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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 17-10-2011, 05:15   #76
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

Someone asked about abandoning ship during a storm and deploying a life raft or dinghy.

Only 3 boats we know/knew have had to be abandoned. One hit a reef while attempting to enter a harbor. Sank; and crew swam ashore with assistance of locals. The second boat was abandoned during a storm when the boat began taking on water. A commercial cargo ship rescued the crew. The yacht was still floating when they were rescued. BTW, we were caught in this same storm and were about 20 miles west of them when the mayday call was issued. There is no way a dinghy could have remained afloat in that storm.

The third abandon ship incident was a boat was sailing calmly along in the Pacific from New Zealand en route to Tonga when it began taking on water. They could not find the source. Friends sailing not too distant arrived 20 minutes later to find the boat owner's wife and son in the dinghy and the owner still down below still trying to find the water source. The friend assisted but the 2 men never found the source of entry and the boat had to be abandoned. Boat #1 was very lucky that boat #2 was so close to rescue them. Boat #1 sank about one hour after water came over cabin sole.

Never did find out why they chose to get into the dinghy rather than deploy the life raft. I assume the life raft was the last option and was no longer needed once the friends arrived to rescue them.

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Old 17-10-2011, 05:25   #77
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

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Originally Posted by svBeBe View Post
Never did find out why they chose to get into the dinghy rather than deploy the life raft. I assume the life raft was the last option and was no longer needed once the friends arrived to rescue them.
I suppose that if you are still looking for the source of the leak, then you have not given up all hope of saving the boat and therefore it was too early to deploy the liferaft when you had somewhere safe and dry to keep your family.
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Old 17-10-2011, 06:15   #78
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

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Originally Posted by Robin3 View Post
I can understand that [cost of product liability insurance] could be a significant factor, but was told by someone in the business in the UK that his US counterparts nevertheless said 'because they CAN' charge double. That implies either protectionism of US makers of some kind, or that they have some kind of price fixing agreed with US makers (isn't that illegal?) or the US prices are really what it costs to build in the US and the European makers are taking advantage of that and their US distributors are just profiteering.
Simple profiteering would be a highly unusual reason for something to cost double in the US what it costs in the UK. The US market is much more efficient, to such an extent that even UK made goods are often cheaper in the US than in the UK.

I would be willing to bet that the only reason is product liability insurance. When you buy a ladder in the US, more than half the cost goes to the cost of product liability insurance. Do we need tort reform? Oops, we're not supposed to talk about politics here. Never mind!

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Originally Posted by Robin3 View Post
Price IS a factor, maybe it shouldn't be but it is. $3,000 for a raft for a $20,000 boat, then factor in servicing costs and you can see perhaps why! Drop that $3,000 to $1500 and the shall I shan't I picture changes a bit.

We have 40 years of sailboat cruising behind us and for 15 of those years did so in old and small and cheap boats, in mainly the English Channel, where conditions are often very severe and big ship traffic high. In those days we had no liferaft but we carried a half inflated (would support 4 people still) Avon donut on deck, it was the same dinghy we used to go from shore to mooring. We did rent a raft occasionally at the end of that time for some offshore races where it was a requirement. Some 25 years or more back however we inherited a liferaft with our 'new' boat, had it serviced and having one became a habit after that. We have never used one in anger, but have been present when ours were serviced because our local service agent was a club mate and a friend and I trusted his work 110% where I would not be so trusting of others having heard the horror stories many times.

We are not buying one for our new US boat, that is my choice and if money were no object then it might be different. As it is we will be spending instead on a quickfind epirb and in making sure all the boat systems and fittings are in first class order. That is our choice for us alone, based on having a quality Hypalon double bottomed RIB with large tubes and outboard with fuel tank ready to launch. We have our USCG PFDs stowed in it routinely (we will normally wear other better ones, automatic type but EU not USCG) and a grab bag with all the essentials like flare gun, VHF, and all the usual raft kit contents is stowed close too it ready to go also, plus another with all our must take documents, water, food etc. We will be cruising however in the ICW mainly with occasional hops out to the Bahamas etc, we will not be crossing oceans and rescue if required is measured in terms of hours not days. I think our choice is reasonable, but it is OUR choice and others may think entirely differently.


