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Old 04-06-2012, 01:29   #76
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

Indeed, Jbaffoh, and to take a boat into those conditions requires a different set of rescue equipment and a reliance on outside support or a realistic view of your chances. In practice an open lifeboat is adequate for the most situations, but it has been shown that a liferaft is only valid for a couple of weeks at sea before situations become marginal. It's the reliance on rescue that I want to avoid, and like yourself I have to accept that there might be circumstances where my chances are slim, but a survival dinghy that can be navigated makes my chances better. Sitting in a hamster ball gives me little I can do to improve my chances or situation.
And I have serious reservations about single drive systems. A sail will get me somewhere eventually, a keel will let me chose where I go so long as I can work with whatever I'm sat in. In your situation I'd be living in an immersion suit with a liferaft and epirb in a back pack!
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Old 04-06-2012, 01:38   #77
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

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Originally Posted by Jbaffoh View Post
but the named storms plague paradise.
I would like to think that if one kept their finger on the pulse and paid attention that there would be plenty of time to get into that nearby bolt-hole that you had picked out for just such an eventuality.
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Old 04-06-2012, 01:48   #78
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I've slept in my survival suit a few times. Thankfully I never had to truly rely on it.

My point is that if weather is the reason for ditching, then seas are probably so confused that it would be impossible to (1) stay connected with any small craft, and (2) control that craft. Put me in a cocoon, please.

If liferafts are unreliable or not durable, then that needs to be addressed. But that doesn't mean a RIB or other dinghy is going to do any better in a heavy weather situation.

Ever been in a pass between islands when the tide is running against 35-40 knot winds? 12-20 foot vertical faces breaking against you, on a nice 80 degree sunny day? It might only happen 4 hours per day, but if you must ditch in that, you will NOT stay connected with your dinghy. Cocoon me, please.
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Old 04-06-2012, 02:06   #79
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I would like to think that if one kept their finger on the pulse and paid attention that there would be plenty of time to get into that nearby bolt-hole that you had picked out for just such an eventuality.
I'd like to think I'm young and good looking, too. And rich. But as Captain Ron said, "if something's gonna happen, Boss, it's gonna happen out there!

**** happens. Murphy's law was invented for boat life. I have been a pallbearer at the funerals of many mariners with exceptional experience and talent. You can prepare for 1001 contingencies, and be faced with No. 1002 only 20 miles out of the harbor. You never know, and if you delude yourself into thinking you do, you're in trouble.

For the record, I don't have a life raft now because I rarely venture more than 40 miles offshore these days. But I will carry a raft and the dink when we're more than a 24-hour run from the nearest harbor.
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Old 04-06-2012, 03:08   #80
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

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Originally Posted by Jbaffoh View Post
I have never been in a liferaft. But from the conditions I experienced, I want to be fully enclosed in an inflatable raft with a low center of gravity. It will tumble, so I want to be in a floating hamster ball. Steerage? Get real. Comfort? Hah! It's about surviving the storm until the Coast Guard can become airborne and track the epirb. They'll find me in the big round orange mess.
My plan for surviving the Bering Sea etc is.......not to go there .

Of course I appreciate that similar conditions exist elsewhere and for that my plan is similar to the one that you used with great success......be on a boat that doesn't sink .....so a choice between a hamster ball or a dink doesn't arise.

The difference between my circumstances and yours is that as a recreational sailor I have far greater control over when and where I venture out - does not remove all the chances of encoutering conditions I would rather not, but does cut down the percentages - hell, in practice most of us are tied up in port 90% (+?!) of the time! as that is our chosen destination - rather than for a commercial fishermen the destination being where the fish are.

Personally I feel that mandatory "safety" equipment onboard commercial boats and minimum standards for the vessel is a good thing (for the crew), as prevents folk being put in a position of having little (real) choice about setting out on unseaworthy boats. How do I know that? because that's what used to happen - and still does in most places around the world. and would again in "our" part - humans haven't changed when it comes to making money from putting others in harms way.

