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Old 13-12-2010, 04:21   #1
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Liferaft Repacking

I live in eastern North Carolina. I am seeking a certified repacker for my Avon Ocean life raft. I would like to take the raft to the repacker and watch the process. Any referrals would be greatly appreciated.
Mel
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Old 13-12-2010, 06:18   #2
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We are in the Annapolis Md. area and used a company that was bought out by Vane Brothers while our raft was being serviced. Not only did Vane Brothers ensure that the job was completed they notified us of what was going on and made sure the raft was delivered back to our marina at their expense. On their website, it says they service the entire eastern seaboard. It also says they have a location in Charleston but on another location page that's not listed. They do service AVON so you may want to email them and see if they can do it. Welcome to VaneBrothers.com

As for watching the servicing that will be problematic if you have to ship the raft. We watched them inflate the raft as we had no idea what it even looked like since it was 25 years old and came with the boat. There is a lot of other testing that goes on after that and it is really not feasible for a very busy company to accomodate the owner sticking around for that I think. We paid for the servicing so it would pass inspection and we expect to get another 2 years of service out of it before we have to replace it. However, we will have it inspected again this year at Vane Brothers before we head offshore. Standard disclaimer applies; we have no personal or commercial ties to the company.
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Old 13-12-2010, 06:42   #3
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For the rest of you reading this who carry life rafts: I strongly suggest that you attend the repacking of your life raft and find another packer if yours refused to show the raft when it is up and inflated. Mine in California, urged me to come and look at the raft and see what it looks like before I left on a multiple year cruise, what is really in it, where it is stored, how to use the stuff. I half heartedly went and can assure you I learned a lot. Who would have known that little melon thing was actually a pump? How would you close the opening in really snotty weather (like the kind that might put you in the raft.) The knife for cutting the painter is in a very peculiar place and that could have been a problem. Great education. Also recommend the "Safety at Sea" (required for Offshore Racing) seminars where they toss one in the water to see it inflate. It might change your ideas about how to do that on your boat--did for me. It might also save your life.
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Old 13-12-2010, 06:57   #4
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For those of you who are 'Believer's' in Liferafts and planning long distance voyaging I would recommend you take the Commercial version of the Survival at Sea course...
You don't just see the raft inflated and where everything is... you get to deploy it in the water... jump in the water clothed and learn how to climb in (not easy waterlogged)... how to right it ... which in windy conditions is a certainty.
In general... how it all works if the **** hits the pan.. and how the Liferaft should be the absolute last option... its a simple one day theory/practice thing..
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Old 13-12-2010, 07:03   #5
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Just to clarify; we did observe the raft inflated and the gentleman at USA Services (which as I stated above was bought out by V.B.) did go over with us what would be packed in the liferaft. I agree with Pete the Cat that if you are not familiar with the rafts you should get as much exposure to the process as possible. My point was that there seems to have been some consolidation within the industry and if you are in a rural area your choices may be limited. Both my husband (34 years as aircrew with yearly wet ditch training) and myself (former USAF aircrew with previous wet ditch training) were already familiar with the use of the raft.
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Old 13-12-2010, 08:20   #6
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Vane Brothers services my charter boat Solas A raft every year. Absolutely top notch professionals!

Ted
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Old 13-12-2010, 19:08   #7
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It would be interesting to find out how much you all pay for the repacking. I had mine done on St. Martin two months ago. The technician flew in from Guadeloupe and it was VERY expensive. I think around $1800 per raft.
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Old 13-12-2010, 19:26   #8
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Its not cheap anywhere you go I reckon... the sad thing is the amount of firms who've been caught out not doing anything... other than store it for a couple of days..
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Old 13-12-2010, 19:44   #9
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Every boat, power and sail, I have owned for the last 25 years have been equipped with a raft or I purchased a life raft as soon as I bought the boat. I visited several different brand manufacturers over the years to familiarize myself with various raft set ups which differ a little in each application and different makes because delivering different vessels required familiarity with different brands and they also vary with the age of the raft. It was important to give crew an idea what to expect under duress if it became necessary to deploy. The one question I was asked on many safety talks before a delivery was when do you know you need to deploy the raft and board it or if it deployed hydrostatically, when do you get in? My answer was simple, 'you board the raft when you need to step UP into it and not before! (and don't cut the painter until you are aboard!) On my personal boats, we always put some personal items aboard the raft during every repack. Having a cat, cat food was also important, as were fishing gear which was tried and true along with other personal comfort items. Folks that repack rafts are normally delighted when their clients take an interest, ask questions and contribute to these emergency cocoons we rely on when things go south... Capt Phil
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Old 13-12-2010, 19:50   #10
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Are your extra 'personal items' any or all of these...
1/ Scratch Post
2/ Kitty Boots
3/ Extra repair kits

