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Old 05-17-2022, 04:28 PM   #1
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EPIRB Embarrassment

A couple of weeks ago, I removed an old EPIRB from my boat. It was on the vessel when I purchased it and was last registered in 2013. I never transferred it to my name as I regularly carry a PLB. I assumed that the battery was long dead, as the unit was at least 10 years old.

Two days after I deposited the EPIRB in the dumpster at the marina, it began transmitting. USCG called the marina, who confirmed that the boat was safe in its slip. Thankfully, no assets were mobilized by the Coast Guard.

The marina gave my phone number to the Coast Guard. The lady who called me was polite, but made it clear that I should have removed the battery before disposing of the unit. She also said it was common that the batteries last far longer than warrantied.

I consider myself chastened but fortunate. I hope this might help someone else avoid a similar incident.
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Old 05-17-2022, 05:19 PM   #2
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Wrap it, especially the antenna in 5 or 6 wraps of aluminum foil if you can't get the battery out.
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Old 05-17-2022, 05:24 PM   #3
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I gave one away, admonished the new owner to transfer it, years later exactly the same thing: he threw it in a dumpster and it went off, call from the coast guard.
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Old 05-17-2022, 05:25 PM   #4
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Thankfully the USCG calls the 'contact' number before they disperse assets unless contacted VHF or cell phone or a boat on the scene.

I turned mine to the seller of my new/replacement indicating the old battery was still installed.
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Old 05-17-2022, 10:26 PM   #5
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The battery is chosen to last {standby for the committed standby time} plus {operational for the committed operational time}. Keep it past the standby commitment, and you're just starting to eat into the committed operational time (24-48 hours I presume).
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Old 05-18-2022, 06:32 AM   #6
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Can't say how long the new batteries last, but the old EPIRBs, circa late 1980s had batteries that lasted over a week though advertised way less. Remember that advertised battery life is in cold water.

We had one go in the water with a broken antenna ( which made locating it very difficult) and it lasted for more than a week. It became a contest to see which crew could find it as we flew back to the air station after a mission.
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Old 05-18-2022, 06:49 AM   #7
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It is comforting to know that the batteries have much greater life than advertised.

Sort of like the expired flares that I've ignited. (On July 4th, in a gravel lot at my shop which is 90 miles inland). I've never had one not ignite.
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Old 05-18-2022, 06:52 AM   #8
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No guarantees, but look at typical battery output in temperatures EPIRBs are rated for.
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