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View Poll Results: Liferafts...Whats your status
Don't own one 16 21.92%
Have one, uncertified...Never taken a course 11 15.07%
Have one, uncertified...Taken a class 2 2.74%
Have one, certified...Never taken a class 21 28.77%
Have one, certified...Taken a class 23 31.51%
Voters: 73. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 11-05-2008, 10:32 AM   #29
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What does one do on a boat that is sometimes sailed single-handed, sometimes has two people aboard and occasionally carries up to ten people on a voyage?
I think it depends where you are sailing, how far off shore you are and the likely time for rescue services to reach you. If you do offshore passages with up to 10 on board I would have two rafts, one for 4 one for 6 - this gives you flexibility in respect of optimal loading.

If you are only coastal cruising with good local SAR, a liferaft is not essential and the provision is up to you.

However, if you are operating commercially then you must ensure your provision meets the relevant code of practice standard.
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Old 11-21-2008, 03:16 AM   #30
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90% of the time it will only be the wife and myself aboard, but there is always the possibility of a crew of 4 for longer passages (better watch schedules), so we haven't decided whether to purchase a two-person raft or a four-person raft and try to take extra gear (tied-in of course) to make up for the lack of predicted (designed for) weight. Time can sure become compressed in stressful situations, so who knows what kind of time you might really have?

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Old 11-21-2008, 09:27 AM   #31
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90% of the time it will only be the wife and myself aboard, but there is always the possibility of a crew of 4 for longer passages (better watch schedules)
In that case I would suggest that you go for the 4 man option - you are more likely to need it on longer passages, further offshore etc
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Old 04-25-2009, 06:35 AM   #32
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Has it occurred to anybody else that maybe some cruisers don't carry rafts because they know the limitations of the rafts?

Mine is serviced and up to date but I am very dubious about its life saving potential. It is a 4 person raft (smallest available) but I mainly sail on my own. As the footage of the Fastnet Race disaster seems to show, it takes 4 people to keep a 4 man raft from getting semi airborne.

My survival training for Australian merchant certificates ( at AMC Launceston and TAFE/QANTAS Sydney ) has only re-infoced my doubts. I am saving up to buy an inflatable tank internal system.

About the same cost as a raft. Makes sense to me to stay with the food, water and tools. And hopefully patch the boat.

I will however keep the raft, parially because I'm too miserly to throw it out, mainly because it could be the last resort if the boat was on fire.
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Old 04-25-2009, 07:31 AM   #33
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Has it occurred to anybody else that maybe some cruisers don't carry rafts because they know the limitations of the rafts?

As the footage of the Fastnet Race disaster seems to show, it takes 4 people to keep a 4 man raft from getting semi airborne.
The Fastnet disaster occurred some 30 years ago - many improvements have been made to liferafts - more important is to have fully functioning EPIRB :-

Category I

406/121.5 MHZ. Float-free, automatically activated EPIRB. Detectable by satellite anywhere in the world. Recognized by GMDSS.

or

Category II

406/121.5 MHZ. Similar to Category I, except is manually activated. Some models are also water activated.
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Old 04-25-2009, 08:22 AM   #34
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..............Makes sense to me to stay with the food, water and tools. And hopefully patch the boat.

I will however keep the raft, parially because I'm too miserly to throw it out, mainly because it could be the last resort if the boat was on fire.
I agree.

On 29 November 1942, the Blue Star Liner, DUNEDEN STAR, heading for the Middle East and carrying passengers, ran aground on Namibia's Skeleton Coast. The crew sent a distress signal which was received in Walvis Bay. In quite heavy surf some of the crew and the passengers got ashore in one of the ship's boats. The master and others remained on board as, by then, there was too much surf for them to reach safety. The environment was anything but friendly: hot in the day, cold at night, very dry with no habitation for miles.