I still think that fire or collision are a more likely abandon ship scenario for most than getting caught in an unforecast Perfect Storm whilst on a 12 hour open sea trip. If it were a perfect storm, I wouldn't like the idea of a liferaft anyway unless the big boat was dropping away from my outstretched legs whilst neck deep in water! I wouldn't want to use a RIB instead either, so my argument is prevent getting into trouble in the first place.

You can't buy safety. You can buy safety equipment, but it doesn't make your boat any safer, it is reactive not proactive.

My choice, not advice to others!
Well, of course, a liferaft is a last resort, and everything possible should be done prior to making the decision to use one. It seems to be a common (and very understandable) error of judgement that some people will abandon into a liferaft after being knocked down and/or rolled repeatedly, when their yachts are still basically watertight and therefore a much better refuge than any liferaft, however uncomfortable the yacht may be while being rolled.

Hardly anyone short of Abramovich has an unlimited budget even for safety gear, so cost of course is a factor for everyone. If I were forced to choose between and EPIRB and a liferaft for a journey far offshore, I would take the EPIRB. Among other advantages, the EPIRB will be useful if you are able to stay on your boat, but you are dismasted and drifting.

But there are cases where yachts do sink! Hulls get breached; sea cocks or through hulls fail; violent unforecast storms overwhelm you -- sh*t happens. If it happens in bad weather, the dinghy will be useless. What will you do, if it happens to you? Go down with the ship? It's an unlikely, but tangible and real risk.

One factor which has not been mentioned is water temperature. If you're sailing in Florida or in the Bahamas and find yourself bobbing around in your lifejacket waiting for someone to respond to your PLB signal -- you might be just fine. In reasonably calm weather with 90 degrees water temperature -- plausible Florida coastal sailing conditions -- you might even be able to swim a couple miles to shore on your own.

But where I sail, you're dead in 30 minutes or less in the winter time (water temp can be less than 5 degrees C). So even if your boat goes down just 2 miles off a coast -- a sinking means almost certain death, unless another boat happens to be nearby, or you have a liferaft to get into and out of the water. Preferably with a double floor and space blankets in the grab bag.
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Old 17-10-2011, 06:42   #79
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

Quote:
But where I sail, you're dead in 30 minutes or less in the winter time (water temp can be less than 5 degrees C). So even if your boat goes down just 2 miles off a coast -- a sinking means almost certain death, unless another boat happens to be nearby, or you have a liferaft to get into and out of the water. Preferably with a double floor and space blankets in the grab bag.
Same place we sailed until now (as I know you know).

We did carry a liferaft and yes it had a double floor and space blankets. Then again the Moody 'Wahkuni' that was run down and sunk could perhaps have been better off in a decent dinghy so they could go somewhere to be rescued instead of drifting around aimless in the liferaft for 24hrs in thick fog, waiting for someone to come close enough to justify letting off their flares. That isn't an argument for not carrying a raft, just a comment on one particular case. Of course if the Wahkuni skipper had spent the liferaft money on instruction in using his new radar, then he might still have a boat! That is said a bit tongue in cheek!

My biggest fear, possibly irrational, in the waters off Florida isn't that the cold would get me but the sharks. That alone would have me standing on the mast top (or now our radar scanner) before jumping anywhere!
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Old 17-10-2011, 06:49   #80
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

1900+ views, 76 poll votes!

If you read the thread please vote.
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Old 17-10-2011, 06:56   #81
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Lucas View Post
1900+ views, 76 poll votes!

If you read the thread please vote.
I didn't vote because there was no option for 'it depends'
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Old 17-10-2011, 07:23   #82
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

In theory a properly rated offshore life raft will be more survivable than a dinghy in extreme offshore conditions. Having one, give one options that not having one doesn't.

For any passsage, I would have one. I don't have one now, but rarely go out of dinghy range of the coast.

If the engine is running, a dinghy, (rib), is more seaworthy in a storm than you might think, (if gas tank is tied down).
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Old 17-10-2011, 07:34   #83
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin3 View Post
Same place we sailed until now (as I know you know).

