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Old 29-06-2008, 09:02   #1
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liferaft poll

we are looking to purchase a liferaft and i am interested in knowing what everyone else has purchased/has experience with. I have read the Practical Sailor tests that was in a recent issue and they recommend the Zodiac 6 person SOLAS, which so far has been the best deal i can find. however our safety is not worth going with the best deal! I am also interested in hearing what everybody's preference is with regards to hard pack vs soft.
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Old 29-06-2008, 09:35   #2
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We used a Givens Life Raft. It was a bit expensive upfront, but it has a good safety record in extreme conditions. Whenever it's been inspected, it's been as good as new.

If I was you, I would narrow the search down to a couple of life rafts, and then call up four life raft inspection centers and talk to the people who do the inspections. Ask them which of the prospective rafts have done well on inspection, and which have done poorly. They make their living separating the junk from the quality life rafts.

Check out: THE FACTS OF LIFE RAFTS* Imagine that you were flying in an airplane and the stewardess came to you

We have had our liferaft for fourteen years without a problem. I consider our catamaran to be our big life raft, and I don't expect to ever get into our small life raft unless there is a fire or explosion on board Exit Only.
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Old 29-06-2008, 12:40   #3
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As usual Dave is right on the money with his advice and selection
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Old 29-06-2008, 14:27   #4
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Greetings
I am outfitting a 1972 Pearson 30 for cruising - have replaced most everything and am closing on a shakedown cruise in a couple weeks.

I will soon install my Yeasu FT100 ham radio which illuminates a masthead 2 meter and 440MHz antenna as well as the insulated backstay -- N6LLA for the day when that is working.

I plan to go north and come back in October. No long crossings until I know the boat better.

Does anybody out there have a Viking liferaft? I bought one about 2 years ago (overly optimistic) and just installed it. It has (had) a plastic packing band around the plastic case and once I was ready to stow it on its bracket, figured that the plastic band had to go. However, upon snipping it, the case becomes quite open -- it is just a plastic shell that would fall open in the panic of getting it overboard in an emergency. Maybe that's the way it is supposed to be, but I was surprised. Perhaps the force of inflation would break the plastic band, but it sure looked permanent. I figured it was for shipping.
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Old 29-06-2008, 15:32   #5
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anyone have a list of inspection stations east coast?....jt
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Old 29-06-2008, 16:35   #6
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The plastic band (a.k.a. "canister closure band") is supposed to be there, Maggie.
When you pull the painter line to initiate inflation of the liferaft, it immediately begins to inflate inside the canister. The preassure of the inflating liferaft will easily break the canister closure band, and that is what is supposed to happen. For what it is worth, Viking liferafts have a pretty good reputation in the industry.

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Originally Posted by Pearson30MaggieJ View Post
Greetings
I am outfitting a 1972 Pearson 30 for cruising - have replaced most everything and am closing on a shakedown cruise in a couple weeks.

I will soon install my Yeasu FT100 ham radio which illuminates a masthead 2 meter and 440MHz antenna as well as the insulated backstay -- N6LLA for the day when that is working.

I plan to go north and come back in October. No long crossings until I know the boat better.

Does anybody out there have a Viking liferaft? I bought one about 2 years ago (overly optimistic) and just installed it. It has (had) a plastic packing band around the plastic case and once I was ready to stow it on its bracket, figured that the plastic band had to go. However, upon snipping it, the case becomes quite open -- it is just a plastic shell that would fall open in the panic of getting it overboard in an emergency. Maybe that's the way it is supposed to be, but I was surprised. Perhaps the force of inflation would break the plastic band, but it sure looked permanent. I figured it was for shipping.
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Old 29-06-2008, 16:43   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nalani View Post
we are looking to purchase a liferaft and i am interested in knowing what everyone else has purchased/has experience with. I have read the Practical Sailor tests that was in a recent issue and they recommend the Zodiac 6 person SOLAS, which so far has been the best deal i can find. however our safety is not worth going with the best deal! I am also interested in hearing what everybody's preference is with regards to hard pack vs soft.
Here is a comment tha I made on another liferaft thread:

"One of our senior liferaft technicians, who now runs our QC section, and who is a guy who's opinions I respect, used to work, for many years, in a large Chandlery which had the agency to service and repack most of the major brands of small liferaft: RFD, Zodiac, DBC, Roaring Forties, Viking, to name some of them. This guy was a certified service technician for all of these and conducted hundreds of services, minor repairs, etc.

