ORCV Safety at Sea - mandatory from 1/7/09

Bing! Bing! Bing!


No. It is not the sound of the microwave calling you to dinner. It is the sound of the alarm at AMSA when your Personal Locator Beacon goes off. And that is something you definitely want to be heard, which can is why you need to migrate now to a new 406 type PLB for you and EPIRB for the boat and liferaft too, for that matter! Now whilst a whole article has not been written about 406 EPIRBs, please note that these are super critical too.



The best looking 406 out of the lot actually, but Peugeot's stunningly styled (by Pinninfarina) 406 Coupe cannot save your bacon like a PLB can. Sinks too quickly. Could get you a date however... Petrol heads - neither will it's later 407 brother... save your bacon that is. Might get you a better date though?

Here are some very important and useful facts in the whole PLB story:

1. Analogue 121.5MHz PLBs are no longer picked up by satellites (As of 01/02/2009)

2. Both Cat1 and Cat2 races now have PLBs as a mandatory item (As of 01/07/2009). All Christmas time ORCV races are Cat2 BTW, so therefore, you MUST have a PLB to go racing!

3. Analogue 121.5MHz PLBs are illegal as of 01/02/2010

4. Every distress beacon alert is followed up by AMSA, which is great and what we really, really want, but means you do not want the dog eating it, etc., etc. etc....

5. All PLBs must be registered to an Australian address

6. Be very aware when purchasing overseas models as they may not comply with our Cospas/Sarsat system, such as in the case of 'Tracking PLBs', which require you to hold an annual subscription with a third party operator who then refers information on - ie SLOW (which could be really, really bad, as you generally need help in hurry, not when someone else is ready). Please note very carefully that these 'Tracking PLBs' are not approved as PLBs and are not compliant with laws where the carriage of a PLB is required - yep, that includes yacht racing - so don't bother questioning it. AMSA have information on overseas models, which is available HERE.

7. Canadian Class 2 PLBs do not float (not a good feature in a water borne activity at all) and US PLBs transmitting Morse Code P on the homing frequency also do not float and both types are are not approved in Australia to the Standard and so do not work.

8. SPOT PLB Satellite Messenger models require a Safety Auditor to check with AMSA before accepting the unit - ie. pain in the tuchas and so why would you bother!


AMSA lists these as approved 406 PLBs that if purchased in Australia will meet AS/NZS 4280.2.

ACR models - PLB 200/PLB 201; PLB 300 Res-Q-fix and PLB 350A Aqualink GPS

GME models - MT 410 and MT410G

Kannad models - XS-3GPS

McMurdo models - Fastfind 211 GPS and Fastfind MAX GPS

You can check any other model by looking at AMSA online list HERE, but the above are all that are approved, so it will be academic at best. It will be worth your while to shop as some chandleries are carrying stock purchased at less favourable exchange rates. We have checked the specials below and they appear to be red hot - so get in there!

SPECIAL DEAL: The ORCV has arranged with Anchor Marine for there to be three Specials for our Members. They're all AMSA approved and range in price from $550 to $625. You can see their specs and images HERE.


Once purchased, you can register your 406 PLB by going online to HERE. On the site, you can also:

1. Update your contact information

2. Print a notice of registration to provide to the Safety Auditor and Race Organisers to prove that you are valid, correct and therefore, compliant

3. Notify them of change of ownership of your PLB

4. Post trip itineraries

Additional information sources:

Click HERE to read the Hire versus Purchase article

Click HERE to see how to dispose of your old 121.5 MHz PLB


Click HERE for additional useful information on PLB legislation, SAR, etc.


Click HERE for the list of the approved 406 models


Remember, you can always go to the AMSA site if you want to surf a bit more or call our contact at AMSA, the very helpful and knowledgeable Linda Berryman on 1800 406 406!



By John Curnow and Neville Rose