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Old 07-31-2007, 02:40 AM   #1
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Hey, all, speaking of life rafts. We have a Tinker 12' inflatable w/sailing rig. Great little dingy for us. Even better that its hardly used but we bought it via the classifieds for very little money from its original owner.

Now, we know we can send it back to the company to have it set up for use as a life raft, too. I've seen the online reviews of its use as a life raft. Question: have any of you set up a Tinker as a life raft? What do you think?

Thanks!
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Old 07-31-2007, 02:47 AM   #2
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Personally, I would not consider using any sort of dinghy as a liferaft. The sort of conditions that tend to sink ocean going yachts are not the sort of conditions that I would want to face in a dinghy. All the people I know who have spent a lot of time at sea in rough weather say that they wouldn't board the liferaft unless they were stepping off the top of the mast - ok, they exaggerate, but the point is that you don't abandon your boat until it is the absolute only option, and in conditions with decent sized waves (possibly breaking waves) and howling winds, you don't want to be in a dinghy.
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Old 07-31-2007, 07:12 AM   #3
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A few years ago i participated i a liferaft training in "real " conditions at sea. Steep waves of 2 metres (Northsea) in april.

I know now i don't want to be in a dinghy (even i use an adapted one as "liferaft" myself), and i also

DON'T want to be in a liferaft!!!!!!!!! Very very hard to get in from the water, and in bad conditions this is the only way you can

baord the liferaft. If it is blown up upside down you must work into exhaustion to get it upright, soft bottom so very very

uncomfortable and everybody gets seasick and cold.

Concerning cold.... a liferafts depends on bodyheat to keep eachother warm, this is the main reason

why you should never buy a liferaft for to many persons. Keep it cosy.

A liferaft floats you higher en dryer on the water as a lifejacket en gives you better change to be spotted

by the rescue services. But thats all it does. Don't expect more .

Indeed Weyalan; stay on your boat till it is under....
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Old 07-31-2007, 07:39 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redbopeep View Post
Hey, all, speaking of life rafts. We have a Tinker 12' inflatable w/sailing rig. Great little dingy for us. Even better that its hardly used but we bought it via the classifieds for very little money from its original owner.

Now, we know we can send it back to the company to have it set up for use as a life raft, too. I've seen the online reviews of its use as a life raft. Question: have any of you set up a Tinker as a life raft? What do you think?

Thanks!
Hello RBP ,

Here is a write up on the Tinker 12 by Scott and Barbara Thurston. :-

A sailing inflatable?

"Who ever heard of such a thing?" That was the way my friend Jack put it when I first mentioned the Tinker Traveler to him. Well, the Brits, that's who. The Traveler and its little brother the Tramp are exports from England and are as common there as Avons and Zodiacs are here.

The Tinker Traveler is an interesting hybrid, sort of a cross between a common inflatable and an Olympic-class sailing dinghy. Of the four boats tested, it is perhaps surprising that this is the most purely performance sailing machine of the bunch. The literature says it's at its best performance in winds between 8 and 15 knots, and that statement is backed up by Michelle D'Aoust of Neris Marine, the East Coast distributor. She tells of blasting around the Chesapeake with a partner and having to use the painter as a makeshift hiking strap when trying to keep this lightweight flyer upright in winds of 20 knots and more. When you see the boat and realize how light the whole package is and that the two hulls and the flat floor are not much more than catamaran hulls connected by a planing surface, you can imagine tire turn of speed this demon must have.

Unfortunately, the wind our scheduled sailing day was blowing less than 10 knots, but even in the zephyrs it was obvious that the Tinker was the fastest of the boats. Broad reaching and running, we were able to go just less than the speed of the wind, demonstrating the Tinker's catamaran-like abilities. She crawled upwind smoothly, tacking between 85 and 90 degrees with the roller-furling genoa pulling well. I was even able to hike the hull upwind, getting the rig high into clear air and effectively sailing on only one hull, a great way to decrease drag and increase speed. As you might imagine, the boat is quite stable with the catamaran hulls and the deep, wide daggerboard giving the Traveler nearly all its surface area below the waterline. The biggest boat of the bunch, it was very comfortable to move around and spend time in, even for two.

The hull is surprisingly stiff for an inflatable, though it does flex some. The two inflatable tubes that make up the side of a Tinker run one inside the other, and each is enough to keep the shape of V the boat, should one be punctured. The base of the mast sits on an aluminum brace that runs from the thwart/daggerboard trunk forward. This also helps keep the bow in place, against the upward pull from the rigging.

Unlike most of the inflatables we're familiar with in this country, the Tinker has a pram bow, a flat piece of wood that Joins the port and starboard tubes together, rather than having the main tube circle back. The tubes, 18 inches in diameter at the stern taper carrot-like as they go forward, and from the permanently attached spray skirt for-ward they also slope toward the water. This odd design, reminiscent of the wave-piercing hulls seen in modern multis, is part of a second feature that sets Tinkers apart: available as an option is a kit to turn the dinghy into a highly regarded (and legal for racers) emergency life raft. The bow is shaped low because it becomes the boarding platform for the life raft.



While a low bow makes a great loading platform, under sail downwind it can make a good shovel, and the Tinker newsletter mentions what can happen if you inadvertently stuff the bow into the back side of a wave while planing downwind. (Apparently, there is quite a one design class in England, and the Brits race these things intensely.) Inadvertent pitch poling or temporarily "taco-ing" of the boat adds to the excitement, I guess, but it does explain the need for the two big drain plugs in the transom. I expect that it takes an awful lot of wind to get that to happen, and chances are the average user won't be sailing the boat under those conditions. With the weight of a motor aft, it's not so much of a problem under power. While rowing, the boat is so buoyant it floats above everything.

