Last year I had significant trouble finding a 6-person liferaft to rent for a DELMARVA sail out of Annapolis. Three years ago we used USA Services in Annapolis to rent an 8-person liferaft but that company has gone out of business. The only other local company that will rent a liferaft for a recreational sail is Vane Brothers in Baltimore. I found their customer service and raft availability to be limited. The only other companies that I know of that can be options for this area are LRSE in Tiverton, RI; Winslow Life Raft Store in Charleston, SC; or Landrigan in East Boston, MA. However, using any of these companies requires motor freight shipping of the raft to and from Annapolis as hazardous material cargo because of the pressurized CO2 canister inside the packed raft, and the overall weight. Then you have to ship the raft back to the originator when you are done. Shipping costs alone can typically exceed the actual rental cost of the raft. This is just crazy particularly for us recreational sailors that only go offshore once a year or so with a charter boat and do not want to own a liferaft.
What we are looking at is to start a business matching current liferaft owners with anyone wanting to do a short-term liferaft rental for a recreational near coastal or offshore sail. The incentive for the liferaft owner is they can make some money from a short-term rental on an otherwise static asset that just sits on a boat. This assumes that you do not require your liferaft onboard for the majority of the sailing season when only sailing in the Chesapeake Bay. This is a way for a boat owner with a liferaft to earn a little money throughout the year when they do not need their liferaft onboard. The owner is protected in that if the liferaft is damaged or used by the renter, you will get a replacement liferaft at no cost to you.
We are looking to see if this may be of interest to any boat owner out there that owns a liferaft (valise). If so, please go to Skysail Maritime - Offshore Liferaft Rentals
and express your interest in being entered into our database of potential liferafts available for rental.