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View Poll Results: do you plan to have a liferaft on your boat when heading out to cruise?
yes 180 64.98%
no 97 35.02%
Voters: 277. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 24-03-2012, 12:03   #331
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No

Actually Sandy, I've read all this thread and come to my conclusion in part because of it.
I'm one of those on a tight budget and looking for things I both want and things I need. A liferaft has gone into the things I might want if I fall on one cheap and have room for it. Other than that I will spend the money on making the boat more seaworthy. The fiancee is well developed and I notice she floats well in the pool because of it. Granted, her upkeep costs would probably work out more than a liferaft, but they don't need inflating or get punctures and would be a much nicer distraction in a crisis I think.
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Old 24-03-2012, 12:13   #332
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No

many of the life rafts i have seen on the boats of others have been inspected and re done last in 2002....they say they have em so crew knows there is one on board. will it work?? dunno. dont wanna find out......
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Old 24-03-2012, 13:53   #333
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No

I'm still wrestling with the question as a coastal-inland sailor who's about to start doing shorter near-offshore passages. I would get a raft before doing a several-night or far offshore passage.

But (long-winded "It Depends"):
(1) the raft is only part of a whole system of safety that needs to be balanced according to how much total resources a boat owner can put into safety overall.
(2) the whole safety system needs to be customized to the boat, owner & crew, their health, cruising grounds, environmental conditions, etc.
(3) not all rafts are equal, rafts are far from infallible, and not all sailors understand their limits, not all rafts hold up as well as others against capsize and deterioration, and without additional survival equipment (good ditch bag) well secured, a raft is a very limited and incomplete survival system.
(4) boats may survive a storm, but if they aren't well secured and designed, they might injure or kill their passengers -- a tiny amount of money spent on securing everything could pay for itself hundreds of times over.
(5) do you have a back-up plan in case the raft fails, blows away, etc.? Survival suits, or at least float coats, wet suits, etc., might be an answer. And maybe there are ways to ballast and sea anchor a non-liferaft dinghy to give it capsize resistance more like that of a life raft.
(6) Money is a real constraint for most people and budgets shouldn't be scorned. There is value in doing the best you can with what you have and not deferring your dreams indefinitely.

I could almost see putting out a rough talking guideline to try to trade off safety gear for a given environment and budget. It's way hard to try to answer the original question without knowing the boat's cruising environment, the owner's safety budget, the crew and its training, and all of the other safety-related equipment and systems on board. If I were buying a liferaft minimally worth having (preferably offshore or SOLAS with multiple tubes, inflatable floor, good ballasting, decent reputation), I'd would probably also be spending at least a couple of thousand dollars/euros on other safety and survival gear and also be getting myself trained to use the equipment.
-- And, maybe I need a good friend in the UK who can get me a killer deal on a raft when I need to buy one.

The raft is part of a whole system. You may not know in advance which part of the system may save you -- or which weakness might kill you. If you can afford it, redundancy is good. Back-up plans are good. Training is very good. Adaptability and the will to survive is extremely good. Do what you can with what you have, know your limitations and be honest with your crew, and remain in awe of the sea.
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Old 24-03-2012, 13:56   #334
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No

one followup question: have liferaft makers finally figured out a way to provide a repair cement/adhesive that works well when wet?
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Old 24-03-2012, 17:27   #335
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No

Quote:
Originally Posted by zeehag View Post
many of the life rafts i have seen on the boats of others have been inspected and re done last in 2002....they say they have em so crew knows there is one on board. will it work?? dunno. dont wanna find out......
Doh. But that is in others' boats.

In my own, when I have one, I will simply unpack the whole thing, check if it is sound, replace what needs replacing and wrap it back/seal.

If I buy equipment, I want to know it works, how it works and what the possible reasons are if it does not!

Can you believe there are some people who wear inflatable life jackets but have never used one, neither do they know how to re-rig one. Extreme laziness knows no bounds, neither does it have any limits! ;-). The same applies to a life raft - oh, just shell out some and join an ocean safety course - you will learn first hand hot to use a flare, how to launch a liferaft, and why NOT to ever need to use one!

b.
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Old 24-03-2012, 17:49   #336
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No

Our "new" sailboat did not come with a liferaft. The previous owner did not believe in them. I am thinking of continuing that tradition. It has worked for 20 years and 2 circumnavigations.

However having said that, I am thinking a Portland Pudgy as a tender/lifeboat. That way I am familiar with it, I know how it will sail etc. before I need it in an emergency.

It is a philosophy that not all can espouse, I am sure.
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Old 24-03-2012, 19:04   #337
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No

I met an interesting fellow just the other day here at San Juan Bay Marina. His name was Bill Baxter and he told me he'd written a book regarding this very topic. It's called 66 Days Adrift - The Story. I would assume he's on the have-one-on-board side of this discussion.
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Old 24-03-2012, 19:46   #338
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No

I think it comes down to a two part answer;

The amount of FEAR one has in the open sea, or the lack of.....

