Without safety gear the Coast Guard’s job is just that much more difficult

The United States Coast Guard recently came to the rescue of two sailboats off of the Washington coast.  All four people rescued are in good shape but one of the vessels was not equipped with immersion (survival) suits so the Coast Guard helicopter crew had to leave the rescue to obtain survival suits to lower to the crew.

For around $300.00 you can purchase a new immersion (survival) suit and greatly increase your chance of survival should you need to abandon your vessel. These suits last between 10 and 15 years with minimal service which you can do yourself. You can easily take them from boat to boat should you be the crew on a number of vessels. Forgo a cup of coffee at McDonalds one a month and you have covered the cost of an immersion suit.

Here is the full news release from the United States Coast Guard:


Fire Extinguishers on Commercial Vehicles

All commercial trucks, truck tractor and busses must be equipped with a portable fire extinguisher. It must be readily accessible for use and securely mounted to prevent sliding, rolling or vertical movement relative to the motor vehicle.

If you are carrying hazardous materials the fire extinguisher must have a minimum rating of 10 B:C, otherwise the extinguisher must have a minimum rating of 5 B:C.

We sell two Amerex fire extinguishers that meet the 10 B:C minimum (and these are the smallest models they offer). Both come standard with a bracket designed to vehicle mounting and they meet all of the requirements set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Model 417T is rated as a 1 A, 10 B:C extinguisher. It uses ABC dry chemical powder which while less expensive than other models, this dry chemical powder tends to adhere to hot surfaces making clean up a bit of an issue.

Model 410T is rated as a 10 B:C extinguisher. It uses a BC dry chemical powder known as Purple K. This powder is noted for being an extremely effective agent for extinguishing Class B flammable liquid and pressurized gas fires. After the fact it also provides easier clean up than the ABC powder.

Both of these fire extinguishers are dimensionally the same so the choice is in their extinguishing agent.

If you want the full Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulation, click this link for Part 393.95.

USCG Requirements Regarding Life Floats and Buoyant Apparatus

February 17, 2016

Congress has passed the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015 and the President has signed it into law. The Act as passed changes several components that went into Policy Letter 15-05 (below). It appears that prior to the requirements changing the Coast Guard needs to change the regulations in 46CFR (a policy letter will not suffice).

Confusing, you bet! Even the Coast Guard is confused but as of today I am told that the regulations have not changed for either commercial fishing or passenger carrying vessels.

If you have questions, give me a call at (253) 627-6000.

Rollie Herman


December 18, 2015 the USCG published Policy Letter 15-05 which outlines the requirements for “out of water” survival craft that go into effect February 26, 2016.

This letter covers phase in policies for all classes of vessels required to carry survival craft. I do not believe that it covers the changes voted on by the US Senate December 18, 2015 which if accepted by the House would make a difference to passenger carrying vessels.

The Coast Guard has tried to make a difficult subject simple with tables at the end of the document. There are still changes that need to made to the Code of Federal Regulations so I doubt this letter is the last word but it is an excellent start.

EPIRB Battery Replacement


Ocean Signal Replacement Battery For EPIRBs

I get calls all the time from customers who need to get the battery in their EPIRB replaced. When they learn the price the general reaction is shock, how can a battery cost so much? Can’t I run down to the battery store and get the cells to make my own? Why can’t I replace my own? Here are the answers.

Why do they cost so much?
First you are not buying a single battery cell but a battery pack consisting of a number of cells. They are connected in a way to prevent short circuits and often the battery pack contains additional electronic components. Part of the EPIRB’s approval is the battery pack, a third party can not decide to produce a battery pack for a beacon without going through the approval process. Needless to say that is not practical so the only source of battery packs is directly from the original manufacturer. There is not a large market for replacement batteries so production runs are small so that the end user gets a fresh battery. Finally lithium cells are expensive to begin with and there are not many suppliers that the beacon manufacturers can choose from.

Can I make my own battery pack?
I guess so, but will it work?

Why can’t I replace my own?
It depends on the model beacon you own. Ocean Signal and some Kannad models have user replaceable batteries (SOLAS class vessels are required to have an approved facility replace batteries in any model) so if you own one of these you can buy the proper battery pack and do your own installation. What you don’t get is testing the unit  for power output, signal and water-tightness. You would also be responsible for proper disposal of the old lithium battery, you can’t just throw it away since it is hazardous material. Disposal protocols vary from state to state and sometimes even within specific cities within a state.


Man Overboard App

They say there is an app for everything, now there is one which allows you to use your phone to help locate someone who has fallen overboard. I have not tried this and can’t quite come to grips with the idea of using ones phone to carry out a primary life saving function, but if you have an iPhone and want to give it a spin it is at the iTunes store.

If you are looking for a device which is designed to be worn the Kannad R10 is new on the market and works with the vessel’s AIS system.

Kannad R10

The R10 is the first device I am aware of that does not require a dedicated receiver on-board your vessel. For under $300.00 you can equip a crew person with this device which has a typical range of 4 nautical miles and transmits a unique emergency alert to all AIS receivers and AIS enabled chart plotters within its range.

While the iPhone app is less expensive, I would put my money into an R10 if I really wanted to be rescued after falling overboard.