Sorry mate.. I couldn't resist
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Old 13-12-2010, 20:15   #11
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Be glad you don't have a Winslow

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete the Cat View Post
I strongly suggest that you attend the repacking of your life raft and find another packer if yours refused to show the raft when it is up and inflated. . . . It might also save your life.
Good luck if you own a Winslow. The only place that services them is the factory. They charge 2x what it costs to have other rafts recertified AND they only do it in a couple of places nationwide. I don't know if they'd let me watch, but I'd have to add the cost of a plane ticket to the overpriced cert fee. . . total scam.
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Old 13-12-2010, 20:31   #12
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None of the above, boatman61... far more personal than that! Cheers, CP
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Old 13-12-2010, 20:44   #13
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One of the more accomodating repackers has been Beaufort in Richmond, British Columbia. They repacked a hard case 8 person raft for me from an obscure Japanese manufacturer. The only problem was that all the contents and emergency manuals in side the raft were in Japanese but we put together new consumables and survival instructions with Beaufort's help in English and had it recertified without problem. The inflation and leakage audit was really helpful in understanding what we could expect. Capt Phil
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Old 13-12-2010, 20:48   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Palarran View Post
It would be interesting to find out how much you all pay for the repacking. I had mine done on St. Martin two months ago. The technician flew in from Guadeloupe and it was VERY expensive. I think around $1800 per raft.
There are different levels of life rafts that contain different supplies. The cost of the repack will vary on which supplies have to be replaced each year. Also, every 5 years the inflation bottle has to be retested and refilled. Then there is the hydrostatic release which gets replaced every other year.

The life raft on my boat is a Solas A (highest level) 8 man raft. It is self releasing / self activating. There is a canopy, double floor, sea anchor, food water, first aid kit, pyrotechnics kit to rival a 4th of July display, raft repair kit, lights, and that's just what I can remember. My boat being uninspected isn't required to have one. But, USCG regs require me to have it repacked every year if I have one on the boat.

The inspection, repack, stickers and government paperwork runs about $450. The actual dated supplies and cylinder retesting can run anywhere from $100 to $800. On average, I budget $1,000 a year for the recertification.

It's best not to look at the itemized pricing of replaced items:

"D" batteries $2.85 each
Iodine swab $9.96 each
Liferaft glue $28.64 each
Seasick pills $4.31 per dozen
Hand held flare $16.95 each
Parachute flare $48.00 each
3 minute orange smoke devise $52.00 each

All the signal devises (flares and smoke) totaled almost $400 this year!

Hydrostatic release $130 (every other year).

Keep in mind, all of the above supplies need to be dated USCG approved items which increases the price by 400%.

Total repack / recert. for 2010 $1,058.99

Being 70 miles offshore and knowing there is a viable plan "B" if the boat sinks...priceless!

Ted
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Old 13-12-2010, 21:01   #15
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It does get a little spendy in the US, OC'... I have also used a repacker just north of Ensenada, Mexico on the west coast. The raft was recertified by the shop which was run by Bomberos (firefighters from Ensenada) and the recert was fine with the USCG when they boarded me for inspection a year or so later. The added advantage of using the shop in Ensenada was that we took all the expired flares down to the beach behind their shop and set them all off including the orange smoke ones. You rarely get a chance in the US to do that! Nice to have operated all the signaling equipment in the raft before you need it! It was a fun afternoon and the shop guys had as much fun as we did!... cheers, Capt Phil
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