Emergency beacon

Safety at sea is a priority. Technological innovation offers useful and reliable means of prevention. Equipping yourself with an EPIRB3 distress beacon or a PLB1 personal locator beacon is essential to counter difficult situations and enable emergency services to locate you quickly. Discover our range of beacons specially designed for navigation. As of 01/07/2023, the new MSC.471(101) regulations require all EPIRBs to have, in addition to their known EPIRB functions in 406MHZ & 121.5MHZ, a GNSS receiver, a locating transmitter AIS, and a light visible to night vision devices. Beacons not equipped with this device can no longer be registered by ANFR after 06/31/2023.

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Fonctionnement d'un balise de secours

How a beacon works

A beacon is a maritime device used to locate a person in the water or a boat at sea in the event of danger. Emergency beacons operate via satellite signal or VHF waves, and enable rescue services to locate you.

All beacons operate on the international Cospas-Sarsat distress system, which coordinates distress alerts received by the satellite network. They transmit at different frequencies and specific signals, enabling optimum detection by SAR (Search And Rescue) centers around the world.

EPIRBs emit a 406 MHz signal that is decoded by orbiting satellites. They are fixed beacons on board a ship.

The PLB and AIS beacons also transmit a 121.5/243 MHz VHF frequency which can be detected by nearby boats.

A beacon's autonomy, thanks to its built-in lithium-ion battery, averages 5 years for the best-performing models.

Comptoir Nautique offers a wide selection for use on pleasure boats or professional vessels. 

The different types of tags

There are two categories of beacons: the EPIRBs and the PLBs ( AIS).

The EPIRB beacon

Pleasure boats are required to be fitted with an EPIRB as soon as they are more than 60 miles from the coast. The EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) is an emergency position-indicating radio beacon. The beacon is attached to the boat, dedicated to a single vessel and identified by its MMSI number. It can be placed on deck or in a rack. These robust beacons are triggered by contact with water and send out an alert. They emit both satellite and radio waves. Rescue centers are informed within minutes. The EPIRB can be fitted with a GPS or AIS beacon to make it easier to locate nearby boats or rescue teams. 

The PLB tag

A PLB (Personal Location Beacon) performs the same function as an EPIRB. However, it is paired with a user, not a boat. It is triggered manually. The PLB must be registered with the maritime authorities. It is particularly suited to solo sailors. It can be attached to a lifejacket and has an LED light. The ocean signal plb3 belongs to this category.

The tag AIS

A AIS beacon can be attached to a lifejacket or stored in a pocket. It can be triggered automatically or manually. There are two types of beacon AIS : MOB beacons and SART beacons. A AIS beacon can only be perceived by vessels equipped with AIS receivers. This type of beacon can also be fitted with a stroboscopic LED to facilitate night-time rescue. This is the case with the ocean signal mob1.

Différents types de balise

balise PLB compacte

Choosing an emergency beacon

The type of tag you need depends on how you navigate.

  • Do you sail on your own boat and often far from the coast? Choose an EPIRB beacon.
  • Are you used to changing boats regularly? The PLB beacon can be a good option.
  • If you frequently sail close to the coast or if you are a keen ocean racer, equip yourself with a beacon AIS.

At Comptoir Nautique, we have selected beacons and accessories to meet all your needs. Beacons are available in stock at Comptoir Nautique for delivery throughout France and worldwide. Find our different categories and products from the McMurdo, Ocean signal or Kannad brands at the best prices! 

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