1. Yes, I've had the batteries changed on Zygote's EPIRB (and it's about due for its second battery change - or purchase of a new unit). I took the unit to the local service agent and confirm Rod's advice that, although it's possible for a user to change the batteries, we need our EPIRB units to be certified by agencies of our flag-state.
I'd guess that the 'sticky grease' you found was silicone grease or a similar substance to waterproof the electrical connections and electronic components.
It's the traditional zinc/carbon type batts that are most leak-prone. That's partly to do with the cheapness of construction (ie made to a price; some brands have cases that are less leak-prone than others) and partly to do with the chemistry and their tendency to expand with age.
Using an EPIRB service agent is not cheap. Buying a new EPIRB is a little more expensive (and it gives you the benefit of newer tech, including integrated GPS receivers that are very fast at making a fix) in most economies. I'll soon be doing the math to work out whether I ought change batteries or change EPIRBs.
Using your favorite search engine for a search on "ACR EPIRB" Service Singapore should return a half dozen businesses who'll do the job for you at competitive prices (in that regard, you're lucky. In Aus, there's little competition to change batteries, test, and re-certify an EPIRB ). And new EPIRBs are only as far away as Sim Lim Square or your local chandlery.
2. A working, certified, and registered EPIRB gets attention anywhere, even in the seas between Singapore and Japan.
It's true that China, Philippines, and Japan have not clearly delineated their areas of Search & Rescue responsibility.
And that Taiwan (aka Republic of China on Taiwan) is not given international status and so is not included on IMO and USCG lists. But it's there and has its own Coast Guard Administration which covers waters around Taiwan.
Malaysia, by contrast, has stated clearly the boundaries to its SAR area. Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency is active along the coasts of Sarawak and Sabah, and around Labuan. The recent incursion of the "Royal Sulu Army" into the E coast of Sabah might have raised the alert level of the MMEA and Malaysian Navy.
Note there are non-entry zones around many of the oil production platforms in the S China Sea.
You could download and print the relevant pages of:
That document will give you details, including telephone numbers if you prefer to rely on satellite telephony.
3. A quick browse of the relevant squares of [www.marinetraffic.com
] will show you how much commercial shipping traffic can be expected on your route. Pick a square and zoom in.
Check back at a different time of day - you'll note that commercial vessels time their voyages to arrive at Singapore in daylight by preference. Same for many other ports. Not always, of course.
That's almost real-time AIS data that is shown.
You can click on an individual vessel and check name, speed, flag state, destination port etc.
You'll note that some chunks of Philippine waters and a quite large chunk of the S China Sea is not covered by the AIS report - that's because of the lack of land stations collecting the AIS data and streaming it onto the Net, not the lack of shipping traffic.
And of course the area has even more smaller scale fishing vessels, some of which do not broadcast AIS (but that number is declining each year, because governments love inexpensive ways to control or oversee vessels flying their flag).
You can bet that most of the cargo ships are listening to VHF and some to SSB. At least some of them are prepared to chat by VHF. And they are mostly all prepared to help in distress situations.
In addition, the USN has its own presence - usually less well announced of course.
And at the very worst case, I would guess that USCG Guam or even USCG Point Reyes would be prepared to talk to you by SSB - and then to find a cargo ship willing to render assistance if you were prepared to declare Mayday.
The bottom line is that Lyle C. Hess designed a fine craft and Sam L. Morse built a strong boat that will get you home. The rest is just embroidery and fancy edging - but sometimes the embroidery is jolly useful and a real confidence boost.
I'm sure Calliste will get you and Lang to your destination safely.
BCC 116 Zygote,
Scarborough Marina, Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia
Edited 1 times. Last edit at 03/07/13 06:00AM by Bil.