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Old 27-01-2018, 01:43   #1
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Life raft size

After three years of not owning a sailing boat, we have decided to purchase our second vessel and have just had an offer accepted on a 2008 Dufour 525. Very happy with our purchase and the start of the new adventure. We have many questions at this stage, as this is a big upgrade for us and part of a long held dream.

One question we have, is around life-raft size, what size life-raft should we invest in, 6 for the number of berths, 8 for a extras, or should we go the full hog with 10. In reality it will mainly be two of us board with the occasional visitor and would appreciate your advice
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Old 27-01-2018, 02:25   #2
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Re: Life raft size

Size it to the maximum number of persons you plan to have onboard in bad weather conditions/on long legs. In good weather, if you need to use it e.g. in case of fire, you have also the dinghy. It is not better to have a big life raft, as the weight of the occupants also provides stability.

So my guess is 6 person is about right. I do not think you will ever go for long cruises with 10 persons on a 50 footer. And in an emergency, you can fit 8 also.

Switlik are my favourites, not just because of the 5-year service interval. They actually do not provide the maximum number of occupants, only floor size and buoyancy.

BTW Nice boat
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Old 27-01-2018, 02:39   #3
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Re: Life raft size

Congratulations on your new boat.

You have posed an interesting question. What follows is an opinion.

The wide range of number of people you have in mind, 2-10, complicates the issue. You need to accommodate 2-10 people.

My choice is driven by two key considerations:
1. A raft is used in an emergency, and emergencies can happen at any time. And a raft is probably going to be used in conditions when a dingy is not suitable or cannot be deployed quickly enough.

2. No one should be left out.

I think two rafts, one 4 person and a 6 person. While there would be double the cost for initial purchase, double ditch bags, and double recertification costs, . But, if you really are considering sailing with 8-10 people aboard, it is hard to avoid that, unless you buy a single 10 person raft, which then may be too large for a couple to handle (deploy) and possibly unsafe for just two people if in rough seas (increased possibility of Capsize).

I think two rafts ( 4+6) would be my choice. Create two ditch bags, each with EPIRB (or PLB) and VHF radio.
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Old 27-01-2018, 02:49   #4
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Re: Life raft size

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steady Hand View Post
Congratulations on your new boat.

You have posed an interesting question. What follows is an opinion.

The wide range of number of people you have in mind, 2-10, complicates the issue. You need to accommodate 2-10 people.

My choice is driven by two key considerations:
1. A raft is used in an emergency, and emergencies can happen at any time.

2. No one should be left out.

I think two rafts, one 4 person and a 6 person. While there would be double the cost for initial purchase, double ditch bags, and double recertification costs, . But, if you really are considering sailing with 8-10 people aboard, it is hard to avoid that, unless you buy a single 10 person raft, which then may be too large for a couple to handle (deploy) and possibly unsafe for just two people if in rough seas (increased possibility of Capsize).

I think two rafts ( 4+6) would be my choice. Create two ditch bags, each with EPIRB (or PLB) and VHF radio.
Yes, that is an option. I had two rafts on my previous boat, one 8 and one 4. On the new boat I have none at the moment. Mostly because there is only space for one, and I can not decide on the size
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Old 27-01-2018, 11:02   #5
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Re: Life raft size

I'd side with SH on getting two. But I think I'd go for 4+4, in the theory that the OP says they will usually just be two aboard, seldom 3-4, and very rarely more than that. For just two people, you wouldn't want a larger raft. Too heavy to deploy, and you'd be tossed mercilessly inside if you launched in rough weather.

Four plus plus means you rarely, if ever, be caught short on space. And you could buy the two rafts a year or 18 months apart, so they were inspected and dated in alternate years, which would mean there always was one raft in date, aboard the boat, even when the other was out for service. There might also be some advantage in having the two identical in size and make, so you could familiarize yourself with one and know both are the same. And both would be lighter and easier to manhandle over the rail.
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Old 27-01-2018, 11:14   #6
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Re: Life raft size

We have a six-man because we take crew for ocean crossings and occasionally have 5 or 6 people on board.

You should not go too big as the occupants add to stability and 2 in a 10 man raft would not be optimal.
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Old 27-01-2018, 11:29   #7
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Re: Life raft size

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
I'd side with SH on getting two. But I think I'd go for 4+4, in the theory that the OP says they will usually just be two aboard, seldom 3-4, and very rarely more than that. For just two people, you wouldn't want a larger raft. Too heavy to deploy, and you'd be tossed mercilessly inside if you launched in rough weather.

Four plus plus means you rarely, if ever, be caught short on space. And you could buy the two rafts a year or 18 months apart, so they were inspected and dated in alternate years, which would mean there always was one raft in date, aboard the boat, even when the other was out for service. There might also be some advantage in having the two identical in size and make, so you could familiarize yourself with one and know both are the same. And both would be lighter and easier to manhandle over the rail.
That's exactly what I have.

The 4 man rafts are already heavy enough to be challenging to manhandle - not good in a dire emergency in weather. 6, not to speak of 8 would be really something. Plus you don't want to be in a raft with less than maybe 75% of rated load, or 50% in a pinch - unstable. So you don't want to be 2 people in a 6 man rafts. Answer - two four man rafts.
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Old 27-01-2018, 11:34   #8
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Re: Life raft size

If its just the two of you plus guests are you ever going sailing with more than 6?

One option would be own a 4 or 6 man raft and hire an extra if you ever go offshore with more people.

LIFERAFT HIRE |FROM 4 DAYS | 4 MAN VALISE | COMPETITIVE PRICING - Arthurs

BTW a 4 people in a 4 man raft is recommended over 4 people in an 8 man raft for stability.

Since you are in the UK then these Seago rafts were recently recommended by the PBO magazine:

https://www.marinesuperstore.com/lif...-mob/liferafts

We are about half your size, but Mrs 7, I and the dog have a 4 man raft as the kids have flown the nest.

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Old 28-01-2018, 08:51   #9
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Re: Life raft size

All
Thanks for the replies, it’s all been very helpful in shaping our ideas. From what I am taking away from all the comments, the life raft should be sized for the regular crew size on passages and not for day sailing outings. The reality is we will do most of our sailing with just us or another couple on board, potentially 5-6 during crossing, so the ideal lifeboat sounds like 4 or potentially 6.

Do appreciate your input, keep safe.
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Old 28-01-2018, 14:36   #10
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Re: Life raft size

If you plan to sail offshore with just the two of you, the life rraft should be located and of a light enough weight so that the smallest crew can launch the raft by themselves, assuming the other crew member is injured. Offshore rafts get petty heavy as the spec crew size goes up.
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Old 30-01-2018, 14:54   #11
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Re: Life raft size

I have been told that liferafts tend to be small. So, if you want one for 6 people, get an 8 person liferaft. Installed location plays a role in the decision as the raft might be too heavy to lift. You need to be able to push the raft off the boat.
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Old 31-01-2018, 05:12   #12
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Re: Life raft size

OP is located in cold water.

Underloading the raft will cause the insulation not to work (it's based on the occupancy since it reflects body heat), possibly leading to hypothermia.

Purchase a raft that best suits your usual cruising needs.

Maybe purchase a 4P, and if you have guests, rent an additional 4P.
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