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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 11-22-2009, 11:30 AM   #43
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A very swift answer regarding the EU.

In the Union, there are Council and Commission Regulations, roughly equivilent to US Federal Law. Then there are national constitutions, laws and regulations. Each Member State is free to impose its own legislation providing that it is not contrary to or milder than EU legislation.

You will almost certainly find that there is legislation at EU level applicable to companies carrying out liferaft service, such as trading standards. However, aside from regulations for commercial shipping (such as SOLAS), I am not aware of any EU legislation governing the carriage or servicing of liferafts on pleasure boats.

On the other hand, national legislation does address this. For example, in the UK, a vessel of 13.7 metres in length and over is obliged to comply with the Merchant Shipping (Life-Saving Appliances for ships other than ships of Classes III to VI (A)) Regulations 1999 and the Merchant Shipping (Fire Protection: Small Ships) Regulations 1998 respectively. Such a vessel is classified as being Class XII in these Regulations.

Other Member States may have similar legislation, legislation for vessels over a certain size (as is the case in the UK) or none at all.

Does this answer the question or add confusion to the issue?

Aye // Stephen
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Old 11-22-2009, 12:08 PM   #44
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Originally Posted by dmusker View Post
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.
There was an article written (by whom I am not certain, and I will see if I can find the article) but the life raft service companies were using supplies and flares that were close to expiry in the life rafts when they were serviced, in an attempt to save costs, sort of what grocery stores do by placing their oldest stuff on the front of the shelf. (I always hunt through for the freshest dates which drives my wife insane, but that is another story). Anyway the articel stated that not only should you be there when the life raft is serviced, you should use that opportunty to inflate your raft (which is supposed to be done anyway) and run through or practice your emergency drills, (a live drill) as there is no better opportunity to do so. Apparently you can arrange this with your service company, no doubt for a small fee, plus they further stated that you should ensure that the supplies put into the liferaft will not expire prior to the next service date (every 5 years I believe).

It is sad that you have to police stuff like this, but it is your families life that is at risk here, I have been known to be insistent to the point that I have been told not to bring my business back, but in each case I have received a service to my liking and I have NEVER asked for anything more than was promised and quoted during negotiation. In retrospect it has has happened to me twice and in both instances the companies ended up out of business, makes you think doesn't it.
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Old 11-22-2009, 12:09 PM   #45
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Does this answer the question or add confusion to the issue?
It helps. IMO, knowing that there are NO regulations is as good as knowing that there ARE regulations. One can be more careful when it's known that it is all "buyer (or user) beware".
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Old 11-22-2009, 05:14 PM   #46
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We had a nice experience getting our liferaft repacked in Ecuador. Cost us $150 for the repack and about $32 for the replaced supplies (and then we got a 10% discount on the bill for cash). We got to watch the whole thing.

We blogged about our experience here:

http://svsoggypaws.com/blog/2009/11/lifera...king-caper.html

Sherry
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Old 11-23-2009, 03:43 PM   #47
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Sherry,

Fun breakneck speed bus ride to Guayaquil, eh? First time I took it I thought "I'm going to die!" Second time, ho hum.

We loved Ecuador, had a wonderful trip through the interior, taking buses and getting off wherever along the way. Just a neat experience. Only difficulty was when we got to Quito, they were on restricted power, with different sectors of the city doing without power one or two days a week. Still, I wouln't have traded the experiences for anything.

http://www.cruiser.co.za/hostmelon5.asp - from our logs, this is Ecuador

http://www.cruiser.co.za/hostmelon52.asp - our inland trip and getting ready to head to the S. Pacific
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Old 01-09-2010, 02:33 AM   #48
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Several people suggested inflating your life raft when it's time for inspection. I have always checked on my raft when it was serviced, and I have always seen the service personnel inflate the raft with an electric pump. I once asked about inflating it with the CO2, and was told that the gas comes out so cold that it may make the life raft material brittle, and therefore unnecessarily degrade it.

I would love to practice inflating my raft (Switlik 6 person SOLAS A), but I am concerned about degrading the material. Has anybody else heard of this? Am I unnecessarily concerned about a "practice" inflation?

