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Old 18-11-2014, 09:04   #1
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Life raft

Seems obvious but.... I normally sail with just the two of us, very occasionally with 4 crew total. My Zodiac 10 man open sea life raft is due for service. I'm thinking I should down size to a four man, may be two life rafts to replace it. The theory being that a ten man would maybe flip over if ever I had to use it in anger in rough weather. Any comments!

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Old 18-11-2014, 09:39   #2

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Re: Life raft

Have you ever sat inside a 4 person raft? Super small, I'd freak out If had to spend too much time in there. Switlik 6 and 4 person rafts both fit in the same size hard container.

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Old 18-11-2014, 17:27   #3
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Re: Life raft

Most currently made liferafts have large water ballast bags on the bottom of the raft that were developed to "Iceland" standards (were the testing of the new designs occurred) after the Fastnet race.

The raft is designed to stay upright in some really horrible conditions when these bags are filled, which they due automatically when the raft inflates.

Many times these rafts have been used and only 1, 2 or 3 people actually make it to the raft and they have survived OK.

You may get tossed around inside the raft if sea conditions are really bad, but at least you'll still be alive.

If you don't need the deck space for something else and your wife and yourself can launch the raft in heavy weather conditions and it is still serviceable, I would say just keep it. If it is at the end of it's service life (usually 10 to 12 years old), then you may want to get a new raft.
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Old 18-11-2014, 18:04   #4

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Re: Life raft

From what I've heard, even the "new" rafts with ballast bags are designed expecting a human ballast of a specific size. Two guys in a ten-man raft are going to be tossed around. In a "crowded" four man raft, they are more likely to be able to wedge themselves in place and get tossed a whole lot less. And, the raft will be riding lower & more stable in the water.

So...not having spent any quality time camping out in life rafts...from all I've read or been told, try to match the crew size to the raft size. I'd also vote for two 4-man rafts over one 8-man, simply because there are too many nagging questions and accusations about raft failures. There's also something to be said for buying a 4-5 man "now" and buying the second one in 18 months (half of whatever the mfr's period is), so they don't both require certification at the same time, and you at least have one raft on the boat at all times, rather than out for service for a month.

Easier for a shorthanded or injured crew to launch a smaller lighter raft, too.
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Old 18-11-2014, 18:36   #5
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Re: Life raft

As far as I am concerned, bigger is better up to a point. We have a six man raft for a crew of four. By the time we get our go bags and stuff inside the raft, it will be like six people are inside.
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Old 27-11-2014, 13:02   #6
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Re: Life raft

I have a 4 man life raft primarily because it is light enough for me to manhandle, even under adverse conditions. I singlehand 99.9% of the time so the only thing aboard should be me, my ditch bag, and whatever other emergency provisions I would have the opportunity to stow aboard.
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Old 27-11-2014, 15:15   #7
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Re: Life raft

I single hand with a 10 man liferaft. To move it takes ten men. If I am in trouble and even slightly injured I will not be able to launch it.

So I too am getting rid of it in favour of a 4 man valise.
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Old 28-11-2014, 00:32   #8
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Re: Life raft

Thanks for all the comments. Much appreciated. I'm going to try & part exchange the 10 man this weekend.
Happy sailing.

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Old 28-11-2014, 05:11   #9
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Re: Life raft

Have you read 'adrift' by Stephen Callahan? He spent 76 days at sea in a 6-man raft on his own, and i don't think he would have wanted it to be any smaller!
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Old 28-11-2014, 13:19   #10
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Re: Life raft

Ive got a 6 person raft and its about as heavy as I could realistically handle single handed in adverse conditions.

I suggest you two actually get in a 4 man raft and try it out. I would not want to be in my 6 man with 5 other guys...5 mermaids maybe.
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Old 28-11-2014, 13:39   #11
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Re: Life raft

Life raft manufacturers specifically state that you should size the raft to the expected number of occupants, and that it is better and safer to have four men in a four man life raft than in one designed for significantly more people.

For the cost of recerting your 10 man you could probably buy a brand new four man. And the new generation rafts, even the offshore ones, are shockingly compact and manageable. I'd get rid of the 10 man just to recover the space it takes up alone.

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