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.