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Old 28-05-2015, 13:26   #16
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

You don't say what kind of boat you will be using. You could consider getting a cat or a tri - they have the added virtue of not being able to sink, and therefore make the best rescue and survival platform around, even if the unlikely happens and they are inverted. Some paint whatever portions of the undersides bright rescue orange or yellow for rescue visibility. But at least they will not sink like a mono. Many multihullers will not spend a load of money on a life-raft, cos they are already in one. In this case, get the survival suits. Best wishes, RR.
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Old 28-05-2015, 13:40   #17
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by JayCall View Post
No one has mentioned the biggest issue with being in the water as oppoesd to being in a liferaft-hypothermia. Even in relatively warm water, 70-80 degrees, hypothermia is an issue. The effects of hypothermia begin once your core body temperature gets below about 96 degrees. In the 90-95 degree range, the effects are debilitating. Even in close to 80 degree water, mild hypothermia begins in 1-2 hours, and moderate hypothermia sets in in 2-8 hours. If you have been fully immersed for the 270 minutes, assuming the best in rescue time, i.e. 4 1/2 hours, it is reasonably likely you will not be able to aid in your own rescue. Being in a liferaft can be the difference between life and death, even with a fairly quick rescue. Naturally, the colder the water temps. the more quickly hypothermia affect you.
Did you read post #6?

I've had hypothermia in Hawaiian waters. It can happen in what you consider warm waters. Heaven forbid, but when your boat is sinking and your ePirb or mayday call didn't work you'll say to yourself, "gosh, I think I should have a liferaft."
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Old 28-05-2015, 14:29   #18
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

Quote:
I think if we ever did need to abandon the boat, we could probably handle four and a half hours in the water.
This is a BAD idea for several reasons...some of which have already been mentioned.

Personally if my plan B was to float in the ocean for hours or DAYS, I would make another Plan B.

I'm surprised no mention has been made about deadly sea creatures that can and will take a bite out of your ass....like um, SHARKS!....... or even squid, GIANT squid, MOBEY DICK and the dreaded Kraken! Uh uh, no way...I want me a raft!
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Old 28-05-2015, 14:39   #19
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

Just a couple weeks ago, a family went in the water off the Azores. They had an EPIRB and used it. They got the full modern SAR response.

Mom and son made it into the raft and survived.

Dad and daughter spent 7 hours in the water before being rescued. The daughter died of hypothermia soon after being lifted out of the water.
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Old 28-05-2015, 15:05   #20
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by robertsapp View Post
I read an article recently in which a USCG rescue pilot stated that the average time worldwide from activating an EPIRB until a helicopter is hovering overhead is 270 minutes. We're currently outfitting our boat for cruising the Caribbean, possibly beyond, and our budget isn't unlimited, so we have to carefully consider the value of gear we wish to purchase. A liferaft is probably one of the most expensive pieces of gear you can buy, even before you consider the lifecycle costs of continual recertification. Meanwhile the possibility of it seeing use is extremely low. Now we firmly believe that the most valuable thing we have on board is ourselves, but I'm reluctant to tie up five or six grand in a piece of gear that should never see use. Since we only plan to cruise in tropical or semi-tropical waters and hypothermia isn't really a concern, I think if we ever did need to abandon the boat, we could probably handle four and a half hours in the water. So it seems to me that for about a fifth to a quarter of the cost of a liferaft, we could invest in two really good offshore life jackets, a set of personal locator beacons, and a pair of rescue lasers. With the evolution of EPIRBs and AIS based personal locators and the current state of the international SAR system, does a liferaft make economic sense anymore?
What follows is written in a truly friendly tone of voice and with the sole intent to help the discussion. My POV is different from yours, and I don't expect yours to change.
____________

I have considered your post carefully and your questions. I bolded a few points in your original post above to draw attention to them below with my simple answers.

My answers here are brief, simply put, and not my full "case" for having a liferaft on a sailboat. My full answer can be complex. For one reason, I don't think ALL sailboats need a liferaft (this has nothing to do with cat vs. mono).

Also, I am not suggesting that you are a fool, or that others are fools for not taking a life raft on their boat. That would be too simple and some very smart people have made that decision for themselves and for their family. Each case is too different because we all have different skills, tolerances for risk, sense of responsibility, types of sailing, and resources.

Though I might respect their experience and knowledge and share their POV on many issues related to sailing, their choice to not have a Liferaft is not the same choice I would make for my family or boat. So we have a different POV on that issue.

As I see it, only YOU can make that decision to have a raft or not.
______________

Simply put a few points to consider in light of your questions and statements above:

Point One:

OP: (Quoting another)"the average time worldwide from activating an EPIRB until a helicopter is hovering overhead is 270 minutes"

A: An average? What if you are one of the cases that takes MUCH longer than average?

