical course day you will deal with the use of the radio, the EPIRB (global alarm), SART (local alarm), DSC (direct digital calls), NAVTEX (safety and weather reports) and the mandatory ATIS in the Netherlands. In short; after obtaining the Short Range Certificate, you can do the same as with Marcom-B. You will do some self-study before the course day. You can do this for about two evenings.
Do you want to know more? Feel free to request more information from our expert staff in the store in Almere. And also pay attention to our attractive offers such as summer advantage or holiday advantage.
You buy from us an EPIRB that is automatically activated or one that you manually switch on. There are special containers for sale to store your EPIRB float free. Depending on the device you choose, you do this every five, six, or 10 years of battery life.