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Old 10-02-2012, 14:26   #1
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Life Rafts

Hello cruisers,

Just looking for some opinions. In a few months time myself and some friends plan on setting out into the Pacific for a year or two of cruising. Departing from Sydney, we plan on seeing the South Pacific and south east Asia. Right now we are in the process of collecting gear, and are having trouble deciding on a life raft. We would like a new, four person raft, that won't break the bank. Any ideas, favorite stores, good/bad experinces that can be shared would be appreciated.

Thank you.
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Old 10-02-2012, 16:12   #2
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Re: Life Rafts

Consider taking an STCW-95 course which should show you how to enter a life raft, how to right one that's upside down, how to patch one, and other things of that nature. The way I know to right an upside down life raft is to stand on the CO2 cylinder and pull the strap that goes across the bottom.

There are several life rafts that don't have the cylinder mounted like that and don't have the strap on the bottom, and I'm not really interested in figuring out (or not figuring out) the hard way how to right one.

In short, pick one that you understand how to work with. If you've never jumped on top of a life raft or righted one that's flipped (with the same features of your own) you're not taking full advantage of the device.
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Old 10-02-2012, 16:33   #3
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Re: Life Rafts

There have been several recent evaluations of current models. Some are self-righting, some claim to but are dodgy. Some are easier to enter than others. For offshore you will best be searved by one with a double floor (insulated) and with a sun shade. Try Practical Sailor and West Marine, Blue Water Sailor. Noonsite may also talk about them. It is especially good to pull the string on one before you take off or buy if possible.
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Old 10-02-2012, 16:42   #4
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Re: Life Rafts

I don't know how they rate in the tests but I recently sold my Plastimo offshore raft and I was very impressed when I had to open it up to remove the flares, the water, and the cylinder to ship it. It is hermetically sealed in a heavy plastic bag and after several years onboard in the tropics everything looked to be brand new and in perfect condition, and the equipment stored inside looked to be of high quality. I had to discharge the cylinder in the back yard and it certainly had tons of CO2 in it--I was surprised how long it took to discharge and how loud it was! They are reasonably priced compared to some. I had a valise model, instead of a canister stored on deck, and I felt it was good on my boat. It lived directly under the helm seat where it was protected from the weather but couldn't get gear piled on top of it. I am always wary of on deck canisters after reading of many instances of them being ripped right off the deck in heavy weather. If anyone has ever been offshore in a gale you will know what I mean. I have seen green water going right across the deck up to the level of the first reef in the main, and I don't think many things as large as a liferaft would have remained on deck in those conditions.
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Old 10-02-2012, 16:53   #5
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Re: Life Rafts

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Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
I don't know how they rate in the tests but I recently sold my Plastimo offshore raft and I was very impressed when I had to open it up to remove the flares, the water, and the cylinder to ship it. It is hermetically sealed in a heavy plastic bag and after several years onboard in the tropics everything looked to be brand new and in perfect condition, and the equipment stored inside looked to be of high quality. I had to discharge the cylinder in the back yard and it certainly had tons of CO2 in it--I was surprised how long it took to discharge and how loud it was! They are reasonably priced compared to some. I had a valise model, instead of a canister stored on deck, and I felt it was good on my boat. It lived directly under the helm seat where it was protected from the weather but couldn't get gear piled on top of it. I am always wary of on deck canisters after reading of many instances of them being ripped right off the deck in heavy weather. If anyone has ever been offshore in a gale you will know what I mean. I have seen green water going right across the deck up to the level of the first reef in the main, and I don't think many things as large as a liferaft would have remained on deck in those conditions.
Thats where my avon is stored too. Same reason. Have not deployed it so I cant say How t would do. If you have ever seen 80 knots and what water can do on deck it has t cross your mind not to stick the thing on deck. Not sure I could deploy it in that kind of scenario. I replaced one of the pedestal bolts with a big Eye bolt that passes through a large stainless baking plate. Thats the tie point if it ever goes over the side. You have to think the thing is going to be one hell of a load on that point. The eye doubles as a harness tie point.
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Old 10-02-2012, 17:36   #6
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Re: Life Rafts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Streets1234 View Post
Hello cruisers,

Just looking for some opinions. In a few months time myself and some friends plan on setting out into the Pacific for a year or two of cruising. Departing from Sydney, we plan on seeing the South Pacific and south east Asia. Right now we are in the process of collecting gear, and are having trouble deciding on a life raft. We would like a new, four person raft, that won't break the bank. Any ideas, favorite stores, good/bad experinces that can be shared would be appreciated.