Look carefully at the Coast Guardsman's statement. He said "average" and "until a helicopter is hovering overhead." That may very well be the average when there IS a helicopter involved in the rescue. But...

What if you are beyond the range of a helicopter?
What if there is no helicopter at all?
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Point Two:

Q: "Does a liferaft make economic sense anymore?"

A: Does owning a yacht make economic sense at anytime? (OK, a little humor added here.)

Seriously, there are some things in life that don't have to be measured in dollars and they still make sense or they may be "invaluable" or "priceless."

Like what? A: What is the value of your child's life?

____________
Point Three:

OP: "Since we only plan to cruise in tropical or semi-tropical waters and hypothermia isn't really a concern

"OP: I think if we ever did need to abandon the boat, we could probably handle four and a half hours in the water"


A: Hypothermia can occur in 70 degree water!

What seems to be "warm" water at first will still sap heat from the human body and will eventually lead to hypothermia.

_____________

Case in Point:

Recently a catamaran capsized far off shore (500 miles or about 1,000 kilometers from the nearest island). The rescue beacon (EPIRB) signal was received, but the eventual rescue of two of the crew members did not happen until after they had been in the water for 7.5 hours!

There were four people on the boat, a large cat (Lagoon 400S2). The boat capsized in high seas and high winds.

Two of the crew (one adult, one 9 year old child) went into the liferaft and were picked up within hours. Both survived.

Two of the crew (one adult, one 6 year old child) did NOT get in the liferaft, they floated in PFDs for 7.5 hours before they were spotted by an aircraft (note: this was at the extreme limits of its range) and picked up.

While the last two crew members were very luckily spotted on the wind swept seas, and picked up, the little girl died of hypothermia, despite quick attention by medical professionals.

The water temperature? It was 70 degrees (fahrenheit) or 21 degrees celsius!!

Considering this single case alone, two sets of similar subjects (adult + child) were involved in a "real world test." Both sets were in the same water/wind/environment initially. One set was sheltered in a liferaft and "out of the water" while in the raft. Of the four subjects, three survived. The one that did not survive was in the 70 degree (Fahrenheit) water longer, and not in a raft, just in a PFD. The child that died did not die from drowning. She died from hypothermia.
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Conclusion?

Draw your own conclusions. Make your own decisions. It is your life and the life of your family, and your responsibility for your crew or passengers, not mine. Only you know how much you really value them.
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Recommended for further reading:

2015 Another bad year in the Azores..?

The boat? Reves Do Catamaran

_____
NEWS REPORT EXCERPT:
"A six-year-old French girl died from hypothermia on Thursday after a sailboat she and her family were on capsized during the night off the mid-Atlantic Azores islands, the Portuguese navy said.

"The little girl spent seven and a half hours in water that was 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit)" before she and her father were recovered.

All the little girl and her father had to keep them afloat were life jackets, and rescue only came after a Portuguese air force plane spotted them in the water.

The family`s boat sank about 550 nautical miles (1,000 kilometres) to the southwest of the Portuguese islands."
French girl dies from cold off Azores after boat sinks | Zee News
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Old 28-05-2015, 15:19   #21
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

Earlier this week we came upon a man in the water clinging to a cooler after his 16 ft fishing boat sank. He was only a quarter mile off shore in 62 degree Fahrenheit (17 C) water and had been in the water only 10-20 minutes by his estimation. He was too exhausted and cold to climb our solid boarding ladder with 3 rungs below the waterline. He could barely cling to the ladder while we arranged to haul him up with a sling. The Harbor Patrol boat we called on VHF arrived and lifted him onto their stern platform.

My point is the exhausting effect of being in the relatively warm water for what sounds like a short time. If you are only going to be sailing where you feel certain of a rapid emergency response then MAYBE a costal life raft instead of an off shore raft could keep you and your crew afloat until rescue. But cold and rough conditions might make this a bad gamble.


S/V B'Shert
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Old 28-05-2015, 15:46   #22
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

We carry an up to date 6-man life raft, but I'm considering replacing it and my Porta-bote with a Portland Pudgy which will serve both purposes. The Pudgy itself is not terribly expensive, under two thousand USD, but the exposure canopy and some other options bring the price shooting up. Even without the exposure canopy, the "unsinkable" Pudgy may be a better bet than an inflatable for emergency use, so you might consider that.

I'm told they row well and with the sail kit you could actually get somewhere rather than just bob around in a life raft.

If it's just you single-hand sailing, your only responsibility is for your own life, but when you have others aboard, you are responsible for them; to me that mandates some sort of viable way of living through abandoning ship.