A tug, the SIR CHARLES ELLIOT, was dispatched by the Admiralty but ran aground before it reached the Dunedin Star. Two of its crew members jumped overboard but were drowned in the cold waters before they could reach the shore.

The S.A. Air Force sent a plane from the Cape of Good Hope with supplies and water for the survivors who had made it to shore. It landed, but got bogged down when trying to take off. A second flight was organised with more supplies. It did not land, merely dropped its supplies. It encountered no problems at the site of the wreck but crashed in the sea on the way back. Three crewmen made it ashore and began their long walk.

A ship called the NERNIA made it to the site, but only managed to pick up 29 survivors from the wreck itself, 63 remaining ashore. A overland relief convoy was organised from Windhoek. They got to within three kilometers of the survivor's beach camp but were forced to walk the rest of the way. On the way back, they also collected the airman who had swum to shore from the bomber that crashed at sea.

By the time they were rescued the "shore party" were in a poor state but those who remained on the wreck had suffered no privations due to lack of fod or water.

The survivors made it back safely some 26 days later, arriving in Windhoek on Christmas Eve.

The people who remained on the ship, although facing the danger that it could break up in a storm, had food and water and shelter. Those ashore had little of any of these things.

The DUNEDEN STAR case is a facinating story of human survival and also human relations but here I have used it to illustrate that if there is a chance of staying with your food and water then it would be best to do so.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 04-26-2009, 04:54 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by MMNETSEA View Post
The Fastnet disaster occurred some 30 years ago - many improvements have been made to liferafts - more important is to have fully functioning EPIRB :-

Category I

406/121.5 MHZ. Float-free, automatically activated EPIRB. Detectable by satellite anywhere in the world. Recognized by GMDSS.

or

Category II

406/121.5 MHZ. Similar to Category I, except is manually activated. Some models are also water activated.
Hi, valid comment.

Got the 406 EPIRP.

Some improvements have been made to the rafts, mainly bigger and better water pockets I think.

But still not enough to keep a 4 man raft with one person from getting airborne in 60 kts.

What I was trying to do was to encourage thinking about the alternatives such as the internal inflatable bladder and the fully decked sailing dingy.

The former is, I have been told, acceptable to the authorities in at least some jurisdictions. And I have seen examples of the latter that were not only certified but seemed perfectly able to cross oceans.

My memory might be awry (survived the 60s) but one of the posts referred to "112 days at sea". Didn't they survive in a dingy after their raft disintegrated after a few days?

No one size will fit all, but all the alternatives are worth looking at.

Cheers, Ben
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Old 04-26-2009, 05:50 AM   #36
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But still not enough to keep a 4 man raft with one person from getting airborne in 60 kts.

What I was trying to do was to encourage thinking about the alternatives such as the internal inflatable bladder and the fully decked sailing dingy. .

Cheers, Ben
The point "encourage thinking about the alternatives" well made!

Interesting to know the source of the following :-

1."But still not enough to keep a 4 man raft with one person from getting airborne in 60 kts" How, when and how was this test done ?

2."the internal inflatable bladder"

Where would this be stored ? How would it be activated ? When inflated, what would ensure that it did not block the companion way?

3."the fully decked sailing dingy"

How many people and vital stores can it carry?

When the mother ship is going down, how would the sailing dinghy be launched?
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Old 04-26-2009, 12:26 PM   #37
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The point "encourage thinking about the alternatives" well made!

Interesting to know the source of the following :-

1."But still not enough to keep a 4 man raft with one person from getting airborne in 60 kts" How, when and how was this test done ?

2."the internal inflatable bladder"

Where would this be stored ? How would it be activated ? When inflated, what would ensure that it did not block the companion way?

3."the fully decked sailing dingy"

How many people and vital stores can it carry?

When the mother ship is going down, how would the sailing dinghy be launched?


OK I have at least some part of the answers.

1. No idea about tests, but training providers stress that rafts must be fully loaded.

2. The details are here: http://www.turtlepac.com/yachtdetails.htm

3. I have only seen a couple and then only when used as a tender. I do believe that both were on UK registered yachts in Aus.

