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Old 06-11-2014, 17:16   #16
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Re: Why don't liferaft repacks use...

We have popped a few old (very ) Life rafts in a local boat yard in the past and although one was 15years out of date it Inflated and we ate the supplies and the flares worked so all depends I suppose.
PS Most people buy LRs for insurance reasons and a lot do not know anything about expiry date or even how to inflate them !
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Old 07-11-2014, 06:23   #17
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Re: Why don't liferaft repacks use...

Re vaccum bagging. Winslow offers this option. They use a heavy duty bag which does a very good job of keeping out moisture, but don't think it is inert gas flushed (good idea though I think). My Winslow was originally vaccum bagged and in a hard case. When I cracked it open, many years out of date and stored in the tropics for most of those, it was in excellent condition.
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Old 07-11-2014, 12:30   #18
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Re: Why don't liferaft repacks use...

Poking around, it appears that Switlik also is doing vacuum sealing. One hopes 'vacuum' is a relative term, not an absolute one.(G) And they've done some other incredibly sensible things, like packing all the goodies in a separate bag, so the raft itself can go FIVE YEARS between checks. And using a compressed air inflation system, with a pressure gauge that can be read from outside, so you don't have to take it on faith that your raft will need CPR to get inflated.

Why this kind of stuff isn't old hat and across the entire industry by now...I'm so easily baffled.
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Old 07-11-2014, 14:36   #19
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Re: Why don't liferaft repacks use...

I bought a repacked Givens hardcase 4 man life raft I currently have on my boat. That was in Early 2011. I have not heard about the Givens issues till I stumbled on this info on this forum although I searched and found the discussion back in late 2011.

I'm guessing my life raft could be a piece of junk with any or all of the components not functional.

I guessing I need to immediately have it checked. The boat is in Key West and it appears Givens no longer exists. Should I have the Coast Guard inspect it to see if the above described issues are on my example?

Do I just throw it away and get a new one of some sort? I had really liked the Given's and at the time had read it was considered one of the best. It looked like a good design.

Thanks
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Old 07-11-2014, 14:46   #20
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Re: Why don't liferaft repacks use...

AFAIK no repack station is "authorized" to repack a Givens raft, except one that is currently authorized by Givens. Catch-22, no one else would touch it for liability reasons, they are not trained and authorized by the maker.

You could work the phones for an hour or two and see if some brave soul will do it anyway.

But unless it is vacuum packed...You could also find a nice dry indoor floor, spread out a tarp, and conduct most of an inspection and repack yourself without too much fuss or expense. Little things like weighing the gas bottle only require a good postal scale, and if you don't have one, there's usually a post office, supermarket, Fedex or UPS place that will indulge you.

Of course there's also the question of how old the raft is in the first place.

I don't think the USCG would perform any type of inspection that you need, but since it is the Keys, they might have some helpful advice for you in any case.
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Old 07-11-2014, 15:06   #21
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Re: Why don't liferaft repacks use...

Thanks for the reply:

I might give the repack a try. I have never had one open. I should be able to find a list of what should be in the package when I open it. In fact I may have some record on the boat.

How hard is it to get it set up so the stainless lanyard will open the raft if deployed?

I will probably go ahead and contact the Coast Guard and see what their advice might be.

Thanks
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Old 08-11-2014, 14:56   #22
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Re: Why don't liferaft repacks use...

I was on a cruise ship once (crew, not passenger) and we had two rafts set aside for training purposes, and one would be inflated each week. We repacked these ourselves, on board. The process isn't all that hard but you really need to see it done at least once, and preferably have the proper tool to compress the pilot valve. This is the mechanism that causes the CO2 to inflate the raft when the painter is pulled completely out and sharply tugged, or when the vessel sinks below the reach of the painter from the uninflated raft. Proper packing will also help the raft to most of the time inflate right side up in the water, and not get part of the raft choked off in a bight of lifeline. If you repack your own, without at least watching it done once, I hope you don't have to ever rely on the raft. Well, actually I hope you never have to rely on ANY raft, but you get what I mean.
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Old 08-11-2014, 19:36   #23
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Why don't liferaft repacks use...

Thanks for the info.

