US Coastguard warning

The misinformation or lack of information fed into EPIRBs by yachtsmen wastes time and in some cases may be costing lives, according to a US Coastguard.

Anne F. Newton, Petty Officer 1st Class, of the United States Coast Guard
who was shocked when she recently transferred to work at the Coast Guard Pacific Area Rescue Coordination Center in Alameda, California.

She said: ‘One of the main things we do here is deal with all the EPIRB’s that go off in the Pacific and calls from family members worried about a loved one. Just in the 6 months I have been here I have seen many cases that could have been easily solved if the boater would have done a few simple things before they left on a voyage. It would have saved the Coast Guard a lot of time, the family members a lot of heartache and (in some cases) maybe even saved the lives of the people on board.

‘First let’s talk about EPIRB’s. When your EPIRB is activated, a satellite
hopefully picks up the signal and through a few steps it appears on our computer
screens. When we pull up that alert there is extremely important information in
it that is only as good as what the boaters put in it. What I mean is that the
boater is responsible for that information and to ensure it is up to date and

‘One of the biggest mistakes we see is that boaters do not have the
correct information on the electronic registration of the EPIRB. We need vessel
details, contact information, family or friends contact information – just all
kinds of stuff. We desperately need this information to help us with the case.
The most common thing we get is the information in the EPIRB alert is from the
previous owner so we spend valuable time trying to figure out the current owner
and their information. If you own an EPIRB, it is incredibly important to
register it with your most recent information. This can easily be done online.’