It seems to me that liferafts tend to be a big disappointment to people who spend any length of time in them. Some people go so far as to describe them as a 'snare and a delusion'.
They were invented for instant deployment and in the expectation of quick rescue
, for downed aircrews in the English Channel
The design brief envisaged that these liferafts would be deployed in the sorts of weather
combat missions were generally flown in, rather different from the sorts of conditions which well-found boats often to need to be abandoned in.
The designs have been tinkered with since, but it strikes me it's a bit like the history
of the cassette tape: having been invented for a dictation machine, it was never able to make the transition to a truly satisfactory hi-fi audio format.
Liferafts generally don't handle survival storm conditions well, because of the compromises involved in compact stowage and automatic deployment, and for similar reasons the material is not durable with respect to chafe and UV resistance for the extended rescue
times which might be encountered off the beaten track.
And they're rough on their occupants. If you're planning on relying on a liferaft
, at least take some blow-up cushions
or mini-beanbags or something to keep your nether regions out of the bilgewater - the novelty of 'automatic bum-sumps' wears off even quicker than your skin - and that's before the saltwater boils kick in.
Furthermore their handling idiosyncracies and disappointments (and even the contents of the 'survival' packs) are generally a surprise to those occupants, because who has sea time in a liferaft
Tinker used to offer self-inflation kits and inflatable
canopies for their excellent (and durable and versatile) Traveller and Tramp folding rigid-bottomed inflatable
dinghies. From time to time the idea seems to resurface.
It seems to me that an excellent modern alternative to a sailing rig for self rescue would be a kite, as used by kiteboarders, but with the emphasis on simplicity and durability (and bright hi-vis colours). A centreboard and rudder
would still be needed - the Tinkers (among others) offer these.
I don't personally see much merit in a motor
for any sort of self-rescue, but under certain circumstances I guess it might be beneficial. Oars and rowlocks, certainly (you don't want nature to dictate the exact location of your landfall)
Clearly, if your idea of an emergency
strategy includes actively getting yourself to safety
if the situation requires it, a liferaft is not a useful option.
I wouldn't presume to tell anyone there's anything wrong with them relying on passive rescue, and in return would hope not to find myself snookered - by meddlesome regulations
and inspections - out of reliance on active self-rescue.