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Old 25-04-2011, 21:43   #226
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

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.....
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Terrific. We can agree on that.

but I can cite you multiple examples of vessel fires (and a whole lot more fires in general) that have absolutely nothing to do improper maintenance.

Please give me a few short examples. I would like to understand them for my own benefit. I can understand lightening and I can understand fires that jump from another poorly maintained boat or dock. But please give me some direction on fires that start on board the vessel in question - which could not have been prevented by complete maintenance and inspection and could not be put out by proper extinguisher systems? I am always eager to learn from those with broad and professional experience and training.

I should note that professionally I have some experience with QA in jet engine building and maintenance (at GE). I know what results can be accomplished to prevent and avoid 'safety' issues when you put the effort in.
Bummer. I had a full reply to this, and lost it. Here's the short version.

I've only had a half dozen boat fires that I've personally been on. I spent a total of about 30 months total working in the harbor, and for the last 16 or so I've been too far north to be included on the ticket. I still occasionally work extra shifts down there, but not overly many.

One was an oil pump fire in a 50+ foot powerboat that occurred during a boat show demonstration, when we were already in the water demonstrating rescue techniques combining our PWC and the county helicopter, along with the county's fireboat. We had placed a derelict with a smoke machine on it to simulate a boat fire as part of the display, and I was tender on the watercraft to "rescue" the boat occupants as they jumped overboard. Coincidently, we were getting ready to go again with folks watching from the grandstands when a boat entering the harbor actually caught fire and drifted right into the demonstration area. The folks onshore thought it was part of the demo :-). The boat was very clean and very well maintained, just a mechanical failure.

Another was the wrapper in the sink. Odd, but true. The harbor patrol officer that was with us when we were trying to locate the absentee owner said that he had seen another similar fire earlier in his career. If I hadn't of seen it, I probably wouldn't believe it either...

Another was a refrigerator that was left on when a boat was in the marina. The compressor went out on a little fridge that was used to store beer for the captain when out fishing up on the flybridge. The insulation was smoldering merrily away. That was extinguished by a combination of dry chem and CO2 extinguishers (because that's what we brought with us).

Two fires in the boatyard, both of suspicious origin. And one in the water that was cause undetermined because the boat was a total loss.

I've heard of many more that I wasn't present for, both in training and in the usual banter around the house. Recently, there's been a wave of boat fires of suspicious origin as the economy tanks. It's so hard to prove arson anyway, ten times harder on a boat, that it's a real enticing option to deal with a boat that's worth half what it's financed for. We haven't had too many, but apparently up in Seattle it's practically an epidemic.

There's was Italian made superyacht (super expensive, not super big) in SB that caught fire three times, all electrical (and all within the harbor). It's kind of crazy, but the owner took over a million dollar bath on it when he finally sold, yet he pulled the fire extinguisher each time.

Stuff breaks. As it gets older it breaks more often. Chafe isn't just for lines, it can happen to wires and hoses as well. I took out the aft drawer unit in my galley and found a termination block in the wiring harness for the engine that I had no idea was there. I've now cut an access hole in the side of the frame so I can get at it by just removing the bottom drawer. Who knows what's going on in the dark recesses and corners. There are wires that run into places I can't get to (or even see with a mirror), and I've got a small boat. One of those chafes through enough to start the insulation going, and I've got a real problem...

JRM

-- this is the short version. imagine the long
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Old 25-04-2011, 23:51   #227
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

Having confidence in ones preparation, planning etc is not arrogance the arrogant attitude is the bit about being infallible. Thought of anything and everything that could go wrong, planned for those contingencies, serviced or replaced every item on the boat that could cause a problem under any circumstance. The final one is that every one of those components whether new or old have no manufacturing, design or material defects, that's arrogance.
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Old 26-04-2011, 00:34   #228
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

The argument about EPIRPS in Australian waters and NZ is a non issue as all offshore vessels are required to be fitted with EPIRBS.

I don't hear of any complaints by authorities and indeed there have been numerous rescues this year when otherwise lives would have been lost in Aust waters.

The issue of liferafts on non charter vessels is clearly one for the owner and more important if you own a sinker verses a hull that will float.

