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Old 29-08-2013, 17:04   #1
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Do I need a new Life Raft?

We have a 48' Ketch with a Zodiac offshore 6-person life-raft...circa 2000. It has not been surveyed since 2007 or so. We leave for the South Pacific in May 2015. Is it worth having it surveyed, or should we just buy a new one?
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Old 29-08-2013, 17:08   #2
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

could be ok - could be junk.........it's a gamble on whether to spend money on.

Me would open and (manually) inflate for self - and if it holds air for a day or so then get it serviced and repacked (or at least spend money on getting a service agent to have a looksee at it).
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Old 03-09-2013, 23:52   #3
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

How much is your life worth?Get a new one.
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Old 04-09-2013, 01:26   #4
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

you can probably just have it serviced. Its been inside a valise/case I would assume so its been protected. But you will need to update the Flares/water etc.
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Old 04-09-2013, 01:30   #5
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

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Originally Posted by builder dan View Post
How much is your life worth?Get a new one.
Why assume it's no good? Some of these are really well made and last for decades.

I have an Avon one which came with the boat and which hadn't ever been serviced in its 9 or 10 years of life, when I finally got around to doing it.

When opened and inflated, it worked perfectly and had no problems. I had it professionallyserviced, cylinder hydro-tested and refilled, re-vacuum packed, etc., etc. and it's good for another three years.

I second David's advice -- inflate it and see. One tip: don't inflate it with the CO2 cylinder -- use compressed air. The CO2 degrades the material and shouldn't be used except in an emergency.
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Old 04-09-2013, 02:19   #6
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

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Originally Posted by builder dan View Post
How much is your life worth?Get a new one.
i agree completely, i get a new yacht every time i leave harbor. cant be too safe right?

realistically you can service it yourself. we were given a 6 man raft, and we will service it ourselves next year. most of the "safe" aspect is to make sure it holds air under pressure, making sure the CO2 tank is full, and replacing consumables. that consists of batteries, flash lights, sea sick tabs, sponge, flares, ect.
with the new equipment out, that a shop may not use, your better off.
LED flashlights with several hundred hour run time,
10 year batteries,
pur water survivor 40 desalination,
all much better use of money then paying a shop thousands to service it.
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Old 04-09-2013, 02:49   #7
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

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i agree completely, i get a new yacht every time i leave harbor. cant be too safe right?

realistically you can service it yourself. we were given a 6 man raft, and we will service it ourselves next year. most of the "safe" aspect is to make sure it holds air under pressure, making sure the CO2 tank is full, and replacing consumables. that consists of batteries, flash lights, sea sick tabs, sponge, flares, ect.
with the new equipment out, that a shop may not use, your better off.
LED flashlights with several hundred hour run time,
10 year batteries,
pur water survivor 40 desalination,
all much better use of money then paying a shop thousands to service it.
Basic service only costs 110 pounds over here (less than $200), excluding the parts, which you can bring yourself, and would be buying anyway if you serviced it yourself.

That's very little money for the assurance of having a professional go through the raft. He might see things a non-pro would not recognize as a problem.

Plus rafts have to be packed just so in order not to be damaged at the creases, and to fit well into the container.

Many rafts, like mine, are vacuum packed, and you need the machine and the bags.

I watch and participate when my rafts are serviced, but would never dream of doing it myself, just to save 110 pounds.
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Old 04-09-2013, 02:50   #8
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Basic service only costs 110 pounds over here (less than $200), excluding the parts, which you can bring yourself, and would be buying anyway if you serviced it yourself.

That's very little money for the assurance of having a professional go through the raft. He might see things a non-pro would not recognize as a problem.

Plus rafts have to be packed just so in order not to be damaged at the creases, and to fit well into the container.

Many rafts, like mine, are vacuum packed, and you need the machine and the bags.

I watch and participate when my rafts are serviced, but would never dream of doing it myself, just to save 110 pounds.
i wish it was that cheap here!
$1400 in new jersey.
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Old 04-09-2013, 02:57   #9
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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.
I'm sure that's turnkey with all the stuff they replace, not the labor cost.