Personally I have never looked overboard and thought I would be better off in a liferaft - and that is only pre-survival conditions. I certainly would not want to be in a hamsterball with a couple of other people, probably not survivable. Of course in some circumstances a slim chance is better than none - but in life, not all circumstances have a good outcome not matter the choices made. Including on "safety" equipment.
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Old 04-06-2012, 03:52   #81
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

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"I want to be fully enclosed in an inflatable raft with a low center of gravity."
and
"Put me in a cocoon, please."

Me too, on both counts. But I would rather be in a cocoon based on a strong hull with seakeeping qualities. Something approximating the inflatables used for surf rescue.

I can't think of a shape less well suited for being pulled through wave crests by a drogue than a tall, lightweight structure with beam-length ratio of about 1.

Give it a floppy floor, floppy rings, and a floppy roof, and you might as well be in a bouncy castle. From the accounts of the few people who have survived such conditions in a liferaft, it's rather similar in seakeeping qualities in a storm, and hard to imagine anything less like a protective cocoon.

Furthermore, being so beamy, it's very difficult to re-right after a capsize, which can happen in such conditions every big crest, especially if it's not loaded with the full quota of bodies. Generally it takes two strong people to get back out, into the stormy sea, to have any chance of righting it, and even if they succeed, they may end up without enough strength to get back in. The people inside can't help them effectively because the floor is floppy, and so are the rings.

Unfortunately they're not really viable (I'm talking survivable, not 'comfortable') upside down. They rely, for one thing, on water ballast pockets to try and mitigate their horribly unsuitable shape (a frankly questionable reliance when you're in tumbleweed mode), the canopy is not adequate as a floor because it's not a tension membrane (basically you would be lying below sealevel, in hanging, water-filled pockets, until you became too feeble to keep your head up and drowned)

Compare this with the Tinker Traveller, a purpose-designed, self inflating lifeboat, based on a strong inflatable hull with a well designed, low profile and heavily built inflatable canopy, and a cunning floor which unfolds like a map and becomes rigid when the pontoons inflate. This was reviewed in a article whose link I posted in this thread yesterday. (And which I'm personally well familiar with - and prefer to a liferaft. It's particularly suitable for vessels with two crew which are too small to carry both a dinghy and a liferaft - unfortunately it's not a long term survival proposition for more than two or at most three. I'm not sure if they're being made right now but something similar could be built using a strong inflatable of suitable size for your numbers. I can post a link to the owners manual if anyone's interested)

They found it was easily righted from within, but that it was in any case as livable - and dry - upside down than right way up, perhaps more so, whereas the liferaft - a decent Switlik - failed on both those counts.

Most important, it's shaped to go through waves. When did you last see a surf rescue inflatable of octagonal or circular proportions? You need something long and narrow, with massively strong multiple attachment points at the bow for the drogue. The Tinker has eyebolts through a large, curved plywood bow panel, at least 1/2" thick, for instance.
The drogue attachment points on a liferaft are disturbingly reminiscent of a beach toy, by comparison.

Try this thought experiment: Imagine a liferaft alongside a hard-bottomed inflatable, both anchored in a major surf break zone. Which is going to still be there tomorrow? And which will have occupants who will still be alive?

A page or so back there's an account of a guy who tried to survive in a never-used-before liferaft for a week. It was damaged before he even boarded it (not under storm or panic conditions, either). Luckily he also had a beaten up old Zodiac, practically a giveaway. I invite you to re-read it. The only reason he used the raft at all was because it had a canopy, which he used to keep the sun off, and the dinghy did not.

It wasn't that the raft was a bit less 'comfortable' than the Zodiac: he was trying to survive, and (canopy excepted) the liferaft was not conducive to that, even in moderate conditions.

There have occasionally been people in this part of the world lucky enough to survive abandoning to liferafts in the sort of conditions described above, in the Bering region. I'm talking the "Queen's Birthday" storm, the '98 Hobart race, among others.

I've carefully sought out and read accounts from most of them (generally in magazines or books rather than on the www), talked to some of them, and a few of them have been acquaintances. They were, without exception, absolutely shocked by how dangerous an environment a liferaft is in such circumstances, and how un-"fit for purpose" they are.

