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Old 29-05-2015, 19:01   #61
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

My experience with hypothermia is that when you start shivering you cannot do much in the way of physical manipulation. Getting up a boarding ladder becomes nearly or impossible. Untying a shoe becomes difficult. Unbuttoning or getting in or out of wet stuff or dry stuff becomes nearly impossible and what's even more disturbing is that your thought processes are more and more interrupted. You do really stupid stuff and make bad decisions.

Don't let it happen to you. And if it does happen to you I hope you have someone who isn't in the same condition that can help you. I will be ever grateful to her for saving my life.
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Old 29-05-2015, 19:57   #62
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

A few years ago was anchored 30 m off the beach in Refuge Cove, Australia in winter. Knew it was cold but hey, only 30 m right😃👍.

Nope, by the time I got into standing depth I was damn near paralysed and no control - only just managed the beach. If I had made the same error swimming for the boat I would likely have drowned for inability to climb the ladder.

Just 30 m !!!!!


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Old 29-05-2015, 20:47   #63
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

When I hear things like the "average" response time is 270 minutes and "we can tough it out for four hours" it concerns me.

Hypothermia Table

Even in warm water - 80 degrees - you will start losing coordination and get tired after a few hours. Off shore the water temperature drops more than near shore. Its easy to think about how the water is when you are swimming and snorkeling in the sun drenched shallows. Go a few miles off shore where its 1,000+ feet deep is it isn't quite so warm. Hypothermia affects you FAST, much faster than you think it will and it can make you non-responsive and uncoordinated long before it kills you.

WRT to 270 minutes from EPIRB launch to pickup, I wouldn't count on that. Even in the Caribbean which is pretty populated, though there are a lot of boats around, they need to get things moving and come find you. Off shore...no way would I expect that. For everyone that gets picked up half an hour after they abandon ship there is someone out there for much longer.

Philosophically I dislike putting myself in a positions of being THAT dependent on shore side support. Although getting into your liferaft is an admission you need outside help, it is still based on a plan that you will be able to survive for quite some time after the loss of your boat until help arrives. It does NOT assume that help is expected to be prompt and on demand.

Beth & Evans make a good point about life rafts, in that you might not be inclined to fight as hard to save your ship if you can bail. But I differ in that I think whil ethere may be a point where the ship is lost no matter what you do, at that point I'd rather not die. I like to think I have the good sense to be stepping UP into my life raft if I ever have to use the thing.

And the points about visibility when you are in the water is are spot on. Tiny little heads are hard to see, and you can carry all sorts of visibility tools in your raft that you won't have if you are floating in a PFD.

--

When it comes to "using your dinghy" keep a few things in mind. For most of us sailing off shore our dinghy is secured VERY tightly so it can take waves without moving and not chafe. So it is not going to come up off the deck quickly. Think dark, choppy conditions, maybe rain and you are either trying to wrestle something that is secured in the davits, or up on the bow trying to cut the lines loose and manhandle it overboard. An inflated RIB is a pain in the tuchas to manhandle on a deck in flat calm at anchor - off shore and pitching decks at night it will be way beyond that.

Your life raft is installed in a canister with a hydrostatic release it should deploy on its own if the vessel sinks completely, or be fairly easy to chuck overboard and auto-inflate. That's my objection to valises below decks BTW, we rented one once...just getting it up and down the stairs was a pain!

I don't think the dinghy is a super viable option, really only last ditch for coastal cruising. We cruised coastally for a while with nothing but that when our life raft failed inspection; I didn't like it much as I knew our kids were at risk. But we were never out of VHF range of help. When I knew we'd be out of VHF range of help it was time to get a new life raft (we had one that came with the boat...but it failed inspection spectacularly and could not be repaired).

If you are truly sailing off shore I'd at least consider renting one for the big passages, but the cost and logistical difficulties if its a one way rental may be more of a pain than it is worth.

-------

We have a Portland Pudgy. We love it, its a tough little boat and a great second dink. We do not have the life raft option. I've sailed in the boat, rowed in the boat, and seen it used by our teenagers a lot.

It is approved for the USCG 4 person rating because it has the requisite square footage of floor space for 4 people - which is 4 square feet per person. Sixteen square feet, and that is about the size of the inside of the boat. So each person has a 2' x 2' space to sit in. But its not square, so you don't have a 2x2 space really, its 4sf in an rectangular/curved shape.

My kids have had three teenagers at once instead the boat. It is sort of crowded but it can work. Four though? They wouldn't even try it.

