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Old 11-04-2012, 12:16   #61
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Update:

Had a local industrial hose shop build an adaptor for me to use an existing tank. Hooked it up and did a partial test inflate -- worked just fine. It is a manual valve, but since I am using on a cat (can't sink fast at least) I am not concerned about using a manual valve.

Re-vaccum packed all the emergency supplies myself using a Food Saver machine and bags (essentially the same bags as used by Winslow).

Future plans: have a new valise bag built -- I like this better than the canister because it makes self-inspection easier and is less bulky to stow -- also I plan to build it loose so that precise packing of the raft is not important (one of the service issues pointed out with Winslow's earlier). Again, on a cat I am not concerned about automatic deployment from the deck (which requires a canister). Get replacement burst disk for automatic inflate head and rebuild head -- I would still prefer this over a manual valve -- just for speed and ease of operation.

Quite happy with what I learned from this exercise and much now much prefer the self-service approach for a cruising life raft. My plan is to deploy and inspect the life raft each season or two.

Thanks for posting the follow up on your project. Now you have done all the R&D for me I will get mine out to give it a try.
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Old 11-04-2012, 12:19   #62
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

Anyone looking for liferaft repack and recert on the left coast should checkout a small firm just north of Ensenada on the west side of Highway 1 adjacent to the hardware store. It is run by Bomberos (firefighters from Ensenada). I had a non-descript large cannister liferaft on my old Transpac 49 that was of a questionable commercial source. These guys are really fun to work with and encourage you to attend the test inflation, restoring flares and food as well as water. The also encourage you to set off all the old flares on the beach in front of their shop which they enjoy doing as much as you do... gives you a chance to see how they all work in a non-emergency situation. Can't recall the cost but it was about 1/3 of cost in US. All instructions were in Japanese which was a bit of a challenge but have a Japanese Daughter-in-Law which helped prepare an English set.
Another source was for a Beaufort raft we had on our DeFever 54 which was repacked in Richmond, British Columbia just south of Vancouver. They primarily repack and recertify for commercial vessels but were happy to do ours for around $1000 several years ago.
Personally, I would feel uncomfortable relying on a raft I repacked myself because I wouldn't trust myself to do everything right... a personal thing but if I was going to count on it in an emergency, I would want it done by a competent, experienced source.
Hats off to those who have the confidence in themselves to perform that level of maintenance... Capt Phil
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Old 11-04-2012, 12:42   #63
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

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Personally, I would feel uncomfortable relying on a raft I repacked myself because I wouldn't trust myself to do everything right... a personal thing but if I was going to count on it in an emergency, I would want it done by a competent, experienced source.
Hats off to those who have the confidence in themselves to perform that level of maintenance... Capt Phil
Everything mankind can do, you can do, with the help of other sometimes but it can be done. I have always followed this principle and have built my first sailboat and then sailed from Canada to cruise the Caribbeans without any experience in building and in sailing. Of course I made mistakes, but altogether the boat was good and did the job and even sold with a profit after 2 years cruising. I don't believe that liferafts are any mysterious than anything else. When I am not sure about how to put thing back together, I take pictures, videos, notes on a piece of paper and this is very helpful. I have an old liferaft, in my basement, which was on my current boat when I purchased it and I will carefully open it, take pictures, videos and try to put it back together. If I fail, it may cost me a new one, which is a little more expensive as servicing my old one, nothing to loose.
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Old 11-04-2012, 15:49   #64
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

except your life! Capt Phil
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Old 11-04-2012, 18:32   #65
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

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except your life! Capt Phil
Well, if you think you can trust others on securing your life, I don't.
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Old 11-04-2012, 18:38   #66
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

I'd rather have someone who knew what they were doing having done it hundreds of times packing my parachute than a newbie like me who has only seen the inside of a raft in a warehouse... just my opinion... Capt Phil
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Old 11-04-2012, 23:09   #67
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

Among other places I learned from the SCUBA industry. Yes, there are a lot of hard working enthusiasts and great guys who want you to have all your essential gear inspected and overhauled by them annually.

First two times my regulators got annual maintenance from top-name shops, I had to readjust them myself afterwards. Third year, I just did my own and got it right the first time.

First time a respected car dealership did the brakes in my new used car as a special favor to the family, they installed two breake shoes backwards. Local Firestone store happened to be good folks, caught it right away and fixed it. I've done my own brake work ever since.

And then there's the cops who took notes and went off shift after a major crime. We found the evidence and the perps an hour and a half later, exactly where "everyone" said to look, and the cops hadn't. Among other things, the cops were ignoring the abandoned stolen car DESPITE THE BOLO ON IT and despite the fact that it was in a "NO LOADING NO STANDING NO WAITING TOW AWAY ZONE" while multiple patrols went past it without seeing it.

