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Old 08-11-2013, 12:44   #1
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Do you have a Liferaft?

Hi Ė Iíve been looking into New Zealand Category 1 boat inspections (which apply to all Kiwi flagged boats going offshore) and one of the requirements is that your boat be equipped with a life raft. It got me wondering what non-Kiwi boats do and what the various regulations are in other countries. Are you required to have a life raft? If youíre not required to have one, do you have one anyway and why? What do people think about balancing the expense of having a life raft with the risk that youíll need to use it, especially for those just doing coastal cruising? Curious what you guys think.

If you want to find out more about NZ requirements, Iíve got a summary of the Cat 1 requirements and links to the inspectorís manual and checklist here -
The Cynical Sailor & His Salty Sidekick: Category 1 Boat Inspections in New Zealand
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Old 08-11-2013, 18:58   #2
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Re: Do you have a Liferaft?

Is not required in US but some rallies and races require them. I've gone without a life raft, don't think it was very smart but we did have an inflateable dinghy ready to go.

When we leave we will have a brand new life raft. We will do mostly coastal at first(3-4 day runs).

One CF member here had his boat sink from beneath him. He could not get into the deployed life raft due to injury, but he was able to get into his inflateable dinghy then over to the raft. So a back up plan for the back up plan seems to be a good idea.

My parents knew of a sailboat that was run down. The life raft did not make it, at least they never saw it, but the inflatable dinghy did. They were able to cling to the dinghy but only one one of four ended up surviving. Sad.

Erika
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Old 08-11-2013, 19:00   #3
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Re: Do you have a Liferaft?

BTW-great blog! Do you blog from a tablet?
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Old 08-11-2013, 19:28   #4
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Re: Do you have a Liferaft?

We didn't have one for a long time. Especially out of storm season, in warm waters, and near coastal I felt pretty comfy with the 12'6" paddleboard, dinghy, and two other surfboards (plus ditch bag and EPIRB).

But when we made the decision to cross an ocean, that's a whole different ball of wax. We dropped the cash, and now have one.
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Old 08-11-2013, 19:41   #5
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Re: Do you have a Liferaft?

No liferaft.

Only coastal. Cold water. I use a hard dingy. I will get a roll up inflatable dingy for abandoning ship and for use as a shore boat when conditions are too nasty for the hard dingy.

Steve

Edit: I also have survival suits.
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Old 08-11-2013, 19:51   #6
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Re: Do you have a Liferaft?

Rebel Heart & Panope - thanks for the info about what you guys do. I have been wondering if people who do mostly coastal cruising bother with a liferaft. Will be interesting to see if others who do coastal cruising have one or if most do without.

Rebel Heart - I saw on your blog you guys are headed over to NZ I think? You'll love it out here! I would think I would want a liferaft to do that sort of passage as well.

Ocean Girl - really interesting examples about having resort to a dinghy as a back-up plan. Thanks for the nice comment about our blog - I update it mostly from our laptop. I off to check out yours now
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Old 08-11-2013, 21:59   #7
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Mostly coastal eastern us coastal cruising.. Never had a raft for most of the time. Until I had kids. Now I have the damn thing because. I invited them into this world and the boating thing. At the time it seemed like a pricey but good choice. Lots of good places to reduce risk.
Balance what you have where you sail and what you can afford. I don't regret the raft but if I started with safety gear it may not be the first thing on the list.
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Old 08-11-2013, 22:53   #8
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Re: Do you have a Liferaft?

That makes sense - I can see that having kids would be a game changer in terms of safety and the risk you're prepared to take and a liferaft might become a higher priority.
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Old 09-11-2013, 01:06   #9
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Re: Do you have a Liferaft?

when we first started we did not have a life raft -- our first long trip was the short run from miami to the bahamas and up the east coast of the usa -- on our 2nd trip to the bahamas we got a life raft and have had it ever since -- we did a number of 2-3 day runs from mexico to colombia then a bit longer from panama to jamaica and then down and back up the eastern caribbean -
we crossed the atlantic last may and before embarking made sure the life raft had been reinspected and ready to go -

hopefully it will never be used but it is there just in case

we sailed with a lot of folks in both the eastern and western caribbean who a 6 month liveaboards and most do not have liferafts - but then again most do not leave sight of land or if they do only have a night or so out and generally sail with another boat --

we sail when we want to sail and if someone wants to go with us fine - but we choose our windows - we learned that lesson the hard way a long time ago

just our opinion and thoughts
chuck patty and svsoulmates
in port yasmine hammamet tunisia for the winter
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Old 09-11-2013, 02:27   #10
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Smile Re: Do you have a Liferaft?

