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Old 01-06-2012, 10:31   #46
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

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Originally Posted by jeremiason View Post
[/LIST]Dennis:

Where do you get your statistics?

I would like to read the report...
I am afraid I am a poor repository of statistical data sources.
One recent item you might take a look at is the May copy of Lattitudes 38, page 72-73 (Sightings setion), which is on old life rafts. Some intesting photos and test results.

Also, some experience by Evans (from their website bethandevans.com, which I hope they don't mind my copying here):
First, liferafts, like much of the available 'safety equipment', especially the single purpose 'sealed magic boxes' do not work very well. In NZ about 20 cruising boats got together to get their rafts repacked. Before repacking they all pulled their inflation cords and about 1/3 did not inflate, 1/3 inflated but promptly deflated and only 1/3 inflated and stayed inflated (this after the rafts were on average only two years at sea). More recently, the Concordia launched 4 rafts and one failed (tube burst). That's a 25% failure rate for commercial SOLAS grade, annually serviced and inspected, rafts. Even when the rafts inflate properly, they are dangerous at sea. In each of the well-documented storms - the Fastnet, the Sydney to Hobart, and the Queen's Birthday storm - crew would have been much safer staying with their boats than getting in their rafts. A high fraction of those getting in rafts were injured or died while 80% of the abandoned boats were later found floating perfectly safely. Rafts are often hard to deploy. Many are simply too heavy and difficult for a single person to quickly get over the side, and many are mounted near propane tanks and gasoline jugs, which will destroy the raft in case of fire or explosion - one common case for abandoning ship, and the one where the raft is most critical to survival. Finally, in the cold waters where Hawk has predominately been cruising, we are almost certain to die of hypothermia in a raft before being rescued.


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Old 01-06-2012, 10:35   #47
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

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Originally Posted by virginia boy View Post

Rather than purchase another life raft I may just put my money into making my boat more unsinkable.
That is what most of the experts say. Not the part about NOT getting a liferaft, just saying make it "plan Z" They emphasize a well prepared boat with back ups, spares galore, and proper watches. The dinghy can also be a part of that plan.

I delivered a boat that had a liferaft but insufficient bilge pump capacity and a pathetic emergency water ingress plan/equipment. We didnt realize our folly until well offshore in a slowly sinking boat and a bad storm. BTB, if our boat would of sunk, neither liferaft nor dinghy would of saved us. What did save us was a bucket and my strong 19 year old back . I've also crossed the gulf with no liferaft but redundant systems out the wazoo.

On the other side of that coin. You can't win with a bad collision. Be nice to have either a dinghy or liferaft pop up to the surface as you watch the ship that ran you down fade off into the horizon. Even half inflated it gives you something to work with.

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Old 01-06-2012, 10:35   #48
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Wow I'm starting to lean toward buying a yacht made of flotation positive material. And then a dingy like the pudgy, or one of the other really good unsinkables that has been discussed. And once I have the dingy, ill sink the raft money into supplies for making it the raft. And if I ever need a raft for more than two people, ill rent a raft. Cause I don't normally plan on sailing with more then 2 or 3 people +a cat.
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Old 01-06-2012, 12:20   #49
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

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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. Rather than purchase another life raft I may just put my money into making my boat more unsinkable.
The saying: "You get what you pay for!" comes to mind. Revere Life Rafts are some of the cheapest life rafts on the market... Made from light material and in my opinion, not safe for anything but maybe a back yard pool.

As far as your comment about loosing faith in ALL life rafts, that is just plain silly, if you are using a Revere to compare to the rest. That is like saying I give up on cars because my Yugo died.

I have had two close friends spend time in life rafts, one for 4 hours and one for 39 hours... Had they not had the life rafts, there was a good possiblity they and their crews would not have survived.

You learned the same lesson I did about life rafts concerning boarding... Nylon Rope ladders don't work. Boarding platforms make it easier, but it is still hard, especially in seas. Always put your most athlectic person in the raft first and then have them assist other swimmers into the raft. In practice, hopefully you will have time to step from the boat to the raft.

Like all other equipment on your boat you have to be familiar with it and have a plan to use it...
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Old 01-06-2012, 15:38   #50
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

I do not buy some of the drift this thread went into.

To me, (aside from the bare fact that, in some cases, a dinghy is simply good enough as a 'liferaft'), having a liferaft on (nearly) any class of offshore going craft is simply THE way to go.

Say we are safe in a safe (sound and well sailed, etc.) boat. Now we add a liferaft on top of that. Are we suddenly becoming 'less safe'?

