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Old 27-10-2011, 03:25   #1
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Liferaft Service ?

How often does a life raft need to be serviced? How much will this cost usually for a 4 man? How old would be the oldest life raft you would buy with the intent to service it?

Also would you get a Valise or hard case? I was thinking a valise and keep it inside for 99% of the time. And when serious weather is forecast I could take it out and strap it down somewhere for easy access? Weighs of valise versions are low at around 65lbs, which I would rather have stored down low than drill into my deck to try and mount a 80lb unit right up high.

Thoughts?
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Old 27-10-2011, 04:22   #2
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Re: Life raft service?

That was our thinking too when we replaced our 23 year old Avon raft this year with a new valise. Surprisingly I was able to sell it on e bay even after I stated its age. The buyer was quiet happy when he collected it. The old Avon was meant to have annual services but this seems a bit over the top for me so we did it every other year.

UK service cost is between 200 - 300 depending on what is required but with the new 3 year service intervals its going to be flares, water and pills so probably be closer to 300.

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Old 27-10-2011, 07:12   #3
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Re: Life raft service?

Check out Givens Life Rafts if you are in the market for a replacement. 55 lb valise model for 4 people. You've got to see the design, which was done by NASA for its astronauts returning. Just Google Givens raft.
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Old 27-10-2011, 07:28   #4
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Re: Life raft service?

Hi Dennis, Servicing in Australia cost me $800+ in 2008. Deck storage is nice, it's out of the way and handy. Valise you would think it more protected and able to store lower onboard. I quess in an emergecy situation adrenalin would be pumping in your veins and you'd be able to lift the thing single handed up on deck!
I bought a 2009 4 man and won't be servicing it....but that's just me!
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Old 27-10-2011, 07:59   #5
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Re: Life raft service?

Service interval might be one year; might be three. Three years for newer rafts which are vacuum packed.

How much it costs depends a lot on what needs to be done, and what is inside your raft. The service itself is around 100 pounds in the UK at most places. I spent around 500 pounds having my Avon Ocean raft serviced. But that included hydrotesting the gas cylinder and replacing the trigger head, something you don't have to do every service.

My service would have been even more expensive had I replaced the horrendously expensive battery which powers the canopy light. Since I have strobes and torches in my grab bag, and the battery was still good (after 10 years!), I decided to skip that expense. Likewise with the very expensive mini rocket flares which were in the raft's RORC kit. I have rocket flares in my grab bag.

Besides the Avon 4-man raft, I also have a Seago 4-man raft. The service station where I had the Avon serviced advised me not to bother with the Seago. Although highly rated, the Seagos have weak seams, according to the service guy, and are not worth servicing. They are so cheap (about 500 pounds I think) that it's best to just bin them (or Fleabay them) after three years and buy a new one.

The Avon ones, on the contrary, according to the service guy, are good for a few decades -- built like tanks. Probably why Pete's was bought so eagerly by someone.
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Old 27-10-2011, 10:46   #6
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Re: Liferaft Service ?

I am not sure how this varies geographically but in two places: Auckland and Las Palmas we had direct contact with service points. In both places the service was extremely dear. Up to the point that one starts to wonder if buying a new one is not a better deal. But what about the environment then?

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Old 27-10-2011, 11:16   #7
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Re: Life raft service?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamel View Post
Hi Dennis, Servicing in Australia cost me $800+ in 2008. Deck storage is nice, it's out of the way and handy. Valise you would think it more protected and able to store lower onboard. I quess in an emergecy situation adrenalin would be pumping in your veins and you'd be able to lift the thing single handed up on deck!
I bought a 2009 4 man and won't be servicing it....but that's just me!
Not saying that one better than the other - but the weight difference between a Valise and a Hard case is very marked. Valise (4 Man) is a 1 handed carry and easier to handle (might need to launch from somewhere other than where the liferaft is located - a hard case in a storm would be like wrestling a greased pig!).
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Old 27-10-2011, 13:18   #8
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Re: Life raft service?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamel View Post
Hi Dennis, Servicing in Australia cost me $800+ in 2008. Deck storage is nice, it's out of the way and handy. Valise you would think it more protected and able to store lower onboard. I quess in an emergecy situation adrenalin would be pumping in your veins and you'd be able to lift the thing single handed up on deck!
I bought a 2009 4 man and won't be servicing it....but that's just me!
I know you got a used one as I also saw the add on CF where you purchased it! DAMN YOU I wanted that one haha guess I better keep looking. Most used ones are old and not even worth buying IMO. Lowest price I have seen a new one is $1400. Which would have most old ones costing the same or more than a new one once you service it. I have seen costs for servicing listed $300-600 for a 4 man. That valise ones only weigh about 27kg. That isn't really heavy. I arm curl more than that.

Have you mounted yours yet? Got any pics? I see the mounting cradles are like $400 too!!! Another reason to go valise I think if I have to buy new, they are cheaper too. We had one mounted in front of the mast in a previous boat. Very annoying with tangling jib sheets but it made a great foredeck seat.
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Old 28-01-2012, 17:59   #9
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Re: Liferaft Service ?

After Nikkis dad read all the reviews, we decided that we may as well get a raft that will work well in all conditions. We went with a Viking Rescyou pro. This comes up on top on many reviews. It self rights. It has massive ballast bags and is easy to enter. After some serious searching on the net we got it for $2750 for a 4 person valise.