My personal view is that the GPS enabled EPIRBS are proving to be one of the best lifesaving tools amongst modern equiptment and should be compulsory observing the Australian experience.

They have and are reqularly saving lives - there can be no dispute on that.

estarzinger, I imagine you would have an EPIRB on your vessel ???
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Old 26-04-2011, 03:58   #229
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

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You still have not replied to my idea of getting rid of ejector seats and parachutes in the US airforce so that the pilots work harder to save the aircraft.
I did not respond as such a idea is both downright silly and has no correlation to cruising boats. Modern fighters, etc. are deliberately designed dynamically unstable to get the maximum maneuvering capabilities. Add in that these aircraft are totally run by computers to keep them flyable. Add these together and you get, with any mechanical failure the overwhelming propensity of the aircraft going ballistic. That leaves the pilot with no options other than to part company with the thing.
- - Traveling at 600 kts in a dynamically unstable aircraft is quite different than sailing at 6 kts in an inherently stable sailing vessel. Having flown and fought from the pilot's seat with such aircraft during the Vietnam era any suggestion that sailing vessels and high performance fighter/attack aircraft have anything in common is a non-starter.
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Old 26-04-2011, 05:54   #230
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

People don't like to be told that cash doesn't make them safe. and that simply cash can't buy the knowledge to be "safe".....I think it's a modern world thing

But cash can buy "safety" - so that's what the market provides ...........at least enough to give folk the comfort (blanket) that enables them to walk the tightrope, without either fear of falling or even having to think about the consequences. a short step there to (non ) thinking that there are never any consequences from walking a tightrope.

The thing about voyaging in small boats is that you have to accept risk. and that includes the risk of dying (you and family).......no matter how much money or toys get thrown at "safety".

Would anyone in there right minds truly only go to sea if they had a rubber ring onboard?...........and a helicopter on standby?

As an alternative there always be a trip to Pirateland - Disneyworld ........or the internet
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Old 26-04-2011, 06:19   #231
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pirate Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

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Would anyone in there right minds truly only go to sea if they had a rubber ring onboard?...........
Funny enough my first dinghy for MY 1st boat was the inner tube of a truck tyre... sure I had a wet ass but my knapsack stayed dry....
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Old 26-04-2011, 07:07   #232
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

I just don't have much will power . . . so I will respond yet again

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Bummer. I had a full reply to this, and lost it.

Here's the short version.Stuff breaks. As it gets older it breaks more often. Chafe isn't just for lines, it can happen to wires and hoses as well.
Thanks. Interesting. I started my professional life as an insurance actuary so I know just what you mean about recessions and suspicious fires. We actually built that into our forecast models and pricing. You don't really want to believe it about your fellow man, but it is in fact very common.

Do you agree that most (all?) of the incidents you mention could have been handled with a fire extinguisher if someone was on board and got after it immediately they smelled/saw something wrong?

My rule is that wires should be secured and not be able to move and if they can't move they are unlikely to chafe. Of course something could fall on them or move on them, so I certainly only say unlikely not impossible. I also believe that all systems on a boat should be able to be (easily) visually inspected. I built my own boat, so this is possible, while it is not (or very difficult) on many production boat. I also just (at the 12 year mark) rewired and rehosed essentially the entire boat. Even tinned wire does corrode over time and the plastic hoses do get brittle.

The 'fires' started from internally shorted/overloaded electrical motors are interesting. It would probably be smart to mount them so that there are no easily flammable near by. I think I am in pretty decent shape in that regard but will have to go do an inspection. I have VERY carefully isolated my battery charger and inverter from flammable materials as they are quite common sources of fires.

I have had two fires on board my boats. On the first boat I had a small solar panel directly wired to the batteries (to minimize voltage drop). Mid-Atlantic the panel shorted internally and the wires all the way from the panel to the batteries flared and charred. Fortunately nothing caught fire. Completely my fault - I now understand that fuses are a bit more important than a little voltage drop. The later on the current boat, I poured too much meths in our diesel heater trying to get it started in a force 10 snow storm - the flames from the lit meths started licking our all around the heater. A couple puffs from the extinguisher put that out before any trouble was caused. Again, completely my fault.

