Iridium, great service, but in lieu of EPIRB?

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

6 Responses

  1. Russ says:

    It’s a perspective I first saw put forth by Richard Spindler at Latitude 38. Do you want to talk with someone when you may or may not be able to accurately communicate your position, or just wait in your raft? Richard prefers the phone.
    If you have to choose only one, I’ll take the EPIRB because the battery lasts longer and it transmits my position. But in reality, I take both.

  2. Eli says:

    I would not rely on the Iridum over an epirb. The fact is that it is not waterproof, and many situations that would require one to get in a liferaft are very wet and inhospitable to an Iridium. I keep mine in a waterproof pelican case, so getting it into the raft shouldn’t pose much of a problem, it’s using it whilst in the raft that worries me a bit…at least if I am using it in lieu of an epirb for some reason. One thing that has always surprised me about the phone is that it is amazingly sensitive to a clear view of the sky, meaning that one might be forced to have the phone unprotected by the liferaft canopy (if your raft is equipped with one) in order to use it. The other big issue with the Iridium is battery life. I have not found it to be very good at all, so you would have to be very clear about relaying information to whoever you’re calling. As a technology in general, the phone is fantastic at what it does, and I have been a particular fan of the free text messaging (incoming) that you receive with the service, but I would not want to rely soley on it to save my ass in an emergency.

  3. DefJef says:

    Redundancy makes sense. Someone who can afford Iridium can afford a 406… maybe not the other way round. A choice… go epirb.
    If an Iridium phone can be rented for an offshore passage… it might be a could way to add redundancy , a safety factor and not go completely broke.
    DO they rent Iridium for short term use?
    sv Shiva

  4. CharlieJ says:

    EPIRB with Iridium back-up if the budget allows. Not only is the EPIRB automatic when activated, it sets in motion an entire process that will lead to a rescue with no further intervention by the people in distress.

  5. Milt Baker says:

    Iridium as a REPLACEMENT for an EPIRB? No way!!
    Iridium as a SUPPLEMENT to an EPIRB? Great way!!
    Different tools for different jobs.
    That said, I’m reminded of a friend whose tough ketch was hit by a rouge wave 200 miles off Halifax and rolled 360 degrees, taking on substantial water in the process. A crew member was seriously injured in the incident. Immediately afterwards, the captain used his Iridium phone to call his son in Fort Lauderdale, give a lat/lon and quick description of the problem, and ask for help getting the injured crewmember off. His son got on the phone and coordinated a rescue with the coasties, and the crew member was taken off the boat by a nearby freighter within six hours.
    The Iridium made only that one phone call before enough of the salt water taken on corroded the phone’s internal battery, rendering the phone useless.
    Belt AND suspenders!
    –Milt Baker, Nordhavn 47 Bluewater

  6. richard says:

    the green radio is a rt 144 vhf set from sailor! the best vhf ever build!

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