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Old 14-12-2010, 21:22   #31
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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Ted, i think some of us were under the impression that your boat was "just" a pleasure craft, not a commercial operation. You say your boat is uninspected...that usually means not commercial and not subject to UPV/charter regulations at all.

How do you get a commercial vessel not subject to inspection? Or are you just keeping it "inspectable" in case you want to flip the switch and go commercial?
USCG has 2 classifications for charter boats, Inspected and Uninspected (UPV).

A UPV is a boat that doesn't have to be inspected, or built to rigid USCG standards, and is limited to 6 paying customers. There is a lot more to it than this, but these are the most important points. Most boats (including sailboats) capable of carrying two or more people can be operated as a UPV. The license for these vessels is an Uninspected Passenger Vessel (UPV) license often referred to as a 6-pack license. The license has limitations based on tonnage, Ocean or Inland experience, and propulsion (Sail, Motor, Steam, etc.).

An Inspected Vessel is built to rigid standards using only USCG approve materials and is inspected by the USCG during construction. The completed vessel must under go USCG testing before it is put into service. It must also be inspected annually by the USCG to be recertified. It also carries more safety equipment and has more strigent requirements for radios, etc. All this allows the vessel to carry more than 6 paying customers. The USCG does a stability test and based on that they certifie the vessel for so many passengers inshore (20 miles) and a lesser number offshore (>20 miles). The operators license for this vessel is a Masters licence. This licence is also limited by tonnage, Ocean or Inland experience, and propulsion (Sail, Motor, Steam, etc.).

Back to UPVs. While a UPV isn't required to be inspected, it is subject to inspection at the USCG's discretion. There are a list of requirements that the captain and vessel must have or follow. The principle is the same for recreational vessels. At anytime the USCG may board any vessel in USA waters and perform an inspection or search.

The USCG has a voluntary inspection program that is performed by the Coastguard Auxiliary for recreational and for UPV vessels. In short, they do the inspection that the USCG would do if they boarded you. For a UPV it's called an Uninspected Passenger Vessel Inspection. It takes them about 1 1/2 hours to inspect my vessel, all the paper work, my license, and all other forms. I get a decal upon completion that indicates to the USCG that the vessel and operator are in full compliance. When the USCG is doing random boardings, they see the sticker and wave you past because they know you have already voluntarily submitted to an inspection. Should you fail your inspection, the Coastguard Auxiliary will note the problem(s) and tell you what you need to do to comply. No harm; no foul; no ticket. You fix your problems; they reinspect only the problem(s), then issue your decal.

Hope this answered your question.

Ted
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Old 14-12-2010, 21:57   #32
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What WeyAlan saidabove about the 10-15 year life expectancy of most rafts comportswith what I have been told. I still have a hardtime with the assertion that a raft built to survival standards (and vacume packed) is NG after 10 years-- particularly when repack costs $1K+ (for winslows).

Elsewhere, I have seen stats that a 12 yr old raftwill have a 90% chance of passing inspection. A 15 yr old 80% and degrading more quickly thereafter. You oughta be able to find this stuff via google.

-M
I work for a company that designs and manufactures liferafts. We make commercial SOLAS (A and B pack) liferafts. The statutory and approval testing requirements are more stringent that those imposed on "leisure" (i.e. non commercial liferafts). We pay attention to the life-expectancy of our equipment because we have to factor-in replacement liferafts into our production shcedule.

I can tell you (you may not believe me), that for the company I work for, when a liferaft gets condemned, this is not some attempt to sell more new liferafts, it is because either the liferaft flat-out can't pass its annual service test requirements, or the cost of getting it through those tests is becoming prohibitive. We have already allocated a certain number of new-build liferafts into our 2011 production schedule to replace liferafts that our service station technicians around the world have told us will be condemned next year (and I emphasise that we have no part in making that decision, it is reached by the technicians, inconsultation with the owners). All of these lfierafts are, I think, between 12 and 16 years old.
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Old 14-12-2010, 21:59   #33
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All of this really makes an argument for a dinghy as a liferaft.
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Old 14-12-2010, 22:03   #34
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All of this really makes an argument for a dinghy as a liferaft.
I strongly disagree. Having experienced real "open ocean" testing of liferafts, I have to tell you, categorically, that I would not even consider using a dinghy as a liferaft. Have you ever been in your dinghy with 20' waves and wind gusts over 35 knots?
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Old 14-12-2010, 22:06   #35
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Quote:
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All of this really makes an argument for a dinghy as a liferaft.
Due to the shallowness of our pockets; that's all some of us can afford!
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Old 14-12-2010, 22:51   #36
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I'd rather be in a lifeboat rather than a liferaft. For one thing, there won't be any danger of deflating, and for another a boat can be motored, oared, and/or sailed.
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Old 15-12-2010, 01:09   #37
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Yes, I have been in my dinghy in 35 knot winds, it is fun. As for the 20' waves I have never done that, it sounds terrifying.

