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Old 29-12-2018, 17:56   #1
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Life raft advice please

Looking for some sage advice. I have a life-raft on my Manta 42 which was new in 2015 and up for service now. I am not going to be doing anything other than coastal cruising in New Zealand waters for at least 2 years. My question is around the servicing and whether to even have it on board.

The life-raft does take up a fair bit of space in the boat and my thought was to store it at home until I do anything other than coastal. I welcome your thoughts

Additionally, if I choose to keep it on board is there any real reason to have it serviced and repacked if I am very unlikely to use it. I assume they don't suddenly stop working and the service is more for checking and repacking and if I were to need to use it the chances of failure are very small

What does anyone else do please in these circumstances.

Cheers
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Old 29-12-2018, 19:09   #2
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Re: Life raft advice please

Sailing along the coast there are more things that can sink you than when you're sailing further out. If you do actually get into a situation where you need a life raft, would you prefer to have one aboard or would you rather have it gathering dust in the garage? You probably haven't had a flat tire in your car for a while. Did you remove the jack and spare from the boot because they take up space? If I had a life-raft I would keep it serviced and keep it readily available on board.
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Old 29-12-2018, 19:29   #3
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Re: Life raft advice please

For coastal cruising we've never had an inspected life raft aboard, and don't feel that we've been unsafe. Both of us would much rather climb onto a RIB with a substantial outboard motor during an emergency than into a life raft. Along the coastline, a RIB can carry you to safety or get out of the way of danger, a life raft on the other hand.... will just get you killed as you get smashed up against the rocks on shore.

Our 62 now has a new life raft, but that's only because we planned to cross an ocean. If I was the OP, I'd still carry the life raft but not spend the money to have it serviced, which is what we did with the 53 in the Med. Along the coast, one is much less likely to be out sailing in bad weather, so an emergency that would precipitate the need for a life raft would more likely be a taking on water situation or fire, so our emergency drills involve one person immediately launching the dinghy (life boat), which can be done almost as quickly as the life raft. Our procedure is no different than what the cruise ships do in an emergency.
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Old 03-01-2019, 12:49   #4
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Re: Life raft advice please

I believe it is important to have it onboard, no need to take the risk and having dinghy and life raft you have back up for an un planned incident

I have a viking for 6 people and i am about to service it, it is so expensive that i am really considering buying a new one, any suggestion or brand?

Thank you
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Old 03-01-2019, 12:56   #5
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Re: Life raft advice please

Before deciding on a new liferaft compare the costs of the inspection every 3 years for the different models. Compare purchase and inspection costs for a 12 to maybe 15 years lifespan.
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Old 03-01-2019, 13:26   #6
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Re: Life raft advice please

If you have a seaworthy dinghy, that's something at least. I always like to have a plan B & C though. Nothing worse than the feeling of stupidity when a crew member slips beneath the waves, and the liferaft you paid for is in the garage.
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Old 03-01-2019, 13:55   #7
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Re: Life raft advice please

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardhead View Post
If you have a seaworthy dinghy, that's something at least. I always like to have a plan B & C though. Nothing worse than the feeling of stupidity when a crew member slips beneath the waves, and the liferaft you paid for is in the garage.
You do realize of course, that very few people who primarily do only coastal cruising actually have a life raft. It's not required, and not necessary.
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Old 03-01-2019, 14:49   #8
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Re: Life raft advice please

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Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
You do realize of course, that very few people who primarily do only coastal cruising actually have a life raft. It's not required, and not necessary.
I understand all that, but I wouldn't flatly say it's not necessary. Nothing is necessary until it is. I'd definitely agree it's a valid choice not to have one, and I didn't have one for many years going out alone, or with other young guys. Search and rescue response is good a majority of the time, in most developed areas.

But at night in rough weather, and in cold water, it could save a life. I'm more than content to take that risk and many worse for myself, but if an older passenger, my wife, or a child died because of it, I'd personally feel stupid for not having one, knowing that I could have. I can afford it, and would just feel stupid otherwise if something happened. I really don't mean offense to anyone else, but there are actual realistic scenarios it could make a difference. Statistically, odds are you're fine.
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Old 04-01-2019, 12:00   #9
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Re: Life raft advice please

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elaine and Tony View Post
Looking for some sage advice. I have a life-raft on my Manta 42 which was new in 2015 and up for service now. I am not going to be doing anything other than coastal cruising in New Zealand waters for at least 2 years. My question is around the servicing and whether to even have it on board.

The life-raft does take up a fair bit of space in the boat and my thought was to store it at home until I do anything other than coastal. I welcome your thoughts

Additionally, if I choose to keep it on board is there any real reason to have it serviced and repacked if I am very unlikely to use it. I assume they don't suddenly stop working and the service is more for checking and repacking and if I were to need to use it the chances of failure are very small

What does anyone else do please in these circumstances.

