This is plea to bluewater cruisers. Please have multiple means of long distance two way communications on your vessel. The most common and efficient is a SSB radio and a Garmin In-Reach. I have no financial interest in any product, but I can tell you that both devices can save your life.
The problem with an EPIRB alone is you can’t be sure the distress signal was received and is being acted upon. Also, the Coast Guard has no idea what the nature of the emergency is.
With a Garmin In Reach, it uses the Iridium system of satellites which are in service throughout the world. You push the SOS button and that means you’re able to trigger a distress signal, receive delivery confirmation that help is on the way, and maintain a 2-way text conversation with the GEOS emergency monitoring center.
GEOS is standing by 24/7 to assist with your emergency, track your location and notify the most appropriate emergency response for your unique situation. Whenever, wherever — the GEOS team will stay in communication with you until your situation is resolved.
The SPOT tracker uses the Globalstar satellite system, inferior in my opinion, and does not provide true global coverage. There are areas of no satellite coverage in the mid Atlantic. Not good for transatlantic cruisers.
If you don’t think you need a satellite tracker, Boatwatch.org is working with the wife of a missing sailor right now that would give anything if her husband had a working satellite tracker on board. If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for your family and friends that become terrified when a vessel is overdue or missing.