I paid about $700 IIRC when I last did mine, including the stuff which had to be replaced. But they also hydro-tested the cylinder, which is not done every service (it's once in 10 years I think).

They allowed me to not replace the special lithium battery in the canopy light, which was still working, and is horrendously expensive. I also declined to replace the rocket flares since I have a full set of fresh flares in my grab bag.

Ask them how much the labor is by itself, and whether you can supply your own stuff. The only thing you save is the cost of labor, not the whole cost of the service.


By the way, for anyone in this part of the world, I can highly recommend the company -- Universal Safety on the Hamble, inside Universal Marina. Great guys, extremely knowledgeable, very reasonable prices, very friendly. They allowed me to watch as they serviced my raft, and gave me a whole course on life rafts as we did it. It was fun and very educational.

They also rent out liferafts for very reasonable rates, which is actually a superior solution for people who only take say one big offshore trip a year, compared to owning and constantly servicing rafts.
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Old 04-09-2013, 03:01   #10
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

might be worth doing a quick crossing to England next spring for a repack :P
would be a good excuse
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Old 04-09-2013, 03:02   #11
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

There are a few other issues to consider.

I don't know the rules for your registration, just MCA rules, so for the Red Flag boats under 24m and over 13.7m this is what is required:

In ships of Class XII, every inflatable liferaft, compressed gas inflatable
lifejacket and hydrostatic release unit shall be serviced by the manufacturer’s
approved agent, at the manufacturers recommended intervals, however where
liferaft(s) are stored in valises these should be serviced at least annually.



Also, as I found out once, if you want to employ paid crew some agencies will refuse to work for you unless your safety equipment has a factory approved service record (i.e. is legal).

Old liferafts like yours need an annual service as the 3 year service interval is a new development and even the new ones need an annual service after 15 years anyway.

Annual service costs are a bit of a racket. Huge charges for what should be cheap components. ($180 for a lights set). Pyros, food/water packed and dated. The process works such that Two or three annual services can pay for a new life raft that will need only 3 year services ($900 typical cost).

I was told by an agent that good liferafts have a 20 year life typically.

So, bottom line. Be safe and be legal and don't waste money - in that order. If I were you I'd probably buy a new one and sell the old one. You could ask an agent to open it up for $50 and they will then quote for a service. Not much lost that way.
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Old 04-09-2013, 03:02   #12
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

My raft has a three year service interval for the first 12 years, annually thereafter. First service cost £300.

£100 a year? cheap compared to what the rest of the boat costs!
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Old 04-09-2013, 03:32   #13
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

For some reason (liability insurance?!) liferafts seem to be half or less the cost here, compared to the U.S.

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.
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Old 04-09-2013, 03:53   #14
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

Quote:
Originally Posted by poiu View Post
There are a few other issues to consider.

I don't know the rules for your registration, just MCA rules, so for the Red Flag boats under 24m and over 13.7m this is what is required:

In ships of Class XII, every inflatable liferaft, compressed gas inflatable
lifejacket and hydrostatic release unit shall be serviced by the manufacturer’s
approved agent, at the manufacturers recommended intervals, however where
liferaft(s) are stored in valises these should be serviced at least annually.
That will likely be for coded vessels (commercial / on charter) - certainly no liferaft requirements simply from having a UK (red flag) reg.

What other folks require (Race Organisers or crew agencies or simply folks getting onboard for fun!) is a separate matter.
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Old 04-09-2013, 04:02   #15
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Re: Do I need a new Life Raft?

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.

I don't say they are right or wrong, or that this reflects older glue technology as opposed to welded plastic, I just note that Zodiac and their government say your raft is condemned and unfit for service. No authorized repack station will touch it.

Now, if you feel up to opening it up and inspecting it, it shouldn't be that hard to see what kind of shape it is in and how well the seams are holding up. But if you do find ANY seam failure, any questionable points...don't try to fix them. If the glue is coming apart, you'd be playing "whack-a-mole" as more parts kept failing.
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