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Old 10-05-2015, 09:06   #121
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Re: Importance of Life-raft when coastal cruising?

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Originally Posted by rabbi View Post

I think taht most of these points are equally addressed with a dinghy, a custom made tarp, a sea anchor and a well prepared grab bag.

Except the dinghy on davits being damaged... haven't thought about this one. For coastal cruising in the med i consider this risk low, but for offshore work this is a genuine reason for a liferaft as a backup.
rabbi

You have clearly never spent any time in a liferaft?

Think EXPOSURE.

The first serious wave will flip the dinghy upside down; you will get wet, cold, hypothermic, dehydrated, sunburnt, deafened, scared. Possibly all of that within the first 48 hours.

I think an inflatable dinghy may be a choice for someone on a very tight budget, for someone who sails close inshore, for someone ... YES.

But otherwise, whoever should have a liferaft (offshore trips, cold waters, notoriously rough waters, etc.) may be well advised to carry one.

Alternative: do not get a liferaft and PLS PLS PLS do not get an EPIRB then either ...

Deal?

b.
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Old 10-05-2015, 10:41   #122
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Re: Importance of Life-raft when coastal cruising?

Kind of sounds like the thread has decayed into something akin to religion or politics. There is no one size fits all answer IMHO.

Besides the usual PFD's I carry a valise packed Winslow 4 person offshore liferaft. It weighs around 30 lb and either my wife or myself can launch it single handed. The size of the valise is about the size of a parachute. There is also a small ditch bag and an EPIRB.

My storage bag for the cruising chute takes up more space. Is this enough? I have no idea, but I'm satisfied that I've done all I can reasonably accomplish. Normally we are no more than 100 miles offshore.

I trust I'll never need any of it but if I do need it I'll do the best I can with what I've got.

It is my sincere wish that none of you will need any of this equipment either. But until then this thread has the same earmarks as those on anchors and weapons.

Be safe,

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Old 10-05-2015, 10:41   #123
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Re: Importance of Life-raft when coastal cruising?

No i have never spent any time in a liferaft except some time ago in a pool.

we had some fun with it, but i would not say it was super stable. While you could not invert it in its intended shape because of heavy water bags it was possible to sqeeze the sides together and 'roll' it over the side.
Once inverted the bottom collapsed and the insulation was lying flat on the water, possibly drowning the occupants

i would be very interested to see how a dink with a sea anchor behaves in stronger waves. I remember i have seen some liferaft test where all but one was flipped in simulated so these are also far from perfect. And once inverted you have to get out alive...

why would a liferaft provide better shelter than a dinghy with a tarp made to fit?

No worties, i will get a new smaller liferaft as a backup for the next offshore passage. But I am seriously thinking how to prepare my dink to be the first choice.
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Old 10-05-2015, 11:30   #124
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Re: Importance of Life-raft when coastal cruising?

It still seems to me that most people only expect to need a liferaft in the event of a 'perfect storm' scenario in which case for sure the proper job ( Solas type IMO) would undoubtedly be the best but in the event of a fire or a collision with a semi submerged container or suchlike in normal seastates I think that an easily launched dink with some motive power, even oars might be better. We carry ours in davits, it's engine when offshore is carried on a pushpit bracket and lifted off/on by a purpose built crane davit. Inshore the engine my remain on the dinghy transom. The oars are permanently strapped in the dinghy along with a bag of additional lifejackets ( used as an extra seat) our grab bag contains sunscreen as well as foil survival bags for warmth ( but we are in the tropics) and the waterproof dinghy under-seat bag also contains extra distress signals.


Our grab bag also contains a handheld VHF ( we have another kept below that would also be grabbed to go as well if possible along with some water bottles. Our grab bag also contains our smartphones if travelling offshore and these have GPS and preloaded basic navigartion Apps. If not in the perfect storm scenario , we can hopefully talk to potential recuers via VHF or cellphone, give updated positions and even motor or row towards land or a rescue vessel.
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Old 31-05-2015, 04:09   #125
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Re: Importance of Life-raft when coastal cruising?

Just a few real world (personally tried) comments on this topic. Not 10 out of 10 day type scenarios, but... food for thought.
And if someone want's my resume, to back up these statements, I'm happy to add it. Although lengthy, it provides extensive, professional, topic targeted training, & training development, and qualifications on said topics well beyond reproach.

- Who amongst you has tried staying afloat fully clothed? Let alone getting dressed while treading water?
It's far from a simple matter, & induces panic in a very high percentage of people. Even amongst a body of men known for keeping their cool, & who have a lot of time and training in the water; clothed & in swim suits.
This is in a swimming pool, not anywhere cold, or with hostile seas. Like the ocean. Plus, during the entire exercise, you know that rescue or the option to quit, is right there at your convenience.