Paul Cossman

S/V Sabina

Anchorage, Alaska
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Old 01-09-2010, 07:13 AM   #49
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I am not so sure about the degrading issue at all but coming from Scandinavia and having sailed on patrol vessels in both the Arctic and Antarctic, I am a little surprised at this.

I do not doubt that some deterioration could occur due to cold but the question is if it is serious or just marginal? If it is marginal then ignore it. If it is serious then I should have been very worried when in high latitudes and very cold weather. Given that our liferafts survived Arctic conditions with temperatures as low as -30 Celsius year after year and were re-certified according to SOLAS regulations every year, I would say that the effect of cold must be marginal.

I notice that you are in Alaska so I suppose your raft is rather cold just now!

Aye // Stephen
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Old 01-09-2010, 01:41 PM   #50
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I don't think that the service operation was talking about the exposure to the ambient air temperature as the "cold" from inflation by a CO[sub]2[/sub] cartridge.

Gas, when it expands rapidly draws heat from the air/surfaces it touches, creating an extreme localized cold - you can see it on propane tanks when the valve is opened, or when it is being filled, or spray cans of paint when only gas is being exhausted - see the frost on the valve. It is also the principle for propane or natural gas refrigeration, though it is rarely used nowadays.

This extreme sub-zero frost would make the fabric around the fill valve very brittle, and the rest of the fabric flexible, inducing excessive stress at the border of the two temperatures.

I've never inflated a life raft with a CO[sub]2[/sub] cartridge, so I don't know if there is a way to reduce the flow of gas into the life raft. I assume there is not, in order to insure that it can't be accidentally restricted in an emergency. It is something to consider.
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Old 01-09-2010, 03:31 PM   #51
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I am conversant with the gas laws and don't for a moment doubt that the cold from the expanding gas would make the fabric more brittle. My point is that the fabric should be designed for and able to withstand this. If not, I question the deployment of these rafts in arctic conditions when the fabric will already be more brittle due to the ambient temperature and become even more so as the raft inflates.

I have inflated liferafts on a few occasions. There is no way of reducung the flow of gas from the cylinder as far as I know.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 01-11-2010, 12:46 AM   #52
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Not sure how practical it would be having not yet had the opportunity to test mine at a shop floor, but I imagine if the shop connected the CO2 through a intermediate copper tube, it would be a good heatsink to draw warmth from the ambiant air before entering the inflatable tubes.

I once met a guy who would hot up everything on his boat, his liferaft was no exception, he'd put in better gear, better food, etc before they repacked it.

A friend who's a bit of a good humoured "sea-dog" woman in her 60s joked about packing a bottle of champagne in the liferaft, cos at least you can celebrate.
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Old 01-12-2010, 05:58 PM   #53
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I have inflated liferafts on a few occasions. There is no way of reducing the flow of gas from the cylinder as far as I know.

Aye // Stephen
... and in the case of need I'd be happy if the flow is not reduced!

I inflated an old life raft (that had been at the end of its life and way too old for another service) and it took about 20 minutes until it was ready to use! Imagining that this happens out there... .

And if there would be a degrading issue, what about all the automatic life vests driven by CO2? Over the years we had many of them from different companies and the manuals never stated, that the inflation process will strain the material. In fact, once in a while we test our vests by jumping into the water. All vests died after years of use because of chafe elswere, but never because of crackling material close to the inlet due to low temperatures.

Uwe

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Old 01-14-2010, 12:53 AM   #54
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We took video of the raft after it was inflated at the shop (we do stay all day while it gets inflated, inspected and repacked). BTW, don't pull the cord, as the co2 bottles send freezing gas into the fabric on the raft, not good for it. Reputable shops use compressed air to slowly inflate the raft.

We show the raft video to anyone we have come sailing with us along with the safely tour of all the safety bits including the ditch bag with watermaker, signal mirror, space blanket, etc., most people have never seen a raft much less seen what is packed in it, and the most important, how to get into the raft! If you have a front inflated lifejacket on (as everyone seems to encourage these days) unless you are ARNOLD, and have the grip of godzilla, it is nearly impossible to get into a raft with sodden clothing on (ask me how I know this). I had trouble getting in, and I kitesurf, so while I am an old fart, I am really fit, and some rafts are MUCH easier to get into than others....just a thought.....
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