We did carry a liferaft and yes it had a double floor and space blankets. Then again the Moody 'Wahkuni' that was run down and sunk could perhaps have been better off in a decent dinghy so they could go somewhere to be rescued instead of drifting around aimless in the liferaft for 24hrs in thick fog, waiting for someone to come close enough to justify letting off their flares. That isn't an argument for not carrying a raft, just a comment on one particular case. Of course if the Wahkuni skipper had spent the liferaft money on instruction in using his new radar, then he might still have a boat! That is said a bit tongue in cheek!

My biggest fear, possibly irrational, in the waters off Florida isn't that the cold would get me but the sharks. That alone would have me standing on the mast top (or now our radar scanner) before jumping anywhere!
As others have commented -- a dinghy is only an option with very good weather. I would probably never abandon ship into my dinghy unless there were a persistent high pressure system overhead and/or in sight of land.

As others -- I think, including you -- have commented, a liferaft by itself, without knowledge, skills, and other bits of gear -- can be worse than useless.

Our grab bag has a handheld VHF with a bunch of lithium batteries and -- most importantly -- DSC. So in case we had to abandon quickly, without time to set off a DSC distress call and communicate with coast guards from the mother ship, we would have means of doing that from the liferaft. DSC calls have a much longer range than voice calls.

Our grab bag also has a bunch of extra flares, and strobe lights. Even if we lost the VHF overboard, say -- if you set off a red rocket parachute flare every couple of hours at night -- it would be pretty hard not to be seen and found. They are visible from a long ways off, 20 miles and more if visibility is decent.

At some point I will buy a PLB. If you have VHF/DSC, flares, and a PLB in your life raft, you would hardly ever want to trade the seaworthiness of a real life raft for the motive ability of your dink.

I wouldn't worry too much about sharks. I don't think they are more prevalent in Florida than they are in the Channel.


You CF-ers should know that Robin and I know each other from another board, ybw.com, which has a ton of valuable local knowledge for those sailing in UK waters. Robin is an enormously experienced, knowledgeable, and helpful sailor who, in fact, went to a lot of trouble to give me what turned out to be invaluable advice when I was planning my first Channel crossing. You guys show him every courtesy, ok? Cheers Robin.
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Old 17-10-2011, 07:36   #84
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Re: liferaft - yes/no?

Quote:
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.
Well said. I agree totally.
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Old 17-10-2011, 08:28   #85
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
As others have commented -- a dinghy is only an option with very good weather. I would probably never abandon ship into my dinghy unless there were a persistent high pressure system overhead and/or in sight of land.

As others -- I think, including you -- have commented, a liferaft by itself, without knowledge, skills, and other bits of gear -- can be worse than useless.

Our grab bag has a handheld VHF with a bunch of lithium batteries and -- most importantly -- DSC. So in case we had to abandon quickly, without time to set off a DSC distress call and communicate with coast guards from the mother ship, we would have means of doing that from the liferaft. DSC calls have a much longer range than voice calls.

Our grab bag also has a bunch of extra flares, and strobe lights. Even if we lost the VHF overboard, say -- if you set off a red rocket parachute flare every couple of hours at night -- it would be pretty hard not to be seen and found. They are visible from a long ways off, 20 miles and more if visibility is decent.

At some point I will buy a PLB. If you have VHF/DSC, flares, and a PLB in your life raft, you would hardly ever want to trade the seaworthiness of a real life raft for the motive ability of your dink.

I wouldn't worry too much about sharks. I don't think they are more prevalent in Florida than they are in the Channel.


You CF-ers should know that Robin and I know each other from another board, ybw.com, which has a ton of valuable local knowledge for those sailing in UK waters. Robin is an enormously experienced, knowledgeable, and helpful sailor who, in fact, went to a lot of trouble to give me what turned out to be invaluable advice when I was planning my first Channel crossing. You guys show him every courtesy, ok? Cheers Robin.
Ta for the compliment!

Grab bags are a subject worth another thread too. Lots of things that might go unconsidered, like car keys, credit card/money, passports just for starters. I heard of one UK crew picked up in the Channel off France after a fire on board by a freighter and dropped safely ashore, but in Holland. They then had no documentation, no money and no proof of nationality etc, then when they eventually got back to the UK had no car keys either!

The sharks in the Channel tend to suck not bite! We had a basking shark cruise alongside one dark night that was probably over 20ft long. I really don't fancy doggy paddle with ones that have teeth!
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Old 17-10-2011, 08:59   #86
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

And what is the apparent problem testing yours?

