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Old 23-04-2019, 11:07   #1
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I Learned A Lesson Today!

We have been working through a refit of our Taswell 49í cutter for several months. Finally got to the end and were making final departure plans. One the items we did at the end was replacing the life raft. The one that came with the boat was a 1990ís vintage last serviced in 2000.

We bought a new Viking offshore raft. That left us with an old raft to dispose of. But before disposal we felt it would be interesting to attempt deploying the old raft. Would it work after sun baking for 19 years? It was a Switlock 8 person off shore model. Yes it did deploy! We were a little amazed. We went through the emergency provisions to check how well stocked it was. It had all the goodies. So that was a good sign. The water and medical items were far past expiration. But all in all we could have survived with the contents.

The interesting and unexpected item was an old EPIRB. Also last serviced in 2000. That would be three owners ago! After our survey we grabbed the raft with contents and deposited them into the marina dumpster.

Then things became interesting. Two days later departed on our summer adventure to Alaska. We had been motoring a couple of hours and my cell phone rang. It was the command center for EPIRB distress. My wife immediately ran below for our new EPIRB. Wondering how we had accidentally activated it??? Well the device number on ours did not match the alarming EPIRB. Hmmmmm. Then we remembered our disposal. Apparently it had been activated during disposal. What amazed us was that they had our new boat name, my name and cell phone number. We had not done anything with the old unit. We did not even know it existed!

So somehow that information must have been updated when we bought the boat 6 years ago. Sort of amazing in our eyes. Our lesson in this event was be sure to disconnect any EPIRB battery prior to disposal.
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Old 23-04-2019, 11:21   #2
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Re: I Learned A Lesson Today!

FWIW you are also supposed to de-register it with NOAA (US residents).
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Old 26-04-2019, 11:14   #3
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Re: I Learned A Lesson Today!

If it was a documented vessel, the USCG would have records going back to Day One, so that even if the boat was renamed, they could tell NOAA "Yes, that HIN currently is registered to..." and you'd get the phone call.

Our SAR folks are incredibly dedicated and competent at what they do--and that includes the ones who "just" do paperwork.
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Old 26-04-2019, 11:17   #4
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Re: I Learned A Lesson Today!

It’s also amazing it took 2 days for anyone to investigate
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Old 26-04-2019, 12:05   #5
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Re: I Learned A Lesson Today!

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It’s also amazing it took 2 days for anyone to investigate
They probably investigated when it got triggered in some way during the disposal process, not when it was thrown into the dumpster.
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Old 27-04-2019, 17:07   #6
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Re: I Learned A Lesson Today!

Interesting story! I also learned a lesson about EPIRBs when I tested our ACR Globalfix PRO unit in the Bahamas earlier this year. According to the manual, the self-test checks battery capacity and performs five functional test sequences. It displayed the correct LEDs and I considered the test complete. In short order, I had an e-mail from the Canadian agency that monitors these things reminding me to check that all my contact info was current. So they were aware the unit was tested! In this case, I'm glad Big Brother is watching.
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Old 27-04-2019, 17:14   #7
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Re: I Learned A Lesson Today!

We had friends who put their EPIRB under a seat in the salon next to a woofer speaker. They did not realize that the large woofer magnet would flip the magnetic switch on the EPIRB. They figured out what had happened after being contacted by the rescue authorities informing them that their EPIRB was going off.
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Old 27-04-2019, 17:21   #8
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Re: I Learned A Lesson Today!

Here in Australia they are very clear that you should NOT dispose of EPIRBs by dumping them.

Beacon disposal - Beacons

I am amazed the same rules/recommendations don't apply in other parts of the world.

Put bluntly, I am kind of staggered that the OP didn't at least remove the batteries, sorry, but that just seems like common sense to me.

Edit: But good on the OP for sharing their mistake so that others don't repeat it.
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Old 27-04-2019, 17:31   #9
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Re: I Learned A Lesson Today!

It's also amazing that anyone would simply "dispose" of those goodies without asking if someone else would appreciate it as a gift. Anything that still works could be useful to someone else.
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Old 27-04-2019, 17:43   #10
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Re: I Learned A Lesson Today!

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It's also amazing that anyone would simply "dispose" of those goodies without asking if someone else would appreciate it as a gift. Anything that still works could be useful to someone else.
Ah, a fellow seagull. But at least the EPIRB itself was probably obsolete.

I must admit, my seagull tendencies do stand back a bit when safety related gear is involved. I've had a pretty simple test with my boat rejuvenation. With any bit of equipment I ask myself "Does this device influence my safety on board? If so, do I trust it?". Made a few decisions, like upgrading the life raft, very much easier.
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Old 27-04-2019, 17:46   #11
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Re: I Learned A Lesson Today!

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...
The interesting and unexpected item was an old EPIRB.
...
Not having a go at the OP here, but surely the life raft canister/bag clearly indicated that an EPIRB was inside? Pretty sure that is a regulatory requirement, though I cannot find anything to support this assertion. I've seen plenty of containers like mine that had that indicated on the outside.

Of course, they don't tell you if it is the obsolete sort or the newer 406.
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Old 03-05-2019, 19:21   #12
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Re: I Learned A Lesson Today!

I volunteer in SAR and implore anyone with an EPIRB to remove the batteries if you’re going to dispose of it, and make sure you deregister it. The manpower and resources which can be wasted chasing emergencies which don’t exist can be significant.
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Old 04-05-2019, 05:52   #13
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Re: I Learned A Lesson Today!

Had a similar experience on an old boat of mine. I was using the BU235 gps USB antenna puck, which has a very strong magnet in its base. I had it jammed up tight to the deck head, resting ona shelf directly over the mounted epirb... results were similar- within a few hours both my cell and my wifeís cellphones were going crazy. After an embarrassing discussion with the very competent and professional officer on duty at the joint rescue coordination Center (Halifax), we figured it out. A thousand apologies and a donation to the seamanís mission followed...
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