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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 15-10-2011, 22:23   #46
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

Jimbo485: On the one hand I totally agree with your logic - it is exactly the same logic that applies to having guns in the home for self-defense (having a gun reduces the odds of survival in a break-in). But there are a lot of Americans who will claim that THEY are wise enough, and skilled enough, to use the weapon to improve their odds. The statistics don't lie... (I hope this doesn't thoroughly derail the thread!)

On the other hand, I have seen, heard of, and read about many cases of sailors doing dangerously dumb things that I know for a certainty I wouldn't do (not that I haven't done a few stupid things in my time). What we are talking about here is a single question: would I get into a liferaft when my sailboat was not certainly going to sink? I am confident I would not. (There is an experience in my past, which I am not going to relate here, where I made the decision to stay and save the boat in ugly circumstances rather than be taken off by the Coasties. So I have some reason for confidence. OTOH my two worthless crew just wanted off.)

I think the way to square this circle is this: Buying a liferaft without understanding all of the implications of its use is a dangerous thing to do. This can be rectified by thinking/studying in advance about the problem, and getting into a liferaft and appreciate how small and flimsy it really is (be afraid about stepping into a liferaft - the next step is the grave). If one knows what happened in the Fastnet disaster it is not likely this mistake would be made.

In short, as I said before, statistics is not fate. If (a big if) one is prepared mentally then a liferaft can be a useful option. If one thinks of it as a "Get out of Jail Free" card then better to not have it.
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Old 15-10-2011, 22:39   #47
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DJBrookster View Post
Amazing how complacent people are. When the boat is going down I'd rather have one more roll of the dice with a life raft and EPIRB attached. It's not always just your life either.
Some of the people you label complacent have put considerable thought into their decision and invested their time and money in alternative safety precautions and consequently see you as the complacent one for buying a life raft and marking a check next to 'Safety Precautions' on the prep list.

Alternatively they might see you as a bit of a chicken little. A year or so ago there was a thread where a nurse made the statement that anyone that would go to sea without an AED (Automatic External Defribulator) was stupid or insane or something to that effect. Do you have and AED aboard and if not why not? It could save your life or someone elses. Or a gun, do you have one or more of those aboard. If someone came aboard to do you or yours harm a gun could be a real savior.

Just because someone makes a decision that you wouldn't doesn't make them complacent or stupid or insane and it doesn't mean they haven't put a lot of thought into the issue and made alternative arrangements.
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Old 15-10-2011, 23:19   #48
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I would rather have a tool and not need it, than need it and not have it. Or need it and use another tool incorrectly.
One more weapon in the fight for survival.
I can always launch the dink and grab the LR as I'm going over. Which is a best case situation.
Like I said before ......
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Old 15-10-2011, 23:24   #49
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Re: liferaft - yes/no?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggy View Post
Mingatt,
I've read quite a few reports of people who survived in a liferaft after their boat sank. I can't recall any tales of people surviving offshore in a dinghy. I'd be interested in hearing about any cases of people who were forced to abandon their boats for a dinghy in gale conditions offshore and lived to tell the story.
Canada News: B.C. men survive three days in dinghy after shipwreck - thestar.com
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Old 16-10-2011, 00:33   #50
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Re: liferaft - yes/no?

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Originally Posted by RHoodJr View Post
"How long can you tread water"?

Have you ever seen a boat on fire? When you need to leave the boat in a hurry, I'd use a life raft if I was only 1/4 mile off shore. I can swim but sure don't want to find out he hard way the I can't swim as far as the shore is! Cheep life insurance and there are plenty of types and prices to choose from for everyone's budget.
That would be one expensive deployment! Not cheap to repack that life raft. A dinghy should suffice if you were only 1/4 mile offshore.

We carry a life raft. Inspections are performed as recommended by the manufacturer. With each inspection costing $500 to $1000 (depending on where performed and what items need replacing), life rafts are not inexpensive safety items. The initial cost of the life raft is just the beginning, inspection costs during the life of the raft will exceed the initial cost of purchasing the darn thing. I would carry the life raft for ocean crossings, but not for coastal cruising where it is so easy to simply stay in port and sail only during good weather. A dinghy is good enough to use in case of emergency during calm weather on coastal cruising, where rescue is relatively quick.

BTW, most of the rallies (like the ARC) not only require a life raft -- they also require that the manufacturer recommended inspections be up-to-date. If someone is thinking of purchasing an old life raft to use while participating in a rally, they also should factor in the cost of inspection and service.

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Old 16-10-2011, 00:43   #51
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Re: liferaft - yes/no?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggy View Post
Mingatt,
I've read quite a few reports of people who survived in a liferaft after their boat sank. I can't recall any tales of people surviving offshore in a dinghy. I'd be interested in hearing about any cases of people who were forced to abandon their boats for a dinghy in gale conditions offshore and lived to tell the story.
There was a news story earlier this year about 3 teenage boys who survived a month across open Pacific Ocean in a tiny fishing skiff --same size as our dinghy.

