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Old 24-03-2011, 13:21   #61
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

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ACR has some rescue stories, both land and water

ACR Survivor Stories
Great link. Thanks.

It is interesting how many of them were non-marine examples.



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Old 24-03-2011, 16:17   #62
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

The Cospas-Sarsat organization (that runs the satellites receiving EPIRP alerts) post a map of distress alerts on its website:
Cospas-Sarsat Distress Alerts

The list of "search and rescue events for which cospas-sarsat data was instrumental" is in this document: http://www.cospas-sarsat.org/images/..._smallsize.pdf

The Etel (South Brittany) MRCC says in its 2010 annual report that it managed 976 SAR operations, only 4 having started with an EPIRB alert (there were 22 false alerts). I have no data on the percentage of ships and boats carrying an EPIRB in the area.

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Old 24-03-2011, 16:41   #63
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

Take a look at the book Rescue in the Pacific, about the huge Queen's Birthday Storm. I think in every case that a boat was abandoned and not deliberately sunk the vessel was found later afloat or washed ashore. Of course one boat did apparently sink and disappear with no trace except for their last messages and their liferaft found blowing across the ocean like a beach ball. I have spoken to several people who abandoned ship and climbed into their liferafts and they said "Never again!" The problem I see, and I carry a liferaft when going offshore, is that it is tempting to think that you'd better use the liferaft now before things get worse, so instead of trying to fix things you waste your time and energy getting the raft launched and abandoning ship. The other thing is that we all imagine that we will be sinking in some big storm, which is frequently not the case. It is much more likely that we sink because of a hose that fails, or we hit something, or someone leaves the toilet valve open. It seems to me that is just as likely to be fine weather as terrible weather, especially considering that we mostly try to sail in good weather. In those circumstances a dinghy might be just as nice, or even better, to get into than a liferaft. The EPIRB is a useful device in case you do have to abandon ship, but I hope I always remember to grab a handheld VHF radio or two and a spotlight. In all the rescues I have read about it is that final approach to the liferaft that causes problems. Frequently vessels are seen on the horizon, but with no way to signal them they sail on oblivious to your raft. At night a flare only works if someone happens to be nearby and looking in your direction. A spotlight can be pointed right at an airplane and held there for long periods of time, helping to pinpoint your location. A VHF radio has a radius of many miles. I think those are the most important things to have when you are trying to help the rescuers find you.
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Old 24-03-2011, 17:02   #64
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

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I think in every case that a boat was abandoned and not deliberately sunk the vessel was found later afloat or washed ashore.
In the current issue of French magazine "Voiles & Voiliers", there is the story of a yacht that sank in less than one hour in the Atlantic ocean after hitting something underwater. The photos are taken from the liferaft. On the last one, only the transom appears.

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Old 24-03-2011, 17:59   #65
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

Thanks for the last three posts too. Interesting info all around.



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Old 28-03-2011, 22:54   #66
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

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For those of you that like this sort of discussion, try reading some of Malcom Gladwell.
Very interesting book. I started it yesterday (I think) and while I'm not sure how it relates to this thread (apart from how it relates to everything everywhere) I'm really glad to have gotten your recommendation.



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Old 28-03-2011, 23:35   #67
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

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Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
Take a look at the book Rescue in the Pacific, about the huge Queen's Birthday Storm. I think in every case that a boat was abandoned and not deliberately sunk the vessel was found later afloat or washed ashore. Of course one boat did apparently sink and disappear with no trace except for their last messages and their liferaft found blowing across the ocean like a beach ball. I have spoken to several people who abandoned ship and climbed into their liferafts and they said "Never again!" The problem I see, and I carry a liferaft when going offshore, is that it is tempting to think that you'd better use the liferaft now before things get worse, so instead of trying to fix things you waste your time and energy getting the raft launched and abandoning ship. The other thing is that we all imagine that we will be sinking in some big storm, which is frequently not the case. It is much more likely that we sink because of a hose that fails, or we hit something, or someone leaves the toilet valve open. It seems to me that is just as likely to be fine weather as terrible weather, especially considering that we mostly try to sail in good weather. In those circumstances a dinghy might be just as nice, or even better, to get into than a liferaft. The EPIRB is a useful device in case you do have to abandon ship, but I hope I always remember to grab a handheld VHF radio or two and a spotlight. In all the rescues I have read about it is that final approach to the liferaft that causes problems. Frequently vessels are seen on the horizon, but with no way to signal them they sail on oblivious to your raft. At night a flare only works if someone happens to be nearby and looking in your direction. A spotlight can be pointed right at an airplane and held there for long periods of time, helping to pinpoint your location. A VHF radio has a radius of many miles. I think those are the most important things to have when you are trying to help the rescuers find you.