He said that, in his opinion, The RFD Survivor range was the best product that he regularly serviced in terms of build quality, strength, design, durability, etc. He also said some good things about some of the Viking product. He was less complimentay about some of the other RFD products; Ferryman, for example, and was less than impressed with some of the Zodiac stuff. He also didn't like the Plastimo gear. He did comment that the better stuff was, as a general rule, the more expensive stuff.

That, above, is about as specific as I am going to get. You can make of it what you will."
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Old 30-06-2008, 12:18   #8
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Don't buy a Plastimo! The seams are falling apart on mine, purchased in 1992, and it will cost more to repair than to buy a new one. I know, it's a 1992, but I have a 1989 Achilles inflatable that is in the sun all the time and the seams are not falling apart on it. One would think that an item, properly stored and never used would be in repackable condition for many more years. I think it is cheaply built. The Plastimo was stored in a deck box and never exposed to UV or water.
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Old 01-07-2008, 07:23   #9
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I bought a Plastimo in 2006 in Spain, because my Avon was 20 years old and the service center said it was getting iffy. I mentioned that to one of the big service facilities in Florida last year, and they said I was better off with the old Avon than a one year old Plastimo.
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Old 01-07-2008, 15:01   #10
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nalani try looking at nauticexpo for life rafts and info you can usually find good gear there pretty cheap.
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Old 01-07-2008, 16:08   #11
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Some of the manufactures are offering 12 year warranties on life rafts now.
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Old 01-07-2008, 20:36   #12
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Here in Central Queensland myself and friends who have had Zodiac products have been severely dissappointed with them, from dinghys to liferafts, glue problems mostly, and no answer to written mail to manufacturer. No happiness when the floor falls out after 18 mths, Liferaft falls to bits when fibreglss case opened after a couple of years. Not happy chappie!. I'd go RFD.next time, price maybe a bit more But!!!!.
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Old 01-07-2008, 21:02   #13
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Nalani- you asked a couple of questions. First, we purchased a Viking liferaft... but we don't have any experience with it- other than mounting it on deck. And we hope that our only experience is with repacking and servicing the unit. We purchased the Viking for two primary reasons: first, it has a good reputation and warranty; and second (and I'll deny ever saying this regarding safety equipment), the distributor offered a really good deal on the unit at a boat show.

Ours is a canister unit, primarily because we need to store it on deck. If we had a liferaft locker or lots of room in a lazarette, we would have really considered a valise model.

Best of luck.
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Old 15-08-2008, 23:01   #14
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I've just purchased a Zodiac 6-person Life Raft

A Liferaft is a big ticket item, and a hard one at that 'cause it's like insurance - you're betting the liferaft supplier that you will sink...

I was lucky enough to find a good second-hand Zodiac liferaft for the right price. It’s not hard to find a liferaft, but getting one that’s the right size is harder There seems to be a large number of larger liferafts for sale, but 4 and 6 person rafts suitable for offshore sailing are like hens teeth.
Some of the most useful advice I got given included:
  • One should not buy too big a life raft. Work out how many people you are likely to be most of the time and buy a raft that’s just big enough. As Peter said, if the life raft is too big, it will ride you rather than the other way round. This was an important point - just because Sunny Spells has eight berths doesn’t mean I need an eight person life raft. In fact a four or six person liferaft is optimum.
  • Life raft certification IS confusing. However, here’s my take on it: SOLAS means it’s certified for commercial shipping under the IMO; ORC or ISAF means it meets the ISAF or ORC regulations for offshore racing; and ISO 9650 is a fairly recent standard that is intended to improve and harmonise design standards for life rafts.
  • The terms “Offshore” and “Coastal” generally refer to their intended use under SOLAS (i.e. commercial shipping) certification. However, SOLAS defines “Coastal” as 200 miles from the coast - that’s a long way in a 33ft sail boat… The difference between “Coastal” and “Offshore” is primarily in the quantity and quality of supplies (water, food, EPIRB) packed into the raft and does not necessarily reflect on the quality or stability of the raft itself. A “Coastal” life raft may be convertible to “Offshore” at the time of servicing by upgrading the contents.
  • The quality of the raft itself is better judged by those who have experience with them. Things to look for include: welded seams (Zodiac) rather than glued, ballasted stabiliser pockets, a usable boarding platform with internal ladder to grab onto when getting in (apparently it is NOT easy to get into a liferaft in a heaving sea…).
My research made me realize that I had been unecessarily eliminating life rafts labeled as “coastal” from my search.
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