3 teenage boys rescued after 50 days stranded at sea - CNN

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Old 16-10-2011, 01:38   #52
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minggat View Post
You go ahead and roll the dice. I'm busy stacking things in my favor.

Key words-counter productive. Far too many inflatable liferafts don't do their job.
I agree after much research I bought 5 ACR Resqlink PLB with GPS cost $2200 but 8 years till service and each person now can get rescued if the hits the fan. for me its a better investment
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Old 16-10-2011, 02:34   #53
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I'm glad the boys survived, but are you suggesting this as a valid reason to not carry a life raft?
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Old 16-10-2011, 03:12   #54
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

Slight aside on this subject, relevant to us as UK based now (always had a liferaft) to moving to the USA and looking at costs there. OUCH!!! Over in the UK a decent 6 man cannister raft, vacuum bagged and with 3 year service costs under £700 or $1,200. In the USA the cost is near thre times that and for the same makes of raft mostly, as well as for the US built ones. I'm told if my eyes water at the purchase price, then the servicing costs will really get them going!

C'mon guys YOU ARE BEING RIPPED OFF! I spoke to a YC friend who works in the UK for one of the French raft manufacturers and asked why the difference in prices from one side of the pond to the other. He checked with a US colleague and was told 'We charge more BECAUSE WE CAN', ie the US manufacturers charge the same high rates, so they get away with it. The USA is a huge potential market, I would guess many more would routinely carry rafts if they and their servicing were at European rates!

Our new USA boat has no raft. We have decided for cost effective reasons to rely on the 3.50m RIB and 15hp Yamaha we carry up top, but that is for east coast, ICW and out to the islands use and we will carry an Epirb and our grab bag will be well equipped (better than a liferaft's contents). If we were crossing oceans it would be different.
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Old 16-10-2011, 04:57   #55
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

The marketing people have clearly done a helluva job over the last 30 years

"safety" equipment

a) look out the window

b) for longer passages have a couple of people onboard who can navigate (not just read a chartplotter - we can all look at moving pictures )

c) have solid thru hulls....even if that means replacing them simply because of unknown vintage.

d) Maintain the boat well.....and know where everything is and already have ideas how to fix the critical (and with a decent tool box onboard - and a good bit's "n" bobs box for bodging fixes).

e) buy a boat that is up to the task, plus 50%.....not simply on curtain colour

f) know what you are doing ........unfortunately that can't be bought and has to be won (book or training - they are simply tools along the road)


Of course unlike a liferaft none of the above is going to save folk from a Nuclear Strike, an attack by a Flying Saucer or Pirates ...........and no easy sell involved for a manufactuer to wail "safety".
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Old 16-10-2011, 06:56   #56
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbo485 View Post
..... The stats show the logic. A liferaft onboard will increase your chances of dying. No question. I am not going to argue the point, look at the numbers yourself....
Jimbo,
I'm interested in these particular statistics. Can you post a link?

Here is a link to Evan's on Hawk rational for not having a Life Raft. Well reasoned. FYI, I have life raft on my boat.
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Old 16-10-2011, 07:23   #57
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

Just to lighten up an otherwise serious conversation, having a life raft conrtibutes to cannibalism on the high seas. See "Monty Pythons" life boat sketch.
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Old 16-10-2011, 07:28   #58
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

I have just read a lot of wallet-based rationalizations, with a pinch of chest-thumping thrown in.
Remember that I investigated accidents for a living. If somebody died, I helped figure out why. Here is a universal truth: In a life threatening situation, rational thought is absolutely unavailable. That is virtually a defining feature. The decision to abandon ship is delayed, leaving insufficient time to follow an escape plan unless it is simple, reachable and pre-packaged.
Crises don't happen in calm weather. If the mother-ship is in distress, what do you think conditions will be like in a dinghy?
During the first fatal accident in the history of the Caribbean 1500, the crew boarded their life raft, which rolled several times ejecting the occupants. One person didn't make it back in the raft and was never found. Is your dinghy even that safe? They were in violent breakers ("Rage" is the term in the Bahamas) less than a quarter mile from dry land.
If you are picturing a Hero mustering the crew, rounding up all the necessary stuff, and launching the ship's dinghy/kayak/watertoy and manfully paddling into the crystal lagoon, you are being, er, unrealistic. Four or six folk stuffed into a dark plastic bag and dumped into the wash cycle is a more accurate picture. Not a dinghy place.

Rally rules, be they ACC or otherwise are not casually written. Highly experienced sailors have balanced needs vs. costs and made a decision. Are you sure you are wiser?