People make bad decisions under the influence of fear or panic. The liferaft is a safety blanket and people sometimes reach for it when they are frightened. Many times they would have been better off staying with the boat or fixing the problem.

But I don't think that this is really an argument against having a life raft on board. Boat do simply sink -- hit a container and breach the hull, broken hoses, rudder falls out. In some of those cases the boat goes down in seconds and there is nothing whatsoever you can do about it. And even in warm water, your chances of survival will be orders of magnitude greater in a life raft than dog-paddling in the oggin.

So I have two of them. It is true that one is buried in the lazarette where I might not be able to get to it in time if something really bad happened. Next on the list is an EPIRB for the grab bag and a PLB to keep in my life jacket. Handheld DSC VHF with a good supply of lithium batteries, flares, torches, and the other usual grab bag things.

One hopes never to need these things, but considering the fact that many boats do sink every year, and considering the fact that proper safety equipment greatly increases your chances of survival in case of a sinking, I think that it is entirely reasonable to spend a few thousand dollars having them.

Someone mentioned crash boxes -- I wish that builders would incorporate these more. I can't imagine that it is so expensive or leads to such terrible compromises in design. My boat's outer hull skin is Kevlar forward of the keel to help prevent a hull breach in case of a collision, and there is a watertight bulkhead aft of the chain locker. But that's it. Throughhulls are distributed throughout the cabin, and the bilge is communicating from the lazarette all the way to the chain locker bulkhead. There could easily have been a couple more watertight bulkheads.

I greatly admire in this respect Dashew's Sundeer designs -- the whole bow sections and whole aft sections are partitioned off with watertight bulkheads, and there are no through hulls in the main passenger compartment. That means the boats are virtually unsinkable. Now how hard or expensive was that? I suppose it can't be done below a certain size, but all larger boats should be arranged like that IMHO.
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Old 29-03-2011, 01:30   #68
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

In Australia and NZ EPIRBS are mandatory for all vessels going offshore (even small outboard powerboats -) 3NM.

Have been quite a number of successful rescues in the last 6mths. EPIRBS are not discussed as everyone has one here.

Two men rescued from heavy seas off Niue | Stuff.co.nz
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Old 29-03-2011, 13:50   #69
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

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In Australia and NZ EPIRBS are mandatory for all vessels going offshore (even small outboard powerboats -) 3NM.

Have been quite a number of successful rescues in the last 6mths.
Now I understand why so many distress alerts appear around Australia and NZ on this map: Cospas-Sarsat Distress Alerts

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Old 29-03-2011, 14:42   #70
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

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Very interesting book. I started it yesterday (I think) and while I'm not sure how it relates to this thread (apart from how it relates to everything everywhere) I'm really glad to have gotten your recommendation.



-Sven

Not that book so much but one of his writings was about risk taking and safety devices that when installed change behavior. Not the devices really but the behavior of the owners changes. Human traits and all.

http://www.gladwell.com/pdf/blowup.pdf
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Old 29-03-2011, 14:46   #71
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

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the whole bow sections and whole aft sections are partitioned off with watertight bulkheads, and there are no through hulls in the main passenger compartment. That means the boats are virtually unsinkable. Now how hard or expensive was that? I suppose it can't be done below a certain size, but all larger boats should be arranged like that IMHO.

I am with you on that.
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Old 30-03-2011, 11:58   #72
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

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I know they come in handy during races where caution might take a second seat to all-out speed, but how often are they useful for cruising ?
I am guessing that those who didn't take them - and found they would have been useful won't be chipping in to this thread

My take is that in a mid ocean storm and your yacht is simply being overwhelmed (maybe even rolled a few times? / no mast?) - then getting into a liferaft ain't gonna affect the outcome, just the timing. Otherwise your best bet is far and away staying onboard.

