New boating legislation passed in the wake of two Florida teens who went missing at sea goes into effect Saturday.
In July 2015, 14-year-olds Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen were lost at sea off the Jupiter inlet. Their boat was eventually found, but a massive search found no sign of the boys.
House Bill 711, also known as the Beacon Bill, increases and makes permanent a registration-fee discount for boaters who purchase an emergency position indicating radio beacon, or an EPIRB.
“The boat mounted system can be deployed manually or if the boat were to sink, it has a hydrostatic release, meaning once it reaches a certain depth it would release and start emitting the distress signal,” Sgt. Steven Tacia with the Pinellas County Marine Unit said.
The U.S. Coast Guard monitors the beacons and is always ready to respond.
“It’s a direct link to the U.S. Coast Guard,” Petty Officer Michael De Nyse said. “No matter where you are in the world, we have a direct link to you to find you. And it takes the search out of search and rescue.”
You can also have a personal locator device to qualify for the discount. The devices cost between $200-$500 depending on size.
“This will bring us to you,” Tacia said. “If you don’t have this and you’re not able to get out on the radio and put out and mayday we don’t know you’re in trouble.”