Again, thanks. Its useful to get specific things to look at and reconsider.

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Having confidence in ones preparation, planning etc is not arrogance the arrogant attitude is the bit about being infallible. The final one is that every one of those components whether new or old have no manufacturing, design or material defects, that's arrogance.
Where you or anyone else ever got the impression I thought I was infallible, or that marine gear is defect free is beyond me. They are both so far from the truth as to be absurd.

I, more than most, because of my jet engine experience and my sailing miles, know how generally shitty 'recreational marine gear' quality is. It's by far the worst of any activity I have ever participated in - bicycling, motorcycling, flying scuba diving, fly fishing ALL have MUCH higher quality. I try as hard as I can to avoid recreational marine gear, but sometimes its what we have and one must just anticipate and compensate.

And, I am also probably more aware than most that we are all very fallible. Personally I think it is an inbuilt trait of man to be quite self-delusional and not to see the world clearly. I have managed large teams undertaking critical missions, and it is simply essential to anticipate, back-up and compensate for that behavior. For myself I just try to learn from my past mistakes and give myself room to possibly recover from my future mistakes.

But in the end, we will all certainly die and I think the important thing (that we each have some control over) is how well you lived.

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They have and are regularly saving lives - there can be no dispute on that.

estarzinger, I imagine you would have an EPIRB on your vessel ???
The dispute is how many boats are abandoned, that would not have been abandoned without the EPIRBS and the people would have ended up just as safe in the end (which there is also really no dispute actually happens). However, we can't have any data on this 'hypothetical' and we could but also don't have any decent data on how frequently people are hurt in the offshore 'rescue' (it does happen). So, I think (hope) we have all agreed to just recognize that the EPIRB is a two edged sward and should be handled carefully.

Just as an aside, after being involved in and observing quite a few rescues, my experience suggests that an Iridium phone (And secondarily a Sat C) is rather much more effective a tool than an EPIRB in a rescue situation. With the iridium, you can talk to them, tell them the actual situation, so they know how to react and what to expect. Looking at my notes . . . 100% of the offshore rescues with iridium phones went 'well' while only 50% of the EPIRB only rescues did so. Of course both is best, as the EPIRB is the best possible homing beacon.

Second question - yes, we carry an EPIRB. I have said a couple times that if you carry any other form of offshore comms capability, I think you are likely to call for help in time of emergency, and if you do so, you then owe it to the SAR service to given them the best possible homing beacon so they don't waste resources and put themselves to any unnecessary risk.

But, again, I am concerned that this topic of 'rescue' equipment is not being properly considered in the total context of safety. Just for example, a crash/trash pump (A very high capacity emergency pump with its own motor) is a very effective device both at pumping water out of the boat (unlike the recreational bilge pumps which are absolutely hopeless) and for pumping water at a fire. They are about the same size as a raft and a bit cheaper. They are very useful and practical pieces of safety gear, and I think are one of the most common pieces of gear the uscg drops from their c130s and helos to distressed vessels. So all you who think someone is 'arrogant' or stupid if he goes to sea without a raft - do you also carry a crash/trash pump and if not are you therefore also 'arrogant'?

The same question about Iridium, or sat C vs Epribs? WIth an Iridium or Sat C you can help the rescue services much more and/or you can actually get useful advice from a doctor or a mechanic that might prevent entirely the need to be 'rescued.

Why are you so focused on and put so much fath on these specific piece of rescue gear and not on the many other safety alternatives?
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Old 26-04-2011, 08:23   #233
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

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Originally Posted by David_Old_Jersey View Post
People don't like to be told that cash doesn't make them safe. and that simply cash can't buy the knowledge to be "safe".....I think it's a modern world thing

But cash can buy "safety" - so that's what the market provides ...........at least enough to give folk the comfort (blanket) that enables them to walk the tightrope, without either fear of falling or even having to think about the consequences. a short step there to (non ) thinking that there are never any consequences from walking a tightrope.
+1 .
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Old 26-04-2011, 08:24   #234
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

