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Old 15-11-2015, 14:12   #1
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Expired Life Raft

I have a 6 person life raft that the inspection has expired .
How long is it still safe to use before having it inspection again .
The raft is in a canister .
What is the normal cost for repacking
Thanks
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Old 15-11-2015, 15:30   #2
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Re: expired life raft

Normally around 800$ around here to repack. As for how long after inspection is expired?? I have set ones that were 10 years expired but the water, food and flares would be no good. You may want up to date stuff in there if ya needed it.

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Old 15-11-2015, 15:31   #3
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Re: expired life raft

You don't say how long the liferaft has been expired, so it is almost impossible to answer your question. A few months and it should be alright, a few years and I would say no. Same for repacking. In general I would estimate around $700 but if the CO2 canister needs a hydrostatic test it will cost more. Same thing for expendable supplies such a water, batteries, etc...

It also makes a difference if the original company is still in business.

Good luck,

Rich
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Old 15-11-2015, 17:07   #4
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Re: expired life raft

Quote:
Originally Posted by rancher44 View Post
I have a 6 person life raft that the inspection has expired .
How long is it still safe to use before having it inspection again .
The raft is in a canister .
What is the normal cost for repacking
Thanks
Hey Rancher,

As others have mentioned, there are many variables:

Age of liferaft
Last repack date
How and where it is stored
Brand and model

We went through this in 2014 repacking the Winslow 6 person offshore that came with the boat. We learned a lot taking it to a resource that mostly packs commercial equipment [airliners, commercial boats, etc.] They even opened and inflated ours and spent 2 hours walking us through everything in our own raft. [Don't miss that opportunity.]

I asked him what shortens a raft's lifespan. He indicated heat was #1. Hence he recommends valice rafts where feasible so they can be stored away from heat. He also mentioned vacuum packed rafts fare better and live longer...

When we were finished, I asked the owner what raft/brand we should buy for offshore work once the Winslow ages out. Without hesitation he recommended the Viking RescYou Pro. [And that was not a brand they sell...]

Armed with that information, I stopped by the Viking [and other liferafts] booth at the Seattle Boat Show in Jan-2015. They appeared to be very high quality at an excellent price. If there was one downside, the tubes are black rubber, and smell like it. I suspect it would be unpleasant at first to be confined to an inner tube that smelled like one... [But that would be the least of my worries...]

Perhaps there are others here on the forum who have 1st hand info regarding the Viking RescYou Pro model?

I mention this in case you need to get a new raft...

Another comment re: using a commercial repacker: I asked if they had any expired pyrotechnics I could relieve them of. He asked me what and how many. I asked if 6 SOLAS parachute flairs would be greedy of me. I walked out with 2 large boxes containing commercial pyrotechnic signaling devices [smoke canisters, hand-helds, die packs, streamers, parachutes, etc.] what would have cost me $thousands, and most were only out of date by one year or less... [It never hurts to ask... Of course, we keep fresh dated signaling devices onboard to meet the letter of the law...]

How long do liferafts last? Our Winslow is 15 years old and- per our last repacker- may recertify once or twice again. [Giving it an estimated lifespan of 20-23 years... But only time will tell...]

On the other hand... In the past I owned a well known brand-name valise raft that I had for 12 years. It was stored in the climate controlled garage when not on the boat during the 4 month sailing season. That raft failed its 4th recertification [at the age of 12] The thing looked shredded like someone took a razor to it. I had it repacked every 3 years, so something happened those last 3 years, and this was in Alaska so it never saw any real heat (nor freeze-thaw cycles as during that time I was summer sailing only...) I figured it cost me over $800/sailing season [$200/sailing month] for that raft... This experience demonstrates why we have them recertified...

Unless something changes, I would buy a Viking Pro for about half what the others cost once our Winslow bites the dust...

Best of luck with your raft- and may you never need it...

Cheers!

Bill
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Old 15-11-2015, 18:05   #5
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Re: expired life raft

SOLAS Certified Liferafts must be serviced in harmony with the expiration date of the packed pyrotechnics

Usually every 3 years . They expect 4 or 5 services before it should be condemned. Depending on the Registry, they will automatically condemn after 5 services.

What degrades and fails is the rubber around the filling port, so that is the weak point

As a training test, I activated a 20 year old one and sure enough, tiny pinhole leaks around the filling port.