We have sailed extensively, without liferafts, EPIRBs and other such like clutches. It is one thing to have one's choices and live with them, but a completely another thing to advocate (even if the advocating is implicit) sailing without liferafts on the grounds of their alleged faults and shortcomings.

I have been in a liferaft, I bet many of the 'liferaft is bad' arguments may come from people who never seen one open.

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Old 01-06-2012, 15:57   #51
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

" Say we are safe in a safe (sound and well sailed, etc.) boat. Now we add a liferaft on top of that. Are we suddenly becoming 'less safe'? "

Possibly, if the liferaft turns out not to save our life when some other option would have, and we make the wrong choice.

Whether a liferaft is a less reliable option cannot be judged from occupancy on one occasion, only from gathering multiple instances from situations similar to those expected (given the places we sail and the resources we have).

If this suggests it to be less reliable than the alternatives, then adding it to the mix reduces reliability, given that once we commit to a liferaft, all other options close off.
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Old 01-06-2012, 16:31   #52
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

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Originally Posted by Andrew Troup View Post
" Say we are safe in a safe (sound and well sailed, etc.) boat. Now we add a liferaft on top of that. Are we suddenly becoming 'less safe'? "

Possibly, if the liferaft turns out not to save our life when some other option would have, and we make the wrong choice.

Whether a liferaft is a less reliable option cannot be judged from occupancy on one occasion, only from gathering multiple instances from situations similar to those expected (given the places we sail and the resources we have).

If this suggests it to be less reliable than the alternatives, then adding it to the mix reduces reliability, given that once we commit to a liferaft, all other options close off.
Andrew,

1) You are wrong. A safe boat cannot be 'possibly less safe' only because it has a liferaft onboard. You go into talking of 'making wrong choices' and 'other options'. What other options? What choices? There are options when the liferaft is there. When it is not there, you have one option LESS. And why do you assume the choices will be wrong? Did not I say 'well sailed'? What does it meant to you? To me it means the driver is NOT a moron. A non-moron captain is more likely to make the right choices than the wrong ones. Yes? No? Maybe?

2) If you claim there are any multiple instances when having a liferaft prove less safe than not having one then please provide a link to this information. I do not believe such an evidence exist. If it did, nobody would be carrying a liferaft. Somehow, vast majority does.

3) Having a liferaft onboard does not imply one has to commit to it as soon as there is a foot of water in the bilge. But if there are five feet while your designed freeboard was four then I would like to see you delivering your 'having a liferaft is possibly less safe option' sermon.

Otherwise love and flowers. It is nothing personal about those things called liferafts. I do not even have one.

Cheers,
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Old 01-06-2012, 17:56   #53
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

A liferaft is "safety in a box" with a price tag. So is a satphone. The only reason not to have them onboard is that you cannot afford them, as in my case. At least I have a boat that probably can't sink. I will say that a lot of cruisers dinghys, the big A/B inflatable hardbottoms with 15 hp or more, are substantial boats that can comfortably carry and even plane with 4 or more people onboard and I would have to think twice before choosing between that and a little old liferaft.
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Old 01-06-2012, 18:54   #54
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

B

I think you're sailing pretty close to the permitted ad hominem
tolerance on this forum when you label a dissenting view from your own as sermonising.

I also think you misinterpret my use of the words "make the wrong choice"
I'm not sure I can make enough sense of your paragraph 1) to help you with it, but I'll try.

I'm referring to choosing a course of action which subsequently turns out to fail, such as choosing a liferaft which does not stand up to the conditions encountered, instead of an alternative which would have done so.

People who do this only find out they've made the "wrong choice" when it's too late. The purpose of this thread (I thought) was to air issues which might help people decide what choice to make under various circumstances.

By similar logic to yours, a teenager would be safer with a packet of condoms than without them, even if their reliability was suspect.


It's hard to think of another instance where "if it didn't work, nobody would buy it" is less applicable. This is a product which (relative to the number of people who own one) a vanishingly small proportion of buyers ever uses
What's more: of those who do, those who have the most problems are the least likely to survive to tell the tale.

Luckily a surprising number of people have survived and told the world in considerable detail why they have good reason to regret their choice to abandon to a liferaft. Their accounts have a coherent tendency in pointing to serious issues which I won't re-litigate here.

It's a question of individual judgement and choice, how much notice to take of these accounts.

- - - -

Unquestioning reliance on technological fixes is increasingly problematic in the oceangoing fraternity, witness GPS-assisted vessel losses. This was potentially worse in the days when Satnav units were less reliable, and arguably at a certain level of unreliability, they made a vessel less rather than more safe.