- As a training/qualification op (as a mini pre-flight school exercise) we were supposed to stay afloat for an hour (in a pool mind you) wearing a flight suit (jump suit/coveralls), boots, & a helmet.
In the water said garments weigh nothing, the boots, perhaps a pound, & the helmets have several pounds of floatation. Which we were encouraged to use by sitting on them.

I saw guys, who normally were as cool as cucumbers, panic & bail within the first 5 minutes or less (many requiring rescue). Even though when they did so, they had no trouble swimming 10-15yds to the pool's edge, & climbing out unassisted. Something totally lost on them later.
And my buddy next to me, known by Everyone, as the "Iceman", folded after half an hour, despite my telling him what to do & encouraging him the entire time.
Not to boast, but I thought little of the exercise, except that it showed me how much being in the water, outside of one's comfort zone - in clothes, boots, & helmet, could easily freak people out. And yeah, I finished the exercise, one of about 20% of us, san drama or much loss of energy.

- Who's spent much time rowing a dinghy or RIB in 50+ winds & seas, many of them breaking?
I can say firsthand, that it's fun for Few, & actually possible for far, far less.
- Also, think about trying to swim, while wearing 3 layers of clothes, plus foulies & boots under such circumstances. Where conditions make each breath an exercise resulting in taking in 50% water @ the best of times, & green water at least 1/3 - 1/2 of the time.

If you have a RIB (assuming that it's on davits), how do you intend to launch & retain it in heavy seas? And I'm only talking F7 - F8, not the truly nasty stuff.
I can guarantee that even in daylight conditions, far too often, it will likely get swamped & torn away by boarding seas. Seas of the type which board, & swamp the primary vessel, not just the RIB in it's davits.
Remember, that at this point it's likely that the primary vessel now has little to no way on, nor steerage. And thus is laying a hull/at the whim of the seas.

Also, few davits structure on recreational vessels, as well as what they're bolted to, can handle the loads associated with a RIB filling with water. As well as being subjected to multiple G's, from both it & the mother vessel being slammed around by heavy & or boarding seas.
Not factoring in the possibility of the engine being bolted onto it's transom, & thus adding to these loads.
PS: You can forget about setting up, or starting the OB under such conditions, typically. Even when stowed on the dink's transom.

Basically, think of a multi-ton tether ball (temporarily) hanging from/attached to your transom while being slammed around by Neptune.I
If my veracity's in doubt, do the math. What does your dink weigh when swamped, if how many cubic feet are multiplied by 64lbs/cuft?

Even if you get said tender launched, retaining control of it will be more than a handful, literally.
As even when empty (dry) in those kinds of conditions, loads on the painter will be shock loads. Which at times will be several hundred pounds (or Far more), & thus not handle able, free handed. And difficult to deal with at best, even with the aid of a cleat.

Keep in mind as well, that neither vessel will have any way on nor steerage. AKA be lying a hull. And thus, geometrically less controllable due to being beam on to seas, & not necessarily in the same; roll period, sea, or reaction to the afore mentioned.
Which causes abysmal handling conditions/working platforms in both vessels at best.

The above comments about the line assume that it, or that to which it's attached doesn't give way (something all too commonly noted in more realistically based, Safety At Sea demonstrations, & real world life raft use survival reports). Thanks to the half ton/multi-ton, loads of water routinely entering it. And monster waves having their waves with both the mother vessel, & tender (both righted & inverted mind you).
Which puts the loads on the painter/lines holding it, into the multi ton range, in such sea states when she's full of water, & moving with a period different than that of the mother vessel. Unless both the mother ship, & tender are handled by experienced, cool headed, handlers. And even then, the loads ain't small (SIC).

So, with 2+ lines on a RIB, & trained crew to control it, without purpose built(in) reinforcing points for the lines, a lot of said attachment points will rapidly be torn away. And with such seas running, on top of semi-swamped tenders etc., it's easy to also part painters, or rip out deck cleats & the like.

Ever consider trying to do this; in the dark, while hypothermic, exhausted, unable to hear due to winds & seas, plus with a few cracked ribs thanks to being slammed around due to sea conditions?

Launching a 2nd vessel from the deck of a mother ship is a good bit "easier", & more controllable (all but for the having it self invert thing). For another 3 paragraphs worth of reasons.

Now, assuming that the tender was successfully launched, & everyone got aboard. Try & stay attached to it as it's flipped every 2 minutes (assuming that you can right it), and; stay warm, communicate, signal for help... Let alone, haul aboard & treat the injured, keep your supplies aboard/attached & accounted for just as you would an immobile, unconscious crew member...
Plus deal with the repeated mayhem created by said vessel flipping, as well as the injuries created & exacerbated by such.

