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Old 31-05-2012, 09:07   #31
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

Mike,

I agree and I think you are spot on...... especially your comments about risk assessment. All things considered people will come up with their own opinions and make their own decisions. As it should be.

I thought the OP had a good question....... I do know for sure that in the heat of the moment when I pull that rip cord on a life raft I will have all fingers crossed hoping that bad boy inflates. There is a lot of faith placed in inspections, packing, and CO2 cartridges. Not to mention safety advertising.

That old beat up dinghy with an inflation collar and abandon ship kit is a known quantity.

I wouldn't suggest that anyone NOT chose a life raft. Perhaps both if its doable.
Its an interesting question. Especially when you consider all of the factors that you mentioned above.

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Old 31-05-2012, 09:13   #32
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

i found that many designated liferafts do not function corectly even with their annual or semi annual checkups--is why i was using my roll up as a potential life raft s well as dinghy. i will be seeking a different roll up and small engine fur later use. yes i do sail in deep blue water, and yes, i know a designated liferaft, on paper, is allegedly better--but that is on paper and i am in real time.
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Old 31-05-2012, 09:30   #33
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

The "risk assessment" of our situation led me to leave our liferaft behind. It was an old 12 man model weighing several hundred pounds with a badly expired inspection date. We haven't been able to budget a replacement but our boat is a plywood catamaran. I don't believe that our boat would sink. A ballasted keel monohull can sink in seconds if it gets holed bad enough. I believe that a heavily built catamaran can also sink (Catalac), but a lightly built cat, or maybe a tri, and there may be monohulls that are unsinkable, I am not sure, would have a different risk assessment. It is true that a lot of multihull's focus on capsize survival and that a liferaft tied between the hulls of an inverted cat makes an okay survival shelter, but venturing offshore without a liferaft in a boat that can't sink couldn't be nearly as dangerous as doing it in a boat that can sink (in seconds). Now back to the original topic: You would need to be able to deploy your dinghy in seconds. I think a lot of this boils down to how you store your dinghy on passage. Deflated and below deck? Inflated on deck but inverted? Ready to go on davits (can your davits survive in storm conditions?). If as one guy said, You can't afford to go sailing without a liferaft, is true then you also can't afford to go sailing without radar,ais transponder, sat phone, electronic crew overboard monitoring, epirb, etc. Statistically, more people die sailing due to man overboard accidents than any other cause so if you had to make a choice wouldn't be better to spend the money on new lifelines, lifeline netting, comfortable tether's and harnesses, new jacklines, personal strobes, maybe even electronic crew monitoring? Then there are the people that get false security from the fact that they have a liferaft. They evacuate to the liferaft in a storm (never to be seen again) but their boat is later recovered (unsunk). Thus the saying "never step into the liferaft until you have to step UP into it". The bottom line is that if you have to use the dinghy as a liferaft, or even if you have a liferaft, your survival isn't so much depending on what kind of dinghy you have, but more on what you have managed to bring with you in your DITCH BAG!
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Old 31-05-2012, 09:43   #34
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

There are a number of reasons not to use a RIB or inflatable (Dinghy) as a Liferaft. Most of them have been pointed out in the previous posts.

A dinghy is designed to take you from point A to B, not bob around in the ocean for extended periods. Most have low top sides and without a motor running will swamp in relatively moderate seas. Most dinghies have no sun protection, so in the tropics it would only be hours before you were suffering from heat exsposure or in the colder climates, hypothermia.

People make mistakes purchasing liferafts.... They tend to lump them all together and most times use price as the deciding factor.

Liferaft construction is very different, based on brand and models. Some liferafts wouldn't hold up in a backyard pool, but they were inexpensive so the owners were happy.

Your primary consideration should be where are you sailing and how many people could be potentially using the craft. With that in mind you have to look at the raft construction, size and of course what goes inside it (provisions). If you wear reading glasses, take special meds or anything else you require, should be packed into the raft.

You also have to consider how you are going to deploy the liferaft. Some people are happy with valises, but I all to often hear someone asking for help, when they need to get it out of the storage locker. You should be able to be deploye the raft with one average person. I say this because all to often people forget you may not be the one deplying the raft, because your injured or doing damage control or figuring things out.

