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Old 01-02-2013, 23:00   #1
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Life Raft Brand?

I need to buy a new life raft.
6 Persons.
Sailing plans for next 3 years include Biscay and ARC.
I hope nobody has direct "personnal" experience but I wonder if there is any advice on brand, type etc that should guide my purchase?

I do not want to scrimp on this item!

Mark n Sam
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Old 02-02-2013, 06:32   #2
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Re: Life Raft Brand?

For construction and off-shore survivability, the only Life Raft I would purchase is the Switlik SR-6.

I shopped around and then went to a liferaft repair shop and asked advice. They showed me several life rafts, all rated off shore. Compared to the Switlik the other Liferafts looked like pool toys.

The US Coast Guard and the Austrailian Air Force also use this raft for rescue operations.

The downside is Switlik is expensive, but in my opinion, this is not something to skim on if you are crossing oceans.

I also own a Switlik SAR-6.
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Old 02-02-2013, 07:47   #3
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Re: Life Raft Brand?

Another alternative is the Winslow line of rafts that Practical Sailor rated very highly. Winslow has a range of rafts/options that one can choose from depending upon where one will be doing one's sailing, from near shore to far off-shore. We happen to prefer the 4-man Winslow Ultra Light in a valise pack as even my 4-11", 105#, wife can handle it and 99% of our sailing is within 150 miles of land or less so, presumably, we wouldn't have to be floating around too long before help arrived if necessary (we carry 3 EPIRB's just in case we need to reach out and touch someone!)

Good Luck...
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Old 02-02-2013, 07:57   #4
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Re: Life Raft Brand?

Switlik look amazing but brother, they do know how to charge for them!
I did say I didnt want to scrimp.....
That will teach me :-)
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:08   #5
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Re: Life Raft Brand?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thames 4 Blood View Post
Switlik look amazing but brother, they do know how to charge for them!
I did say I didnt want to scrimp.....
That will teach me :-)
As the salesman at a Boat Show once said to me
"It ain't the price you're will to pay when your standing on the dock that counts. It's the price you willing to pay when standing waist deep in water in your cockpit, 100 miles from shore!"
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:19   #6
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Re: Life Raft Brand?

I have a Winslow, expensive, but well made. Serviced it myself last season after it being in storage since 2008. It was packed in their optional vacuum bag and was still in excellent condition.
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:59   #7
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Re: Life Raft Brand?

An offshore raft that has a 3 year repack, is light enough for the weaker crew member to launch, can be repacked longer than 10 years and has repack facility in places you will likely need it. The era of spending 80 days in a liferaft are over. You' d be better to spend the extra pesos on a 2nd EPIRB and good firefighting equipment than to spend it on a high-end high cost liferaft. IMO. I have a Viking Raft
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:03   #8
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Re: Life Raft Brand?

Avoid Plastimo. On mine all the glued items fell apart just after warranty but before next scheduled repack. Would buy a Viking if I could.
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:37   #9
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Re: Life Raft Brand?

"It ain't the price you're will to pay when your standing on the dock that counts. It's the price you willing to pay when standing waist deep in water in your cockpit, 100 miles from shore!"

LOL... Brilliant! That sort of sells itself :-)
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:42   #10
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Re: Life Raft Brand?

Serious point... Is there any value in a 2nd EPIRB? I hadnt considered this but its actually a very valid idea.
Fire fighting kit must be top notch! I consider fire to be a greater hazard than all the uncharted reefs, sunken containers and frolicking sperm whales put together...
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:45   #11
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Re: Life Raft Brand?

The Winslow looks a sturdy piece of kit!
I wanted to see a few different models at the London boat show but they were very thin on the ground.
Plastimo... Shame as they are cheap but then thats the point and good advice. I will avoid. Thanks!
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Old 02-02-2013, 10:22   #12
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Re: Life Raft Brand?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thames 4 Blood View Post
"It ain't the price you're will to pay when your standing on the dock that counts. It's the price you willing to pay when standing waist deep in water in your cockpit, 100 miles from shore!"

LOL... Brilliant! That sort of sells itself :-)
Particularly if you are selling on fear to customers. In practice the pesos spent on safety items are limited.
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Old 02-02-2013, 10:51   #13
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Re: Life Raft Brand?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
Particularly if you are selling on fear to customers. In practice the pesos spent on safety items are limited.
Every time one installs a piece of equipment there always seems to be a piece of safety equipment that has to go along with it.
Half the cost of my propane stove was safety equipment.
If one goes off shore there are thousands and thousands of $ of so called safety equipment.
Every electrical device installed needs a fuse/circuit breaker and the proper wiring.
You need special shoes, special clothes, special hats and so on.
Is the money well spent? That depends on the person. The worse thing is the govment dictates what's required. People have to be protected from themselves .
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Old 02-02-2013, 11:37   #14
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Re: Life Raft Brand?

Agreed... My hobies include motorbikes, skiing and sailing... I havo so much safety equipment you would think I would live to 101!
Seriously thinking of jacking the whole lot in and taking up Chess :-)
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Old 02-02-2013, 12:23   #15
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Re: Life Raft Brand?

A friend of ours has a liferaft re-certification business. He likes Switlik and Viking. We were able to look up nearly every brand on the floor of his loft and I can say there were some differences between them.

I think for cruising close to home any liferaft will be perfectly adequate. The differences seem to address more the (unlikely for some) facts like sailing in cold, rough waters and far beyond reach of regular SAR.

One advice for any new buyer: do not buy 'one size' up - a liferaft should not be oversized for the number of crew.

b.
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