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Old 03-04-2011, 23:52   #166
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

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Originally Posted by sandy daugherty
PS I picked a couple of sailors off boats that still floated. You think that's shameful? You weren't there.

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You probably meant that reply for some other thread ?

-Sven
It's a common refrain in the Forum. Sandy's right, of course, but on the other hand Monday morning quarterbacking is part of the learning process.

I admit that I could not restrain myself from being skeptical about those people who got airlifted off an ARC boat which wasn't even leaking, with fully functional rig, engine, electrics - the rudder got stuck and they couldn't figure out any repair or jury rig and so just abandoned ship.

I was not there, of course. But . . .
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Old 04-04-2011, 04:47   #167
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

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The rules do require EPIRB in this part of the world and have saved lives. Calling liferafts and EPIRB's fancy toys, tell that to your passengers as the boat goes down.
Sorry, I thought it was obvious I was being facetious (e.g. the quotes around "toys").
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Old 04-04-2011, 06:41   #168
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

It doesn't matter how well you are prepared to handle a critical situation, or how well you have prepared your vessel for sea -- it is and will always remain a fact that it can sink!

There are also medical problems that can arise that you couldn't handle. These would require evacuation for any chance of survival.

So, the real question is -- how willing are you to accept responsibility for the loss of life because you didn't equip your vessel with a life raft and EPIRB.

Personally, I would find it very hard to watch my wife or kids die for lack of a life raft or EPRIB.

You would think, that with all the history of humans going to sea, that people would understand that it is about working together to stay alive. The men and women in the Navy, Merchant Marine, and Coast Guard know this. They train and take risks so they are available to save our sorry butts. It is their calling...

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Old 04-04-2011, 07:42   #169
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

I still think that perhaps some posters are not understanding the real life trade-offs involved.

There is no trade-off and carrying a raft/epirb is unambiguously good if and only if:

(a) you (And your crew) will NEVER make a mistake and call for rescue when it was not absolutely necessary and
(b) in an emergency you (And your crew) are fully committed to saving the boat and not at all distracted by the raft/epirb, meaning you and your crew do not devote any time or energy or resources or thought or emotion to launching or using the raft/epirb until the very last step when everything else has failed (I am assuming you are short handed as most cruisers are - if as on a navy or commercial ship you have a ton of crew, some of whom are not at all needed to address the emergency at hand, they can obviously be simultaneously messing with the raft if they don't at all distract the leadership attention from fixing the problem)
(c) in preparing the boat and crew, that buying and fitting the raft/epirb has not at all in any way distracted you nor taken any time, money or attention off doing all the truly essential safety measures (I have listed previously)

If you can say these three things for absolutely sure, then you are an extraordinary skipper with an extraordinary crew, and you are to be congratulated and emulated, and for you carrying a raft and epirb create absolutely no trade-off or downside.

But if you are a rather more typical and ordinary human being, then you cannot say any of these three things for sure, and in each case having the raft/epirb does in fact create some trade-off and extra risk. Rafts and epirbs can OBVIOUSLY SAVE LIVES in some (rare) situations. But you can in fact kill someone who would not have been killed (if you did not have a raft/epirb) by making any of these three mistakes.

(a) The extra risk of calling for rescue when it was not needed - and rescues at sea can be dangerous and someone could be hurt/killed who might not otherwise be
(b) The extra risk of not saving the boat because you messed around with launching the raft or debating firing off the epirb rather than immediately and wholeheartedly focusing all your energy and resources on saving the boat - and thus some extra risk associated with not saving the boat when you might have
(c) perhaps most importantly, the extra risk because you in fact have not done some of the more basic and essential safety steps because your attention and focus and energy was on picking/buying/mounting/registering the raft and epirb. You might need a rescue that you could easily have avoided if for instance you had pulled and inspected the truhulls and rudder rather than being distracted by the raft and epirb.

How much extra risk is created by these three possible errors will depend on how far from perfect you are. My personal observation of my own behavior and those of very experienced close friends is that most of us are further from perfect in times of emergency than we would guess. But only you can make that judgement of how perfectly you will act .

