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Old 26-10-2016, 09:10   #16
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Re: Do I Need A Life Raft

I would say yes, you do.

While life rafts vary in size and packed survival equipment, they are all manufactured to that countries minimum standard.

Yes they are expensive to purchase and maintain.

But what I would flag is what is the risk of sinking? Collision with another vessel or floating debris? Weather? Lack of maintenance?......You might consider these.....others might look at what guarantees they have of NOT sinking.

The water: From an offshore survival course I have done, it was stated that to pretty much guarantee that nobody will suffer from hypothermia, the water temperature should be at least 25C/77F.

If the water is below 25C/77F then, depending on an individuals physiology, they could slip away. There is plenty of reading material to show how the body reacts in cold water supported or not supported by a "flotation aid"

If you have a life jacket, and you are floating in the water, there is more risk to secondary drowning that being in a life raft.

So if you do not have a life raft, it means that there is no Plan B to a malfunctioning lifejacket. See above paragraphs.

So your boat sinks and you successfully get your crew into the life raft. You have shelter, warmth, protection from the elements, emergency survival equipment, and you are all together to keep morale up while you wait for rescue. You are also a bigger target to see on the surface of the water. So you will be rescued more quickly.

You are not a survivor until the doctor tells you that you are. There are instances were people who were floating in the water, have willed themselves to stay alive. they were subsequently rescued but then gave up on the way to hospital and they died. That applies to being in a life raft of course, but I hope you can see the difference.

So risk assess and then put your controls into place.

I dive, and during an inspection, I noticed a crack in one of my hoses. The replaced was £30. Expensive for a 0.75m length. But I got reassurance that I had done all I could for myself so that I could dive safely, and that feeling added to my enjoyment.

Good luck.
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Old 26-10-2016, 09:44   #17
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Re: Do I Need A Life Raft

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Originally Posted by kmacdonald View Post
When is a life raft desirable? Protected waters, coastal, or offshore? Does water temperature of your cruising area influence the decision? Does boat size matter?
I never saw anyone with a small daysailer like yours with a liferaft. They're pretty heavy and I don't think it would even be practical to carry. Nor are you likely to ever be so far offshore that you're out of helicopter rescue range, in a boat like that, unless your name is Boatman61 .

But you correctly named the factors which are considered, and water temperature in my opinion is a really big one. I sail in water at near freezing temps much of the year and I wouldn't go out without a raft, just because you'd be dead in minutes if you ended up in the water. In fact, I have TWO life rafts on my boat.

Cruising Florida I never gave it a second thought -- survival time not limited by water temp, lots of boat traffic, just make a VHF call and wait for rescue. Raft would have been a waste of money. Same in the Med in summer.

Far offshore out of range of helicopter rescue is an entirely different matter. There, yes, you would really want a raft, even in warm waters.

If you're close to rescue assets and don't sail in really cold water I wouldn't worry about it. But it's an individual decision balancing risk vs cost, hassle, etc.
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Old 26-10-2016, 09:50   #18
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Re: Do I Need A Life Raft

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Originally Posted by subs57 View Post
I would say yes, you do.

While life rafts vary in size and packed survival equipment, they are all manufactured to that countries minimum standard.

Yes they are expensive to purchase and maintain.

But what I would flag is what is the risk of sinking? Collision with another vessel or floating debris? Weather? Lack of maintenance?......You might consider these.....others might look at what guarantees they have of NOT sinking.

The water: From an offshore survival course I have done, it was stated that to pretty much guarantee that nobody will suffer from hypothermia, the water temperature should be at least 25C/77F.

If the water is below 25C/77F then, depending on an individuals physiology, they could slip away. There is plenty of reading material to show how the body reacts in cold water supported or not supported by a "flotation aid"

If you have a life jacket, and you are floating in the water, there is more risk to secondary drowning that being in a life raft.

So if you do not have a life raft, it means that there is no Plan B to a malfunctioning lifejacket. See above paragraphs.

So your boat sinks and you successfully get your crew into the life raft. You have shelter, warmth, protection from the elements, emergency survival equipment, and you are all together to keep morale up while you wait for rescue. You are also a bigger target to see on the surface of the water. So you will be rescued more quickly.

You are not a survivor until the doctor tells you that you are. There are instances were people who were floating in the water, have willed themselves to stay alive. they were subsequently rescued but then gave up on the way to hospital and they died. That applies to being in a life raft of course, but I hope you can see the difference.

So risk assess and then put your controls into place.

I dive, and during an inspection, I noticed a crack in one of my hoses. The replaced was £30. Expensive for a 0.75m length. But I got reassurance that I had done all I could for myself so that I could dive safely, and that feeling added to my enjoyment.

Good luck.
That's a very good argument and a good comment.

From the "pound" sign I'm guessing this poster is from the UK, almost the whole coast of which is above 50N, and some above 60N, and bordering the English Channel and North Sea.