As to launching arrangements I have no idea. Both would have been 9-10' and had a removable section of decking.

Never having seen one advertised maybe some UK members might know more.
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Old 06-12-2009, 08:10 PM   #38
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When buying a life raft, you buy the best double bottom round one that you can afford. There are a number of interesting sites comparing all the liferafts out there.

Just remember the following:

1. Be present when your raft is serviced.

2. Pack at least 30 seasick pills for each person into the kit.

3. Pack a hand operated RO pump (these are small and can make a lot of water) into the raft.

4. Pack a 4'-6' power kite - you can keep the raft steady and also sail if no help arrives.

5. Pack a small good quality compass

6. A small enema kit - emergency rehydration with seawater

All of the above will easily fit into the raft before it is stored.

Also remember that the only time you get into a life raft is when you step up and into it from the top of your mast. Your boat has an additional 95% rate of survival when you cannot continue anymore. Most people die from exposure and dehydration - and a life raft is a sure vomit comet.

Lastly you can drink seawater - 450ml per day max and you MUST start this the moment your NORMAL drinking water supply has run out (no rationing) and your body is still hydrated.

Maybe we should start a thread on a life raft survival kit contents.
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Old 07-22-2009, 05:55 PM   #39
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Maybe we should start a thread on a life raft survival kit contents.
Please add what you can to the existing Cruising Wiki's "Safety and Survival" section HERE - see "Liferaft" and "Yacht's Grab Bag".
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Old 11-20-2009, 09:50 AM   #40
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I bought my 1980's vintage 42 ft boat this year. The 4 man liferaft was a canister secured to the deck with stickers from a local inspection company showing a handwritten last inspection date in 2006.

Without opening the canister, it is impossible to tell exactly what the condition the liferaft was in inside. The survey just recommended the liferaft be taken for service.

I took it in for it's service last week. The inspection record inside the canister said it was made in 1995 and checked once in 2001. The seams were all rotted and it basically inflated and then fell apart on the floor. The service crew consigned it to the skip.

It is sad but you just can't trust people to be honest. And this just reinforces the need to do the service.

It would have been a sad and scary day if I had needed the liferaft and I was asking my family to step up into a deflating heap of plasic and rubber.
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Old 11-20-2009, 10:53 AM   #41
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The 4 man liferaft was a canister secured to the deck with stickers from a local inspection company showing a handwritten last inspection date in 2006.

...... The seams were all rotted and it basically inflated and then fell apart on the floor. The service crew consigned it to the skip.

It is sad but you just can't trust people to be honest. And this just reinforces the need to do the service.

It would have been a sad and scary day if I had needed the liferaft and I was asking my family to step up into a deflating heap of plasic and rubber.
As you rightly pointed out, with life rafts service is everything. The requirement for merchant shipping is that they are serviced every year. No reason why cruisers should not do the same. It is not cheap but if you can't afford it maybe you should not be cruising.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 11-22-2009, 10:35 AM   #42
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It is sad but you just can't trust people to be honest. And this just reinforces the need to do the service.

It would have been a sad and scary day if I had needed the liferaft and I was asking my family to step up into a deflating heap of plasic and rubber.
Don't you just hate being an object lesson in anything? You were deceived, and it looks as if the seller is the culprit. Drat!

My first reaction was to criticize the surveyor, but that's not fair, since he couldn't rightfully ask the seller to open the canister. He did say that it needed service, though you probably would have known to do that anyway. Aren't you thankful that you did?

When our liferaft was about eight years old, we brought it to a liferaft service company in either Guadeloupe or Martinique (previous service had been done in the US and the US Virgin Islands). They said that by French law it could not be put back into service, it was too old. They disposed of it.

We had to take their word for it, but I'm curious if there are rules in the EU about life raft life and service. I can't find anything about regulations in the US.
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