Due to time constraints, we didn't practice the capsize drill with the Tinker, but Michelle asserts that the boat rolls up dry, and I believe her. The boat is so buoyant and floats so high, the round tubes wouldn't scoop much water on the way back up.

The Traveler had the largest sail area of the four boats with up to 63 square feet set from its three-section mast (52 square feet if you set the working jib, rather than the genny). It was also the most complicated rig of the bunch. It was the only one with stays, nylon cords attached and adjusted with earn cleats. With experience, you could set the rig and be sailing in about 20 minutes, though it would be better to do it ashore.

Rowing the Tinker is a little cumbersome, with the locked-in oars, and the seat atop the thwart is of necessity at the same height as the row locks, making for an inefficient stroke angle. Michelle says they're coming out with a set of breakdown oars for next year that'll be easier to store, and with luck the grips will be smaller, too. It rows well, though tracking is a bit of an issue without any kind of a keel, arid the light weight makes it hard to have any authority over wind and chop. The best place for a passenger is forward of the thwart, feet under the skirt, facing for-ward. Sitting back-to-back with a passenger would give the rower some more support. There is room for cargo between your feet and farther under the skirt, but the tall rowing position would limit the amount you could carry. Like most inflatables, it's better to motor if you have to go any distance.

There is a towing eye well anchored on the pram bow, but like most inflatables, the Traveler is going to tow best with the bow tied against the stem rail, nose in the air. Even then it's susceptible to wind gusts and wear on the Hypalon. Since it folds up into a space less than 4 feet by 2 feet by I foot, why bother? Let the air out, stick it in a locker, and refill it when you get there. It only took us about 10 minutes with the supplied double-acting pump. Isn't that the beauty of an inflatable?

Testing the Traveler was an interesting diversion into just what a sailing tender might be. It embodies all the useful attributes of an inflatable: light, stable, and taking a minimum amount of storage space, with the added excitement of sailing and the ability to become a true emergency life raft. Its ability to sail will appeal to those who expect more from their sailing than a pleasant dodder around the cove. That it is a quality boat becomes apparent when it's known that no less than respected technical maven Nigel Calder owns one.

Nice touch: The tensioners on the stays.

Could he better: Complicated rig."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I heard of one being used successfully as a life raft off Lossiemouth - North Scotland - when the parent vessel foundered.

Richard
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Old 07-31-2007, 08:14 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by JamesHaylett View Post
A liferaft floats you higher en dryer on the water as a lifejacket en gives you better change to be spotted

by the rescue services. But thats all it does. Don't expect more
I agree with all James Haylett wrote with the exception of the above.

It has been proven that people in an inflatable liferaft have survived in conditions which would have been deadly for those with only a lifejacket. There was even one instance of a mate on a trawler in, I believe, the sixties who asurvived only because his liferaft washed ashore on Island during a winter storm. He was able to use the raft for shelter AFTER having got ashore.

Also, a good raft will have an inflatable floor insulating the survivors from a cold sea. This is a SOLAS requirement but not alsways provided on yacht liferafts.

Another important feature of the liferaft is that the roof will protect you from the sun.

Aye

Stephen
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Old 08-13-2007, 08:21 AM   #6
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I did a little looking around for information about using the tinker as a survival raft.

There seemed to be several opinions about tenders/liferafts/etc but I got the impression that folks here might not have known what I was talking about at all.

Therefore, with the info I've got, I put a (large! file) .pdf up on our website temporarily if any of you want to download it and look at it. Its 4 documents: 1. a reprint of a Cruising World article realistic about use of Tinkers as survival craft; 2. a reprint of a Yachting Monthly article where they interview a fellow who used a Tinker when his boat sank in heavy weather; 3. a one page write up by the fellow who wrote the Cruising World article and 4. Tinker's one page marketing bit (that came with our Tinker many years ago) which shows a study that the National Maritime Institute (assuming UK since Tinker/Henshaw is a UK company) did comparing the Tinker Traveller, smaller Tinker Tramp, and a convential lifeboat (both with and without water pockets and drogue) and the windspeeds at which they will capsize with different loads.

There is another document out there that I didn't copy--there was a US Sailing link to a 1994 Boat US/West Marine life raft study that included the Tinker Traveller, but at the moment the link appears dead so I can't get you to it right now It was an interesting article because it talked alot about the inflatable canopy on the Tinker. It was a good testing article revealing strengths and weaknesses of the life rafts tested. It also made me realize how really small that canopy makes the Tinker Traveller as a survival craft.

I think we will be going ahead and having our Tinker Traveller fitted with the equipment to use it as a survival craft because it sounds like a good thing for a small crew of two, but we must also consider taking along a larger lifeboat if we carry more than just my husband and I on our boat. This is 99% likely on long blue water passages. Our Tinker Traveller has a 6 person/1250# capacity when used as a dingy, but the inflated canopy which can allow it it to be used as a survival craft and the inclusion of the sailing kit that one might wish to launch with the Tinker when using it as a survival craft make for a very tight fit for even two people and their crash bag.

The link to the (large!) .pdf that I've posted is here if you're interested in reading the articles.
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Old 09-03-2007, 04:42 PM   #7
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The link to the 1994 life raft/life boat testing is live, so I thought I'd post it here:

1994 testing of liferaft and lifeboat

Probably no one is really interested in this info...but...

These dinghies can be rowed or powered with motor, of course but the difference is the sailing and survival canopy options.

Here's a pic of the tinker (newer model with a survival canopy in place) that I'm talking about:



Here's a pic of older model w/o canopy sailing:

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