I believe you can have a dinghy fitted out to meet
life raft spec, be it hard or soft !!!!
A life raft is not limited to the conventional
Inflate able liferaft

I personally do not have one
My vessel is a cat.
It is a composite construction that I am confident
will float even if low in the water
It has a timber -foam & balsa cores that will provide
enough floatation.

I also have a porta boat as a tender (unsinkable)
& a inflatable
2 x 20ltr water containers these can double up
as a parachute anchor / drogue

Not a complete plan but a good start.
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Old 09-11-2013, 02:59   #11
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Re: Do you have a Liferaft?

No-one has so far mentioned what I consider to be the most important reason for carrying a liferaft and that's fire. Fire aboard - especially if it's caused by fuel or gas leakage - takes hold far too quickly to inflate a dinghy and you can't do that and fight the fire at the same time.

I once towed a French yacht into Santorini that had suffered an engine fire. Luckily the husband and wife crew had managed to douse the fire. However, because they had no liferaft the wife was a hysterical wreck by the time we arrived and I wouldn't be surprised if she never sailed again.

GORDON KNIGHT
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Old 09-11-2013, 03:01   #12
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Re: Do you have a Liferaft?

In Florida I had no life raft. Warm water and never that far from land.

I wouldn't be without one in the English Channel/Bay of Biscay. Cold water, frequent stormy weather, out of sight of land as often as possible .

It's hard to imagine being more screwed, than sinking in cold water with no liferaft. It's a death sentence.

A dinghy really won't do in any kind of strong conditions. It will capsize, and you're left hanging onto the gunwale. In cold water, you might as well be dog paddling, which is to say, you're dead. A non-unsinkable hard dinghy is even worse, because it will simply sink.
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Old 09-11-2013, 06:43   #13
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Re: Do you have a Liferaft?

It is something we discuss time to time. Usually my money goes into improving the boat and I never have the spare cash for the raft.

I am conflicted over the raft idea. False sense of security may lead to unnecessary chances. May be tempted to get I too early. It may not deploy or be lost in deployment. There have been case a where the boat survived, but the crew in the raft did not.

Also, it's expensive, requires ongoing cash for inspection, takes up deck space, etc.

Still, we may get one, it's on our list.

I do have gumby suits and cold weather flotation/work suits. I have used the work suit on deck, brrrrrrrr!
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Old 09-11-2013, 08:14   #14
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Re: Do you have a Liferaft?

Quote:
Originally Posted by athene View Post
No-one has so far mentioned what I consider to be the most important reason for carrying a liferaft and that's fire. Fire aboard - especially if it's caused by fuel or gas leakage - takes hold far too quickly to inflate a dinghy and you can't do that and fight the fire at the same time.
Not all of us, including myself, have inflatable dinghies.
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Old 09-11-2013, 08:21   #15
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Re: Do you have a Liferaft?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hpeer View Post
I am conflicted over the raft idea. False sense of security may lead to unnecessary chances. May be tempted to get I too early. It may not deploy or be lost in deployment. There have been case a where the boat survived, but the crew in the raft did not.
I hear you on that and it was something in my head before I bought one. But honestly if you read up on people abandoning boats there are plenty that do it without a liferaft involved as well. Like the guy on here, with a perfectly operable sailboat, that plugged up his fuel filters and abandoned his Hunter (which then sailed by itself since he left the sails up, and crashed into a Mexican reef 100 miles away).

I don't even remember that I have it onboard and it certainly never comes into my decision making. There's even the razor thin chance that it won't even work, or that it will blow away, or that you'll die jumping into it when you miss and get swept away, etc, etc.

But a reality for me is that I spent two days with a whale pod all around me, often times coming maybe 10' away from (and under) the boat. I had a friend who got hit, anchored, in 25' of water by a whale. I've met two people who lost their boats that way.

So when I looked at that, having my family onboard and having an event that ruptures the hell so hard that the decks are awash within a minute or two, I wanted that liferaft as an option.
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