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Old 30-11-2018, 15:35   #1
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Life raft regulations, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific.

Hi all,

I've decided not to have my old liferaft recertified. Too old, too big, too heavy... too... you name it.

Started looking at my options and I see that the commonly sold, budget friendly brand here in Australia, Great Circle, offers a "Coastal" vs an "Ocean" model. Digging deeper into their literature, the cited difference is as follows:

"WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OCEANMASTERS & COASTMASTERS?
There are two main differences between Oceanmaster and Coastmaster Life Rafts. 1) The Oceanmaster has slightly more space than a similarly sized Coastmaster and 2) Oceanmasters are equipped with external boarding platforms to aid entry into the rafts while Coastmasters have traditional webbing and hard rung ladder and entry bridle systems."

So, at the significant price difference (30% more for the ocean version), and given that I sail mainly solo and would be buying a four person life raft as that is the smallest they offer, my main concern becomes regulations.

Is anyone aware of any regulation hurdles I might run in if I were to go ahead with my plan to travel the South Pacific and maybe New Zealand if all goes well? Do the NZ authorities insist on a particular ISO certification? I guess I mention NZ because I have read a lot about their regulations and how/if they apply to foreign flagged vessels.

Matt
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Old 30-11-2018, 17:30   #2
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Re: Life raft regulations, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific.

That was before AFAIK. On a boat under Au flag, Australian rules apply, NZ authorities can't force their safety rules on you.
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Old 30-11-2018, 20:35   #3
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Re: Life raft regulations, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific.

GILow, for pity's sake, if you buy a 4 man one, take crew with you; otherwise, you need a 2 person, and even that may not have enough ballast for one.

Everything i've ever read suggests that making entry easier is a benefit in a seaway.

Ann
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Old 30-11-2018, 20:54   #4
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Re: Life raft regulations, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific.

My knowledge is a few years old now, but AFAIK there is no requirement to carry a liferaft in Australian waters, (although ridiculously this might vary from state to state) and Aus registered boats don't have to carry one in NZ either.

But consult the relevant authorities.
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Old 30-11-2018, 23:40   #5
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Re: Life raft regulations, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific.

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Originally Posted by JPA Cate View Post
GILow, for pity's sake, if you buy a 4 man one, take crew with you; otherwise, you need a 2 person, and even that may not have enough ballast for one.

Everything i've ever read suggests that making entry easier is a benefit in a seaway.

Ann
Ann, I know what you mean, but I do not seem to be able to find a two-man with a roof.
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Old 01-12-2018, 01:19   #6
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Re: Life raft regulations, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific.

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My knowledge is a few years old now, but AFAIK there is no requirement to carry a liferaft in Australian waters, (although ridiculously this might vary from state to state) and Aus registered boats don't have to carry one in NZ either.

But consult the relevant authorities.

I guess I am curious about the subtleties of enforcement in NZ in particular.

Threads I have read here from time to time hint at a pretty “emphatic” attitude by the NZ authorities and I am sure I read of vessels flagged to other countries running into compliance issues beyond the obvious quarantine related stuff.
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Old 01-12-2018, 01:27   #7
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Re: Life raft regulations, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific.

From Bermuda West as far as Madagascar and everywhere inbetween (including NZ) nobody has cared much about our life raft. I might have written the make and model one or two forms but have never been asked for certification details anywhere and nobody has ever wanted to even see it.
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Old 01-12-2018, 01:30   #8
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Re: Life raft regulations, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific.

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Originally Posted by GILow View Post
I guess I am curious about the subtleties of enforcement in NZ in particular.

Threads I have read here from time to time hint at a pretty “emphatic” attitude by the NZ authorities and I am sure I read of vessels flagged to other countries running into compliance issues beyond the obvious quarantine related stuff.
There was a case a few years ago where NZ authorities tried to enforce their regulations on a foreign yacht. It went to court, the authorities lost, and there have been no problems since as far as I know. Certainly we had no problems, and we don't have a large amount of safety stuff on board (certainly nowhere near what would be required for a cat 1 NZ boat). The NZ auorities were thorough and professional and very friendly.
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Old 01-12-2018, 02:06   #9
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Re: Life raft regulations, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific.

