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Old 22-09-2012, 16:10   #16
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I recieved an email reply from the folks at landfall navigation regarding my question about the two revere rafts. The difference is "offshore rated", Inflateable floor, canopy light and a few more batteries in the survival kit. The "offshore" rating is made by the manufacturer. The additional weight is due to the floor. I will save myself some dough and build my own survival kit and cruise offshore with a coastal raft. Thanks folks.
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Old 25-09-2012, 07:24   #17
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Re: Liferaft coastal vs offshore

Weight differences are due to added equipment, larger inflation tubes (or two rather than one tube), bigger ballast pockets and normally the addition of an insulated floor in an offshore life raft.

The other major difference in new rafts is the inclusion of a boarding platform/ramp in an offshore raft. Coastal models normally have web ladders that are very difficult to use in an emergency situation. The boarding platform/ramp allows much easier entry into the raft from the sea. I service life rafts for a living and have spoken with many who have had to use a raft in an emergency situation. Getting in to the raft is their #1 problem and those with a boarding ramp/platform are very happy that they had it.
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Old 25-09-2012, 07:35   #18
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Re: Liferaft coastal vs offshore

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Originally Posted by liferaft View Post
Weight differences are due to added equipment, larger inflation tubes (or two rather than one tube), bigger ballast pockets and normally the addition of an insulated floor in an offshore life raft.

The other major difference in new rafts is the inclusion of a boarding platform/ramp in an offshore raft. Coastal models normally have web ladders that are very difficult to use in an emergency situation. The boarding platform/ramp allows much easier entry into the raft from the sea. I service life rafts for a living and have spoken with many who have had to use a raft in an emergency situation. Getting in to the raft is their #1 problem and those with a boarding ramp/platform are very happy that they had it.
Thanks Rolie. These differences dont all exist with the raft(s) im looking at. The Revere Offshore Commander and Coastal Commander both have the same sized and double tubes, both have the same ballast pockets. The offshore version does have an inflateable floor which is Im guessing what insulated means. The offshore version has a canopy light and some additional survival gear. Neither has a ramp both have webbing ladders.

Im sure there are folks out there who believe you cant spend enough on a raft but im not one of them. We cruise in tropical/warm waters and with the exception of the passage between the BVI and Annapolis are rarely more than 20 miles offshore. Call me a heretic but I can hardly justify the expense of a raft in the first place let alone the thousands of dollars most manufacturers would have you spend. Especially when they all have to be recertified every three years. Rolie perhaps you can comment on the expenses associated with a recert? The last one I had done for a customer was $1,850 for a 6 man raft, Avon IIRC.
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Old 25-09-2012, 08:10   #19
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Re: Liferaft coastal vs offshore

I have been servicing life rafts since 1983 and in those years have seen the cost of servicing become horrible especially if you need to obtain service in the United States. Several factors are driving the cost:
1. Cost of supplies. Service stations need to make a profit and we must mark up our cost of supplies. Only a few years ago many rafts were made in the US from domestic components. Now two manufacturers control the bulk of the world production (Survitec and Viking) and all the parts come from overseas. We also have the trend of the manufacturers charging us more for the parts to satisfy their stockholders.
2. Cost of training. Contrary to what you may read, every life raft is different and requires training to properly service it. There have been several documented problems with rafts that did not deploy properly due to improper service by non-trained technicians. The recreational raft industry has adopted the same training standards as the commercial industry uses, each technician needs to go through refresher training every three years. Once again, service stations are a business and this expense gets passed on to the customer.
3. Cost of insurance. Liability insurance is expensive and as an owner of a service station I must carry it. Right now it costs me about $70.00 per raft I service to cover my insurance expense for that portion of my business. This is an area where other countries benefit by having different liability standards.
4. Less rafts to service. Pre 2000 all life rafts had a recommended service interval of 1 year. Now with the vast majority of recreational rafts we have a 3 year service interval. Sure nobody listens to these recommendations but what I have seen is a general increase in the interval between servicing. It used to be about 2.5 years and now it is closer to 5. Less rafts to service means higher cost per raft on items like technician training and insurance (which has minimum premiums).

So, back to your question, what does it cost to service a life raft? The short answer is "it depends". Taking a 3 year old Zodiac offshore recreational raft:
Labor: $390.00
Pyro: $164.50
Vacuum bag and misc parts: $197.60
Estimated total: $752.10
At 5 years you need to do cylinder maintenance, replace inflation hoses and the lithium batteries that power the lights which adds around $500.00 to the cost. If there are repairs or replacement of damaged equipment that is another expense, and so on, and so on.

Different brands (or models) have different parts requirements and in some cases additional testing is required. The end result is it all adds up in a hurry. Ten years ago I hardly ever had a service cost over $1000.00, even for commercial rafts. Now I hardly every see one under $1000.00 and that additional expense is not ending up in my pocket.