The question here is: how reliable are liferafts -- for which there is no simple answer -- however it may be possible to get a better appreciation of which units are most reliable under which circumstances.

An interesting twist in the case of liferafts, perhaps partly because individuals are becoming more assertively 'truthy': there have been recent cases where crew have forced the issue by inflating a liferaft in direct contravention of their skipper's clear directions, on a vessel with no prospect whatsoever of sinking.

Their notion that a liferaft represents some sort of automatic sanctuary, or cocoon, offering safety and comfort in a storm-tossed ocean, is wishful thinking of epic proportions.
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Old 01-06-2012, 18:54   #55
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

In my mind the only time a life raft is of use is if you have to step UP into one. Which only happens if the mothership is sinking! At that point all you want is something that floats, period! This leads me to the belief that the mothership has to be sinking (really sinking not what most think is sinking) in a storm to make a life raft better than a dinghy.

And IF you have to get into a live raft because the mothership is sinking, AND it is happening during a storm, well ............. odds are you are going to die. Sorry to just say it!
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Old 01-06-2012, 19:16   #56
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

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Originally Posted by Lt. View Post
Wow I'm starting to lean toward buying a yacht made of flotation positive material. And then a dingy like the pudgy, or one of the other really good unsinkables that has been discussed. And once I have the dingy, ill sink the raft money into supplies for making it the raft. And if I ever need a raft for more than two people, ill rent a raft. Cause I don't normally plan on sailing with more then 2 or 3 people +a cat.
Sadler, Etap, or any well designed cat.

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Old 01-06-2012, 19:24   #57
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

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(...) And IF you have to get into a live raft because the mothership is sinking, AND it is happening during a storm, well ............. odds are you are going to die. Sorry to just say it!
Why should you die because of the storm? If you are protected from the cold and if you float, you will likely not die.

A liferaft gives some protection, but I think a survival suit (immersion suit) beats all.

Get one, and an EPIRB (or a sat phone, if you are a chatterbox) too.

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Old 01-06-2012, 23:01   #58
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Re: A dingy as a lifeboat/life raft

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I find your attitude to your own life surprising. A half decent liferaft can be had for £400, why not have both?

A few simple facts, a liferaft is,

1. Highly visable, usualy in a bright colour and anyone seeing one will either report it or go to it to investigate. A tender is usualy grey or similar and is much lower in the water. Hard to spot at sea.
Apparently in the Med, tenders are not allowed to be painted colors other than grey, white or similar.
2. A liferaft is ready to go. Release the strap, pull the cord and it's there for you. A tender is more likely to be straped to the deck, on davits etc. and most cruisers will have the outboard mounted seperately on a rail etc. If you NEED to abondon ship, have you got time to release it and then faf about getting the motor mounted as your own vessel goes down?
Apparently you are not allowed to use knives to cut lines there or to get into a dinghy without a motor.
3. A decent liferaft will have some sort of survival pack on board, with rations, water, even flares. We all keep those in our tender dont we?
Nor do the Med folks allow you to put survival gear in your tender
4. A liferaft will give you protection from the elliments, either the cold or the sun, etc.
And they don't allow you to erect any kind of shelter over your dinghy either.

I don't know why anyone would want to go to the Med with all the restrictions they place on how you use your dinghy.

My own opinion is that if youre planning on doing any kind of decent sailing and cant afford to get a liferaft, then you cant afford to go sailing, period.
Apparently I am not a decent sailor. There was a nurse on a thread a year or so ago who was adamant that people shouldn't go sailing if they couldn't afford to take an automatic heart defibrillator along. Different insecurity, same projecting it on others.
Consider the causes of a sinking and the conditions at abandonment.

Causes:
Holing
Hitting an object in the water, probably near the bow
Being hit by a whale, probably in the side
Thru-hull failure, anywhere on the boat
Collision with another vessel, anywhere on the boat

Structural failure, ie having the cabin top battered open by seas.
Fire
Explosion

My sense is that most of holing modes of sinking will grant you some time to prepare, the event will not be instantaneous. Collision may or may not be instantaneous depending on how big the vessel is hitting you, where you are hit and how direct the hit is.

Structural failure would also probably give you some time, one big wave is not likely to overwhelm you all at once.

Fire will give you some time.

Explosion will not.