Here is what I'm hoping to do. I live in eastern Oregon. I will try to see if I can find a place near Key West (Stock Island) that repacks life rafts.

(I was already thinking along the following lines since I have done much the same a described below with some work on my aircraft I felt capable of doing. Your response just confirms even more that I need to proceed with some skilled help or supervision.)

I plan to contact them ahead of my return to my boat possibly in February 2015 not sure yet. I would talk to them about my need to repack my raft.

If what I've been told so far is true they will most likely not want do it due to liability. I would then hope to negotiate with them to be able to observe them repacking a raft. If they would require some fee for that I would be willing to pay a reasonable cost.

After observing one or more rafts being repacked I would plan to see if I could ask the repacking shop to repack my raft at their facility under their supervision. I believe the shop would have no liability since I did my own work. Once again I would be willing to pay a reasonable cost. This would be more informal than similar work on aircraft which is signed off.

I have done this with some aircraft repairs. Of course the a&p then signs off in your log book.

Dose this sound like a reasonable plan?

Thanks
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Old 08-11-2014, 20:34   #24
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Re: Why don't liferaft repacks use...

You can vac-pack any items you wish to be in the raft and deliver them to the re-packer. I inspected ours and found all items expired. Our gas bottle was at 20% by weight. The water activated chemical batteries were mush & inoperable. The raft (8-man ocean type AVON) inflated easily to the relief pressure & held for over a week.

The chemical batteries are, in my opinion, worthless when new. They are automatic and cannot be turned off or conserved. (4 to 8 hours max). See the photo of the green split battery cases and the non-waterproof connectors. Also note the SOLAS replacement. I replaced the single external dome light with a new SOLAS Lithium battery LED sealed system with both inside and outside lights. It is tripped on deployment by a string pull and has separate switches for inside and outside. Continuous use is over 30 hours and repack life is 7 years. Had I not done this, a repacker would have replaced the battery in kind & charged me a fortune. My contacts in China bought direct from the factory for 7 dollars. Hard to imagine what the cost might be here. Numerous other items were so obsolete by today's technology that none of us would permit it on our boats. The short of it is - be present and control what is packed. Supply the contents yourself and avoid the mark-up. Do your own vacuum seal of each individual item. Bag the lot in another plastic bag.

I feel that minimizing the number of expiring type items in the raft is a must. Assume they don't work & pack what you really want in the ditch bucket. Know what batteries you might need and keep fresh sets in the ditch bucket.

We look forward to not having to keep the pyrotechnics on the boat or raft in lieu of modern signaling devices. The CG is near to passing judgement on several of these. A recent article compared several that fared as well as or better than flares.

As to costs, I was quoted 2000 to repack. -Not including shipping from Michigan both ways. I feel this is obscene. I was told that the total number of rafts repacked divided into the cost of certification by each manufacturer & training, operation costs including insurance liability - etc. makes the cost high. At this point, all I need is for the gas bottle to be properly serviced. Fro this, I would gladly pay BUT not a single one of them will refill my bottle alone. Nobody locally will do so either, even after I had it re-certified.
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Old 08-11-2014, 21:35   #25
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Re: Why don't liferaft repacks use...

Quote:
Originally Posted by taildragerdrive View Post
Thanks for the info.

Here is what I'm hoping to do. I live in eastern Oregon. I will try to see if I can find a place near Key West (Stock Island) that repacks life rafts.

(I was already thinking along the following lines since I have done much the same a described below with some work on my aircraft I felt capable of doing. Your response just confirms even more that I need to proceed with some skilled help or supervision.)

I plan to contact them ahead of my return to my boat possibly in February 2015 not sure yet. I would talk to them about my need to repack my raft.

If what I've been told so far is true they will most likely not want do it due to liability. I would then hope to negotiate with them to be able to observe them repacking a raft. If they would require some fee for that I would be willing to pay a reasonable cost.

After observing one or more rafts being repacked I would plan to see if I could ask the repacking shop to repack my raft at their facility under their supervision. I believe the shop would have no liability since I did my own work. Once again I would be willing to pay a reasonable cost. This would be more informal than similar work on aircraft which is signed off.

I have done this with some aircraft repairs. Of course the a&p then signs off in your log book.