Based on my experience with the Pudgy I can see it as an excellent two person life raft solution. Maybe a 3rd if they were smallish people. Four people are going to be jammed into that like cordwood, you won't be able to scratch your nose without hitting someone else. Which is probably fine for a few hours, I can't see it for a few days it may take you to get found off shore. Legally yes its four people, I'm not sure how practicable it is for four people off shore.

We sail with four - two adults, two teens. We have a six man Switlik on a hydrostatic release strapped in a canister on the deck. I wanted to go with an eight man, but my wife did point out that as a rule we don't really sail offshore with more than four people so it would be excessive as when guests are about we're close to shore.

Yes, we have a big boat with room for it. Yes, we just spent an outrageous amount of money (NZD $1,300) to service it and refresh the SOLAS gear before we left for Fiji. Yes, it irritates me to no end to have this expensive asset that I hope to never use sit on the deck. That is part of the cost of cruising off shore.

But its like an insurance policy. You hate paying for it, you never want to use it, but if you have to it can save your bacon and in most cases its a pretty good idea to buy it if you can not afford the downside if the worst happens.

------------

So to the original question - does it still make sense?

Yes, it does.

Because you can't count on the "average" response time, you can't count on the water temperature, the the penalty is death if you are wrong.

Though you can consider the type and model and go for something "near shore" if you aren't doing much more than coastal cruising with the occasional run between the U.S. & the Caribbean. Keeping out of the water is really what is key and you can get a less expensive model for the appropriate conditions.
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Old 29-05-2015, 20:51   #64
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

One last thought...if you absolutely don't want a life raft, a couple of Gumby suits, wet suits or dry suits might still save your life.

Though those (except the wet suits for snorkeling/diving) seem WAY sillier to me to have in the tropics than a life raft and you have to store them in the boat and wiggle into them before you go in the water.
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Old 29-05-2015, 22:39   #65
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

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Originally Posted by rhubstuff View Post
A liferaft makes economic sense only if you measure your life and its meaning to others in terms of money.
So if a liferaft costs $100,000 vs $5,000, does it get the same value since you don't value life in terms of money?

If "money" bothers you, change it "time and resources". You can'te escape the reality that the costs have to be accounted for.
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Old 29-05-2015, 22:43   #66
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

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Actually your reading of the quote is flawed. You have read far too much into it.

The quote is: moderate avalanche risk only moderately kills you.

The statement simply points out that minimizing the risks in your analysis (moderate avalanche risk or 270 minutes in the water) does not change the degree of the consequence (e.g. death) when "bad things happen".

It really has nothing to do with if it saves one life. It has everything to do with accurate risk vs reward and risk vs cost assessments.

PS perhaps you do not backcountry ski or climb: there is no safety, there are only calculated risks.
No I'm not misreading it or if we read it the way you suggest, it's a completely pointless statement. Without the odds of an incident incorporated, the fact that you would be dead is irrelevant.

Are you going to install a camel trampling deterent on your boat because if odds of a herd of camels races down the dock across your boat and out to sea killing you is insanely rare, you will still be just as insanely dead?

PS: I do risk analysis for a living.
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Old 29-05-2015, 23:58   #67
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

It continously surprises me how some think a life raft as a life saving equipment. In most cases it's just time saving way for SAR personel to find and retrieve the bodies. You won't be any warmer soaking wet in a water sloshing raft. If the weather is better, the fore mentioned to be false assumption, then it's better to take the dinghy.
If you wan't to invest to safety in case of ship wrecking get survival suits for everyone
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Old 30-05-2015, 00:19   #68
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

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Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
No I'm not misreading it or if we read it the way you suggest, it's a completely pointless statement. Without the odds of an incident incorporated, the fact that you would be dead is irrelevant.

Are you going to install a camel trampling deterent on your boat because if odds of a herd of camels races down the dock across your boat and out to sea killing you is insanely rare, you will still be just as insanely dead?

PS: I do risk analysis for a living.
Yes, you do risk analysis for a living. It clearly shows. I'm not at all sure you take risks (no insult intended)

My statement is not pointless to the hundreds of climbers I've taught. It is quite clear and to the point. Perhaps irony is not subject to counting?

