Install a hydrostatic release in a GME EPIRB

If you need to replace the hydrostatic release in a GME Category I EPIRB, here are the steps.

  1. Install the bolt and yellow curved plastic piece with its “buttons” pointing down.
  2. Next place the hydrostatic release with the top label pointing down over the bolt and curved yellow piece. Remember to date the release prior to installing it- the date should be two (2) years from the date you install the release. Then place the yellow top piece over the release. Note the position of the “button”.
  3. Finally pull the stainless steel spring down over the release. Thread the stainless nut over the plastic bolt and tighten until it is snug. You are now finished.

We have hydrostatic release kits in stock for GME EPIRBs. The come with a new Hammar H20E release, special bolt and stainless steel nut.

End of the year savings on EPIRBs and Switlik X-Back vests

We have special pricing on several of the items we offer:

GME Category I EPIRBs for only $499.00 (subject to stock on hand). These beacons have integral GPS and use the inexpensive to replace Hammar hydrostatic release.

Switlik X-Back with Molle constant wear crew vest. Switlik will not let us advertise the price, you will need to call Rollie at (800) 343-5826.

Switlik’s X-Back Basic constant wear vest. This is the economy version of the X-Back with Molle but still has the most popular features at a lower price. Again, Switlik will not allow us to advertise our price, you will need to call Rollie at (800) 343-5826.


Boaters ask me if they should purchase an EPIRB or PLB. In the past I have gone through the technical differences between the two beacons without highlighting the one important difference. Then I received an email from an individual who I had loaned my personal PLB and actually had to use it when his boat sank. His message said that at 10:30 the boat sank and they turned the beacon on. At 11:00 they remembered to ‘pull the antenna out which they had forgotten about’. The USCG did not receive notification of their distress until after the antenna had been deployed. At 12:00 they saw the Coast Guard helicopter that had been deployed to rescue them. The great news is they survived the ordeal but as with most disasters there are things we can learn.

Ocean Signal rescueME Personal Locator Beacon
Ocean Signal rescueME Personal Locator Beacon

The main thing I learned is the most important difference between and EPIRB’s and PLB’s. With an EPIRB when you put it in the water (after taking it out of its bracket) it starts transmitting. There are no other steps and the antenna is already deployed.


When we get in high stress situations it is easy to forget things. The military trains its troops until actions become second nature but we don’t have the time or patience to do that for all of our safety equipment. Simplicity becomes the key and in this case and EPIRB would have shaved 30 minutes off of the rescue time. If this sinking had happened in cold water, 30 minutes could be the difference between life and death.

From now on when a boating customer asks if they should purchase an EPIRB or PLB, my answer is going to be an EPIRB.