In waters like these -- yes, a liferaft is highly desirable even on a small boat. That's despite the extraordinarily good rescue services. But icy cold, rough waters, bad weather, long hours of darkness -- you just do NOT want to be in the water, in case your boat sinks or catches fire, even if you're not far offshore and you don't have to wait long for rescue. Florida or the Med are entirely different universes from this.
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Old 26-10-2016, 10:23   #19
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Re: Do I Need A Life Raft

As long as your boat is not sinking or on fire, you can leave the life raft in the shop.
Please read "Fastnet force 10" about the Fastnet Race; in what year was it 1977 or 78?
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Old 26-10-2016, 10:30   #20
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Re: Do I Need A Life Raft

Only if your boat sinks or catches fire. Otherwise, no.....

Me? I've got one..
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Old 26-10-2016, 10:39   #21
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Re: Do I Need A Life Raft

They are required on my vessel.
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Old 26-10-2016, 10:52   #22
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Re: Do I Need A Life Raft

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They are required on my vessel.
required by whom? I don't think the USCG requires a life raft..
We sail a 41' mostly coastal cruising with the occasional 100mi jaunt offshore, which I still consider coastal cruising. We have an inflatable dinghy and do not have a life raft. We're planning to sail from Norfolk to USVI's and cruise the Caribbean and will either rent for the ocean passage or buy for that trip.
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Old 26-10-2016, 11:22   #23
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Re: Do I Need A Life Raft

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Originally Posted by zstine View Post
required by whom? I don't think the USCG requires a life raft..
We sail a 41' mostly coastal cruising with the occasional 100mi jaunt offshore, which I still consider coastal cruising. We have an inflatable dinghy and do not have a life raft. We're planning to sail from Norfolk to USVI's and cruise the Caribbean and will either rent for the ocean passage or buy for that trip.
He can answer for himself, but I'm guessing commercial F/V.


Life raft is also legally required on my boat, as my vessel is subject to the requirements of Merchant Shipping (Life-Saving Appliances For Ships
Other Than Ships Of Classes III to VI(A)) Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/2721), as an ocean-going vessel of over 13.7 meters LOA.

Interestingly, not much else is required -- flares,VHF, a bell, a horn, life jackets -- the UK regulates pleasure boats with an exceedingly light hand -- but the life raft is front and center in the requirements. We are not even required to have holding tanks.
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Old 26-10-2016, 11:48   #24
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Re: Do I Need A Life Raft

I think it is all about diversifying your options & your personal threat tolerance. Agree that in most circumstances staying with the boat is safer - but if the boat is on fire or actually sinking - can you safely quickly retreat to your dingy? Most monohulls I've been on kept the dingy inverted on deck - 2 people pumped up on adrenaline can relatively quickly throw it overboard in an emergency, but not as quickly as inflating a life raft.

Fortunately to have never had to abandon boat - but if I had to, I'd want options. Taking the dingy and liferaft together isn't a bad idea either.
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Old 26-10-2016, 12:23   #25
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Re: Do I Need A Life Raft

If the water is very cold and if you are likely to end up in the soup one day, you 100% want a liferaft. Boat size does not matter. There are liferafts to meet all sizes, also sea kayaks. You also want a dsc handheld, an EPIRB or some other relevant means of sharing your story.

In the hot climate, it all depends on how far offshore you go and what alternative means (alternative to the mother ship) you have. A liferaft is not all that much required if you carry a lifeboat or if your mother ship is not sinkable.

This much said in some overly regulated countries liferafts are regulatory items so look up your govts stance on this up first.

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Old 26-10-2016, 12:43   #26
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Re: Do I Need A Life Raft

I fall under the regulations covering uninspected fishing vessels.
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Old 26-10-2016, 13:49   #27
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Re: Do I Need A Life Raft

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Originally Posted by powsmias View Post
portland pudgy covers all bases
This is where we have placed our bets but our circumstances with floatation suits, thick aluminum hull may have increased the odds in our favor. But then again boating is risky business by definition.
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Old 26-10-2016, 15:26   #28
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Re: Do I Need A Life Raft

We have a liferaft onboard, but I'd sooner climb into one of our survival suits and/or the dinghy before I'd trust the liferaft. Besides, we'd need to be loosing a fight with fire onboard or going down fast for either of us to step off the boat.

Ever since hearing about the couple from CF rescued after their boat caught fire and sank, my wife keeps a firehose at the ready when we make passages. She keeps the expandable 75ft hose connected up in the forward head.

Three years ago, we did have a minor electrical engine fire on the boat and a sponaneous combustion fire in our cellar at home.

Sheet does happen.
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Old 26-10-2016, 15:43   #29
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Re: Do I Need A Life Raft

Above all everybody has who has a liferaft must remember its the option of last resort. To many marina sailors as I call them get in to a bit of strife and then jump in to the life raft.
Talk about putting on a thermal suit is BS if its that bad a weather out there if you haven't got one on before the weather goes bad and cause serious issue with your boat then you cant put one on because the boat is thrashing about so much its impossible I've tried it. Best to try to sort the Boat out and get it seaworthy if possible.Believe in your boat. Just remember Helicopters cannot operate in severe weather so stepping in to a liferaft is a very serious situation. they say step up in to the Liferaft if your boats afloat stay in it. Offshore get a liferaft
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Old 26-10-2016, 15:45   #30
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Re: Do I Need A Life Raft

If you're a long way offshore, your chances in a life raft are not great.

If you're in the water, you have no chance at all.
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