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Old 22-02-2009, 08:13   #1
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Life Raft on Deck

Hello Everyone,

Just a thought.... If your your ship broaches or is rolled, what are the odds of losing your raft in the process? Maybe a large enough wave could sweep the deck and take it as well? This paired with our jib sheets getting caught on the raft's container has us thinking we might want to repack the switlik and place it down below.
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Old 22-02-2009, 09:03   #2
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Originally Posted by crzngreen View Post
If your ship broaches or is rolled, what are the odds of losing your raft in the process? Maybe a large enough wave could sweep the deck and take it as well? This paired with our jib sheets getting caught on the raft's container has us thinking we might want to repack the switlik and place it down below.
On a mono, a large hole could have the boat sinking in seconds, the same is true of fire. Both of these are the primary reasons ffor having a liferaft, and are the primary reasons why it has to be available on the upperdeck, rather than at the bottom of a locker.

The stern is the best position for quick release, but also the most vulnerable to a broach. It also makes a significant weight at the stern leading to a balance problem and gets in the way of all the other "stuff" on the stern especially for stern-to berthing.

On the saloon roof, aft of the mast is the best position for weight balance on the boat, and provides the best protected position, but makes it difficult to launch unless you are sifficiently motivated by fear!

In front of the mast is very vulnerable to big waves when going to windward, gets in the way of sail handling and anchoring, and also affects the balance.
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Old 22-02-2009, 10:15   #3
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When I bough my six man I considered all the options of position and vulnerability, not least from thieves. I decided on a valise version and kept it in a dedicated cockpit locker, along with a panic bag full of other goodies, including a couple of cans of Guinness. She was a heavy forty footer, so we had the locker space, but I always feel it is better to keep them out of the elements if you can.
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Old 22-02-2009, 10:37   #4
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I’m of the same feeling as Jolly Roger
I put mine sort of half in one of my aft lazzarets.
It’s not in the weather...not a snag hazard and not so attractive to those with sticky fingers….also make a dandy place to sit 
It’s mounted on its side in chocks with a webbing strap around it to make it easy to deploy, with a knife tied of next to it.
That cowling (red arrow) and the bit of deck hatch behind it are one piece.
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Old 22-02-2009, 12:51   #5
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One of my friends lost his life raft during a storm off the South African coast. His monohull took a knockdown and the raft disappeared. Not good.

On our catamaran, Exit Only, we have a special life raft locker in the cockpit that can be opened from above or below in an emergency.
We stored our raft in the locker which worked well for us.
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Old 22-02-2009, 12:54   #6
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I did the same as Jolly Roger. Valise in locker.
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Old 22-02-2009, 13:04   #7
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sorry to be off-topic, but...

...wow! James! Those are some gorgeous davits.
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Old 22-02-2009, 13:43   #8
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Another advantage to a valise is since it is stowed below...no UV degradation. I don't know how many hard case liferafts I have seen on deck looking like they are on their last legs in the tropics. The valise does not have to be stored down deep in a locker below. In fact that would be negligent of the skipper to do so. On my Ingrid 38, we kept it handy on a upper sea-berth. The only thing that was on top of it was our ditch bag.
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Old 22-02-2009, 14:10   #9
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A w32 with experienced sank, apparently with almost no warning, North of Hawaii a couple of years ago. The deck mounted raft and Epirb deployed and led rescuers to the location in less than a day. They found some debris and the raft, but unfortunately no sign of the crew. If a boat was to sink so fast the crew had difficulty escaping, do you think they'd have had time to dig out a raft from a locker or down below and deploy it.

BTW, conditions were moderate, no overly strong winds or high seas so crew should have been able to get to the raft, if they were able. They weren't able to determine what happened to the boat by the little debris that was covered. Speculate they rammed a container or some other large derelict object. Must have been something really big cause W32s are built hell for stout.

I'll vote for deck mounting. We had ours in a valise that we kept in the cockpit during passages and stored in the lazarette at anchor. It got enough salt in it to ruin the raft by the time we had it inspected some years after the trip. Pays to have your raft looked after regularly.
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Old 22-02-2009, 14:16   #10
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The modern liferaft in a container is packed in a vacuum seal, thus very much reduced chance of degradation, and the container protects from UV damage and point iimpact that would damage the raft.

If you want protection from sinking really rapidly from all that lead in the keel, buy a catamaran
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Old 22-02-2009, 14:26   #11
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If you want protection from sinking really rapidly from all that lead in the keel, buy a catamaran
If that's not possible, have the life raft on deck equipped with a hydrostatic release.
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Old 22-02-2009, 16:16   #12
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Our liferaft is secured by some pretty heavy duty brackets forward of the mast on our Gulfstar 44 cutter. The staysail is cut pretty high so that it doesn't catch on the valise. While there are other locations that might be more accessible or secure, I don't ever plan to use it!
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Old 23-02-2009, 00:31   #13
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Hmm... In my case I favour stowed in the aft end of the cockpit under the tiller. This pretty much unusable space anyway and reduces cockpit volume; however it does increase the potential of water ingress.
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Old 24-02-2009, 17:17   #14
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Hammar are the manufacturer of the most common hydrostatic release unit. Bear in mind that the standard hydrostatic release unit will not release until it is at a depth of somewhere between 2m (minimum) to 4m (maximum). You can buy units that release at a greater depth as well.

Dont forget to attach your painter to a hard point via a "weak-link"... i.e. something that is strong enough to allow the buoyancy of the liferaft canister to initiate inflation of the liferaft, but not so strong that it will allow the inflated liferaft to be dragged under by the sinking ship. Some hysdrostatic release units come with a built in weak-link, but if not, a 50kg cable tie will probably do just as well. FWIW, from memory, according to SOLAS regulations, the pull load on the painter necessary to initiate inflation of your lieferaft should not exceed 150N (15kg, or 33 lbs).

When we carry a liferaft it is located on the cab top; aft of the mast, forward of the companionway. We lash it down with 8mm rope, with a hysdrostatic release unit & weak link.
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Old 25-02-2009, 04:18   #15
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You bring up a good question. The Pardey's in Storm Tactics bring that up too. Ours is mounted on the deck aft of the mast, in a hard case, with a fabric cover.





I too wonder if it is secure enough. Lashing it down somehow would be good.
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