Dose this sound like a reasonable plan?

Thanks
First, you have a spectacular vessel, Swan 36 of that era is one of my dream boats
Second, I was a bit concerned hearing folks advise you to repack an already suspect raft yourself as if you are repacking a inflateable lifevest. But reading your reply tells me you you are thinking with your noggin, so please let us know how it goes and what the outcome is.
Cheers,
Erika
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Old 09-11-2014, 08:51   #26
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Re: Why don't liferaft repacks use...

Thanks for the vote of confidence.

First I do love my Swan. I was lucky to have some very knowledgeable people help me pick out what boat to buy. It probably will be my first and last sailboat.

I do hope my plan works out. I will probably try to make some calls next week and see what might be possible with a couple of repackers. I have found two from Miami.

I might start with a call to the Coast Guard in Key West. I would like to get their current info on the Givens Raft experience. I would also like to make sure I have all the possible repackers in the Key West area.

I'll report back as I get more info.

Thanks
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Old 09-11-2014, 16:56   #27
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Re: Why don't liferaft repacks use...

tail-
"they will most likely not want do it due to liability."
A friend of mine was working at a major phone company while they were moving offices. he couldn't move his equipment until someone cut a set of cables that fed it, and the union shop had gone to lunch leaving him with uncut cables, so he took a cable cutter, lopped 'em off, and moved his gear.

Next day the union informs management that they're going out on strike because some scab performed union work and cut those cables.

they resolved this by agreeing to some payola and declaring that my friend was an instructor, and he was only demonstrating how cables should be cut, which was incidental to cutting them, and therefore allowed.

I mention this because in many states contractors and other professions have to be licensed, but a common legal workaround is to aid and instruct, rather than doing the job. The role is changed, the liability is changed. The shop could demonstrate how a repack is performed in order to show you how and why you wouldn't want to do it yourself. So, they're teaching you, hands on, how to repack a raft, and they aren't actually repacking your raft or certifying it fit for anything. Heck, you just want to know how to repack it, so you can use it for life raft demonstrations at yacht clubs and sea scout meetings, right?

They'll probably still have no interest in the concept, but that's one way they can not do the job, but still show you how it is done, at the same time.
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Old 10-11-2014, 17:08   #28
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Re: Why don't liferaft repacks use...

I think a lot of you are missing the point here.
There are not many companies that are truly international in nature and one of those specifies once a year inspection. If you intent to go seriously cruising you will need one of these. Every country has home brew cheaper solutions but if your in the middle off a large ocean those savings might not look too good. Secondly don't expect an insurance company to validate insurance on a home repacked or an out of date life raft.! Safe sailing all
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Old 10-11-2014, 20:08   #29
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Re: Why don't liferaft repacks use...

"one of those specifies once a year inspection"
I suspect they learned that from the SCUBA industry. IIRC Scubapro has done that with their Aqualung regulators for decades. Sell 'em cheap with a lifetime warranty, and then remind folks they have to take them in to a franchisee for an annual inspection to keep the warranty. "Inspecting" and adjusting SCUBA regulators seems, from my experience, to usually leave them in worse shape than they came in in.

At least we can rest peacefully, knowing the Takata airbag folks haven't had any role in marine life rafts, huh?
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Old 17-11-2014, 07:41   #30
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Re: Why don't liferaft repacks use...

HazMat shipping standards are set by the Federal Government. UPS, FedEx and others must meet these standards although they can exceed them should they wish (both UPS and FedEx have some requirements that are above the minimum standards).

Additionally the Federal Government requires that anyone presenting Hazardous Materials for shipment must be properly trained, and that training must be updated at least every 3 years. If you are shipping by air it is every 2 years.

I am not aware of a carrier that does not charge extra for transporting HazMat goods. There is paperwork and training required on their side along with making sure that the truck/plane/vessel has goods loaded in the proper manner. You can't mix some types of goods and many need to have a minimum separation distance between them. Depending on the amount of material, placarding may be required which brings its own set of headaches. Finally routes may need to be modified, for instance most tunnels do not allow you to take HazMat goods in to them.

Transporting HazMat goods is a serious matter especially by air. Remember Air Trans?
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