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Old 04-02-2016, 19:10   #1
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Liferaft Size

We are going to replace our 16 year old life raft on our new boat. The old raft is a 6 person Elliott commercial and has been out of service for over 5 years. I was trying to decide between a Switlik SAR offshore and a Viking RescYou Pro, both 6 passenger. There will typically only be two of us on board with possibly one more person when we venture offshore (Bermuda) for the first time. Not really interested in racing with a slew of people on the boat.

Some of the stuff I am reading now states that for two people a 6 pack raft is unstable because of the lack of stabilizing weight. Is this thinking valid with the ballast systems on most offshore rafts today? When I went thru survival training in the USAF back in the 80's the general theory was that it is best not to cram people in a raft. Twenty four square feet does not seem like a huge amount of space for two people and a few ditch bags.
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Old 14-02-2016, 15:14   #2
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Re: Liferaft Size

I addressed this question to Switlik and their response was that they tested their offshore rafts by leaving them out in the ocean unmanned for 30 days without getting flipped over. They said they would not sell them if they were unsafe for just two people.
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Old 15-02-2016, 18:00   #3
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Re: Liferaft Size

Although weight in the life raft is helpful, it's the ballast system that keeps the life raft stabilized.
You can't go wrong with the Switlik SAR6 toroidal ballast system. We used life rafts with toroidal ballast in the USCG and they are by far the best ballast around. We air dropped these to survivors because they stayed where they landed. Very little drift rate. Switlik - SAR-6 Blue Water Search and Rescue Offshore Life Raft
I would say the Winslow Global Rescue with the Cape Horn ballast system is second.
Yes, too many in a life raft can be troublesome. I know of four guys who stayed the night in a four person life raft and they practically killed each other.
I sell Elliot (which is good too), Viking, Winslow, and Switlik. Glad to help anyway I can.
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Old 15-02-2016, 18:45   #4
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Re: Liferaft Size

I like Winslow.
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Old 16-02-2016, 16:38   #5
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Re: Liferaft Size

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I like Winslow.
Switlik has Miami Boat Show pricing up to the 29th, around 10% savings.
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Old 16-02-2016, 16:43   #6
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Re: Liferaft Size

Can the smallest/weakest member of the crew launch tjhe 6 man raft by themselves in trying conditions? 6 man rafts get heavy and bulky.
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Old 16-02-2016, 16:47   #7
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Re: Liferaft Size

^ That's one of my concerns too.

As I'm usually sailing solo, I'm buying the smallest raft I can find ...
Easier to store and, probably, a lot easier to deploy under very stressful circumstances.
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Old 16-02-2016, 16:50   #8
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Re: Liferaft Size

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Can the smallest/weakest member of the crew launch tjhe 6 man raft by themselves in trying conditions? 6 man rafts get heavy and bulky.
We are going to deck mount a hard case between the mast and the companionway. It could be slid off the mount and shoved overboard. The ones I have been looking at, there is not too much size difference (hard case) between the 4 and 6 person rafts.
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Old 16-02-2016, 16:55   #9
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Re: Liferaft Size

Just out of curiosity: why a 6p and not a 4p when it's usually just 2 people sailing?
Is there an advantage to having a larger raft?
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Old 16-02-2016, 16:59   #10
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Re: Liferaft Size

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We are going to deck mount a hard case between the mast and the companionway. It could be slid off the mount and shoved overboard. The ones I have been looking at, there is not too much size difference (hard case) between the 4 and 6 person rafts.
In that case it is nice to have pelican hooks on the lifelines or cuttable seizing to be able to get the liferaft off the deck. Picking it up and over the lifelines is not easy for a small crew. There is a significant DC difference between 4 man and 6 man weights. I really don't see any advantage to getting a larger raft for a Mom and Pop crew and I do see disadvantages in cost, wrigjht and deployability.
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Old 16-02-2016, 17:52   #11
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Re: Liferaft Size

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Just out of curiosity: why a 6p and not a 4p when it's usually just 2 people sailing?
Is there an advantage to having a larger raft?
Switlik does not make a 4 person offshore raft.

The size designations are taking for granted you have a 2x2 foot area for each person. That is about the size of the seating area of a decent sized recliner. That is going to be extremely confining considering the low canopy. It does not leave any room for one or two ditch bags.
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Old 16-02-2016, 17:56   #12
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Re: Liferaft Size

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In that case it is nice to have pelican hooks on the lifelines or cuttable seizing to be able to get the liferaft off the deck. Picking it up and over the lifelines is not easy for a small crew. There is a significant DC difference between 4 man and 6 man weights. I really don't see any advantage to getting a larger raft for a Mom and Pop crew and I do see disadvantages in cost, wrigjht and deployability.
Why would we have to pick it up over the lifelines? Winslow 4 and 6 person rafts only differ by 14 pounds.
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Old 16-02-2016, 18:14   #13
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Re: Liferaft Size

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Why would we have to pick it up over the lifelines? Winslow 4 and 6 person rafts only differ by 14 pounds.
We have a 4 man Viking mounted in front of the dodger. It is not that easy for me to move the thing around. My wife could do it in an emergency, but still not easily. You can certainly drag it under the lifelines. If it gets away from you, it could inflate early, like it did on the J boat that went down of Baja. The difference between 85 lbs and 100+lbs is a lot for someone who weighs 120lbs.

What advantage do you see in having a larger raft? It isn't going to be comfortable -- 4 or 6 man. And I don't see why it would be safer either.
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Old 16-02-2016, 18:27   #14
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Re: Liferaft Size

I got rid if my 10 man liferaft a few months ago. I had to hoist the bastard off the boat with the main halyard ON THE WINCH!

So if u and the missus can launch a 6 man life raft with 1 of you injured go for it. Or save money and get a 4 man valise so u can store it out of the weather.

Btw, I tested the emergency rations by taking a bite of one: Worst taste I have ever, ever had in my mouth and needed a litre of water to wash the taste away. Really, truly disgusting!
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Old 16-02-2016, 18:42   #15
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Re: Liferaft Size

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I got rid if my 10 man liferaft a few months ago. I had to hoist the bastard off the boat with the main halyard ON THE WINCH
HaHa Thats why they say don't get into it until you have to climb to get in. Let it float over the life-lines.

In a storm and cold seas I doubt I'd survive an attempt to get in anyway.
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