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Electronic Emergency Communications Devices for Boaters

Carrying multiple electronic emergency communications devices on board is prudent seamanship.

May 7, 2021
A collection of electronic emergency communication devices
SpotX, ACR and Ocean Signal all make electronic emergency communications devices for boaters. Courtesy SpotX, ACR, Ocean Signal

No one wants to use a satellite distress beacon or other electronic emergency communications device, but prudent seamanship dictates having one or more on board in the event of a worst-case scenario. Here are three types to consider.

Sat Messenger: SpotX with Bluetooth

The Uplink: With a SpotX two-way satellite messenger, a keyboard lets you transmit an international SOS via the GEOS satellite network, along with your position using built-in GPS. Private monitoring bases coordinate a response. You can also send and receive messages with a Bluetooth connection to your cellphone. Operational battery life is 240 hours for this compact device.

The Disconnect: Unlike an EPIRB or PLB, SpotX requires a subscription plan, starting at $11.95 per month.

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Price: $249.96 (plus service plan); findmespot.com

EPIRB: ACR GlobalFix V4

The Uplink: This EPIRB has GPS, auto water activation, a 10-year battery, 48-hour broadcast time, self-test functions, LED strobe and upright flotation. It operates on COSPAR-SARSAT and MEOSAR satellite networks for global coverage with no subscription fee. The battery is user-replaceable. ACR’s optional 406Link.com portal sends confirmation test messages via cellphone or email.

The Disconnect: Needs to be registered for effective rescue response. Auto-release bracket is optional.

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Price: $469.95

Buy: ACR GlobalFix V4 EPIRB; see more at acrartex.com

Read Next: Testing Emergency Electronics

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PLB: Ocean Signal RescueMe PLB1

The Uplink: At about 2 inches wide by 3 inches tall, you can put this waterproof device in your pocket or clip it to a life jacket or belt. It requires manual activation and operates on the global COSPAR-SARSAT and MEOSAR satellite systems. It includes a GPS, seven-year battery life, 24-hour broadcast time, LED strobe, test function and retractable antenna.

The Disconnect: Needs to be registered. The PLB must be attached to its pouch in order to float.

Price: $299.95

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Buy: Ocean Signal RescueMe PLB1; see more at thegpsstore.com

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