I hope this helps as long winded as it became. If you need further information you can always call me at Westpac Marine (253) 627-6000
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Old 25-09-2012, 08:18   #20
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Re: Liferaft coastal vs offshore

Quote:
Originally Posted by liferaft View Post
I have been servicing life rafts since 1983 and in those years have seen the cost of servicing become horrible especially if you need to obtain service in the United States. Several factors are driving the cost:
1. Cost of supplies. Service stations need to make a profit and we must mark up our cost of supplies. Only a few years ago many rafts were made in the US from domestic components. Now two manufacturers control the bulk of the world production (Survitec and Viking) and all the parts come from overseas. We also have the trend of the manufacturers charging us more for the parts to satisfy their stockholders.
2. Cost of training. Contrary to what you may read, every life raft is different and requires training to properly service it. There have been several documented problems with rafts that did not deploy properly due to improper service by non-trained technicians. The recreational raft industry has adopted the same training standards as the commercial industry uses, each technician needs to go through refresher training every three years. Once again, service stations are a business and this expense gets passed on to the customer.
3. Cost of insurance. Liability insurance is expensive and as an owner of a service station I must carry it. Right now it costs me about $70.00 per raft I service to cover my insurance expense for that portion of my business. This is an area where other countries benefit by having different liability standards.
4. Less rafts to service. Pre 2000 all life rafts had a recommended service interval of 1 year. Now with the vast majority of recreational rafts we have a 3 year service interval. Sure nobody listens to these recommendations but what I have seen is a general increase in the interval between servicing. It used to be about 2.5 years and now it is closer to 5. Less rafts to service means higher cost per raft on items like technician training and insurance (which has minimum premiums).

So, back to your question, what does it cost to service a life raft? The short answer is "it depends". Taking a 3 year old Zodiac offshore recreational raft:
Labor: $390.00
Pyro: $164.50
Vacuum bag and misc parts: $197.60
Estimated total: $752.10
At 5 years you need to do cylinder maintenance, replace inflation hoses and the lithium batteries that power the lights which adds around $500.00 to the cost. If there are repairs or replacement of damaged equipment that is another expense, and so on, and so on.

Different brands (or models) have different parts requirements and in some cases additional testing is required. The end result is it all adds up in a hurry. Ten years ago I hardly ever had a service cost over $1000.00, even for commercial rafts. Now I hardly every see one under $1000.00 and that additional expense is not ending up in my pocket.

I hope this helps as long winded as it became. If you need further information you can always call me at Westpac Marine (253) 627-6000
Rollie thanks so much for this very REAL and useful info. It is very much in line with everyone else I have spoken with regarding recertifications. The materials costs are what they are and so it the labor, not to mention shipping costs. Its a shame that the recert is such a high percentage of purchase price but I doubt that is going to change any time soon.

Thanks again for your post it has been very helpful to me.
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Old 25-10-2012, 17:47   #21
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Re: Liferaft coastal vs offshore

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Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
More than one air chamber, inflatable floor, and heavier water ballasts are the ones that come to mind first. Nothing good about wasting money being overly safe; you don't need an offshore liferaft if you sink 10 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. But you're going to feel like a moron if you have a coastal version (or none at all) and you go down in the roaring 40's with water barely above freezing.

Pick the conditions you'll experience, pick your survival gear accordingly.
I think I came across "ORC offshore liferaft" somewhat cheaper than "offshore liferaft". I also found "50 miles" Offshore which are self explanatory... DO you know anything about the ORC classification for liferafts ? Thanks for your help.
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Old 26-10-2012, 06:43   #22
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Re: Liferaft coastal vs offshore

ORC is the forerunner of ISAF. These rafts generally were normal (for their time) offshore life rafts with a very limited equipment pack. I can't remember an ORC raft that included a boarding platform/step which I feel is a very important component of any life raft. If you can't get in to it, the raft doesn't do much good.

ORC rafts ceased to be approved for sailboat racing in 2000 or 2001 and I am not aware of anyone manufacturing them today. Due to moving raft production to Asia the costs of new rafts are actually lower than they were in 2000. I would be careful that you aren't paying too much for a 10 or 12 year old raft.
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Old 27-10-2012, 03:00   #23
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Re: Liferaft coastal vs offshore

Quote:
Originally Posted by liferaft View Post
ORC is the forerunner of ISAF. These rafts generally were normal (for their time) offshore life rafts with a very limited equipment pack. I can't remember an ORC raft that included a boarding platform/step which I feel is a very important component of any life raft. If you can't get in to it, the raft doesn't do much good.

ORC rafts ceased to be approved for sailboat racing in 2000 or 2001 and I am not aware of anyone manufacturing them today. Due to moving raft production to Asia the costs of new rafts are actually lower than they were in 2000. I would be careful that you aren't paying too much for a 10 or 12 year old raft.
Hi again: No, I didn't dream the $1799 ORC "OFFSHORE" Liferaft:
PLASTIMO Cruiser ORC Life Raft, 4-Man Offshore Liferaft with Valise at West Marine
But... I got also my answer: "up to 50 miles offshore"... I wonder if it's the same raft as the full "offshore" only with less equipment ???

"Designed for bluewater use up to 50 miles from shore, the Plastimo Cruiser ORC Life Rafts are designed for long voyages when gusts of wind with exceptional wave height can be expected. The Cruiser ORC has a double-insulated floor, double tube design, and double-firing head mechanism to ensure that should the unthinkable happen, the raft will not let you down. Includes a floating anchor with 30' line, pump, two paddles, floating knife, rescue quoit with 120' line, bailer, two sponges, repair kit, checklist/instruction manual and survival instructions. Personal survival equipment includes a rain-catching gutter on the canopy and six seasickness pills per person. Signal equipment includes three SOLAS handflares, 118sq.in. of retro-reflective tape on the canopy, one waterproof flashlight and a signal card. All equipment for survival is held in its own waterproof bag within the raft. Both container and valise hold the raft securely vacuum-packed in a hermetically sealed bag to offer total protection from the elements."
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