A Guide to Selecting EPIRB Mounting Locations

Settling on a location to place an EPIRB counterintuitively becomes tricker the smaller the boat gets.

Installing your EPIRB correctly and away from magnetic interference from instrumentation is vital to ensure it functions as intended during an emergency.

This is why a smaller boat needs deeper thought which is what I’ll get into in this article.

Installation Best Practices

The most critical factor when selecting your mounting location is to ensure that it’s an area without any overhead obstruction.

This means that in the case of submersion and the device being released by the Hydrostatic Release Unit (HRU), it will float free to the surface.

In the case of manual EPIRBs, this still holds true, but you will need to retrieve the device in an emergency physically. And that’s when accessibility becomes important.

The EPIRB should be easily reachable, allowing for quick deployment in case of an emergency.

Locations within arm’s reach of the helm or the companionway are often ideal for accessibility.

Think about environmental exposure.

Your EPIRB should be mounted in a location that’s protected from prolonged direct sunlight and shielded from frequent saltwater spray.

Avoid areas like the foredeck where heavy seas can impact it, and places where it could be damaged by a swinging door.

It’s critical to mount the EPIRB away from potential fire hazards such as the engine room or galley.

Ensure that the EPIRB is in a location where it can be seen by the crew, reminding them of its presence and function.

Mounting EPIRBs Step-by-Step

1️⃣ Select Bracket Type:

For Category I brackets, which deploy the EPIRB automatically when submerged, refer to guidance from manufacturers like ACR Electronics.

For Category II brackets requiring manual deployment, ensure they’re secured but accessible for manual retrieval.

2️⃣ Mounting Process:

Firstly, identify the optimal mounting location following the guidelines above.

Confirm that the chosen location also allows the EPIRB to float free without obstruction in an emergency.

Proceed to securely attach the mounting bracket to the hardtop, cockpit, or another suitable location with the provided hardware, ensuring it remains accessible and visible.

🎓 Note: Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions during the installation process to ensure that the EPIRB will function correctly when needed.

EPIRB Registration and Maintenance

Before you set sail, ensure your EPIRB is registered and maintained to guarantee it functions in an emergency.

Accurate registration and consistent maintenance are critical for the effectiveness of this lifesaving device.

Registering Your EPIRB

In the United States, the U.S. Coast Guard requires your beacon’s registration to be updated every two years, or when your contact information or the device’s ownership changes.

Registration is a straightforward process that can be completed online, attaching key details such as your contact information, emergency contacts, and vessel identification to your beacon.

Battery Replacement and EPIRB Testing

Your EPIRB battery has a limited lifespan and should only be replaced by an authorized service center.

Typically, batteries need replacement every five years but always refer to your manufacturer’s guidance to confirm the schedule.

Regular testing according to the owner’s manual ensures your EPIRB is performing correctly.

It’s recommended to test its functions annually, which includes verifying signal transmission and battery strength.

Choosing and Purchasing EPIRBs

When selecting an EPIRB, consider your boat type and usage to ensure you get an appropriate device.

The decision between renting and purchasing depends on your boating frequency and needs.

EPIRB for Different Boat Types

EPIRBs are a critical safety component for a range of vessels, including cruising boats, pontoon boats, fishing boats, runabouts, and even personal watercraft (PWC).

For vessels like cruising boats, where long-distance travel is common, choosing an EPIRB with extended battery life and durability against harsh weather conditions is vital.

  • Cruising Boats: Opt for Category 1 EPIRBs with GPS capabilities for precise location tracking.
  • Fishing and Pontoon Boats: Consider Category 2 EPIRBs, which require manual deployment.
  • Runabouts & PWC: A Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) may suffice for these typically smaller craft.

Rent vs. Purchase EPIRB Options

The decision to rent or purchase an EPIRB often hinges on how frequently you use your boat.

OptionIdeal forBenefits
RentalIdeal for occasional boatersCost-effective, Up-to-date EPIRB
PurchaseBest for regular boatersAlways on board

⚠️ Remember: If you’re renting, it’s your responsibility to ensure the rented EPIRB is properly registered and functional for the duration of your boating excursion.

Frequently Asked

While the core guideline is the same—easy accessibility in case of emergency—smaller vessels may require more careful placement due to limited space.

It’s recommended to keep the EPIRB away from magnetic interference and secure it well to prevent loss overboard.

Your EPIRB should be mounted vertically wherever possible. This orientation is designed to ensure the best signal transmission and to align with the way hydrostatic release mechanisms function if utilized.

The necessity of an EPIRB on board is not solely dictated by the distance from the shore. It is crucial for both coastal and offshore voyages where immediate rescue may be required. It’s an essential safety device for any vessel capable of sailing beyond rapid assistance range.

I’m the founder and chief editor here at Sailing Savvy. I spent a decade working as a professional mariner and currently, I mix those experiences with digital publishing. Welcome, and I hope that we can be the hub you need for safe passage.