I do have to say I've never laid eyes on a Pudgy and they are relatively small and heavy, but from my internet research (however valuable or invaluable that might be), it seems like a good solution. Hanging on the davits it should be easy to launch.

Fair winds,

Leo
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Old 28-05-2015, 15:56   #23
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

robertsapp,

There is a long thread here on CF about the loss of the Cheeki Rafiki. In it, you will find a discussion of the efficacy of personal locator beacons. Just more food for thought.

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Old 28-05-2015, 15:57   #24
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

You noted the average time before being picked up. Did your source also give you the median time or the standard deviation on that? Averages can hide some pretty wild extremes.

(Sorry, I was a data analyst in a previous life. But without knowing anything about sailing I would question your proposed conclusion; the available data doesn't support it.)
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Old 28-05-2015, 16:06   #25
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tayana42 View Post
Earlier this week we came upon a man in the water clinging to a cooler after his 16 ft fishing boat sank. He was only a quarter mile off shore in 62 degree Fahrenheit (17 C) water and had been in the water only 10-20 minutes by his estimation. He was too exhausted and cold to climb our solid boarding ladder with 3 rungs below the waterline. He could barely cling to the ladder while we arranged to haul him up with a sling. The Harbor Patrol boat we called on VHF arrived and lifted him onto their stern platform.

My point is the exhausting effect of being in the relatively warm water for what sounds like a short time. If you are only going to be sailing where you feel certain of a rapid emergency response then MAYBE a costal life raft instead of an off shore raft could keep you and your crew afloat until rescue. But cold and rough conditions might make this a bad gamble.

S/V B'Shert
Good anecdote!

Getting the body OUT of the water (even if in a liferaft) can increase survivability. Exposing LESS of the body surface to water that is colder than 97 degrees is the key.
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Old 28-05-2015, 16:28   #26
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by robertsapp View Post
does a liferaft make economic sense anymore?
Nerf balls cost a couple bucks and can plug a hole. Do you have sufficient fire extinguishers that are up to date?

Why do most people abandoned boats?

Usually because they aren't prepared and are too scared to do anything but push a button.

Does that make economic sense?
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Old 28-05-2015, 16:59   #27
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leo Ticheli View Post
We carry an up to date 6-man life raft, but I'm considering replacing it and my Porta-bote with a Portland Pudgy which will serve both purposes. The Pudgy itself is not terribly expensive, under two thousand USD, but the exposure canopy and some other options bring the price shooting up. Even without the exposure canopy, the "unsinkable" Pudgy may be a better bet than an inflatable for emergency use, so you might consider that.

I'm told they row well and with the sail kit you could actually get somewhere rather than just bob around in a life raft.

If it's just you single-hand sailing, your only responsibility is for your own life, but when you have others aboard, you are responsible for them; to me that mandates some sort of viable way of living through abandoning ship.

I do have to say I've never laid eyes on a Pudgy and they are relatively small and heavy, but from my internet research (however valuable or invaluable that might be), it seems like a good solution. Hanging on the davits it should be easy to launch.

Fair winds,

Leo
Hi Leo,

From what I have seen on forums, the Pudgy is liked by its owners. It looks cute.

As I see it, if one is looking for a "fun" big (chunky) plastic dinghy, it does fit that description.

I think it would make a good subject for a new thread focused entirely on it with a focused title like:

"Portland Pudgy as a Life Raft Alternative."

______
However, my view about using the Pudgy over using a Life Raft is different, but that is just an opinion, not based on my personal experience with the Pudgy. Hence, the topic could be fruitful and possibly helpful to others.
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Old 28-05-2015, 19:18   #28
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

Briefly looking over the pudgy website the only down sides I can find with it are that if you want it to double as a tender it can only take a 2 hp engine and as a life raft 4 people would be cramped. Also if you have more then 4 people on board what do you do for them?
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Old 28-05-2015, 20:14   #29
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

So long as it doesn't become a false sense of security and become an unwarranted escape route from the vessel, I don't see the drawbacks.

My biggest concern is an unexperienced crewmember getting in a tizzy and deploying it before all the cards have been thrown done.

But if it was a choice between going and not going for me, then no.
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Old 28-05-2015, 21:24   #30
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

In water temperatures of 80F unconsciousness can occur in as little as 3 hours. Faster in children and adolescents. Water temp needs to be above 90F to prevent hypothermia, which is substantially above the Carribean even in the summer.

The reality is that you 'average' time to rescue still puts you in the danger zone, and your kids even more so. And frankly I have doubts about that number. In US waters sure 4.5 hours seems pretty possible, in most Carribean countries I doubt it.
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