I can well understand that people who rely on them will find this opinion disturbing, unpalatable or implausible. Feel free to disregard it, if that's what you need to do.

And you might want to also disregard a future post (which I'm still putting together for this thread) on common reported failure modes.
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Old 04-06-2012, 05:07   #82
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

Just did a search through the thread. Posts 6 and 12, both on the first page, have solutions I would find very acceptable. Both are no longer in production and for that we have to consider the role of race organisers insistence on 'civilian' rescue liferafts. Doing an MOB search and recovery from a dinghy is far more practical than from a liferaft. If that self inflating dinghy was the first and fast deployed option then an active MOB can rescue himself, or the mother ship has a marker that's far more visible than MOB up to the neck in water in the dark. Self inflate dinghy does need a sea anchor of course, and a spare gas bottle or two.
Self rescue is a very different option requiring different equipment and solutions.
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Old 04-06-2012, 06:12   #83
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

I thought of counting on my dinghy as a liferaft, until one day I took it into 8' breaking seas. What a white knuckle scary ride that only lasted for a couple of minutes till I crossed the channel. a canopy would be a must and it would have to be durable enough to not collapse and allow the boat to right itself. That being said look at the lifeboats on ships.always wondered what it would be like to take one out in a hurricane for thrill seeking.
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Old 04-06-2012, 07:05   #84
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Re: A dingy as a lifeboat/life raft

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Originally Posted by Ocean Girl View Post
Of the... Four vessels that I personally know that have sunk offshore over the last twenty years. Three used their dinghy as the liferaft. 1 had a liferaft and dinghy but liferaft was too unstable, they moved to the overturned dinghy- long story, sad story.
I'm not saying don't get a liferaft, I'm just saying a dinghy can be a useful safety equipment.
Cheers,
Ocean Girl
Don't be a tight wad have both. You are talking about the lives of your family friend/crew aren't they worth a bit of cash it also doubles your options if you have the two.
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Old 04-06-2012, 13:51   #85
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Re: A dingy as a lifeboat/life raft

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Originally Posted by Capitain Mike View Post
Don't be a tight wad have both. You are talking about the lives of your family friend/crew aren't they worth a bit of cash it also doubles your options if you have the two.
In that case give me $1000 and I will sacrifice a goat to protect your family / freinds / crew.

Aren't they worth a bit of cash?

100% GUARANTEED* or money back - also Environmentally freindly . You don't get that sort of re-assurance from any maker of inflatable Hamster Balls .


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Old 04-06-2012, 14:05   #86
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

capitan mike-you buying?? if so--sign me up for both, thankyou, but if it is on my dime--aint havin a liferaft, thankyou.
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Old 04-06-2012, 17:25   #87
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

I think it's a modern delusion that having more choices is always a good thing.
In the words of Ira Gershwin: "It ain't necessarily so ... !"

Times when I think it's not so include:

a) DILUTION effect
It can be problematic to spread resources too thinly in providing more options, if it is possible to spend those same resources to convert the option you do have into a winner. Anyone who doesn't believe resources are finite, probably has not been a cruising sailor for long.

b) DISCARD effect
When you're forced to commit to one option only (which is usually the case when abandoning in storm conditions) you're immediately denied the alternative benefits of any other options.
Hence it pays to have concentrated as many benefits as possible into the smallest possible number of options.

c) MORALE effect
If you deploy a liferaft, the mere act implies you expect deployment to succeed. If it fails to deploy or is damaged during deployment, (or, as sometimes happens, the tether rips out and it's never seen again...) maybe you will have the fatalism and strength of character to shrug it off and go to "plan B", but you have to consider the impact on the morale of others, and their faith in your judgement.
Demoralised people put everyone at risk, not just themselves.

d) PLETHORA effect
Inducing decision paralysis by providing multiple options. This is especially problematic when you don't have crucial information*, at the time when you have to make the decision. Making good decisions is already problematic when you're exhausted (physically and mentally) and scared. It helps to have made as many sensible choices as possible ahead of time. I hope threads like this will help inform that process for some people.

