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Old 09-01-2011, 12:39   #1
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Inflatable Liferaft: Container or Valise Based ?

Hi Everyone!

I'm researching various types of liferafts at the moment, performing a due-diligence prior to committing cost.

As far as I can see there are 2 types:
Container based: attach the painter to something sensible and kick it off the boat in the best direction dictated by conditions etc, or;
Valise based: attach the painter to something sensible and kick, punch, swing or hurl it overboard in panic while screaming like a pig in a war...

Does anybody have any thoughts? I'm hoping that no-one here has had to abandon ship and therefore have firsthand experience - but any feedback would be very welcome.

Your faithfully,

Phil
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Old 09-01-2011, 12:49   #2
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Where are you going to store the liferaft? If out in the open on deck or in the cockpit, then you really must get a cannister model. If below in the cabin (not really recommended) or in a dedicated water-tight locker, then you can use a valise model.
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Old 09-01-2011, 22:18   #3
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I like the "toughness" of my canister...Gives me the felling, right or wrong, that it wont be holed or other wise damaged if I ever have to deploy it.
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Old 10-01-2011, 06:24   #4
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I have a self deploying cannister. Valise assumes you have the time to deploy it, not always the case. Want my EPIRB and Raft self deploying in case the boat sinks very quickly (collision).

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Old 10-01-2011, 06:50   #5
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I'd go for the canister type, only a few bucks more, but you have the option to stow on deck/on the rail, and fit a hydrostatic release unit.
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Old 10-01-2011, 07:34   #6
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A canister on deck is the wat to go. If you ever need to deploy a liferaft digging it out of a locker or carrying it out of the boat would be a real hastle (they weigh about 100 pounds).
See raft just forward of dodger in photo.
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Old 10-01-2011, 07:38   #7
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The cannister is also my preference, we carried our Switlik for ten years. However, if your ocean passages are few and you want to clear the decks while coastal cruising or island hopping, the valise makes more sense. That is provided you have space below to store it. You can keep the decks clear and move it to an appropriate spot for deployment when offshore. If you plan to leave it on deck all of the time, the cannister will do a much better job of protecting the raft and contents. Chuck
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Old 10-01-2011, 07:55   #8
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Some advantages of the valise: you can take it from boat to boat, hurl it in the most useful direction when needed, it won't get caught up in the boom and rigging if they just fell down on your cabin deck, and they are less susceptible to theft as they are not sitting on the outside of your boat.

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Old 10-01-2011, 08:05   #9
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If you are going to spend that much money on something that important, I think you would want to store it on deck in a connister where it has the maximum chance of working if and when you need it. You never see rafts stored below deck on commercial vessels, nor EPIRB's. The hydrostatic release is an excellent idea, especially for monohulls. You want to stow it as far away from the rig as is practical so it has less of a chance of fouling on the rig if the boat sinks with the raft, before the release activates.
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Old 10-01-2011, 08:18   #10
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If the cannister can be coveniently mounted on deck without difficulty, that would seem to be preferable. Because that was not possible on our boat we had an Avon Valise pack in a lazarette locker but I realized that at 90+ lbs, if I was injured, my 5' tall 105# wife could never extract and deploy it. We have replaced that with a smaller lighter Winslow that she can handle. In any case, the raft must be deployable by the least member of the crew.

FWIW...
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Old 10-01-2011, 13:56   #11
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A big difference between the weight of a valise and a cannister, plus manhandling a wet cannister can be like wrestling a greased pig.

Don't matter if it automatically deploys as the vessel sinks beneath (and has not become obstructed), but rather than hoping for that seems to me more prudent to have as much choice as possible on when and where to deploy from - away from fallen rigging / downwind or up. Just because a valise is stored in a locker does not mean it has to be buried under junk. Downside is that won't cope so well with an instantaneous sinking - but on that perhaps the answer is to look at the boat itself. and maybe look out the window a bit more when navigating
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Old 10-01-2011, 17:22   #12
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Like most safety equipment, we want it, but not in the way. If you are going to invest the money in a liferaft, EPIRB, or PFDs, make sure they are placed / mounted in the optimal place for use. If I was going to sail, the cannister would likely be mounted at or near the transom where it likely wouldn't hang up in the rigging and could be manually released when abandoning the boat. Storing a raft in a lazarette locker is not smart. One of the things to consider is what will happen if the boat capsizes. Can you still get the valise out of the hold. Will the other equipment in the hold block or entangle the valise.

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Old 11-01-2011, 10:41   #13
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I was told by the safety inspector before the carib 1500 that the raft had to be able to be deployed in 15 seconds from wherever you are storing it.
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Old 11-01-2011, 12:07   #14
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Phil, we keep our liferaft in the cabin under a bunk. Okay perhaps not the best place for quick deployment however, in fairness for coastal cruising our dinghy is stored on the stern and with 4 clips we can be on board and away from the yacht incase of fire.

AT twenty years old its due for replacement probably at the end of this season. Its replacement with be another valise, likely to be one of the Seago's 4 man models.

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Old 15-01-2011, 11:26   #15
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Dear All,

The feedback I've received is invaluable! Even though I've run over, what I thought, were all of the scenarios in my head there are always some things which get missed which the responses have highlighted, for example:

Getting a valise out of a locker when inverted. That said, if your keel has gone and your stability curve is looking more like a river kayak, then you could always end up with a container type floating away, especially if it's mounted aft of the mast afore the companion way and the painter isn't long enough to reach surface when inverted. In this scenario you're going to be taking a dive anyway unless the painter breaks by itself. Any thoughts on the unlikelihood of this occurrence?

A container mounted on the transom seems like a good idea except for this space on the back of a 36' - one side already has horseshoe and danbuoy.

This summer we had a new bareboat Beneteau 37 which had a container ready strapped to the deck under a lifting wet storage on the aft port corner - so lift and kick would have been the deployment method.

Looking at the space I have available and the practicalities the day to day (I.e. Making sure that the lift raft doesn't become a tripping hazard etc) we'll probably settle for a valise neatly available in an uncrowded watertight locker.

Thanks for the feedback,

Phil
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