PS I take risks for fun. I've pulled a few friends bodies off the mountains.
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Old 30-05-2015, 00:53   #69
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

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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. two really good offshore life jackets,
This may have already been mentioned.... so 270 mins... ( thats 6.5 hours ) is the average and lets say 50% are on location within 60 minutes where does that leave the tail enders? hmmmm

And sharks like legs....

cold water... hypothermia
warm water... shark tucker


edit oops... never was good with sums... those would be metric hours... lets try 4.5
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Old 30-05-2015, 01:24   #70
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

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It continously surprises me how some think a life raft as a life saving equipment. In most cases it's just time saving way for SAR personel to find and retrieve the bodies. You won't be any warmer soaking wet in a water sloshing raft. If the weather is better, the fore mentioned to be false assumption, then it's better to take the dinghy.
If you wan't to invest to safety in case of ship wrecking get survival suits for everyone
A life raft does nothing to make your boat safer. Nor do EPIRBS, PLBs, smoke signals, ditch bags etc. Those all help you get found when its all gone pear shaped and you've lost the boat.

You can make a case that Satphones and SSB's do make you safer if you know how to use them to get information that saves the boat.

If you are heading out to sea in an unfit vessel the case can be made that your money is better spent making sure all the through hulls, rig, etc. are all sound before you buy a life raft. That was one of the takeaways from the whole Sedona debacle last December that I hope a few people figured out!

I think though, the assumption in this discussion is that you are not heading out to sea in a deathtrap in the first place...
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Old 30-05-2015, 04:36   #71
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

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I like to think I have the good sense to be stepping UP into my life raft if I ever have to use the thing.
There is some value in that thought, in that it might prevent you from abandoning when you in fact should not.

BUT, if you study incident reports and are on incident investigation panels (as I have been) you quickly realize it is a much more difficult and complicated decision (when to launch a raft) than that.

Just for two examples - both Cheeki Rafiki and the Bounty were too late in using their rafts with fatal consequences. Cheeki only had "a little water in the boat" right up until the keel came off and it flipped and they could no longer get to the raft. Bounty was slowly sinking upright, right up until the free surface effect caused her to suddenly capsize trapping two crew underwater in the rig.

Both these situations would have been better handled with getting in the rafts much earlier. BUT of course that increases the general risk that you get in too early (when typically the boat is a safer place than the raft).

This topic - when and how to actually use a raft - is rather overlooked and under discussed. In some cases it's obvious, but in many others it is not.

On the broader topic, I would simply encourage people to be sure they have first addressed the higher frequency preventable risks - just for instance . . . Re fires (much more common that abandon ships) have you installed an auto fire extinguisher in the engine room, do you get an IR scan of your electrical system once a year (and check shore power plugs whenever someplace new), do you have fire extinuishers in service and located near (but not too near) every fire hazard (stove, electrical system, engine, heater, etc), do you check your propane system for gas leaks and possible sparks every 6 months . . . . Etc

Slipping and falling is probably your single most likely hazard (according to Beth's insurance claims data). How fit are you, how agile are you - probably a fitness/wellness routine is the single most beneficial thing one can do to reduce (All sorts of) risks.
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Old 30-05-2015, 05:37   #72
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

I would recommend attending one of the excellent Safety-at-Sea seminars sponsored by US Sailing, they're required for many offshore races and invaluable to sailors going offshore for the first time. All the arguments in this thread and much more are covered in the 2 day format.
You mentioned purchasing a laser flare. While talking to the USCG at a Safety at Sea seminar, I asked about the use of a laser flare, his response:" no helicopter pilot I know, would get near a laser flare", just a thought.

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Old 30-05-2015, 05:46   #73
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

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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?
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Old 30-05-2015, 05:51   #74
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

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This may have already been mentioned.... so 270 mins... ( thats 6.5 hours )
I know things are different down under, but didn't think time was affected.

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Old 30-05-2015, 06:28   #75
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Re: Does A Liferaft Still Make Sense? (or Cents?)

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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. ...
I think that's potentially a dangerous assumption. There are a number of well documented cases where EPIRBs were activated and there were no SAR resources in remote locations to dispatch. One cruising couple's EPIRB signal was tracked for days, but there were simply no resources in range to dispatch. No rescue happened for them.

Maybe he meant worldwide in locations where the USCG, or other national SAR resources, have a presence. Most countries in Central America for example have effectively no SAR resources. So unless the Coasties happen to be patrolling nearby, 270 minutes ain't gonna happen. In fact assistance of any kind is unlikely. Possibly you misinterpreted the context of this quote?

Regardless, I think self-sufficiency is a more prudent attitude than assuming you can just punch the button and be rescued anytime, anywhere. Personally, Im not comfortable with that.
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