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Old 14-12-2006, 03:34   #1
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Zodiac issues liferaft safety warning

Zodiac International is asking anyone who purchased either a BFA Marine Pacific, Atlantic or Baltic liferaft or an XM/BFA Offshore liferaft between August 1995 and June 2000 to have the liferaft serviced before further use.
The manufacturer of these liferafts — Nautiv Sicherheit für Wassersport and Zodiac International — have identified a possible defect on the valves of the liferafts that could lead to a complete malfunction.
If your liferaft has been serviced since March 1, 2003 by an approved service station, then the valves have already been checked and no replacement of the valves is needed.

To find out where your nearest station is please contact:

BFA liferafts: savmarineinfo@zodiac.com

or

XM/BFA liferafts, call: 44 (0)870 751 4666
or email sales@xm-yachting.co.uk
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Old 14-12-2006, 10:19   #2
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Thanks Gord! I think I have one of these!
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Old 18-02-2008, 00:12   #3
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its a bit of a worry if the life raft makers can't make a life raft that works when you need it
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Old 19-02-2008, 15:21   #4
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Unsafe safety equipment

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its a bit of a worry if the life raft makers can't make a life raft that works when you need it
Let's face it! How often are they going to be confronted by a disappointed -but surviving-customer? I recently read a post by a French sailor who was very upset that his EPIRB, which had just been factory inspected and approved, didn't work. He said he survived to tell the tale because his old one that he hadn't disgarded yet, worked.
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Old 19-02-2008, 16:43   #5
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Not to defend Zodiac, but in this case the fault is not necessarily theirs, or at least partially. The problem is that the valves that are used in these type of liferafts are almost invariably not manufactured by the liferaft builder, but by a 3rd party. In fact, chances are that the liferaft company don't even have any involvement with the design either.

Essentially, the liferaft manufaturer will contact a valve manufaturer (SEI, for example, or Mirada systems) and tell them that they need 4psi pressure relief valve with an open flowrate of 100gpmin, or somesuch and the vlave manufaturere will say, ok, you need a P1000-40-123 for $20 per unit. Now these valves get supplied and fitted, but then, after 8 or 10 years, they start showing high instances of fatigue failure or something similar, and need to be replaced. Is that the fault of the liferaft builder or the valve builder?

I'm not necessarily trying to exonerate teh liferaft builder... they probably specified crappy plastic valves with plastic shafts on the poppet assembly to save a few dollars over a more robust aluminium valve. I'm just saying that the actual design fault may not lie entirely with the bulder, per se.
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Old 19-02-2008, 16:50   #6
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I think that confirmation that third party parts are made to specification is the responsibility of the end manufacturer. In this case it is Zodiacs responsibility. Passing the buck can cost lives in this case.
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Old 19-02-2008, 16:52   #7
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Old 19-02-2008, 17:10   #8
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Unsafe safety equipment-2

You are just as dead no matter which company you blame, and thinking you were buying a major brand (Zodiac) safety device didn't help at all. My thinking here is that it is better not to need a liferaft (fire-retardant resin, foam floatation in the middle of the boat -on a multihull-, good fuses, etc.) than to place your life in the hands of either Zodiac or their valve supplier. Even if they work as advertised, you are still at the mercy of the sea if you are floating around in a high class beach toy. *********I wonder if it is still true that they supply the liferafts with water in steel cans that can rust through and harm the raft? It was true in the 70s-and it was true of big, well known brands.
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Old 19-02-2008, 17:23   #9
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I think that confirmation that third party parts are made to specification is the responsibility of the end manufacturer. In this case it is Zodiacs responsibility. Passing the buck can cost lives in this case.

Frankly, If the 3rd party supplier is ISO 9001 compliant and provides certificates of compliance for their product, the builder shouldn't have to double-check. That is the whole point of having ISO standards for quality assurance...

I'm not saying that zodiac are lily-white in this instance by any means, merely that these things are not necessarily as clearcut as they might at first seem.
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Old 19-02-2008, 17:26   #10
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For what it is worth, as far as I know, water is currently supplied only in plastic sachets. For what it is worth, I have conducted drop tests (dropping a SOLAS A-pack liferaft into the water from heights of around 20-25m (65-82') to see how the water sachets stood up to the impact. I shall just say that some brands are better than others
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Old 19-02-2008, 17:31   #11
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Well, a beach toy with plastic water pouches beats a beach toy with steel cans. The rest still goes, though. I really never want to see a liferaft from the inside. Liferaft survival stories I have read weren't appealing.
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Old 19-02-2008, 17:41   #12
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My boss always says that the only way you should enter a liferaft is by stepping off the top of the mast (i.e. don't enter the liferaft until your boat is well and truly, completely sunk). And he is the managing director of a liferaft manufacturing company. I agree with him, and I'm the design manager.
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Old 19-02-2008, 17:46   #13
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Hear Hear!
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Old 19-02-2008, 19:41   #14
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and I'm the design manager.
I have a question then.

If one went to the raft and had the dingy tied on to it in the type of weather that sunk your boat, would the two stay tied together for very long?
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Old 19-02-2008, 20:11   #15
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Weather isn't the only cause of sinking

Assuming that it was weather that sunk the boat--it could have been a collision, a fire, or a structural failure. If it was weather, good luck keeping two boats /rafts / what have you together. My strategy is to avoid this situation by having a fire-resistant, strong boat with a good electrical system, multiple equal watertight compartments, and excess floatation foam vertically centered on a catamaran. This adds about $10,000 USD to a "small" (ie. not maximum accommodation and equipment) 65' catamaran, but it's money well spent, IMHO. I don't think it costs much more than fully equipping with bolt-on safety gear.
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