I have been reading the pile of rough weather sailing books people have given me as going away presents. One thing that is evident from real life storm reports is that a deck mounted liferaft will likely be ripped off and be gone in serious conditions. Which is one reason we got the valise. The money saved on mounting gear and hard case also means we get a better raft.

It may pay to review the mounting points of your deck mounted rafts if you have it mounted on deck.
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Old 28-01-2012, 19:15   #10
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Re: Liferaft Service ?

I've had two liferafts 'totaled' from getting wet on deck, and quite a few expensive (> $1k) repacking bills in other years because water damage forced replacing a lot of parts (food, flares, CO2 tank, and etc). Mine were mounted on deck just in front of the dodger, which was really the driest place on deck that I had on that boat.

Maybe the newer liferafts with vacuum sealed bags are better protected from water intrusion... But in any case I've recently switched to a valise raft because I feel it'll last longer and need less expensive repacking.

I feel it's important to try and make sure a liferaft will not be swept away in the Perfect Storm, but ... I also feel that liferafts aren't exactly useful in those conditions, either.
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Old 28-03-2012, 19:13   #11
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Re: Liferaft Service ?

I have a 1994 vintage Avon 4 man ocean raft. The raft, itself, is in great condition. I recently brought it to a service company who, in checking it out, found that the cylinder valve leaks and they cannot get a replacement “poppet assembly” to fix it because the valve manufacturer is out of business. The bottom line is that they cannot complete servicing the life raft.

Has anyone heard of this problem?

Be careful about purchasing an older Avon. It may be unserviceable.
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Old 29-03-2012, 14:42   #12
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Re: Liferaft Service ?

I had a 1995 Plastimo coastal raft, in a valise. It was stowed in a shallow cockpit locker (needed 45s to remove clutter from the locker and pull the raft on deck). When last serviced in 2008, Plastimo changed the cylinder for a 2nd-hand one. I have the good luck to live in the town where Plastimo factory and raft servicing station are.

According to French regulations, the raft was out of date by 2010 (15 years after being sold). I stowed it in my basement for 2 years but when it was operated last Saturday, it inflated perfectly and looked as new.

I appreciate the gain in weight afforded by the valise and the increased protection afforded by the cockpit locker. Then, I bought a Plastimo ISO-9650 offshore raft, in a valise, as a replacement.

Present French regulations require servicing every 3 years for yacht rafts.

Alain
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Old 29-03-2012, 23:21   #13
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Re: Life raft service?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dennisail View Post
I know you got a used one as I also saw the add on CF where you purchased it! DAMN YOU I wanted that one haha guess I better keep looking. Most used ones are old and not even worth buying IMO. Lowest price I have seen a new one is $1400. Which would have most old ones costing the same or more than a new one once you service it. I have seen costs for servicing listed $300-600 for a 4 man. That valise ones only weigh about 27kg. That isn't really heavy. I arm curl more than that.

Have you mounted yours yet? Got any pics? I see the mounting cradles are like $400 too!!! Another reason to go valise I think if I have to buy new, they are cheaper too. We had one mounted in front of the mast in a previous boat. Very annoying with tangling jib sheets but it made a great foredeck seat.
I have advertised on gumtree our 6 person Zodiac, last serviced 2004. Packed in canister. I didnt get one single response. Asking $150 ono, available from Melbourne.
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Old 15-11-2013, 01:48   #14
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Re: Liferaft Service ?

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Originally Posted by PeterJG View Post
I have a 1994 vintage Avon 4 man ocean raft. The raft, itself, is in great condition. I recently brought it to a service company who, in checking it out, found that the cylinder valve leaks and they cannot get a replacement “poppet assembly” to fix it because the valve manufacturer is out of business. The bottom line is that they cannot complete servicing the life raft.

Has anyone heard of this problem?

Be careful about purchasing an older Avon. It may be unserviceable.
I may well have the same problem about to happen.

I have a 1967 RFD 4 man raft all made in rubber not like the modern materials. Still looks like new.
Packed every other year and covered in french chalk stops any of the rubber sticking together...
The recharge bottle top is not made any more and I may well have to find a new system to inflate it myself. Maybe a replacement bottle and top and a conversion piece to the raft it's self.

Shock Horror to many but As for servicing I have always done them myself.
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Old 14-01-2016, 22:30   #15
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Re: Liferaft Service ?

Just been doing the maths re buying second hand or new. A seconhand 6 man raft out of service & due for 5 years cylinder test & replacement of all flares etc. Is around $1500 to $1700 Aud to service. Older rafts then have to be serviced every 12 months. Newer ones from 2012 only need to be serviced every 2 years. So if you get an older raft for free or very cheap over 5 years it will still cost about the same as a new one. If you pay more than $500 Aud you will be worse off than buying a new raft. I based this on a new 6 man Zodiac compared with an 2003 6 man Zodiac. The new raft packed for coastal ( i will use my grab bag & extra water if required) costs $3680 plus 2 services over a 5 year period of $500 = $4680 . A second hand at 0 purchase cost with initial major servive $1700 plus $500 for 4 years is $3700 then your due for another major.
If you dont get it for free you are way behind and no one will givevone away.
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