Note: I have an unsinkable cat, and I have a life raft. It is adequate for the size of my crew (but no more) and is current for inspection. It cost almost $3000. In my mind it is not an option, but part of the price of blue water cruising, just as are sails, bilge pumps, water, and diet coke.
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Old 16-10-2011, 07:33   #59
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cpa View Post
I am fortunate that my brother carried a life raft and an EPIRB on his last trip across the Atlantic. If not, I would not be seeing him graduate college this spring.
cpa -- could you give us more detail about your brother's experience? Sounds like a story that might be relevant here, or at least a story we'd all like to hear. . . .
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Old 16-10-2011, 09:10   #60
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

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Originally Posted by sandy daugherty View Post
I have just read a lot of wallet-based rationalizations, with a pinch of chest-thumping thrown in.
Remember that I investigated accidents for a living. If somebody died, I helped figure out why. Here is a universal truth: In a life threatening situation, rational thought is absolutely unavailable. That is virtually a defining feature. The decision to abandon ship is delayed, leaving insufficient time to follow an escape plan unless it is simple, reachable and pre-packaged.
Crises don't happen in calm weather. If the mother-ship is in distress, what do you think conditions will be like in a dinghy?
During the first fatal accident in the history of the Caribbean 1500, the crew boarded their life raft, which rolled several times ejecting the occupants. One person didn't make it back in the raft and was never found. Is your dinghy even that safe? They were in violent breakers ("Rage" is the term in the Bahamas) less than a quarter mile from dry land.
If you are picturing a Hero mustering the crew, rounding up all the necessary stuff, and launching the ship's dinghy/kayak/watertoy and manfully paddling into the crystal lagoon, you are being, er, unrealistic. Four or six folk stuffed into a dark plastic bag and dumped into the wash cycle is a more accurate picture. Not a dinghy place.

Rally rules, be they ACC or otherwise are not casually written. Highly experienced sailors have balanced needs vs. costs and made a decision. Are you sure you are wiser?

Note: I have an unsinkable cat, and I have a life raft. It is adequate for the size of my crew (but no more) and is current for inspection. It cost almost $3000. In my mind it is not an option, but part of the price of blue water cruising, just as are sails, bilge pumps, water, and diet coke.
We have had a liferaft on all our boats for the last 25 years and never (thankfully) had to use one. I was at sea in a 30 foot sailing boat in the infamous 1979 Fastnet Race storm, albeit not in the race. In that boat we had no liferaft, only a half inflated Avon Redcrest (donut type), carried on deck, again thankfully not required. Of the Fastnet Race people who abandoned to take to liferafts, quite a few died, in fact most of the dead (I think 15 in all) were from people in or getting into or rescued from liferafts. All of the boats tyhat were abandoned, despite being left with open main hatches/companionways were still afloat after the storm. Easy answer sat in an armchair, but why would it seem a better option to jump into the equivalent of a kids paddling pool with a cover than to stay with a solid boat, even (as was the case) one that had been rolled or knocked down?

A couple of years later we were holed up in France waiting for a succession of violent depressions with F11 winds to go through, a large Rival sank in the Western Approaches to the UK. Two people on board took to their raft which broke up (tubes separated), one died and one survived. In this case the raft did it's job, or at least half it's job.

However, ocean sailing apart, the liferaft option as a result of severe storms is a tiny risk, since we have weather forecasts available and are not sailing hundreds of miles offshore and unable to take avoiding action, like don't go or go back in before the nasty stuff arrives.

The main differences IMO are a) collision, especially perhaps being run down in bad visibility or at night. b) Fire on board. In these conditions the ballast systems of a liferaft are superfluous and a dinghy that is ready for use just as good, even in some ways better as you have some ability to move towards help. There was a large Moody run down in fog in the English Channel by a container ship which didn't stop. Both vessels were 'in the wrong', the ship thought the yacht was clear but wasn't, the yacht took bum decisions over radar and turned back under the bows of the ship... However the yacht crew took to the liferaft (the yacht eventually sank) but despite their proximity to land and shipping, in the fog they were not seen and rescued for I think 24hrs, no epirb, no handheld VHF. In this case a dinghy would have worked, one with oars even better and one with a mounted motor better still, and an epirb & VHF would have been a real bonus.

Fire! There is a case where a liferaft could be useful, but then so could a ready dinghy. Before that, even more useful would be a good fire control system to prevent the fire, much better than running from it after the event. Our last boat and our latest (USA based) one both have excellent engine room automatic fire extinguisher systems, plus multiple extinguishers for all types of fire strategically placed. Our RIB on the roof (now a motor yacht will have a dedicated starter (high CCA) battery close by to run the crane even though that can be used manually, the RIB is 3.5m (11'6") and the outboard a 15hp always mounted and ready to go. So kids paddling pool or RIB? Most circumstances the RIB would either do or even be better, just not in the Perfect Storm, but then since we are now USA coastal and islands only that is not likely.

Costs! Yes, never skimp on safety, but the truth is you cannot buy safety as such because that comes from preparation, experience and a large chunk of commonsense and these things are not sold in chandlers. Personally I think the price of liferafts in the USA is scandalous, but hey I'm a Brit, albeit one married to an American and moving to live aboard our USA motor yacht full time. I might even ship a liferaft over from here with our other stuff, although that eliminates aur freight options and it may be difficult to get serviced locally too.

The whole question is therefore complex IMO and there isn't one simple solution.
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