Toss it overboard in the anchorage, pull the line and see what happens. Then dry, repack, replace the cylinder and you learn, first hand:
- how to open one,
- how to get into it,
- what is in,
-what is missing,
-how to re-rig it and pack it.

I re-arm our pdfs and helped re-arm a liferaft. No big deal and a great learning experience.

b.
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Old 17-10-2011, 09:37   #87
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
But there are cases where yachts do sink! Hulls get breached; sea cocks or through hulls fail; violent unforecast storms overwhelm you -- sh*t happens.
One thing I have not ever seen discussed in life raft threads is the decision between a raft and a trash/crash pump. A decent crash pump can keep up with the water flow involved in most of the sinking's I am aware of, and it can be reversed to make a scarily efficient fire hose. They are required on commercial (MCA) vessels. They are carried on USCG C130's and commonly dropped to vessels in distress taking on water.

And because they are about the same size and rought cost (a bit less expensive) than a raft they represent an interesting 'safety' trade-off - save the ship with a crash pump or get off with a raft.

For those of you who think a raft is essential for safety, do you also carry a crash pump. If not, why not?

As an aside, on epirbs, they are marvelous devices IF you have properly registered them and IF you are in 1st world waters. However, there can be significant process problems if you fire one off in '3rd world' water. We know a boat in Indonesia who let one off and the Indonesians did NOTHING - they basically told the family they did not go looking for their own fishermen so why should they go looking for a foreigner. We know another who let off in Brazilian waters and the brazilian's just assumed it was a false signal and did nothing, until two days later the Canadian government talked them into sending a search plane out.
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Old 17-10-2011, 09:49   #88
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

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One thing I have not ever seen discussed in life raft threads is the decision between a raft and a trash/crash pump. A decent crash pump can keep up with the water flow involved in most of the sinking's I am aware of, and it can be reversed to make a scarily efficient fire hose. They are required on commercial (MCA) vessels. They are carried on USCG C130's and commonly dropped to vessels in distress taking on water.

And because they are about the same size and rought cost (a bit less expensive) than a raft they represent an interesting 'safety' trade-off - save the ship with a crash pump or get off with a raft.

For those of you who think a raft is essential for safety, do you also carry a crash pump. If not, why not?

As an aside, on epirbs, they are marvelous devices IF you have properly registered them and IF you are in 1st world waters. However, there can be significant process problems if you fire one off in '3rd world' water. We know a boat in Indonesia who let one off and the Indonesians did NOTHING - they basically told the family they did not go looking for their own fishermen so why should they go looking for a foreigner. We know another who let off in Brazilian waters and the brazilian's just assumed it was a false signal and did nothing, until two days later the Canadian government talked them into sending a search plane out.
A gasoline-powered freestanding crash pump is almost impossible to store on most boats -- you can't keep it fueled up in a locker or lazarette because of the gasoline fumes, even if your locker or laz is big enough.

I have seen boats with crash pumps driven by the main propulsion engine. I looked into these and have put one on my "wish list" -- fairly far down, however.

That is because a crash pump is not really a replacement for a liferaft. Using a crash pump is another really useful tactic if you're taking on water and can't find or stop the leak. Maybe it will give you enough time to find and/or stop it. But maybe not. If you have a big hull breach which is fundamentally unstoppable, for example, after a collision with, say, a container.
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Old 17-10-2011, 10:20   #89
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

I've never had to abandon ship, and in rough weather, it seems it would be quite difficult to launch and board a liferaft if one had that option. Exactly, how do you go about that?



From this thread - 2010 Caribbean 1500 Rally

First, I am astounded that this vessel came ashore in one piece, for the most part, after coming through the surf and over the reefs and onto the beach. Had all aboard been able to hang with the yacht all would most probably be with us today commenting right here, on this forum, in great detail, concerning the incident.
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Old 17-10-2011, 10:28   #90
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

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I have seen boats with crash pumps driven by the main propulsion engine. I looked into these and have put one on my "wish list" -- fairly far down, however.
I crewed on a 100' motoryacht that had a system where you could throw y-valves on the engines so that the raw water cooling was being taken from the bilge rather than outside the boat. That's an option that's still on my wish list for the current boat.
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