BTW, the above is but a partial list of the SNAFU's which one can encounter when abandoning a vessel. And assumes nothing catastrophic, such as holes in the RIB, or severely injured crew, etc.
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Old 31-05-2015, 05:39   #126
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Re: Importance of Life-raft when coastal cruising?

One (of many) items unmentioned, but Critical above...
Where are folks onboard instructed to go when there's a fire, & why?
PS: Separate question (albeit relevant). Where do you keep your propane, & the gasoline (petrol) for your outboard?

So what's plan-B now that your RIB's melted along with the aft 1/3 of your primary vessel?

Also, I dare you to try lowering your RIB, & hauling it up alongside the cockpit, when you have no way on & "only" 8' (2-3m) seas are running (& or concurrently with a 2-4kt current, along with 20+kt winds).
And seriously, PLEASE, by all means, the few bold enough to try this, please write an AAR & post it.
AAR = After Action Report.

FYI: There are Significant reasons why professional craft tend to launch their small vessels, parallel to the main vessel, when underway. Or even when DIW. And why to some degree why such also makes more sense than trying to do so from davits, especially on much smaller vessels (sic).
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Old 31-05-2015, 05:55   #127
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Re: Importance of Life-raft when coastal cruising?

Of course if a fire prevents access to the life raft or a fallen mast sweeps it from the deck and then punches a hole in the hull......

.....always maybes with boats. Weigh up the risks, make own decisions..... And suck up the consequences. Lol.
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Old 31-05-2015, 07:07   #128
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Re: Importance of Life-raft when coastal cruising?

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Originally Posted by UNCIVILIZED View Post
One (of many) items unmentioned, but Critical above...
Where are folks onboard instructed to go when there's a fire, & why?
PS: Separate question (albeit relevant). Where do you keep your propane, & the gasoline (petrol) for your outboard?

So what's plan-B now that your RIB's melted along with the aft 1/3 of your primary vessel?

Also, I dare you to try lowering your RIB, & hauling it up alongside the cockpit, when you have no way on & "only" 8' (2-3m) seas are running (& or concurrently with a 2-4kt current, along with 20+kt winds).
And seriously, PLEASE, by all means, the few bold enough to try this, please write an AAR & post it.
AAR = After Action Report.

FYI: There are Significant reasons why professional craft tend to launch their small vessels, parallel to the main vessel, when underway. Or even when DIW. And why to some degree why such also makes more sense than trying to do so from davits, especially on much smaller vessels (sic).
You make some valid points but omit to recognise that many of them apply equally to abandoning to a liferaft which can also be flipped over and over and that liferafts are also often stored on the coachroof immediately above the galley where a fire may have started or are stored down below in the fire area anyway.

this is not a simple subject at all and compromises are inevitable.
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Old 02-06-2015, 12:20   #129
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Re: Importance of Life-raft when coastal cruising?

Based on what I have learned from many years in search and rescue, the best plan is to protect your boat or run it aground if you are in a position that you can. Anything else comes under the heading of Plan "B" and in preparing for going to plan "B" you get the best you can, according to what is best for you financially, and what you can fore see as a worst case situation. The need for a dinghy or a life raft for survival, is always questionable, as proven by the Mary Celeste, or more recently the John and Olaf (In both cases the crews may have survived if they had stayed with their boats). If you can stay with your boat as long as possible the better your chances might be....and if you can get it to a beach it will provide you with more survival material than you can carry on a dinghy or raft...
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Old 02-06-2015, 17:45   #130
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Re: Importance of Life-raft when coastal cruising?

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Based on what I have learned from many years in search and rescue, the best plan is to protect your boat or run it aground if you are in a position that you can. Anything else comes under the heading of Plan "B" and in preparing for going to plan "B" you get the best you can, according to what is best for you financially, and what you can fore see as a worst case situation. The need for a dinghy or a life raft for survival, is always questionable, as proven by the Mary Celeste, or more recently the John and Olaf (In both cases the crews may have survived if they had stayed with their boats). If you can stay with your boat as long as possible the better your chances might be....and if you can get it to a beach it will provide you with more survival material than you can carry on a dinghy or raft...
It is true that way too many people leave their vessel into a life raft when it would have been safer to remain with the main vessel. But that does NOT 'prove' life raft as being questionable. Not in the slightest. It just proves the need for more knowledge and training that you 'don't leave your vessel until it leaves you'.

And to the person who claims a rib or dingy is as safe as a life raft! NOT TRUE. If it's an appropriately approved life raft and rated for the number of crew, then it will always be safer than a rib or dingy. And it's very hard to be thrown out of an approved life raft that is suitable for the type of sailing you do. Yes, you can be turn over and over in very bad conditions, but NO you won't necessarily be 'thrown out' in an approved life raft. You can guarantee in the same conditions you WILL be thrown out in a rib or dingy.