With some time you can prepare a dinghy.
In the case of collision, it's a crap shoot, does the collision damage the dinghy, does it damage the life-raft, how fast does it all happen?
In the case of fire the emergency supplies need to be with the dinghy, you don't want to be going back into the boat for that gear.
In the case of explosion which is more likely to come thru in shape to be of any use afterward? My feeling is that the dinghy would be damaged but usable if it had independent flotation compartments, whereas a life-raft is toast if either of the two main rings are holed. On the other hand the dinghy presents a bigger area for blast damage. I think this is a tossup or favors the dinghy.
Some of the holing modes can be mitigated. A sea-chest can be used for all water intakes, most drains can be run out the stern rather than thru the hull below the water line. Transducers can be stern mounted. All this minimizes the number of thru-hulls. Lockers can be sealed and bulkheads made waterproof to subdivide the interior and make holing less likely to cause sinking.

Conditions:
Winds and waves: Calm, moderate, heavy

In calm wind and waves, either lifeboat or liferaft will be equally easy to deploy.

In moderate conditions, I could see the liferaft having a slight advantage in speed and ease of use.

In heavy conditions I see it going back to being a tossup. Does the wind send the liferaft flying, do the waves break its painter so it can drift away? Does the liferaft puncture on the mothership? Is it so rough you can't get into it? Is it so rough the dinghy keeps swamping? How do you get into the dinghy?

Dinghies have a longevity advantage. Life expectancy of a raft can be measured in days or weeks generally. With some weather luck, you could go months on a dinghy.

My plan is to prep the dinghy ahead of time, take survival suits and go over the side tied to the dinghy while wearing the gumby suit.

I think the odd generally favor the dinghy but in some situations the liferaft has an advantage. In the end if you have the money get both, if not live with it, and if you are marginal for the money, decide whether upgrading the boat to make it less sinkable is the better risk. It all depends on which risks scare you more.
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Old 01-06-2012, 23:53   #59
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

Few sinkable cruising vessels have adequate flood control pumps fitted and then do not consider EPIRBs and liferafts mandatory.

Is that responsible? Justification is always budget constraints.
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Old 01-06-2012, 23:55   #60
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Re: A dingy as a lifeboat/life raft

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Originally Posted by Adelie View Post
Consider the causes of a sinking and the conditions at abandonment.

Causes:
Holing
Hitting an object in the water, probably near the bow
Being hit by a whale, probably in the side
Thru-hull failure, anywhere on the boat
Collision with another vessel, anywhere on the boat

Structural failure, ie having the cabin top battered open by seas.
Fire
Explosion

My sense is that most of holing modes of sinking will grant you some time to prepare, the event will not be instantaneous. Collision may or may not be instantaneous depending on how big the vessel is hitting you, where you are hit and how direct the hit is.

Structural failure would also probably give you some time, one big wave is not likely to overwhelm you all at once.

Fire will give you some time.

Explosion will not.

With some time you can prepare a dinghy.
In the case of collision, it's a crap shoot, does the collision damage the dinghy, does it damage the life-raft, how fast does it all happen?
In the case of fire the emergency supplies need to be with the dinghy, you don't want to be going back into the boat for that gear.
In the case of explosion which is more likely to come thru in shape to be of any use afterward? My feeling is that the dinghy would be damaged but usable if it had independent flotation compartments, whereas a life-raft is toast if either of the two main rings are holed. On the other hand the dinghy presents a bigger area for blast damage. I think this is a tossup or favors the dinghy.
Some of the holing modes can be mitigated. A sea-chest can be used for all water intakes, most drains can be run out the stern rather than thru the hull below the water line. Transducers can be stern mounted. All this minimizes the number of thru-hulls. Lockers can be sealed and bulkheads made waterproof to subdivide the interior and make holing less likely to cause sinking.

Conditions:
Winds and waves: Calm, moderate, heavy

In calm wind and waves, either lifeboat or liferaft will be equally easy to deploy.

In moderate conditions, I could see the liferaft having a slight advantage in speed and ease of use.

In heavy conditions I see it going back to being a tossup. Does the wind send the liferaft flying, do the waves break its painter so it can drift away? Does the liferaft puncture on the mothership? Is it so rough you can't get into it? Is it so rough the dinghy keeps swamping? How do you get into the dinghy?

Dinghies have a longevity advantage. Life expectancy of a raft can be measured in days or weeks generally. With some weather luck, you could go months on a dinghy.

My plan is to prep the dinghy ahead of time, take survival suits and go over the side tied to the dinghy while wearing the gumby suit.

I think the odd generally favor the dinghy but in some situations the liferaft has an advantage. In the end if you have the money get both, if not live with it, and if you are marginal for the money, decide whether upgrading the boat to make it less sinkable is the better risk. It all depends on which risks scare you more.
well considered post.
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