*In the conventional liferaft instance: you know very little about it because you've never used it, probably never been in one (and if you have, probably in a pool), you didn't pack it, and it's in (hopefully) sealed storage, deteriorating unknowably but steadily.

It doesn't seem plausible to me that it remains in perfect condition until the "use by" date and then rapidly falls apart, as apologists for failed deployments would have us believe. Other such objects in the real world tend to deteriorate at a fairly steady rate.

e) HALO effect
There is a general level of belief that liferafts provide the ultimate in life-preserving properties. I'm of the opinion that this is not justified by their performance in the specific instance of long-distance cruising. For those who share my view, then that widespread belief, in some cases verging on 'faith', could present a problem for decision-making.
If a raft is available, in today's context where decision-making is expected to be participatory, there's a potential for divisive conflict.

That's NOT a good or sufficient reason not to take a raft, but it's a sobering scenario.

Let me finally clarify, because misunderstandings seem to be rife:
I'm talking of the choice between a conventional liferaft and a purpose-engineered lifeboat, and the suggestion that one should 'just' take both.
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Old 04-06-2012, 18:01   #88
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

I don't know what the answer is, but I know an inflatable dinghy is not it. I haven't seen the purpose-built life boats mentioned here, so maybe they are preferable to a life raft. But for me, the biggest hurdle would be actually getting into whatever craft that is going to save you.

Frankly, in some of the storms I've seen, I think that would be impossible. Toss an object in the water and it's near you for a few seconds at most. A second later, it's 30-50 feet away. Maybe it will come back if the waves converge and the boats roll perfectly, or maybe it will be 100 feet away (and 30 feet above you). Maybe some storms are just not survivable if the mothership goes down.

The comparisons to inflatables anchored in surf zones, etc., are not valid. The storm that sinks your boat will not have waves coming from only one direction at predictable intervals. I'm talking about swells from one or two directions, with steep seas coming from a third direction piled on top of the swells. Add some current and a wind change, and you might as well dive head first into a margarita blender--try swimming out of that!

Yes, as cruisers we can usually steer clear or stay in port to avoid that stuff. But sometimes that's not possible. I haven't been on a fishing boat since the early 80's, but I still dream about some of the nightmarish situations and they dominate my thoughts about survival. In a few years, we'll be giving up our slip and heading everywhere that interests us (including the Bering Sea and the Southern Ocean). We will definitely have an inflatable dinghy with us, and some yet-to-be determined survival craft.
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Old 04-06-2012, 18:39   #89
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

"The comparisons to inflatables anchored in surf zones, etc., are not valid. The storm that sinks your boat will not have waves coming from only one direction at predictable intervals."

The thought experiment I suggested does not rely on that aspect of a surf zone.

Firstly, cross seas make it worse for both options, and I submit the scaled-down bouncy castle option would not survive intact even without cross seas.

Secondly, not all surf breaks are free of cross-seas, and in any case anyone is free to incorporate them in their thought experiment, as wicked as they like.

A semi-rigid hull shaped like a boat, with a proper bow tethered to a drogue will have (I would venture) a better chance of realigning with a cross-sea without flipping than a liferaft of conventional proportions and floppy structure.

In a similar way, if a short tubby boat has a (strong!) bowsprit, it will realign better with a sea hitting on the beam if anchored off a roller at the end of the sprit than off the bow proper.

If it does flip, and it has a well engineered canopy, a raft shaped like a boat has a better chance of rerighting without getting in the water, which as you point out, in your scenario, would likely be suicidal.

If you're arguing against an open boat in such circumstances, I'm on your side.
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Old 04-06-2012, 18:45   #90
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Re: A Dingy as a Lifeboat/Life Raft

I feel queasy whenever I hear people talking of land proximity being a safety benefit. If they're talking an hour or two away, then fine.

Much more, in many places I've sailed, (and most places I prefer to sail) and it can easily - and quickly - become another hazard, another 'snare and delusion'.

The sort of choice which, at best, is a test of character.
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