However, after reading Adrift! by Steven Callahan, I would be happy to take an unsinkable dinghy over a deflatable raft. I think life boats are completely superior to life rafts. He survived, but I think he had a few things to say about the raft. Let's just say that it could have been better for the task. Something hard bottomed and unsinkable just seems a wise choice. Surely with right ditch bag, a dinghy will be better than a life raft. Certain designs with certain canopies can be self righting.
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Old 15-12-2010, 02:22   #38
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Originally Posted by O.C.Diver View Post
Total repack / recert. for 2010 $1,058.99
Ouch. That fully tricked out Portland Pudgy is no longer looking so expensive...
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Old 15-12-2010, 06:06   #39
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The Robertsons of "Survive the Savage Sea" had their liferaft sink out from under them after the first couple of weeks (17 days? can't recall) -- not from a single catastrophic tearing event, but just slow degradation and leaking. Luckily they also had their 10' hard dinghy in tow, where six people spent the remaining 20-odd days till they were rescued by a fishing boat. But their inflatable raft was old when they got it as a "gift" from someone getting a new one. I'm guessing new raft materials are much stronger and longer-lived.

One thing both the Robertsons and Steven Callahan mention was getting incessantly bumped from below by dorados and sharks. I notice new rafts have double-inflated floors probably to protect against such things.

Also both of them mentioned how awfully cramped and uncomfortable the space was. Made me think it's best to get an oversize raft for the number of people you're expecting.

Nowadays with EPIRBs and sat phones, we imagine that those long-term raft survival stories won't ever apply to us, but you never know.
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Old 15-12-2010, 07:27   #40
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We repack our liferaft every 3 years, not being an inspected vessel or doing offshore racing. After 25 years, the repacker in Spain said our Avon was looking stained with some fabric degradation, so we replaced it with a Plastimo. When we got back to the states, I was talking to the repacking center in Ft Luderdale, and they said they would rather be in a 25 year-old Avon than a new Plastimo....
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Old 15-12-2010, 08:05   #41
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Originally Posted by Cormorant View Post
One thing both the Robertsons and Steven Callahan mention was getting incessantly bumped from below by dorados and sharks. I notice new rafts have double-inflated floors probably to protect against such things.

Also both of them mentioned how awfully cramped and uncomfortable the space was. Made me think it's best to get an oversize raft for the number of people you're expecting.
Not a liferaft expert (and hope to keep it that way!) - but my understanding is that double floor is about insulation rather than shark attack.

And also that the Life Rafts are designed to be cramped - you are part of the ballast system, therefore 2 people in an 8 man liferaft may have more room, but (in rough weather) are less "safe" than if they were in a 4 man liferaft.

Obviously liferafts not designed around long stays aboard - where someone on a 8 man raft is probably a bit less likely to succumb to "annoying twat suddenly fell over board syndrome" than in a 4 man raft
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Old 15-12-2010, 12:43   #42
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Since a good pair of hiking boots gets hard daily use and still lasts twice ten years...Maybe a good leather curragh is what we should be carrying, instead of this fragile plastic junk that rots in the package, sealed and unused.
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Old 15-12-2010, 12:58   #43
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In reference to the earlier quote about "stepping up into the life raft", I was told during our recent (failed) repacking of a 9 year old zodiac offshore valise raft, that this is seldom reality. When our raft was opened for inspection, the tester explained the raft and its contents at some length. His experience was that usually the life raft gets wind-blown to the end of its tether, some distance from the distressed vessel, and the would-be occupants must then swim to the raft. This new information caused us to rethink our ditch bag contents and procedure. The DB previously contained just about everything that we thought we could need for several days at sea. But, given that we are usually no more than a couple of hundred miles offshore from the US and carry an EPIRB, he figured we would be picked up by the CG within a day or so. Now, the DB is much lighter - it contains sealed DRY CLOTHING and SPACE BAGS (for hypothermia), flares, water, and ship's papers. We also equipped our DB and life jackets with D-rings that can be attached to the LR tether, the intent being to slide along the tether while in the water. Hopefully we shall never have to do any of this with our new life raft!!!
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Old 15-12-2010, 13:12   #44
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"I was told during our recent (failed) repacking of a 9 year old zodiac offshore valise raft," I don't know what is current with Zodiac, but some five years ago their story was that Zodiac life rafts were glued (not welded) construction, and that the French government required Zodiac (a French corporation) to condemn all life rafts at ten years of age, because the glue lets go and was simply considered unreliable at that point, as a matter of law (regulations).

Sure surprised me. But if your raft is glued, and Zod's policy still the same, heads up. Even Zodiac-US, which presumably doesn't have to do anything "France" says, refused to even look at a ten year old raft because of this, apparently a corporate policy.
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Old 15-12-2010, 13:18   #45
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Life raft uncertainty, a recent abandonment of a yacht returning to NZ had the crew using a brand new Zodiac raft to transfer to a ship that was standing by to pick them up, allegedly the floor of the raft detached as they climbed into it. Imagine if there wasn't a ship standing by when you had to abandon your boat and your "new" raft is not going to save you! One wonders how many this may have happened to others who just disappear at sea.
I am aware of another brand that when opened for its first service wouldn't even blow up, it had failed at the glue line, apparently part of a faulty batch. That "pudgy" looks more and more inviting
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