Thank you.
Assuming you are Oz based (eg Sydney departure ), then have a look here Life Rafts & Emergency Equipment :: Great Circle Life Rafts Australia
Pricing seems competitive. I have no experience of using their product in anger so to speak but I did hire a raft from them and the customer service was good.
FWIW
And welcome aboard CF
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Old 28-03-2012, 19:06   #7
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Re: Life Rafts

I have a 1994 vintage Avon 4 man ocean raft. The raft, itself, is in great condition. I recently brought it to a service company who, in checking it out, found that the cylinder valve leaks and they cannot get a replacement “poppet assembly” to fix it because the valve manufacturer is out of business. The bottom line is that they cannot complete servicing the life raft.

Has anyone heard of this problem?

Be careful about purchasing an older Avon. It may be unserviceable.
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Old 29-03-2012, 02:11   #8
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Re: Life Rafts

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Originally Posted by Wotname View Post
Assuming you are Oz based (eg Sydney departure ), then have a look here Life Rafts & Emergency Equipment :: Great Circle Life Rafts Australia
Pricing seems competitive. I have no experience of using their product in anger so to speak but I did hire a raft from them and the customer service was good.
FWIW
And welcome aboard CF
We just bought a Great Circle life raft it was just under $2500, something that we hope we never have to use
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Old 29-03-2012, 02:34   #9
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Re: Life Rafts

I remain shocked at the prices charged in the US for life rafts. I think this really is one instance when it pays to search world wide. As others have chosen we also have a valise which is kept secure below decks. Whilst it will take a little longer to deploy, its secure and since its only a 4 man raft easily enough to move, however, a bigger raft could be a problem.

To PeterJG, have you e mailed Avon in south Wales UK direct? because it may be that Avon won't supply the dealer rather than the part no being available. Avon probably only want to supply their own registered dealers rather than a competitors.

This is what we bought last year from Arthurs chandlery at 569 / $900

Marine Safety

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Old 29-03-2012, 05:22   #10
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You can get a plastimo coastal liferaft for about 600 euros.

Dave
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Old 29-03-2012, 15:05   #11
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Re: Life Rafts

I had a 1995 Plastimo 6-person coastal raft, in a valise. It was stowed in a shallow cockpit locker (needed 45s to remove clutter from the locker and pull the raft on deck). According to French regulations, the raft was out of date by 2010 (15 years after being sold). I stowed it in my basement for 2 years but when it was operated last Saturday, it inflated perfectly and looked as good as new.

But a 6-person raft is not roomy for 6 people (see the photo). I wouldn't consider crossing an ocean with 3 other people, taking a 4-person raft. You might have to eat someone to make more room for the others.

Like sabray and Kettlewell, I appreciate the gain in weight afforded by the valise and the increased protection afforded by the cockpit locker. Then, I bought a Plastimo ISO-9650 offshore raft, in a valise, as a replacement.

Alain
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Old 29-03-2012, 15:15   #12
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Re: Life Rafts

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But a 6-person raft is not roomy for 6 people (see the photo). I wouldn't consider crossing an ocean with 3 other people, taking a 4-person raft. You might have to eat someone to make more room for the others.Alain
Alain, its supposed to be that way, the opposite of say 2 people in a 6 man life raft could overturn.

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Old 29-03-2012, 15:31   #13
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Re: Life Rafts

Pete,
I know that the weight of people in the raft help to stabilise it. During the training the other day, an empty raft almost took off under the downdraft of a hovering helo.

But IMO, a 6-person raft is OK for 4 people, and often cheaper because it is produced in bigger numbers than a 4-person one.

Alain
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Old 29-03-2012, 16:43   #14
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Re: Life Rafts

Does anyone have any idea how much to get a liferaft serviced in Greece or thereabouts?

The raft is a valise type and about 4 years old, and never used.
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Old 30-03-2012, 06:36   #15
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Re: Life Rafts

In deciding on a new raft, along with all the other factors, be sure to consider the frequency of repackaging/recertification required to maintain warranty - some rafts still require annual service at $1000+. Others are good for 3 years. Also make sure that there is service available in your geography for the raft you pick. Lastly, if a valise will work for you it certainly costs less and is easier to protect from the on-deck conditions that cause the raft to deteriorate.
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