The hard cases they will slide across the deck, making lifting unnecessary and will automatically deploy if you can't get to it in time. These are my favorite for that reason.

After taking my first STCW class, I realised that it is very difficult to in the raft from the water, especially in wet clothes. Most rafts come with nylon "rope ladders", which are worthless, especially in rolling seas. A boarding platform is better and easier to get inside your raft.

Occupancy is the next thing to consider... I think the industry standard is about two square feet per person. In the real world, when I was in STCW, we got 14 adult males in a 20 person liferaft and tried to figure were we would put anyone else.

Lastly, think about abandoning you vessel and what you would do... Vessels sink a varing rates depending on damages and sea conditions, among other factors. You could have hours or only minutes to get off the boat.

In regards to water proof bags, pre-tie lanyards to them and attatch them to a warm body. A friend of mine lost a boat to a whale strike a couple years ago. As they were abandoning ship a large wave swept the cockpit and took their ditch bags with it (Inmportant documents, money, passports and spare food/water).

So with all that rambling and IMHO, unless your sailing on small lakes or in a place were rescue in less than 15 minutes away, I would not suggest a dinghy be used as a liferaft.
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Old 31-05-2012, 11:50   #35
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

On my boat I know I don't need a liferaft (ok, leaving aside it's present dock bound location ).

But just in case, I have installed a teleport to cover me against attacks by Whales / Pirates / Shipping Containers / Giant Kraken / getting a bit tired or bored - for everything else there be me. and my boat .....and a dink .

On "Your" boat I would want a liferaft - because I don't know either:-

a) whether your boat has been badly maintained.

or

b) what sort of idiot captain you really are.

and could be both .

My first exception being places (inshore - ish) where I judge that either a dink would probably be good enough - or a winch handle . (a heavy stainless steel one ).

My second exception is money . Always been willing to take a few more risks where money is involved .


My view is that a liferaft is a perfect accompaniment to an EPIRB which together in certain circumstances is hard to dispute would be very useful. In most others of no use whatsover (about as much use as a gun ) - or simply still not good enough (no manufacturer ever markets them with tales of volunteers spending even 12 hours in one during a gale, let alone a week - for obvious reasons), or often not as useful as a dink (fire onboard in an anchorage - drift out to sea or row ashore?).


Best use of that combo is as a safety blanket. or because you know your boat has problems (or know you don't know - see my exceptions).

But I don't knock anyone for doing what they think is best - after all, we all get to live with the consequences of our choices and actions and not someone else. or we don't .
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Old 31-05-2012, 13:46   #36
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

Quote:
Originally Posted by w32honu View Post
I see this in exactly the opposite light......

Using your dinghy day in and day out, you know that it is in good working order. It may not be shiny and new but if it is well maintained you know for sure you can count on it. It is a known quantity. It can be fit out to carry any necessary gear. And it can maneuver .......... It can do more than just drift, especially if it is fitted with a sailing rig.
.
Walk down any marina and look at the dinghy's hanging off of boats and you may think again.
usually it is either a sun damaged deflatable or an 8 ft if you are very lucky relatively unstable hard bottomed dinghy.
Most of these I wouldn't be happy in travelling 100m from boat to shore.
While it may sail ok in a sheltered lagoon I doubt the same will be said with 2 to 4 or more bodies on board, water, provisions, canopy and additional safety gear.

And they certainly aint gonna be much chop at running the crabpots 5 miles up a creek or travelling 5 nm through open water to a bit of reef fishing and diving.


The next version are the serious cruisers dinghy
They will usually be something a lot more serious designed for expedition and speed.
Mine is a 4 metre alloy dinghy with canopy and 20 horses and will serve the purpose of transport and expedition well but there is no way in hell I would consider it a life boat unless I fitted it with something like


Kapten Boat Collar
And even then, I will still have a dedicated liferaft

I have no association with this firm but I do recognise a good product when I see one and dont mind sharing.
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Old 31-05-2012, 13:58   #37
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

Other options also come to mind as well, things like


Lindon Lewis Marine Ltd Whaly 270 Boat - Blue for about $2000


Home | Polycraft for about $2000

But their low freeboard is an issue for me.
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Old 31-05-2012, 14:49   #38
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

