Personal Locator Beacons use rising

As the fleet sets off for the 23rd annual Coffs Harbour, its good to see an increasing number of the many crew are carrying personal locator beacons (PLB's).

While carrying PLBs is not compulsory for Category Two races, about one sailor in five is already taking their personal safety seriously and this number is set to increase and its easy to see why.

This year, racing at night with no moon, let’s assume travelling downwind at a conservative 10 knots, it sounds ideal doesn’t it, a man overboard will disappear out the back at a rate of 100 metres every 20 seconds.

How big is the swell and chop? Can you still see the man in the water? What if he’s gone overboard when the boat was in a jam, unable to change direction because of an over ride or jammed halyard?

Next scenario: and you know it can happen, the keel fails and the boat turns turtle in seconds.

The boats 406 EPIRB is trapped below (where do you stow yours?)

Crew in the water, are some still inside? How are you going to cope while you do your sea survival course for real this time? The Qantas pool seemed a lot smoother, you didn’t swallow nearly as much water then. Who are you going to buddy up with now? The guy with the PLB….. Someone is going to look for him very soon, even better, the guy who chose the new digital 406. AMSA will know who he is and where he is within minutes.

The Australian Maritime and Safety Authority - AMSA – has archives of rescue stories involving hundreds of man hours and dozens of aircraft and other vessels diverted in searches for overdue and missing boat crews.

These events are mirrored by less newsworthy stories of people activating their EPIRBs and being rescued in a matter of hours.


PLBs and EPIRBs are available at call Australia wide by contacting