But however perfect you think you may be, I think it is essential that skippers understand there IS A TRADE-OFF HERE IN THE REAL WORLD, and you can take action and make procedures to minimize it by thinking ahead and planning thru each of these three possible mistakes. You can make discuss/plan principles and procedures for calling for rescue, you can discuss/plan principles and procedures for immediately addressing problems and not messing with the raft, you can discuss/plan honest safety priorities and make sure you are doing the most important safety stuff and not being distracted by the rescue stuff.
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Old 04-04-2011, 07:58   #170
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

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(...)

How much extra risk is created by these three possible errors will depend on how far from perfect you are. My personal observation of my own behavior and those of very experienced close friends is that most of us are further from perfect in times of emergency than we would guess.

(...)
YES!

b.
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Old 04-04-2011, 09:07   #171
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

Let see, it's night, you're in a squall, you've just set another reef in the main, you go below and find two inches of water above the cabin sole. What now? Wake-up the wife and kids. Get them in foullies, life jackets, and tied together. Grab the ditch bag, EPRIB, and move them to the cockpit. If the life raft is below move it to the cockpit. Rig the life raft for deployment. Now that your loved ones are as safe as they can be for the moment -- check the boat.

Remember the old sailors adage -- "One hand for yourself and one for the ship," The same thing applies to the crew. It is always crew first, ship second. The highest duty the skipper has is to keep his crew alive. I was their when the seventh fleet ceased all combat operations and moved a carrier at flank speed to pull a injured petty officer off a destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin. If it is good enough for a fleet admiral -- it's good enough for me. Really, it doesn't get more "real world" than that!

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Old 04-04-2011, 09:51   #172
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

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Originally Posted by Viking Sailor View Post
Remember the old sailors adage -- "One hand for yourself and one for the ship," The same thing applies to the crew. It is always crew first, ship second. The highest duty the skipper has is to keep his crew alive.
I agree with this, but will argue that getting the crew into the cockpit with the liferaft ready to go as the first course of action is the NOT the best way to keep the crew alive. In the long run, the best way to keep the crew alive is an intact boat! Unless it's burning, the boat is always a better option than any liferaft. Always!

Two inches of water over the cabin sole is probably still a long long way from having the boat actually sink out from under you (on some race boats, that's practically the normal state of things! OK, maybe that's a bit of exaggeration, but things can be pretty wet without that meaning you are sinking).

Wake your crew while you are searching for the source of the water (you should know the likely candidates by heart, and the boat should be already set up with easy access to them). Time is of the essence in finding and assessing the leak right now; at this point you are not yet under a time crunch to prepare the raft (which should not be stored below or buried in a locker anyway, it should be securely stored already in a deployment position! -- mine is in a cannister in the back of the cockpit under the tiller, with the painter already secured. Cut the lashings and hoist the thing overboard...).
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Old 04-04-2011, 09:52   #173
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

I'll agree that some people jump into a liferaft and set off their EPIRB when it is not necessary- Just like some people stay aboard a sinking ship trying to prevent the inevitable when it's not necessary.
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Old 04-04-2011, 09:58   #174
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

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Originally Posted by Viking Sailor View Post
Let see, it's night, you're in a squall, you've just set another reef in the main, you go below and find two inches of water above the cabin sole. What now? Wake-up the wife and kids. Get them in foullies, life jackets, and tied together. Grab the ditch bag, EPRIB, and move them to the cockpit. If the life raft is below move it to the cockpit. Rig the life raft for deployment. Now that your loved ones are as safe as they can be for the moment -- check the boat.

Remember the old sailors adage -- "One hand for yourself and one for the ship," The same thing applies to the crew. It is always crew first, ship second. The highest duty the skipper has is to keep his crew alive. I was their when the seventh fleet ceased all combat operations and moved a carrier at flank speed to pull a injured petty officer off a destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin. If it is good enough for a fleet admiral -- it's good enough for me. Really, it doesn't get more "real world" than that!

Hmm... I must be from a different school of thought - look after the boat and the boat will look after you.

I would take the view that the loved ones (wife / kids / etc) ARE the crew and should be responding to the skipper's orders in such a situation as described above.

I would be considering banging on the electric pumps, have the strongest man the manual pump(s), have the smartest check the most obvious sources of leaks (shaft, through hulls, heads, forehatch etc) and while I monitored the situation and took action as necessary to save the boat. Only when (if) it seemed truly hopeless, then place the mayday call, fire up the EPIRB and ready the liferaft. If time and crew availability permit, a pan call could be made early on if in range of a station.