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ok here goes,the fishermans saftey act of 1988 was established because too many guys were not coming home!!the major items required are epirb,liferaft &survival suits.you kids play on the beach !!as a commercil fisherman i have logged 20000 miles offshore in all weather.when mother ocean gets rough its hard to do anything but hold on much less launch a dinghy.i now sail have logged 3300nm on current trip from maine to bahamas and now back in nyc heading north...i carry all saftey items,a good raft will stand up to long term carrying just treat it with care and have it inspected often[commercial gets inspected every year!!i know the guys that inspect my raft personaly they take no chances and every boat that goes down they try to find out who inspected the raft and did it open properly...the saftey equip has great moral value for crew when waves get higher than the spreaders..this rant is dedicated to daron and butchy and all guys that didnt come home
Very valid comment. Professional fishermen/mariners do not have a choice.

Safety equiptment is mandatory. For non professional their choice.
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Old 31-05-2012, 14:58   #39
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

Anyone carry Gumby suits?
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Old 31-05-2012, 16:15   #40
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Gumby suit? Is that another term for survival suit?
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Old 31-05-2012, 16:46   #41
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

Yes and Yes. I have available both a survival suit and a wet suit. The wet suit I wear under my weather gear">foul weather gear when the conditions get nasty. I figure if I go overboard the wet suit buys me a lot of extra time in the water.

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Old 31-05-2012, 17:39   #42
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

I guess something you (OP) may want to consider is the number of people you'll be cruising with. A couple, dinghy as liferaft may work. Four or more and an appropriately sized liferaft may be the only option - few dinghy's you could carry would be able to safely act as a liferaft for 4+ I'd think.
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Old 31-05-2012, 18:08   #43
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

Huge issues with normal life rafts:
  • Real world tests show a high percentage fail to inflate when activated.
  • Same tests show that a lot of those that inflate have significant leaks and will not remain afloat.
  • You don't know until you need it.
  • Assuming the thing is going to save your ass may prevent you from doing other things, such as keeping the boat from sinking.
  • You give up all control once you get into it - you can only drift and pray.
BTW, I have a life raft on board. It's just that I do not hold it in very high esteem. I figure if I ever really need to pull that cord, my chances are down to about 50/50 of living to tell the story on CF.
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Old 01-06-2012, 08:24   #44
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis.G View Post
Huge issues with normal life rafts:
  • Real world tests show a high percentage fail to inflate when activated.
  • Same tests show that a lot of those that inflate have significant leaks and will not remain afloat.
  • You don't know until you need it.
  • Assuming the thing is going to save your ass may prevent you from doing other things, such as keeping the boat from sinking.
  • You give up all control once you get into it - you can only drift and pray.
Dennis:

Where do you get your statistics?

I would like to read the report...
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Old 01-06-2012, 08:56   #45
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis.G View Post
Huge issues with normal life rafts:
  • Real world tests show a high percentage fail to inflate when activated.
  • Same tests show that a lot of those that inflate have significant leaks and will not remain afloat.
  • You don't know until you need it.
  • Assuming the thing is going to save your ass may prevent you from doing other things, such as keeping the boat from sinking.
  • You give up all control once you get into it - you can only drift and pray.
BTW, I have a life raft on board. It's just that I do not hold it in very high esteem. I figure if I ever really need to pull that cord, my chances are down to about 50/50 of living to tell the story on CF.
For what it's worth: last year our life raft still had one year left before inspection was due. We decided to inflate and use our Revere life raft as a swim platform/toy in the Potomac river and buy a newer one when the time came.

It inflated just fine (quite amazing to watch!) but it had a leak somewhere a few inches above the water line (couldn't pinpoint the source of leak) and kept about six inches of water in the bottom. It turned out to be almost worthless as a platform because no one could manage to climb into it from the water. I did manage once in calm water, but it took me about five minutes to figure out how to get in and was completely exhausted by the effort) Had it been an actual emergency in rough seas, forget getting in. I doubt I would even be able to stay inside of the life raft if it were being bounced around.

We kept it tethered behind the mothership for two days when we realized it had sunk. It left me with zero faith in a life rafts utility as a....well... life raft.

Rather than purchase another life raft I may just put my money into making my boat more unsinkable.
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