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Old 22-01-2019, 16:45   #1
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A dinghy as a lifeboat

There have been several comments in other threads about using certain dinghies as lifeboats. The folks over at Portland Pudgy encourage this sort of thinking and have canopies and other lifeboat-specific components that they sell.


It seems to me that, rationalizations aside, this is mainly about cost, since the annual cost of having a properly inspected and repacked life raft aboard is considerable.


Does it make sense to treat the dinghy as a liferaft alternative, or is this wishful thinking?
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Old 22-01-2019, 17:04   #2
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

Sometimes I find issues here discussed as a "universal" issue rather than a "situational" issue. For me, if I am doing significant off shore cruising, no doubt a life raft would be high on my list of things to own. If I were only cruising the ICW and in my case coastal BC and maybe the San Juan Islands - areas in protected waters so to speak - I would consider owning a dinghy only. And local boaters here are few and far between equipped with life rafts

In my case, there are hundreds of islands with inlets and fjords so that if something nasty did happen, I could try for land with the dinghy as well as get the word out via DSC and VHF.

What I don't understand is why dinghy RIB manufactures don't develop some kind of roof covering that has ribs inflated much like a life jacket that is built to fit specific RIBs which would provide shelter from the pouring cold rain we can get here.
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Old 22-01-2019, 17:24   #3
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A dinghy as a lifeboat

Anything that floats is better than nothing, but a dinghy is no liferaft, assuming a weather event took the big boat down, my little dinghy isn’t a viable option.
Calm flat seas, boat catches fire and I have to abandon? Yes then the dinghy is a viable option.
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Old 22-01-2019, 22:22   #4
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

We've seen only one Portland Pudgy here. Some Americans managed to sell it to some people north of Sydney. They had become disenchanted with it.

As A64 says, a dinghy is not a liferaft. I suppose the choice to not have or to have a liferaft depends on how risk averse one is, and how the economics work out. We've never had one. Our dinghy is fairly competent, but in a storm, would surely get flipped.

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Old 22-01-2019, 23:50   #5
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

Check out my post in your other thread... In a calm water situation, I would certainly free the dinghy in addition to the liferaft. Only calm water situations I can think of are hitting an object and sinking, or fire, and then, yeah, anything that floats will be tossed over

Anything weather related it would be a horrible thing either way but an open dinghy, no matter how unsinkable, is still very flippable, and I wouldn't do it. That said, I can't imagine any weather conditions where I'd prefer a raft to the mothership, no matter how disabled she is.
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Old 22-01-2019, 23:57   #6
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

Depends on the dinghy. In my opinion in warm waters the dinghy is a viable option. In cold waters not so.

Once upon a time there were the Tinker Tramp and Traveller, which were convertible to a life raft. Tests showed they were less likely to capsize than real rafts. Raft design has moved on since then, though.
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Old 23-01-2019, 00:20   #7
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sojourner View Post
...

... I can't imagine any weather conditions where I'd prefer a raft to the mothership,.. .
Sunk or on fire

Obviously you don't abandon because of weather, unless the weather has sunk the mother ship...
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Old 23-01-2019, 00:27   #8
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

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Sunk or on fire

Obviously you don't abandon because of weather, unless the weather has sunk the mother ship...
Exactly what I said
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Old 23-01-2019, 00:50   #9
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

We’ve cruised the Med for seven years now on our 53 without a liferaft and don’t feel we’ve done anything unsafe. We’d both sooner climb into our Highfield dinghy with 15hp outboard than into a liferaft while doing coastal type cruising. We also do our best to avoid nasty weather.

Two recent CF discussions on the same subject, maybe we can all save some time:

Life Raft Discussion.... Yes or No?
Life Raft for Coastal...Yes or No?
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Old 23-01-2019, 01:54   #10
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Sunk or on fire

Obviously you don't abandon because of weather, unless the weather has sunk the mother ship...
People get scared, feel unsafe with 2 feet of waters sloshing around in the boat and think they are safer in a life raft......

Probably life rafts have killed as many people as they have saved.
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Old 23-01-2019, 04:11   #11
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

Anyone have stats on how often lifeboats are deployed due to storm conditions vs misc boat fire/sinking?

Storm conditions bad enough to sink the mothership may make the deployment and access to a life raft near impossible anyway. I am making the presumption that if you are willing to spend a substantial amount on a life raft (and they aren't cheap to purchase and maintain), you probably also keep up on regular maintenance so a storm is going to have to be really bad before the mothership goes down due to it.

On the other hand, a fire or flooding situation, a dingy is likely quite viable and I suspect a far more common situation.

Obviously, we can come up with scenarios but what are the statistics?
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Old 23-01-2019, 04:32   #12
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pirate Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

I have said this before.. people considering sailing where a liferaft may be needed for possible disaster as opposed to a legal technicality should take a sea survival course.. few seem to realize the realities.
They are difficult to enter from the water in pool conditions, if they flip, more often than not, they require a certain technique to right them.. again not easy, even less in wind and seas.
I've been sailing my own boats with a slat floor dinghy as my life raft/tender for years with grab bag containing usial stuff plus space blankets for shelter.
Dinghy carried on foredeck part inflated.
Each to their own decision and no judgement either way.
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Old 23-01-2019, 04:41   #13
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pirate Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
Anyone have stats on how often lifeboats are deployed due to storm conditions vs misc boat fire/sinking?

Storm conditions bad enough to sink the mothership may make the deployment and access to a life raft near impossible anyway. I am making the presumption that if you are willing to spend a substantial amount on a life raft (and they aren't cheap to purchase and maintain), you probably also keep up on regular maintenance so a storm is going to have to be really bad before the mothership goes down due to it.

On the other hand, a fire or flooding situation, a dingy is likely quite viable and I suspect a far more common situation.

Obviously, we can come up with scenarios but what are the statistics?
Watched an interview on TVI,Portugal yesterday.. Portuguese guy doing a delivery of a cat from Azores to Lisbon last year.. woke to bilge alarm and water coming in, could not trace leak and pumps could not cope so he abandoned as she was sinking.. spent 90hrs in her before he was helicoptered off the raft.
100nm from Lisbon and solo.. he had his dinghy tied to the raft so doubt conditions were extreme.. also the film of the rescue showed seas less than 1m and normal swell.
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Old 23-01-2019, 09:21   #14
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Sunk or on fire

Obviously you don't abandon because of weather, unless the weather has sunk the mother ship...
I think you will find most abandonments in the 79 fastner were because of the weather and so was the abandonment the coastgard forced on the santori against the skippers wishes as the boat was found after the storm still afloat.
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Old 23-01-2019, 09:29   #15
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

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I think you will find most abandonments in the 79 fastner were because of the weather and so was the abandonment the coastgard forced on the santori against the skippers wishes as the boat was found after the storm still afloat.
No.....

Most of the 79 Fastnet abandonments into life rafts were due to fatigue and seasickness combined with poor judgement. Most of the motherships survived even without the crews, many of whom perished while trying to get into life rafts or survive in life rafts which were torn apart.

Read the book.
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