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Old 04-09-2013, 04:09   #16
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

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Originally Posted by David_Old_Jersey View Post
That will likely be for coded vessels (commercial / on charter) - certainly no liferaft requirements simply from having a UK (red flag) reg.

.
This is true for under 13.7m and others coastal, but longer boats a liferaft is required offshore. Here are the actual rules:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/mca/pleasure_c...ackdec07-2.pdf

See page 10.
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Old 04-09-2013, 04:19   #17
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Zodiac, and the French government, condemn life rafts at 10 years of age, and Zodiac will not service them. This is because in their mutual opinion the raft may simply come apart at the seams at that point.
It's 13 years in France, I believe, or used to be.
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Old 04-09-2013, 04:22   #18
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

I haven't checked, but was told this by Zodiac-USA a couple of years ago. In any case...there's a ticking clock on Zodiac rafts. Unless of course they lied to me, they wouldn't be the first vendors to have done so and gotten away with it. I'm just SO na´ve!
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Old 04-09-2013, 04:22   #19
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

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Originally Posted by poiu View Post
This is true for under 13.7m and others coastal, but longer boats a liferaft is required offshore. Here are the actual rules:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/mca/pleasure_c...ackdec07-2.pdf

See page 10.
Fair point . (me under 45 foot ).
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Old 04-09-2013, 04:33   #20
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

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You can buy a brand new four-man Seago (cheap but best on test in Yachting Monthly some years ago) for 589 pounds. Three year service interval and 12 year warranty!
Seago Liferaft - Offshore Inflatable Life Rafts (4/6 Man) - Marine Super Store
It's not that low spec, either -- has double tubes, inflatable floor, etc.
We bought one of those last year to replace our 23 yr old Avon which was till passing tests every couple of years. However, with the UK prices so low for a new raft seemed pointless not to. Buyer of our Avon was delighted and had no quarms about the age, he planned to repack it himself.

No idea why US rafts are so expensive, must be worth importing one from the UK especially if you take the 20% VAT off the purchase price. Does the US have import duty?

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Old 04-09-2013, 04:49   #21
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

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The CO2 degrades the material and shouldn't be used except in an emergency.
I was totally intrigued by this comment. Life rafts are often made from PVC or PU coated nylon fabrics. CO2 is expelled through plant and animal respiration and is the fizzy stuff in soda pop.

It seems counter-intuitive to me that the gas used to inflate a life-or-death raft is harmful to the raft itself.

I did some basic google searching but did not come up with anything that would support this statement. This seems like a serious concern, can you cite a reference?

Thanks!
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Old 04-09-2013, 04:56   #22
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

I thought it was down to the temperature the CO2 is released into the raft that caused the problem. A CO2 fire extingusher is cold enough to cool beer down with a short blast so imagine what happens to the valves and raft material when suddenly frozen. Once isn't a problem, but if service annually and inflated that way its going to count.

The CO2 cylinder should be weighed too, to check its full and not leaked slightly.
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Old 04-09-2013, 05:05   #23
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

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I was totally intrigued by this comment. Life rafts are often made from PVC or PU coated nylon fabrics. CO2 is expelled through plant and animal respiration and is the fizzy stuff in soda pop.

It seems counter-intuitive to me that the gas used to inflate a life-or-death raft is harmful to the raft itself.

I did some basic google searching but did not come up with anything that would support this statement. This seems like a serious concern, can you cite a reference?

Thanks!
They are made of butyl rubber, at least the good ones are.

Why it's harmful to use the supplied gas, I don't know, but all the makers strongly warn against it, saying it may even lead to condemnation of the raft. See for example: http://www.winslowliferaft.com/images/sb8_letter.gif
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Old 04-09-2013, 05:15   #24
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

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I thought it was down to the temperature the CO2 is released into the raft that caused the problem. A CO2 fire extingusher is cold enough to cool beer down with a short blast so imagine what happens to the valves and raft material when suddenly frozen. Once isn't a problem, but if service annually and inflated that way its going to count.

The CO2 cylinder should be weighed too, to check its full and not leaked slightly.
That rapid inflation via gas bottle, and the resultant heat loss, could stress component construction of the raft makes a lot more sense to me.

Thanks!
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Old 16-12-2013, 17:48   #25
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

It's the freezing from the liquid CO2 that is the problem. It causes cold cracking which means a leaking life raft. Inflation in the water minimizes this problem but commercial life rafts which are required to be gas inflated every 5 years when servicing have special liners inside the buoyancy tubes to deal with the abuse.
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Old 16-12-2013, 17:52   #26
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

Is there any US regulation that actually calls for using the gas bottle to inflate the raft? As opposed to using a source that won't damage it?

It would seem pointless and counter productive to actually require a resource to be consumed and damage done.
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Old 16-12-2013, 18:33   #27
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

Caveat: In the interests of full disclosure I should say that I work in the liferaft industry (although not for Zodiac)

I have owned a Zodiac 8-man liferaft of year 2000 manufacture. It functioned well and I saw it inflated several times (i.e. gas inflated by pulling the painter as per a real-life emergency deployment), including 2 or 3 times in water (we loaned it a couple of times for local Safety and Sea Survival certification courses). It was a decent liferaft. Not, in my opinion, the best design / braand going around, but decent.

Having said that, at the beginning of 2012, I donated that liferaft to the guys running the Safety and Sea Survival courses. The liferaft was still passing its annual inspections & test. Visually there was nothing wrong with it. The reason being that having worked in the liferaft industry for over 20 years, I have a close understanding of the lifespan of the liferafts that I have designed and been involved in the manufacture of.

It has been my experience (I emphasise this goes to 1 specific brand only, and not not specifically Zodiac) that:

It is extremely rare for one of our liferafts to experience any significant problems in the first 12 years of its life.

It is extremely unusual for one of our liferafts to not experience a significant problem between 12 and 20 years old.

Sure; we have commercial in-survey SOLAS liferafts out there that are over 20 years old and still going strong. But we also have liferafts that have been condemmed at annual service at 15 years old, or less.

So my point is, that when the Ess Aitch Eye Tee hits the fan, and you and your loved one(s) need to get into your liferaft, or drown, do you really want to be rolling the dice on a 14+ year old liferaft that might well function as intended, but might not too?
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Old 17-12-2013, 08:13   #28
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

For all commercial life rafts the requirement is that they be gas inflated using their own inflation system once every 5 years. This is a USCG requirement but it comes from the international SOLAS regulations. The reason for this is to test the inflation system. Over the years problems have been found with inflation valves via this test.

Manufacturers of life rafts designed for non-commercial (recreational) boats can set their own inspection requirements. I service a number of brands some of which require a gas inflation every 5 years, some every 8 years and some not at all. It is totally up to the manufacturer.
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Old 17-12-2013, 08:41   #29
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

I recently took my old life raft in for service. (around 20 years old).
Before pulling the toggle the technician praised me for the condition it was in and asked if it had ever been wet.
When I answered no, it has lived its life in a cockpit locker, he suggested that I leave it as is.

In truth I do have a second, in service, life raft on board which also lives in another locker.

I know purists will suggest that at least one should be mounted on the deck or guard rail with an automatic release but I have seen so many of these in such poor condition that I wonder how reliable they really are.
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Old 17-12-2013, 09:39   #30
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

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i wish it was that cheap here!
$1400 in new jersey.
You can thank Tony Soprano
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