Cheers
Whether or not you have it serviced now (you might want to see if failure to have it serviced voids the warranty)*, ask yourself whether you are concerned about fire aboard. Having somewhere to go if there is an explosion of propane or a fire that spreads is one justification for keeping the liferaft with you on the boat.

People vary considerably in how they think about the dangers; some do not carry liferafts at all. The subject has been discussed here, often, and if you're interested, use the CF Custom Google Search (under the Search menu) to find a few other threads. It seems to come down to costs vs. evaluation of the probability of the catastrophe.

If there are children involved, many would insist upon the liferaft.


*Right now, it is worth something. Liferafts do fail to inflate properly, seams fail, inspections ensure that all is still well with them. Be a shame to try to use it, and have it fall apart on you.

Ann
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Old 04-01-2019, 13:54   #10
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Re: Life raft advice please

Someone once asked me why I kept some gear that was unlikely to be used or needed around instead of putting it in storage someplace till I needed it. I said, if I needed it, and I knew I had it safely packed away someplace, wouldn't I feel like twice a fool for having BOUGHT IT, and then NOT CARRIED IT?

The raft can't do any good at home, unless you need a wading pool. On the boat...hey, it just might come in hand, turning an "emergency" into just a damned inconvenience.

I'd vote for finding it a place on the boat, or selling it outright, since they do "rot" on the shelf as each year expires.
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Old 04-01-2019, 14:48   #11
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Life raft advice please

I understand the conundrum. If I may I will share a few thoughts. First, you need to check the local rules. In the US current certification is only required for commercial vessels not recreational.
Second, decide if your life raft is appropriate. My boat came with a six person offshore raft. There are rarely more than two of us. The size and weight of the six person raft made it problematic for my wife and I to launch with both of us uninjured.

We went to the Annapolis boat show and I saw a 4 person offshore life raft. I called my wife over and asked her to lift it. She did so easily. I said sold. We went from a life raft weighing over 100 lbs to 37 pounds.

Third, sort of, is having a life raft too large is dangerous. Two people in a six person raft can receive serious injuries being thrown about. I figure a 4 person raft about right for the two of us.

Finally, we carry our raft all the time below decks. I understand the idea of an inflatable or some other dinghy being used as a pseudo life raft. I just don’t buy it. I can envision someone in a nasty situation hopping into their RIB and trying to get the engine started. Even if they did, how much fuel range would they have.

Many years ago my first motorcycle was a Honda 350 combo dirt/street bike. It didn’t do either well.
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Old 04-01-2019, 15:21   #12
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Life raft advice please

I’ve had a 6 person life raft on my boat since I bought her in 2012. It was out of survey when I bought the boat and so I have treated the raft as just a convenient seat on the foredeck, which is all that I could be SURE it was capable of.

Now that I am about to make my first open ocean passage I have replaced it with a new raft as the cost of a survey, combined with the fact that the raft was too large for a solo sailor, made a new smaller raft a better option.

In my decision making process was the acknowledgment that any weather likely to overwhelm my boat was going to make getting into the RIB a pretty pointless exercise and getting into any life raft a very uncomfortable experience. What I was most worried about was a fire, far from land. (It helped that the guy selling the raft I chose had the same boat as me and felt the same way). A fire close to land makes the RIB on the davits a practical option. But a RIB in the open ocean would just be a matter of time before it was overwhelmed.

I have kept the old raft and when time and weather permits I am going to try launching it with the kids as a play toy (after notifying the local coast guard) to satisfy my own curiosity about its function.

I’ll post the results here on CF as it may be informative.

Matt
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Old 04-01-2019, 15:36   #13
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Re: Life raft advice please

A fact to consider is that the costs of having the life raft professionally repacked may exceed the cost of replacement with new.
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Old 04-01-2019, 15:54   #14
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Re: Life raft advice please

I bought a life raft for an offshore voyage. Delivery to bring the boat home after I bought it. Raft is now due for a service.
I sail coastal sheltered waters. Most of the time. Ussualy towing my inflatable.
I have taken it off the boat. My intention is to have it serviced. Depending upon budget constraints.
To some extent an unserviced raft is worthless. If serviced it’s worth something.
Will I ever need it. Most probably not.
Why get it serviced? If it’s not two expensive why not? It will leave my options open. Should I decide to venture further. Which in my case will still be coastal. Just a bit further.

Part of my reasoning. I have had a fire on board.
It was small and dealt with by ourselves. Never considered abandoning boat. Didn’t have a raft at the time.

My life raft may be just a placebo but it provides some peace of mind particularly to my crew. Who was on board on the wrong side of the fire from the hatch.
If it keeps her happy to continue sailing. It’s a small cost.
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