I would have to agree with estarzinger that without a "total" package/awareness and preparation for problems/disasters at sea the Life rafts, etc. is not a valid substitution. Remember the rule of life rafts is you don't get in one until you have to "step up" to get into it.
- - What I notice in some posts is a suggestion that having the "electronic" safety equipment and physical safety equipment (life rafts) is being touted as a substitute for good common sense seamanship and survival training. There is a lot more to a life raft than just pulling the lanyard and climbing into it. They are complicated equipment and periodic inspection and knowledge of what is in the raft and how it works is critical to your survival chances.
- - Epirbs are quite a bit "easier" to deal with except for the "battery" problem. In the early days of EPIRBS - nobody - could change the battery except for the manufacturer or a trained service representative of the manufacturer. And the cost of changing a battery by the legal service representative was very close to the cost of buying a new EPIRB.
- - Also throughout this thread I see things pop up like - in case of onboard fire the poster didn't think that two fire extinguishers could handle the situation. I suspect that the poster and many others don't realize that the USCG required equipment is the MINIMUM amount of such gear. There are no limitations on how many "extra" fire extinguishers you have on board. I currently have no less than one appropriate sized/type fire extinguisher in each compartment and sometimes two or more (e.g. engine compartment) so that each corner or obstructed pathway for the extinguishing agent is accounted for.
- - Likewise, it is not prohibited to exceed the safety requirements of ABYC or whatever to make your boat more resistant to disaster and easier to effect a recovery from a problem or situation. I would say that it is a personal decision on how much and how many safety related systems you include on your boat. Relying on some government or committee to make that decision for you is - IMHO - not what the cruising lifestyle is all about. When you (and your family/crew) are 100 to 1000 nm miles from the nearest shore, I want to be able (and am able) to deal with most all disasters with the exception of mass holing or super critical health situations. In those circumstance the EPIRB is the thing to have - but still you have to be able to stabilize and deal with the emergency until help can get to you - if they can get to you.
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Old 26-04-2011, 09:17   #235
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

Not having read all thtis tread, I can only state I would not go off shore without either.... plus the law here in Australia is that any vessel traveling more tham 2 miles off shore must have a registered EPIRB, or you will get a fine.
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Old 26-04-2011, 11:10   #236
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

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Not having read all thtis tread, I can only state I would not go off shore without either.... plus the law here in Australia is that any vessel traveling more tham 2 miles off shore must have a registered EPIRB, or you will get a fine.
That does remind me of a point about epirbs that I don't think we have discussed much yet - false signals.

The old 121mHz units has a 98% false rate. When the switch came to 406mHz there was a hope this would come way down but it was 94% last year. That means that the authorities spend quite a bit of time trying to validate the signal before they deploy resources. The French round the world races actually require the racers carry two epirbs, because they have an agreement with the various RCC's that if both go off at the same time they will assume it is a valid emergency and immediately deploy resources.

I remember when we were cruising the south island of NZ (which has a similar mandatory epirb rule) and I was amazed at the number of false signals. We monitor 16 and there were at chasing down least a couple a day.

It's another reason why an iridium or sat c is useful. If you fire off the epirb and then push speed dial on the phone and talk to the duty officer you can tell him immediately "yes, in fact we are really in trouble, and the trouble is XYZ and we hope you can do ABC for us'".

Another thing to mention on epirbs, if you fire one off, and then get yourself out of trouble and no longer want help Don't turn it off until you have directly talked with the authorities. If you turn it off they will still try to find you (just assuming the batteries have run down) but you will have made it much more difficult and waste resources and increase their risk.
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Old 26-04-2011, 11:32   #237
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I'd like to say that I strongly disagree that the existence of " safety or rescue" devices leads to irresponsible behaviour. There is simply no facts to back up your assertion. Hence all it has is the status of an opinion.

Secondly the " Blondie haslar" attitude of go down with the ship is an outdated and puerile perspective. Modern societies spends billions trying to assure your safety while simultaneously allowing you to put yourself in danger. I regard that as positive. I have never met anyone who wilfully compromised safety because they had access to safety or rescue devices. The closest I suggest are southern ocean racers who in my opinion should be forced to carry rescue insurance.

Equally comments about false alerts etc are entirely misleading it's irrelevant to the value of the safety or rescue devices validity.