And the value one put$ on their own life, or if their willing to die when the time comes.
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Old 24-03-2012, 21:23   #339
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No

In reply to alaskamountainman I would say that today with EPIRB's and PLB's there is very little excuse for being out there 66 days. If Bill had those, I certainly would be interested to hear his story about why it took so long to be rescued.
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Old 24-03-2012, 21:39   #340
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No

I will not wait until I can afford a life raft before I venture forth...I have not changed my mind in that way. There exists an inexpensive life raft that doesn't take up much space which I will eventually add to supplement my well stocked hard tender/lifeboat, I have changed my mind in that way. This thread did not change my mind in that sense so much as make me rethink what is necessary in the way of survival equipment and supplies. Some of the responders to this thread appear to have missed out on the importance of a well equipped ditch bag, survival training as well as prepping the boat to avoid some emergencies
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Old 25-03-2012, 08:43   #341
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I have not changes my mind-I still will carry a lift raft. We do proper maintenance & have safety equipment to prevent problems but still have an EPIRB, Ham, VHF with DSC, a complete ditch bag ready & offshore lift raft in case it all hits. With proper maintenance & safety equipment the odds of a problem causing use if a life raft are little. So if I couldn't get one, I'd probably still go. (Not sure if I crossed an ocean though!)

I did some training in a life raft like ours & it sure won't be a picnic inside one but it beats the alternative. But we do not tend to panic in emergencies & won't get in one until we have to step up into it!
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Old 25-03-2012, 09:07   #342
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No

I haven't changed my mind from my initial post and still don't plan to have one. Nothing in the discussion really changed my mind as to what circumstances would be like if even needing the life raft, AND not being able to just get in my dinghy at the time. To me this would be a storm at the same time the hole has gotten holed and the boat is sinking (step UP into the raft/dinghy).

Not saying others choosing to get a life raft are making a mistake, just to me it seems planning for a very very very small chance of an issue when there are bigger things to consider. But when the time comes I will review the issue again as I've changed my mind more than once over the years.
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Old 25-03-2012, 09:43   #343
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No

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...not being able to just get in my dinghy at the time...
Have you ever been in a dinghy in the middle of the ocean in anything above 25kn? It's exponentially scary with increasing winds, extremely wet, and if there is no positive leeway, with a potential for flipping. Flipping in a dinghy is no fun as you have a very low chance of righting it while being in the water, and if/when you do, you have the momentuous task of getting back into it among the waves (if you didn't tether your ladder to it).

I had a chance of being in the dinghy east of Cape Cod during a gale (30-35kn gusting to 45kn). We were beating in confused seas and our dinghy flipped on a wave in the middle of the night. After flipping it back (30 min ordeal), someone had to get into it to retrieve all the stuff tethered to it and floating behind the dinghy.

I volunteered as a lighter one of the two of us to pull back onboard if necessary. Even though the boat was sheltering the dignhy a bit from the wind, it was NASTY. I was lying on the floor and praying for dinghy not to flip while I was retrieving stuff. I knew that if it flipped, it would dive like a fishing diving plug and I would go with it (I was tethered to one of the dinghy towing lines). It was a miserable experience and a very wet one. Since that time I've come to appreciate life raft canopies much more. You don't get as wet and if it flips, you're still inside it!

Also had a chance to experience why some bars on beaches with surf are called "Soggy Dollars". If the wave that picks up your dinghy and flips it with you inside, you can end up with some injuries from having the dinghy land on you. And, of course, lose or get everything inside wet, including some dollars.

Dinghy for a liferaft? Constantly bailing the dinghy out? Having to have a constant watch over your emergency supplies and rations in case they end up overboard? Getting a hypothermia sooner? Being less noticeable to passing ships as dinghies don't usually come in neon colours?

As a gentleman in a liferaft survival course said: the main fator to you surviving the ordeal or not is your mindset. Don't give up. Try to live in this minute, but never give up.
It's much easier to have a positive mindset if you're [comparatively] dry, have rations, and don't have to be exposed to the elements (sun, rain, cold, storms).

P.S. I haven't read the previous 22 pages of replies as for us a liferaft is a clear "yes" without any doubts. We know all about it, we bugged the people at the boat shows enough for them to open the same model, etc. We follow all maintenance schedules. we still think it's worth it in addition to EPIRB, VHF w DSC, flares, etc. We want to avoid that one possible moment of thinking "I should've bought the life raft".
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Old 25-03-2012, 09:53   #344
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No

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In reply to alaskamountainman I would say that today with EPIRB's and PLB's there is very little excuse for being out there 66 days. If Bill had those, I certainly would be interested to hear his story about why it took so long to be rescued.
Their website says that their ordeal happened in 1989. I'm not sure, but when did EPIRBs become available to general public?


During Miami boat show I spoke to a sales rep from Winslow life rafts. He went through a similar ordeal with a lengthly interval before being saved. I asked about usual time-to-rescue. He said that further you are offshore [and further from regular shipping lanes], the longer it will take to rescue you. At some distances it's not feasible to send out an aircraft or a vessel from shore, so the only vessels around who have the information about you being adrift are those enrolled in Cospas-Sarsat program (if you only enabled the EPIRB). They must turn off their course and search for you, but not necessarily will they find you. This gentleman said that they saw 3 vessels go by searching for them over several days/weeks (?) before they were spotted and retrieved.

It's very hard to see a small boat/raft on the ocean, even during the day in good weather. That's why dyes and hand-held flares are important and should be used only when you see a ship/plane/helicopter and not before.
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Old 25-03-2012, 10:49   #345
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No

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Dinghy for a liferaft?

I don't believe I have ever called my dinghy a liferaft. If you got that I mispoke/typed.
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