Yes, NZ regs only apply to nz registered vessels. They will be interested in your biofouling when you arrive, but not much else.

Agree that you should look for the smallest possible. A big liferaft will take off with only one on board.
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Old 01-12-2018, 12:37   #10
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Re: Life raft regulations, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific.

Quote:
There was a case a few years ago where NZ authorities tried to enforce their regulations on a foreign yacht. It went to court, the authorities lost, and there have been no problems since as far as I know.
It was a reaction to the losses in the "Queen's birthday" storm in June of 1994. Called "section 21", it said that all vessels, including those of foreign registry, had to pass a category one racing yacht inspection before they would be granted outbound clearance from Customs. For a couple of years it was a big issue, until a very determined American yottie took it all the way to the NZ supreme court, where it was ruled illegal and dismissed.

Since that time, foreign yachts are not burdened with the rule. There is no requirement for you to even have a liferaft, Matt, let alone a specification that it must meet, in NZ or any other place we have sailed... we have never owned one in all the years we've been cruising.

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Old 01-12-2018, 12:40   #11
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Re: Life raft regulations, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific.

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Originally Posted by JPA Cate View Post
GILow, for pity's sake, if you buy a 4 man one, take crew with you; otherwise, you need a 2 person, and even that may not have enough ballast for one...
I've also been unable to find a 2-man raft with canopy. Do they exist?

[I'm fairly confident the advice about NZ is correct: NZ authorities have no say on how much safety gear is carried by foreign yachts. There was such an uproar when they tried that I believe the regulations were changed, though of course any country is entitled to prevent any ship/vessel leaving port in a clearly "unseaworthy" condition.]
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Old 01-12-2018, 13:09   #12
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Re: Life raft regulations, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific.

Lives were lost in that Sydney-Hobart race when there were liferafts with too few people in them. The wind just picked them up and the ones inside were cast into the sea and lost.

Taking to a raft in storm conditions is not going to be easily done. Anything that makes it easier to do is an advantage--and the difference in price has to be seen as a one-off insurance payment.
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Old 01-12-2018, 13:22   #13
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Re: Life raft regulations, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific.

The three that died in a liferaft in the 98 Sydney/Hobart were from 'Winston Churchill'. Five people in a 6 person raft.... I seem to recall reading that when the raft capsized they made a group decision to cut a hole in the floor and then the raft disintegrated ... but that isn't mentioned here.. PM - Yacht club to ban use of life raft brand
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Old 01-12-2018, 13:32   #14
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Re: Life raft regulations, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific.

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...There is no requirement for you to even have a liferaft, Matt, let alone a specification that it must meet, in NZ or any other place we have sailed... we have never owned one in all the years we've been cruising.

Jim
Okay, this is news to me; I had assumed most countries required liferafts, whether on small yachts or large ships. I've always thought the cost of maintaining a liferaft far exceeded the benefit for frugal cruisers but nowadays it was unavoidable. Also thought how much easier to launch a "coastal" raft and carry any extras in a ditch-bag, instead of the overly-heavy but otherwise identical "ocean" rafts with 4-man supplies of water and food (as demanded under NZ rules for example).

So, can you elaborate? What is your country of registration? Do other countries have similar rules (certainly not NZ, where offshore sailing is clearly intended only for the wealthy). What do you carry instead? With no liferaft, do you bother with EPIRB?
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Old 01-12-2018, 13:54   #15
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Re: Life raft regulations, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific.

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.... I seem to recall reading that when the raft capsized they made a group decision to cut a hole in the floor and then the raft disintegrated ... but that isn't mentioned here..
From the transcript you posted the link to:
"JOHN STANLEY: So we did get into tremendous difficulty and consequently we did end up upside down ... we made a decision to cut the bottom to get out, and there was a certain amount of blame put on us for doing that...."

But they do mention how the tethers to first the para-anchor then drogue both broke within minutes, and that's the reason they "got into tremendous difficulty" in the huge seas. So, nothing here suggests the size of raft (6-man) compared to the number on board (5 men) was an issue.
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