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Paul Scott of Coral Gables, Florida, asks:

"I just bought a pre-owned boat that came with a fairly new 406 MHz EPIRB. I've checked the date on the battery, and it is fine, but when I contacted the FCC to change the registration information, they told me that they don't handle EPIRB registrations. Where should I go to re-register my unit?"

Gordon West replies:

Even though your EPIRB may be part of your FCC Ship Station authorized transmitting equipment, you need to register the change with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at beaconregistration.NOAA.gov/rgdb. You can re-register the unit by completing a simple seven-step process. As you do so, think carefully about the question asking for a contact person if your EPIRB is activated. Whatever you do, do not list yourself, because you may be the one who is treading water out there! Instead, list the name and phone number of an individual who is amenable to this arrangement and who can confirm your sailing situation in the event your EPIRB sends out a distress message.

If you are planning an offshore passage you should think about getting the latest model EPIRB because it has a test button that lets you perform a self-check. ACR Electronics also has a subscription-based 406 MHz EPIRB self-test verification service ($39.95 per year) that lets you send non-distress messages via text/e-mail saying that you are all right. Go to 406Link.com to get all the details.

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