The timeframe could be anything from days right down to minutes so the skipper needs to be the ball, have the crew (loved ones) fully under his command and be instilling into them the concept that the boat be saved rather instilling the hopelessness of abandoning ship at the first sign of trouble.

On the other hand, if you have just heard a big bang or felt a large impact and see a wall of water pouring in the lee side of the hull or similar, then your actions and orders would be (should be) quite different. Order an emergency muster - your loved ones would have practiced this frequently thus being able to do what is required without direct supervision - and while they are doing that, the skipper would be preparing for an immediate "abandon ship". Once the loved ones are mustered (and all accounted for), the skipper makes whatever call he deems necessary to safe his crew.

Evan has it right with his quote:
The mind of the skipper is more important than the rescue equipment.

However I also come from the school of believing in having / using the best available technology to maintain life and if that includes liferafts and EPIRB's, then so be it.

As for the concept of thinking about more about the raft and beacon than saving the boat when an emergency arises, I am sure there is some truth in the idea; this can only countered (IMO) by thinking, training and drilling in as many scenarios as one can think of.
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Old 04-04-2011, 10:00   #175
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

I see that Catamount posted while I was composing - must learn to type faster
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Old 04-04-2011, 10:14   #176
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

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I'll agree that some people jump into a liferaft and set off their EPIRB when it is not necessary- Just like some people stay aboard a sinking ship trying to prevent the inevitable when it's not necessary.
Or, worse yet, remain aboard a sinking ship, because they have absolutely no alternative.

FWIW: We never had an EPIRB nor LifeRaft.
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Old 04-04-2011, 10:21   #177
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

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Or, worse yet, remain aboard a sinking ship, because they have absolutely no alternative.

FWIW: We never had an EPIRB nor LifeRaft.

Did you ever wake up with 2" of water over the cabin sole?

If so, did you make a call on the radio first or go looking for the leak first?
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Old 04-04-2011, 10:37   #178
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

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Did you ever wake up with 2" of water over the cabin sole?
Well, yes. Often in fact, anytime I went for a hard windward sail after sitting still for a few months in the tropics. The boat was carvel planked and would open up at the seams (above the static waterline) while sitting still and then leak like a sieve when heeled up for the first day or two.

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If so, did you make a call on the radio first or go looking for the leak first?
No, just pump it out and monitor the inflow. It actually helped to leave a fair bit of water inside so that it could splash around on the lee side and help swell the planks. Sometimes it would takes 5 minutes of pumping every 30 or 40 minutes for the first 12/24 hours or so.
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Old 04-04-2011, 11:00   #179
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

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Well, yes. Often in fact, anytime I went for a hard windward sail after sitting still for a few months in the tropics. The boat was carvel planked and would open up at the seams (above the static waterline) while sitting still and then leak like a sieve when heeled up for the first day or two.


No, just pump it out and monitor the inflow. It actually helped to leave a fair bit of water inside so that it could splash around on the lee side and help swell the planks. Sometimes it would takes 5 minutes of pumping every 30 or 40 minutes for the first 12/24 hours or so.

Thanks Gord.

I should have been very specific in my wording huh?

I meant 2" of "unknown origin" water.
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Old 04-04-2011, 11:22   #180
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

I understand that you believe that by doing certain inspections the risk of the boat sinking becomes so small that you don't need a life raft or EPRIB. Yet, when things go bad what do you do. You start looking to see if something that was already inspected and declared sound has now failed.

I agree that the inspections you suggest are good and necessary. However, they in no way diminish the correctness of carrying a life raft and EPRIB. Why? Because s**t happens. And, I for one don't want to be asked the question by the crews family (or, at the inquest) -- "Why didn't you have a life raft and EPRIB". And, I concur that conversely, having a life raft and EPRIB does not mean that proper inspections are not necessary. They are!

Now, don't get wrong. If you sail solo or always have a crew that understands and agrees to the no life raft and no EPRIB level of risk then -- no problem.

Further, you seem to have missed my point that after attending to the crew, there is either enough time to check the boat, or there was only enough time to get the crew ready to step up into the life raft. There was no EPRIB activation, and no messing around with the radios.

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