Re: 6 Americans, 1 Brit vanish at sea
"The stupid thing about EPIRBs is they can't be tested except for once."
Check again, the newer ones can be tested repeatedly. Yes, each test uses one burst of battery. A battery that is supposed to be making repeated bursts every minute for 48 hours. If the Wiki is right, they transmit once every 50 seconds, which would be some 3400+ transmissions in the course of 48 hours. So if you tested it once a month and consumed 24? 36? bursts? You'd still only be shaving 1% off the battery life.
You could, of course, also use a 406MHz receiver to monitor your own test of an old one, just do it in the basement of a room with a stamped-tin ceiling to keep the signal in. (No, actually, the USCG had promised to look into providing "casks" for that purpose in each district, but apparently dropped the ball.)
Actually...any "Class 1" cell phone or land-mobile radio service business, a place where they actually do real repairs not just swappie-swappie, has a room with copper-sheathed walls that they use for transmitter tests, you could always try to chase down one of those and offer some compensation as well.
Sheathing a wood boat in frg, dunno. I've heard folks with professional reputations say that's guaranteed to TRAP water and compromise what is left of the hull. And if the glass cracks for any reason, you're helixed. (PG-13 acronym.) Not to mention, unless they vacuum bagged the boat or rotated the hull upside down...really, glassing something that big while restraining gravity?? I think the phrase is "Yeah, but..."