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Old 16-11-2015, 07:37   #6
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Re: Expired Life Raft

Thanks for all the input.
I do coastal sailing and the life raft came with boat .
I bought it from the Moorings in BVI The boat is a 2010 cat and I believe the raft is 1 years out of date .
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Old 16-11-2015, 08:41   #7
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Re: Expired Life Raft

Quote:
Originally Posted by rancher44 View Post
I have a 6 person life raft that the inspection has expired .
How long is it still safe to use before having it inspection again .
The raft is in a canister .
What is the normal cost for repacking
Thanks
Life rafts are like epirbs. The cost to recertify is deliberately close to a replacement cost.

As to your question. The answer is no. If you chose to keep it as a safety critical item you carry a 100% of the risk of it potentially failing.

The manufacturer decides on the useful life based on what insurance liability dictates. There is no science to the expiry date. A bit like expired food. I dont throw it out on the exact date. And I've certified defence, naval and automotive safety systems.

We keep our life raft below. No exposure to salt water. This is what leads to most failures IMHO.

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Old 16-11-2015, 10:32   #8
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Re: Expired Life Raft

Batteries are another reason to get your life raft repacked. The water is probably good, you could probably eat the cookies if you could get by the taste, and the flares might work. Personally, I would probably go a couple of years, but really they should be repacked on schedule. Very, very expensive though. I just bought a "used" never used one that is out of date but I will have it repacked the first time I put it on the boat.
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Old 16-11-2015, 11:11   #9
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Re: Expired Life Raft

Quote:
Originally Posted by leftbrainstuff View Post
The manufacturer decides on the useful life based on what insurance liability dictates. There is no science to the expiry date. A bit like expired food. I dont throw it out on the exact date. And I've certified defence, naval and automotive safety systems.
Liferafts on RECREATIONAL VESSELS are not subject to inspection. The manufactures due have recommended repact times for Recreation Use.

BUT, there is NO USCG or SOLAS REQUIREMENT TO REPACK for recreational Vessels. (If you are carrying passengers for hire or Commercial Fishing you had better check the CFR).

Also the Flares, Water and other perishable items packed inside the raft are not subject to inspection either.

With that said, my Liferaft guy pointed out that when the Liferafts are repacked they do not use the same fold lines. He said that by re-packing the raft regularly, you extend its life.
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Old 02-12-2015, 08:21   #10
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Re: Expired Life Raft

Good information .
Can I repack the raft myself ? I am a river guide for about 30 plus years and have a good understanding of rafts and how to pack and repair .
When they are recertified do they unfold them and blow them up or exactly what do they do? I do mostly costal sailing
Thanks for all the help and info.
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Old 02-12-2015, 12:22   #11
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Re: Expired Life Raft

You can certainly repack it yourself but I believe the USCG would not accept that as "certified". But that only really matters if you intend to carry passengers as a licensed skipper/boat which then needs to meet that requirement. Otherwise it is just your ability to do a good job and check it out the way it should be checked out and repacked with the proper supplies - batteries, food, water, etc. If it has a hydrostatic release that would be something else entirely. But I am not an expert on this so take it with a grain of salt.
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Old 02-12-2015, 12:38   #12
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Re: Expired Life Raft

Right-ho! I have some up to date research!

I just blew my old one up!

10 man Plastimo made in 2000, last serviced 2004. Expired 2007.
I couldn't even lift it out of the lazarette by myself so bought a 4 man valise
The night before leaving the USA 3 weeks ago me and 2 scumbag drunken friends hoisted the 10 man out by halyard and wheelbarrowed it to the car park next to the dumpster outside a now filled bar...
I really didn't think it would go off at all, or a slow farting up.

But BANG!!!!

You've not seen a bar empty as quickly since the last prostitution raid!

Bits of metal strap were flying through the air as the 10 Man went up like a fair ground ride! The gas cylinder on it was about 3 feet long and boy did it do the job!

So up it was!

But flares were all damp and way out of date.
The foot pump plastic had become brittle and crumbled in my hand!
Torches, batteries etc were useless, damp and rusted.

Moral of the story:
Pick a busy bar maybe act injured to get a free beer.
The cylinder is better than the crap inside!


Mark
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