GME Emergency Beacons
Though GME has been manufacturing emergency beacons in Australia for more than 30 years, its EPIRBs and PLBs are new to America. The regular AccuSat 401 and GPS-assisted 401G models shown are said to be the smallest and lightest available, and each features an LED strobe light and a seven-year battery, not to mention a seven-year warranty. That long-life battery is considered nonhazmat, which will be useful if you fly with one in your luggage, but replacement has to be done by a distributor. The 401s also have comprehensive self-test abilities, including the G model's GPS acquisition, which GME claims to be especially fast. AccuSat pricing is typical of PLBs ($589 and $659, respectively), which is one reason why some boaters will consider carrying a Spot instead. But note that a PLB like this, or its EPIRB big brother, sends a 5-watt, 406-MHz signal keyed with your unique ID, which the COSPAS-SARSAT satellites can usually locate within an hour. It also transmits a 121-MHz signal for final homing by the SAR authorities (or some vessels equipped for the task). The optional GPS just makes PLB location faster. It's a well-proven technology that you might not want to cheap out on.
Whiffletree (U.S. Distributor)
This article originally appeared in the March 2008 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.