GME MT406There was an article in the Herald the other day which most people wouldn't have noticed, it was a pretty boring piece really, only 6 sentences long, with not a lot of excitement.

Boiled down it goes: Tramping woman falls and injures leg, sets off Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) and is then rescued within a couple of hours.

No death, carnage nor destruction, no personal struggle or super human effort, not exactly news worthy stuff, hence the tiny article. If it were a bloke it probably wouldn't have made the paper. So it got me thinking, how many people are rescued by their beacons which we dont hear about? According to the Rescue Coordination Center's Brochure, of its 800 rescues per year, 55% involve a rescue beacon (EPIRB (marine) , PLB (land) or ELT (aviation)).

Thats a whopping 440 Beacon rescues per year, the vast majority of which are so straight forward that we never hear of them.

With the option of such an easy, non newsworthy, rescue available to everyone, why do we still have news stories of death and destruction? Why are people drowning when their aluminium boats are overturned? Why are hypothermic (and very lucky) fishermen being plucked off the coast of Northland after 7 hours gripping on to a chillybin? Why did 8 people drown when their boat overturned in Foveaux Straight? Why are we still providing the media companies such easy stories for their magazines and newspapers?

I've asked heaps of customers in the shop if they would like some information on EPRIB's or PLB's, especially those using small runabouts. The overwhelming response is a “She'll be right” attitude – I've only got a 4 metre tinnie, so I dont need one. And 99% of the customers are completely right, they wont ever need one.

However in Australia the question of whether or not to carry an EPIRB has been already made for the majority of boaters – All vessels venturing further than 2 Nautical Miles off New South Wales must carry an EPIRB by law. To put that into context – anyone who ventures to Penguin shoals, Mayor Island, Astrolabe reef or White Island would need to carry an EPIRB. But is it worth it? I couldn't find any information online supporting or disproving the results of that particular law.

So my question is, should every boat carry an EPIRB or PLB to cut down on the number of drownings around the New Zealand coast?

This month we are going to do our part to help the decision making process, with the launch of our EPIRB and PLB rental service, as well as some great deals on EPIRBS to buy.

If you do have any questions on EPIRBs or PLBs, please contact us, selecting the correct beacon is one of the most important safety decisions to make, and there are a suprising array of different options to decide between.