If less extreme circumstances / nearer shore and relying on others to come and get you is a part of your "safety" strategy then a Liferaft and EPIRB makes sense. Arguably a bit more "safety" in the fit out, maintainence and passage planning / execution depts would be better cash and time spent than relying on others - but I accept that opinions vary on that. Do what is conveniant for you and expect someone else to pick up the pieces - it's the modern approach I guess it sounds better in the brochure (written in own head) than: "if I f#ck up - I will probably die"

A sudden sinking from submerged objects? or by other vessels (submarine? ) - perfectly possible. and so is getting struck by lightening. or a Meteor but whilst planning "Just in case" is always prudent, I can't say that I would venture to sea if I thought there was even a remote chance of that. Simply because it would kinda take the fun out of the voyage I certainly wouldn't be spending money to mitigate the effect - apart from for an air ticket - or on a chart for somewhere else

For fire, my guess would be most likely at anchor or moored (and then the highest risk from others). any sort of dink would seem sensible. and some fire extinguishers. and knowing where the battery off switches are. and no unsupervised naked flames.

"safety" of course sells. and who wants to be unsafe? But safety is more than writing a cheque (unless I am selling it ) - otherwise it is just glorified Juju Charms.
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Old 30-03-2011, 12:20   #73
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

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I am guessing that those who didn't take them - and found they would have been useful won't be chipping in to this thread

My take is that in a mid ocean storm and your yacht is simply being overwhelmed (maybe even rolled a few times? / no mast?) - then getting into a liferaft ain't gonna affect the outcome, just the timing. Otherwise your best bet is far and away staying onboard.

If less extreme circumstances / nearer shore and relying on others to come and get you is a part of your "safety" strategy then a Liferaft and EPIRB makes sense. Arguably a bit more "safety" in the fit out, maintainence and passage planning / execution depts would be better cash and time spent than relying on others - but I accept that opinions vary on that. Do what is conveniant for you and expect someone else to pick up the pieces - it's the modern approach I guess it sounds better in the brochure (written in own head) than: "if I f#ck up - I will probably die"

A sudden sinking from submerged objects? or by other vessels (submarine? ) - perfectly possible. and so is getting struck by lightening. or a Meteor but whilst planning "Just in case" is always prudent, I can't say that I would venture to sea if I thought there was even a remote chance of that. Simply because it would kinda take the fun out of the voyage I certainly wouldn't be spending money to mitigate the effect - apart from for an air ticket - or on a chart for somewhere else

For fire, my guess would be most likely at anchor or moored (and then the highest risk from others). any sort of dink would seem sensible. and some fire extinguishers. and knowing where the battery off switches are. and no unsupervised naked flames.

"safety" of course sells. and who wants to be unsafe? But safety is more than writing a cheque (unless I am selling it ) - otherwise it is just glorified Juju Charms.

I am going to have to agree with most of that.

Quote:
I am guessing that those who didn't take them - and found they would have been useful won't be chipping in to this thread
While not chipping in on this thread for sure, we would certainly have heard of them.

"DATELINE
A cruising boat is long overdue at its supposed destination. The worst is feared. While experienced they had no liferaft with them."

You can tell I am not a news writer because boy-oh-boy could that be written better so that the reader knows by the end of it that if they had had a liferaft then they surely would be alive and well at some bar telling their stories.
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Old 30-03-2011, 13:00   #74
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

The real question Sven, is how many lives were lost due to not having an EPIRB or raft?

Do what you will, I carry an EPIRB and an PLB. If my boat goes down, I can get another one as long as I don't go with it! An EPIRB is also useful in other emergencies onboard including hijacking and medical emergencies.

Have a nice Sail.
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Old 30-03-2011, 13:24   #75
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

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The real question Sven, is how many lives were lost due to not having an EPIRB or raft?
There is no way that can be answered without some sort of "model" - see Global Warming debate.


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IOW, in how many cruising emergencies do they actually save lives ?

But then a model would be needed to answer that one also no? Because if they had one and died who is to know exactly how they died?

It has been a while but I don't remember any real answers.
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