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Old 28-03-2008, 15:18   #1
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Life raft recommendations?

I've just got the call that my old Plastimo 6 person "Offshore Plus" life raft isn't worth repairing (Plastimo USA) so I find myself in the market for a replacement.

Any recommendations for the most bang for the buck?

Needs:
  • actual life raft (I don't want to use my dinghy, etc)
  • space for 2 adults and 2 kids (7 & 9 yrs old), I was thinking of going with a 6 person raft vs. a 4 because the incremental cost isn't that much, and there may be additional crew on any big crossings where the life raft is more likely to be needed
  • use along west coast from north of Vancouver Island to southern Mexico
  • I have a separate ditch bag so I only want minimal supplies in the raft itself. If I'm incapacitated I seriously doubt my wife could manhandle the one we have now. So I want to keep the raft itself as light as practical.
Thanks for any advice!

Craig
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Old 28-03-2008, 16:13   #2
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Originally Posted by Cadence10m View Post
I've just got the call that my old Plastimo 6 person "Offshore Plus" life raft isn't worth repairing (Plastimo USA) so I find myself in the market for a replacement.

Any recommendations for the most bang for the buck?

Needs:
  • actual life raft (I don't want to use my dinghy, etc)
  • space for 2 adults and 2 kids (7 & 9 yrs old), I was thinking of going with a 6 person raft vs. a 4 because the incremental cost isn't that much, and there may be additional crew on any big crossings where the life raft is more likely to be needed
  • use along west coast from north of Vancouver Island to southern Mexico
  • I have a separate ditch bag so I only want minimal supplies in the raft itself. If I'm incapacitated I seriously doubt my wife could manhandle the one we have now. So I want to keep the raft itself as light as practical.
Thanks for any advice!

Craig
One result of google search on: liferaft choice site:www.cruisersforum.com
Gord gives a site of life raft tests in a wave pool.

Life Raft Analysis


tinker traveller and switlik md-2 compared in Potato Patch outside of San Francisco Bay in 1994.
1994 Life Raft Test

Test of 5 rafts in same area as above in 1991
US SAILING - Safety At Sea - Safety Studies - 1991 Liferaft Test

John
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Old 28-03-2008, 16:54   #3
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Going to the 6-person is going to increase the weight and size, an issue you've already thought about. I think a lot depends on your wallet for this safety item. There are some really nice, high end rafts. Winslow has nice packaging options that can make the raft fit into convenient lockers. They also offer 3-year re-inspects. But you pay some serious dollars for these. There are a number of lower cost offshore rafts that don't have all the features, aren't solas, etc, but cost a lot less.

Paul L
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Old 16-08-2008, 19:17   #4
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Cadence 10, I've had a bit of experience with some liferafts, but some time ago. There are some pretty good ones on the market, not cheap but whats the value of you and your family at that time? I took part in some exercises off Sydney ( through the Middle Harbour Yacht Club, NSW Safety Committee)some years back and we had two brands both were supposedly good. One lot that was supplied(RFD) were new and the other was only s/hand. I appreciated that the agents thought enough of us to provide new ones and the others leaked!( these had trouble in the infamous fastnet race) Not so good when sharks were circling around us. Just recently I bought a s/hand l/raft which proved disasterous. It was a well known French design.( not Plastimo) When on opening the f/case it was completely rotten, yet the seal was still in place. I should have known better with the same brand dinghy I had, the floor fell out then the transom. Similar things happened to two friends of mine. So if you buy a s/hand one of any brand have it checked . I would suggest a 6 person raft as there's not a lot of room in them anyway and depending where you are, take all the water , flares you can, and a good eperb .You can have any provisions you like included when either buying new or getting it checked. The rafts motion can make you very sick. Always step up to a liferaft.
Hope that this is some help. Nature boyI
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Old 16-08-2008, 21:24   #5
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Zodiak, the name brings shudders to me and my bank account
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Old 17-08-2008, 21:30   #6
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Thanks to Cal40John and Gord, of course, I did my own research and made my own decisions. The Winslow series seem the best engineered, and apparently did well in the testing regimen described in the articles.

Though I have a multihull, which is unsinkable, in whatever position it finds itself, there is always the nasty possiblity of a fire at sea. This is my greatest fear, hence the overabundance of devices to fight and avoid being consumed by flames and smoke. In the event of need, I would like to have options, in addition to the dinghies I will be carrying. The Winslow fills that need for an instantly available personal escape pod in case of that disaster for me. As far as the cost, as they say, "How much is your life (and your crew's lives) worth?"
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Old 29-12-2008, 22:03   #7
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I currently have a revere.
But when its time to live aboard, and cruise full time, there is not other raft than the winslow offshore.

As you said what is your life worth ?

I also will have oxygen, and a IED on board as well.
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Old 30-12-2008, 00:47   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lolanreg@smartc View Post
Zodiak, the name brings shudders to me and my bank account
Ill second that sentiment
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Old 30-12-2008, 01:14   #9
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I've just got the call that my old Plastimo 6 person "Offshore Plus" life raft isn't worth repairing Craig
Who said that crap? A salesman?

Be careful! You are talking about a $3,000 investment.

Is it slashed to blazers? Is the structure ripped? Is the gas system ruined?

If not then who and why are they telling you this?


Mark
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Old 30-12-2008, 02:01   #10
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Ours is Avon 6 pax.
Just opened/deployed it after 3 years since the last inspection...worked just like it was supposed to...the only thing we noticed was a bit of mold...this seemed to be from the seal around the shell letting a bit of water in.
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Old 30-12-2008, 05:00   #11
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If the name Paul Siege comes up in regard to life rafts run, don't walk away as fast as you can.
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Old 30-12-2008, 09:11   #12
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Bobfnbw, IED, would that be an achronym for an external defibrillator or an improvised explosive device?
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Old 30-12-2008, 12:10   #13
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Haven't used ours, thank goodness, but my lady and I went to watch while it was opened for servicing. Very informative and well worth the time as we opened it using its own trip cord. Service is supposedly due every year but we usually do it every other year and it's due again ....sigh.....

Ours is a Givens Offshore 6 person. It's in a cannister mounted on the foredeck. (Yes, I know. Not the most ideal spot but the ONLY spot we've found). I've watched the videos and they are impressive but the rascal is heavy. I'm going to be relying on a bit of an adenraline surge if I have to launch by myself. Right now it really takes a couple people to get off the boat and into the truck. I do like the fully ballasted designs but when the time comes to replace it, I will look at other comparable brands. Particularly in terms of storage size. Weight ... well..... if the extra weight means it won't be coming apart around my ears, it might be acceptable.

You might want to also consider the costs of service. I figure about $700 US unless it needs more like a hydrostatic test of the inflation bottle.

p.s., I too am familiar with the quality of Zodiac inflatables. A friend stepped through the floor of his after less than a year and I lost the floor to mine as well.
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Old 30-12-2008, 17:24   #14
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Before my valise packed Switlik was "never returned" from OR&R I stowed it a cockput locker at the bottom. In passages I lashed it on the seat behind the helm which mad a nice seat with good visibility for long stays at the helm. Easy spot to deploy too. And most of the time it was below decks and out of the weather.
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Old 01-01-2009, 09:30   #15
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Not supposed to use your valise liferaft for a seat!,could cause damage to raft.I purchased valise Plastimo offshore 6 person raft for $900.,with current certifacation.Previous owner paid $800. for it,but Plastimo charged him $1000. to recertify.
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