According to information provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there are three types of beacons used to transmit distress signals: EPIRBs (for maritime use), ELTs (for aviation use), and PLBs (for land-based applications). Interestingly, as detailed in an article titled, “How to Improve Your Chances of Getting Rescued,” Yachting Monthly contributor Alastair Buchan believes “the evolution of emergency beacons from large objects to those small enough to fit in a pocket have made it difficult to keep track of them.”
It appears that while a smaller size makes the beacons more mobile, it’s that very mobility that enables users to carry them to other boats or even to non-boat locations. As a result, when the Coast Guard is called upon to make a rescue, it may complicate their efforts to determine just what they are seeking. In response, the Maritime & Coast Guard Agency (MCA) “wants all users of EPIRBs, PLBs and ELTs to register them, and also to re-register them when necessary and to cancel them when they are no longer in use,” the article states.
According to the Yachting Monthly article, Buchan is calling for the ability of the end user to take control of the registration process — with all tools available online. With the goal of simplifying the beacon registration process, Yachting Monthly drafted a five-point plan based upon simplifying the interaction between beacon owners and the MCA. In short, according to Yachting Monthly, the five-point plan includes:
- Putting the entire process online, accessible 24/7 by beacon owners via computer, tablet, or smartphone.
- Depending on its owner, a single PLB could at different times legitimately be in the air, at sea, or roaming the hills, there needs to be a single portal for registering and updating beacons.
- Merging the CG66 registration with beacon registration.
- Making the starting screen clearer by asking what the individual wishes to do (register new, update existing, or cancel) and then he/she is sent to the next screen depending upon his/her answer.
- When an owner wishes to update a registration, they should be able to access directly their details as they appear on the register.
To read the full article, including Yachting Monthly’s full five-point plan, go here.