Comments such as " always step up into a life raft" are like most cliches , nonsense . Conditions often exist where remaining on a probably buoyant boat are impossible. Simply because a boat remains afloat does not mean you could survive in it.

I think this debate would be long since locked if it where about the usual "hot" topics. Evans you made your point ,many disagree. Let's leave it at that.

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Old 26-04-2011, 11:54   #238
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

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That does remind me of a point about epirbs that I don't think we have discussed much yet - false signals.
[good stuff deleted]
In my one experience with false EPIRB / PLB activation, having an always-on satphone made a huge difference. I've told this story before, but here is is again:

I have PLBs stowed inside our inflatable vests (PFDs). One one passage, at 4:00AM about a thousand miles from land, somehow my PLB was activated -- apparently by an impact, although this was never completely figured out.

I only learned about this when the Coast Guard called me, having first called my wife back at home and being given my satphone #. The CG was extremely professional and we managed to quiet the PLB by wrapping it in foil. I stayed in contact with the CG via email, and they confirmed that my PLB signal was no longer being seen by the satellite.

If I hadn't had the satphone turned on, this could have become a very big deal -- ships diverted, etc. I hate to think that my false alarm could have put others in harm's way or cost them in any way.

Since then I have installed a 121.5 MHz beacon receiver on the boat, which I had intended to do but hadn't found one I liked. Now if there is a false alarm I will know, and can contact the authorities via satphone or SSB (or VHF / cellphone if I am near shore). I will also know if a crewmember goes overboard in the night and manages to activate their PLB.

Perhaps individual PLBs aren't the best solution for crew overboard alarm, but I wasn't satisfied with the other options.
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Old 26-04-2011, 12:07   #239
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts Ever Save Lives ?

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I'd like to say that I strongly disagree that the existence of " safety or rescue" devices leads to irresponsible behaviour. There is simply no facts to back up your assertion. Hence all it has is the status of an opinion.
I am sorry you are simply wrong about this. Just for instance, there are clearly documented multiple incidents of boats that have abandoned simply because they had been seasick for a couple (two) days (but able to drink water and no serious medical condition) and multiple other incidents abandoned because they lost their rudder (in mild conditions with no lee shore near by) and did not even try to organize any sort of jerry rig steering.

Further, As I said previously, I myself have made an unjustified call for help. Fortunately for me there was no help available and I then got my act together and self-rescued. That's neither theory nor opinion nor 2nd hand - but fact.

I am making a judgement on the incidents, as JRM has rightly pointed out, that the crews would have been just fine without the rescues and in fact would have learned more and gotten greater reward from the experience without the rescues. If you want to disagree and suggest that two days of seasickness or a lost rudder (not taking on water and not near a lee shore) demand abandoning ship, then that's your judgement and decision and we can agree to disagree on it.

If you believe the rate of the life saving incidents far outweigh these sorts of incidents, that's fine, your judgement and your decision. But to deny these sort of incidents EVER happen is foolish and delusional and bad leadership.
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Old 26-04-2011, 12:39   #240
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Sorry Evans people who supposedly called out for rescue in so called trivial situations (a) who are we to judge when people should panic. (b) the stories are always third hand and often when you hear a first hand account are different and (c) rescue agencies forever drill into people ( as does modern training ) if in doubt contact the rescue agencies. In fact I know people that were virtually forcefully rescued and then had to suffer the ignominy of being told they " pressed the button too early. " by armchair pundits and (d) these situations are statistically irrelevant when placed against the far greater number of " genuine" rescues .


For example I know of one Atlantic " rudder" failure where the owners were heavily criticised after the fact for seemingly abandoning a perfectly good boat. Yet when you hear the detailed story you'd be hard pushed to reach any other conclusion. I also know the same story from the 79 fastnet race survivor.

You anecdotes do not lend any further credence to your original opinion

I resent the " bad leadership" quip it personalised the debate is contary to forum policy and you don't know me.

Ps I'm not saying that ill-prepared or foolish people don't put to sea , sure they do, but I an arguing that the presence of " safety or rescue devices" is not a major contributor to their thinking , there's simply no facts to back your argument.

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