Then there's the guy who condemned my nearly new SCUBA tank and cut it up after the new VIP+ program that ultrasound checked tank necks. We went the parts to the manufacturer, who profusely apologized, ripped a new one for the employee (who'd condemnded two tanks) and shipped us two new ones immediately.

Hey, I've made mistakes too. But when it comes to my own life support equipment? I don't want to know if Buba has a hangover, a coke problem, an oxycodone problem, or just woke up on the wrong side of the bed and wants to get done early today. When a job is important to me, I go over it, I pick a day when I'm wide awake and fully caffienated and nothing else is on my mind, and I may even take the phone off the hook. At least when I do the job, I know exactly who did it, and what he might have screwed up.

I've also got a terribly short list of people I trust to do jobs like that. The problem is, either I can't afford their rates, or they have no time, or damn it! Someone up and died again. Or sold out the business.

Pack my life raft? Well, the USCG does know of shops that packed boots and bricks instead of the customers' rafts. I can tell you Real Damn Sure I'm not going to do that to my own raft, am I?
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Old 12-04-2012, 06:25   #68
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

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Well, if you think you can trust others on securing your life, I don't.
Which is why do-it-yourself surgery is so popular.
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Old 12-04-2012, 08:28   #69
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

Quote:
Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Update: Re-vaccum packed all the emergency supplies myself using a Food Saver machine and bags (essentially the same bags as used by Winslow)........Quite happy with what I learned from this exercise and much now much prefer the self-service approach for a cruising life raft. My plan is to deploy and inspect the life raft each season or two.
As someone who just paid $1,150 to have our life raft reinspected and packed, and even paid for the company's brand name stickers, your solution sounds great. The only problem is that coast guards around the world will consider it non certified. If you have a life raft it is expected to be certified. If you don't have a life raft, no problem. That is an example of misguided bureaucracy.


Too many people will be unable to afford to have a life raft.
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Old 12-04-2012, 08:50   #70
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

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As someone who just paid $1,150 to have our life raft reinspected and packed, and even paid for the company's brand name stickers, your solution sounds great. The only problem is that coast guards around the world will consider it non certified. If you have a life raft it is expected to be certified. If you don't have a life raft, no problem. That is an example of misguided bureaucracy.


Too many people will be unable to afford to have a life raft.
Not to suggest or imply anything but, in my business we have to make labels occasionally and you can purchase sheets of peel and stick, waterproof label making stock that makes very professional looking stickers in a color ink jet or laser printer.
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Old 12-04-2012, 08:56   #71
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

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Which is why do-it-yourself surgery is so popular.
Or DIY dentistry for that matter.

But on the other hand, inspecting a raft isn't brain surgery. Perhaps not for every one but I have had experiences like those reported by hello sailor with SCUBA gear. Unless something requires special test equipment or skills beyond my means, I would prefer to inspect my own life support equipment. Since it would be my life at risk I'm pretty sure I would be more motivated to do a really careful job than a stranger who would in all likelihood never see me again.
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Old 12-04-2012, 09:03   #72
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

Worth the trouble to learn the basics of checking. It is of course a rip off industry.
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Old 12-04-2012, 09:38   #73
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

The industry is out there for those who feel incompetent to do it themselves. One only becomes competent by doing and following all the necessary procedures in place for doing a job.

The problem is getting those procedures!!! Each manufacture should have a set of procedures to do the job for each model.

I would contact the mfgr to see if one can get the procedures. All a certification does is satisfy the authorities that it's been done whether right or wrong. It doesn't take special equipment to inspect and repack like it would for electronics or hi-pressure equipment.

Knowing ones own boat and safety equipment is what makes cruisers independent of the rest of the world. If one has to rely on other people to do ones inspections, ya might as well hire out a yachty and pay them to haul you around.
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Old 12-04-2012, 09:51   #74
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

I repack my Zodiac zealch times. If I have to step from the boat I rather prefer the Zodiac than the liferaft. In the grabcontainer all vital stuff is loaded. It is widely accepted that the Zodiac/c.q. dinghy if suitable can replace a liferaft of mostly lesser quality design. Make sure that you have a sun/rainshield and some method to reclaim rainwater. That's all there is for the soloist. Big crewed yachts is a total different story.
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Old 12-04-2012, 10:49   #75
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Re: Life Raft Self-Service

delmarray said it much more concisely and eloquently than I. Personally, I just don't feel competent to do the task myself. I've been on two ships (commercial) that sank in the PNW, one in the winter, and perhaps I have a skewed view of what else is on your mind as you are trying to figure out how to survive the ordeal as opposed to wondering if you did everything right on your repack. In neither case was there a life raft available to deploy. As the monster inflates, it is no time for an 'oh ****' moment, did I remember X,Y or Z.
I imagine it is just a personal choice and if you have supreme confidence in yourself to do it right, go for it yourself.
A ditch bag that you pack yourself is an entirely different question and should be updated and reviewed regularly by the ditcher or ditchee (or if your lucky, the ditchette). Capt Phil
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