But again, whether you need to carry one or not, depends on the type of sailing your doing.
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Old 02-06-2015, 18:31   #131
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Re: Importance of Life-raft when coastal cruising?

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It is true that way too many people leave their vessel into a life raft when it would have been safer to remain with the main vessel. But that does NOT 'prove' life raft as being questionable. Not in the slightest. It just proves the need for more knowledge and training that you 'don't leave your vessel until it leaves you'.

And to the person who claims a rib or dingy is as safe as a life raft! NOT TRUE. If it's an appropriately approved life raft and rated for the number of crew, then it will always be safer than a rib or dingy. And it's very hard to be thrown out of an approved life raft that is suitable for the type of sailing you do. Yes, you can be turn over and over in very bad conditions, but NO you won't necessarily be 'thrown out' in an approved life raft. You can guarantee in the same conditions you WILL be thrown out in a rib or dingy.

But again, whether you need to carry one or not, depends on the type of sailing your doing.
I don't 'claim' anything but since in our case we now studiously avoid 'perfect storm' conditions think of needing a means of departing the boat more likely for other reasons than 50ft breaking seas. and as one who was at sea in the area during the infamous Fastnet 1979 storm and noted that most of the sad deaths involved crews taking to or using their liferafts, often when the mothership itself eventually survived. We previously carried liferafts on our boats for 30years, thankfully without ever needing to deploy one. A friend however was once using his motor boat as the starter boat for the YC regatta races and a rag fell on the generator exhaust and caught fire filling the boat with smoke. They took to their liferaft as a result but in that instance a RIB would have been just as useful.

So it all depends and a crystal ball would be very helpful!
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Old 02-06-2015, 20:12   #132
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Re: Importance of Life-raft when coastal cruising?

In the U.S., there are about 10 sailing fatalities per year according to USCG statistics.

Coastal sailing, by definition, means within sight of land. That means you want to be able to self-rescue, which a dinghy gives you and a life-raft does not.

Given the low risk and desire to be able to self-rescue, we use our inflatable dinghy as our lifesaving device. When underway it's towed behind us, motor and oars locked on, so it's already in the water and ready to go. We have a waterproof ditch bag kept tethered in the dinghy, and I generally helm with my PFD and knife on so I should be able to cut the painter if necessary.

We wouldn't abandon ship unless it sunk, and since its capable of floating entirely flooded, the boat would have to be in pieces for that to happen.

I see no reason why a life-raft would be better than our dinghy for our purpose, and a few reasons why it wouldn't be nearly as good.

For offshore, different matter.
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Old 02-06-2015, 20:30   #133
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Re: Importance of Life-raft when coastal cruising?

An out of control fire aboard would be another good reason to abandon ship.
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Old 02-06-2015, 20:47   #134
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Importance of Life-raft when coastal cruising?

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...When underway it's towed behind us, motor and oars locked on, so it's already in the water and ready to go. We have a waterproof ditch bag kept tethered in the dinghy, and I generally helm with my PFD and knife on so I should be able to cut the painter if necessary.

No criticism meant, I'm just asking for clarification and your experience.

You always tow with the motor on the dinghy? And the ditch bag in the dink too while towing? I often see motor yachts tow big RIBs with a big motor on it but it never seemed like a good idea to me. And I never see sailboats tow a dinghy with the motor on. I usually tow my light air floor dinghy but never with the motor on it.

What has your experience been so far in rough weather and strong winds? Any issues with the motor in following seas? Any issues with the dinghy flipping?


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Old 02-06-2015, 21:38   #135
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Re: Importance of Life-raft when coastal cruising?

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No criticism meant, I'm just asking for clarification and your experience.

You always tow with the motor on the dinghy? And the ditch bag in the dink too while towing? I often see motor yachts tow big RIBs with a big motor on it but it never seemed like a good idea to me. And I never see sailboats tow a dinghy with the motor on. I usually tow my light air floor dinghy but never with the motor on it.

What has your experience been so far in rough weather and strong winds? Any issues with the motor in following seas? Any issues with the dinghy flipping?


S/V B'Shert
We live overlooking theAtlantic ICW and see lots of sailboats as well as the motor boats pass by towing dinghies with the motor mounted on the transom and halfway tilted by the drag. It seems daft to me, way too much drag to sap speed and/or fuel,never mind the risk of dunking the motor. We have davits and even then will only leave the 9.9hp motor on the dinghy, a 310 RIB if we are in calm sheltered waters, never offshore.We have a pack of signal flares kept in the RIB underseat bag but our ditch bag is kept in a cockpit locker ready to grab and go if needed.
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