To EPIRB or not to EPIRB

Thanks for your awesome reply Alex.
Very informative and precise.
I guess the crux would be how long between triggering the device and the rescue peeps being tasked.
Do Golden and Tipton give an estimate for a skinny guy in a 3mm Farmer John? :)
I like that concept over the PLB because it allows me to communicate my location to folks back home. So the unit is constantly tested.

There's one problem with that theory; being constantly tested doesn't necessarily mean that the unit will continue to function into the future. I have a bit of first hand experience with this. My wife has a history of leaving me behind to go on long kayak trips in the arctic/ She used a spot for daily "I'm ok"messages. One year a few weeks into her trip, after a couple days of no messages, I got a Sat phone call from her telling me the spot was broken. She still had her PLB and the Sat phone so all was good.

The lesson seems to be it's best to have multiple coms units.

One eye opener from that Sat phone conversation was how poor the call quality could be. In my imagination she could be anywhere and have cell quality calls with rescuers and in reality our conversation was quite garbled, lots of static, and generally of poor quality, after that I'll never expect to be able to easily relate an emergency situation over a sat phone.
Excellent conversation. Of course, it’s all moot once Starlink is up and running, at which point we will be doomscrolling Twitter and posting selfies to Instagram from any remote island on the planet.

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We got along without such devices for decades but we got along without novocaine for decades too. Nothing wrong with using modern tools.

However, a person can also just forget to check-in. I tell the folks back home, "If you don't hear from me (within reason), that doesn't mean there's a problem."

Also, When I had tracking on, if I turned the unit off as soon as I was on shore, the last point on the "Where is he?" chart might show me a quarter-mile offshore or so. So you need to have an understanding of what the "responsible person" back home should expect and pay attention to.

Belt and Suspenders guy that I am, I have multiple means of communication, but not necessarily multiple "I'm here." devices with me. Our Library now has "HotSpot" devices to check out for 3 weeks at a time. My iPad has Skype for making phone calls if I have a WiFi connection (I don't have a cell phone model). The HotSpot will give me a WiFi connection via T-Mobile so I can use Skype or any other messaging App. In addition, I can get real-time weather updates and anything else available on the Web. I was using the iPad Mini as a navigation aid (with tide and current tables). Now I can access sites like DeepZoom and make phone calls (my Skype account lets me call phone numbers, not just computer-to-computer).

Few things are foolproof and risk is part of life. But, when a person says, "I don't need no stinking locator" they may be missing a couple of points. 1) People seldom go out with the pre-knowledge they will have a problem. 2) You might not need assistance but you may come across someone else who does. 3) In the same sense of "We're a community" in point 2), if you or someone you assist needs help, you may be putting the rescuers who come and get you at risk if they can't quickly find you.

I think about the mountain rescues we have around here in the winter. Or the one a few years ago where a guy called his wife, on his cell phone before it went Kaput - but didn't think to give her the Lat/long of his snow cave. And the S&R team had to search the north face of Mt. Hood for the lost climbers. How much more efficient if they knew the lat/long.

So these devices may not always work as expected, but they won't "work" at all if you leave them home or don't have them.
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