A Gift Worth Giving

We are thick into the holiday and giving season. Time for family and friends and those New Year’s resolutions for improving ourselves.

This has been a good year for new marine products that improve safety. If you work on the water, there’s no better gift than one that can save a life. The following life-saving devices have drawn a lot of interest from the thousand mariners we have trained in the past year and would make great gifts for the mariner in your life.

EPIRB – ACR Global Fix V5

Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) and Personal Location Beacons (PLBs) head the wish list this year. Whether you’re in danger in the remote south Pacific Ocean or in your local home port, within minutes they can tell Search and Rescue (SAR) where you are.

EPIRBs have saved thousands of lives and continue to improve. Boosts in size, battery life and functionality of these devices have been considerable in the last few months alone.

For EPIRBs, the ACR Electronics Global Fix V5 has been a game changer for those who want to add or upgrade. Besides alerting the search-and-rescue satellite system, the innovative 406 MHz EPIRB also includes an Automatic Identification System (AIS) transmitter. Once the EPIRB is activated, local vessels in the range of your VHF radio also will be alerted, resulting in a much faster response to your emergency.

This EPIRB also has Return Link Service (RLS). RLS gives the user confirmation that the EPIRB’s digital mayday, identification and location has been received by the satellite. A flashing blue light in the EPIRB indicates a successful reception and that SAR operations will be launched.

Another valuable function in the V5 is ACR’s free smartphone app with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. With this, users can easily access EPIRB diagnostics. Placing a smartphone next to the GlobalFix V5 EPIRB opens the ACR Product App which shows EPIRB data.

The app shows the current battery life of the beacon, the number of satellites reached, self-tests completed and the number of times the EPIRB has been activated. Users can see detailed information on each self-test and satellite system.

Tests include a map view demonstrating where previous tests were performed, the date and time of the tests, how long it took the EPIRB to get a fix on the location coordinates, the number of satellites used to obtain that fix and the fix’s accuracy. It allows users to routinely check the status of all EPIRB functions to ensure the device is working properly.

Other features include no required monthly subscription, compatibility with new MEOSAR satellite constellations, both regular and infrared strobe light and a 10-year battery life with more than 48 hours of continuous operations.

We also like the rubber band around the EPIRB which holds in the painter line. It gives a better grip to the person holding the device, especially while wearing an immersion suit. Don’t forget to register all EPIRBs/PLBs with NOAA and make sure to use the NFC function to test your EPIRB monthly and log the results (along with your monthly emergency drills).

Cost: $940 at https://www.acrartex.com/products/globalfix-v5-ais-epirb



If someone is unable to get to the vessel’s EPIRB quickly enough in an emergency or suffers a fall overboard, this smaller personal-sized PLB alerts the SAR satellite system. It also concurrently sends an AIS signal to alert your own or nearby vessels. The ACR ResQLink AIS/PLB fills both needs in this regard.

Measuring 8 inches tall, 1.5 inches wide and an inch thick, it’s small enough to attach to a PFD (personal flotation device) or garment. It transmits locally via AIS capability which greatly increases both the likelihood and speed of rescue.

It also transmits to the satellite alerting system just like an EPIRB. In addition, it is also NFC-capable to your smartphone.

The ResQLink AIS is designed to install within an inflatable life jacket and activate upon inflation of the jacket. Once correctly installed, the action of the life jacket inflating triggers deployment of the antenna and activation of the beacon.

Or attach the beacon to an appropriately sized belt or the webbing of an inherently buoyant life jacket. See video in link below. 

Cost: $516 at https://www.acrartex.com/products/resqlink-ais-personal-locator-beacon


PLB1 – Ocean Signal

Need a smaller PLB? The PLB1 by Ocean Signal is 2.75 by 2 by 1.25 inches in dimension—the smallest PLB we’ve seen.

It also broadcasts your position to the satellite network, fits easily into a pocket, has a seven-year battery life and includes a foam collar for flotation. 

Cost: $366: https://oceansignal.com/products/plb1/ 


Overboard Alarm – Alert2

An overboard alerting system that can attach to a PFD. Upon immersion, it automatically sets off an alarm on the vessel. Can be wired to kill engine and connected to a compatible plotter to mark location of a person in the water.

Cost: $1,334 for transmitter and receiver. Available at https://www.emeraldmarineproducts.com


PFD – Storm Line – Heavy Duty Oilskin Fishing Flotation Pants

One of the PFDs that mariners in our workshops are interested in are these sturdy oilskin bibs with closed foam in the chest, back and knees.

Many people find themselves on deck and on their knees sorting fish and when we are not sorting fish on deck we are praying for more fish, both of which are hard on the knees!

These are not Coast Guard-approved PFDs, but provide flotation in an overboard emergency. They have an inside pocket and are EN ISO 12402-5 certified. One Bristol Bay fishermen stated that his bibs have survived three seasons so far.

They also give protection to the torso when running into gear, pots or hard spots on deck. 

Cost: $200 – $220 at https://www.stormlinegear.com/product/662-heavy-duty-oilskin-fishing-flotation-pants

Wishing a good holiday season to all and a safe and productive 2024 fishery!  

The Alaska Marine Safety Education Association (AMSEA) has a mission is to reduce injury and death in the marine and freshwater environment through education and training provided by a network of marine safety instructors. The Sitka, Alaska-based organization has been offering marine safety training to commercial fishermen and thousands of other mariners since 1985.

More information on marine safety topics  can be found at www.amsea.org