Celebrate 406 day on April 6th
This is the day dedicated to create awareness on the benefits of owning a radio beacon. 406 represents the wavelength 406 MHz, which is used for emergency communication worldwide, and is used by all Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs). Since 1982 almost 40 000 lives have been saved by using 406 MHz beacons and the Sarsat satellite system, a satellite aided tracking system used to detect and locate people in distress.
One man who by now knows the benefits of owning an EPIRB is Conny Kvarnström. In 2000 he was going to cross the Atlantic from Bermuda to the Azores with his son-in-law. Initially he didn’t plan to install an EPIRB on his sailing boat.
“I thought the EPIRB was far too expensive and I had a brand new boat so I never thought I would need that kind of equipment. Thankfully my daughter convinced me to buy one”, says Kvarnström. They left Bermuda in calm and good weather and everything went well until halfway on the 12 days sail when they were surprised by a storm.“We managed to ride out the storm but the following day I realized something wasn’t right. It took maybe half an hour before I realized that our rudder was totally broken. So then we found ourselves in the middle of the Atlantic with no ability whatsoever to maneuver our ship”, says Kvarnström.
Conny Kvarnström decided to manually activate the EPIRB. The signals were picked up by another sailing boat, which came to their assistance after 15 hours.
“We were lucky. We brought all our food and supplies, abandoned our ship and could join our new friends to the Azores. They were really nice people and very experienced sailors.”
28 days later Conny Kvarnström’s abandoned boat was found by a Norwegian cargo ship.
“When they found my boat the spar was broken so it wouldn’t have been a pleasant journey if we had stayed on the yacht. I’m really glad we didn’t have to drift around at sea for one month before being rescued”, says Conny Kvarnström.
Many of the world’s EPIRB manufacturers are using the Hammar H20 for the free float function. Should the vessel sink the Hammar H20 automatically releases the EPIRB, which starts to emit a signal of identification and position that alerts the search and rescue authorities.
Remember – having an EPIRB on your boat can be the difference between lost or found.[ssba]