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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, 10:47   #91
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bash View Post
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.
Lots of our members have that feature including me..it's real easy to do the retro fit...tee into the raw water hose between the tru-hull and strainer... ball valve off the tee....hose off the ball valve into the bilge.
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Old 17-10-2011, 11:14   #92
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

Beth and Evans brought up non response to EPIRB's. Yes it happens and more than we all like but at the same time there have been many more who have had a response to an emergency EPRIB signal. Saliors in the roaring 40's thousands of miles from land have had quick rescues. I know of one search and rescue where both French and USA coast guard planes responded to a signal near the equator on a passage from Mexico to French Polynessia.
911 is not perfect as many goof ups have happened yet 911 has become such an important part of most of our lives even though we hopefully never have to use it. For a cruiser doing great passages EPIRB is your 911.

Properly registered EPRIB's work and I hope those with the dream of some day CROSSING OCEAN and MAKING LONG PASSAGES will not be influenced by the few times officials have not responded to an EPIRB signal. Please be responsible to yourself, your loved ones, crew and those brave souls that risk their life to go out and find you in a time of great need. Remember there is not a commercial fishing boat without an EPIRB, there is a reason for that and it's more than just regulations. They work and work well.
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Old 17-10-2011, 11:32   #93
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

Interesting thread.

Let's weigh the pros and cons.

We are going to be coastal cruisers initially, probably no more than 5nm offshore.

SAR services are pretty good around most of the coast of Oz.

There are rules and regs regarding carriage of life jackets, EPIRBS and life rafts, depending on circumstances.

Let's review that. Remember this is for private vessels, with South Australian registration. It's no doubt different elsewhere.

Vessels over 8m in unprotected waters

one personal flotation device (PFD) Type 1 for each person on board
two suitable anchors with cables
two bailers with lines attached and a bilge pump
if the boat has an engine or cooking facilities - two fire extinguishers
one waterproof and buoyant torch or lantern
a two-way marine radio capable of communication with onshore stations
two hand held red flares and two hand held orange smoke signals
four litres of fresh water
the boat must be fitted with a compass, preferably liquid damped.
NB: A GPS is not a compass.
one life-buoy with line
one fire bucket

Additionally, vessels in unprotected waters more than three nautical miles from shore, except in Lakes Alexandrina and Albert, or more than five nautical miles from shore in Gulf of St Vincent or Spencer Gulf must carry:

one EPIRB (emergency distress beacon) (406Mhz Satellite type, registered with AMSA)
one V distress sheet.

All vessels in unprotected waters more than ten nautical miles from shore must also carry (in addition to the above):

two distress rockets with parachutes
a map or chart of the waters in which the boat will operate.
(This is in addition to a chartplotter, i.e. a real, live, paper chart.)

Note that none of these regulations REQUIRE carriage of a liferaft for a private pleasure vessel. (IIRC, the rules change above a certain size, we're just over 10m so this is what we are required to have, even if we decide to sail the Pacific.)

Cold water will kill you slowly. Very cold water will kill you fairly quickly.
A life raft won't keep you dry, but it keeps you out of that cold water,and should keep you out of the wind (chill factor).

Sharks are common in our waters. The Great Whites live and love less than a hundred miles from here and we get some very big sharks quite close to home at times. Sharks can take a liferaft too, but they are far more likely to grab someone floating feet down in a lifejacket. They're known to have taken bites out of glass and wooden boats at times, so I wouldn't guarantee a life raft was a truly safe haven where they hang out. (Down around Port Lincoln and Dangerous Reef is where they shot much of the shark footage for 'Jaws' - just 'down the road' from home.)
Wife's Uncle had such an encounter and they had to bail all the way home, and that was quite close to here. It was a smallish wooden boat... ... so...

There is considerable evidence that people sometimes abandon their vessel far too soon for the 'safety' of a life raft. Boats that have been abandoned and crew lost (or rescued) sometimes are found still afloat days or weeks later. There is no doubt that any hull that is still (mostly) above water is likely to be better than a liferaft. I will not abandon my boat until it is definitely going under for the last time and I will be fighting to prevent that right up to then. Will I launch the raft if I have one? Yes, when it appears likely to be needed, but I won't actually abandon until there is absolutely positively no option. You may find it sufficient to inflate the raft and 'park' it on the deck or even the upturned hull. If you elect to tie up to it, make sure it can be slipped in seconds in the dark if the hull decides to take the plunge.

Cost is an issue, most things safety related in Oz have ridiculous prices attached and life rafts are no exception.

The concept of a crash pump is an interesting one. We have a 2.8kva genset that will power a fairly substantial pump. We'll have several high volume bilge pumps on automatic. If I can slow the rate down with pumps, it might give me time to plug the breach and reduce to something the pumps can cope with longer term. So I'm going to find a 240v high volume pump that will run off the genset.

I would still like to have either a life raft or (preferably) a rib or something like it fully equipped with a storm cover and survival gear on davits ready to rock and roll. If it's hard to launch in bad weather, it probably won't be much easier to get into a raft you've tossed over the side. Worst case, sit in it and cut the falls when the boat sinks. I've seen several comments about dinghys and I think the RIGHT TYPE of dinghy (and a rib is close to perfect) might be at least as good.

A punctured or otherwise torn up liferaft will sink, with you in it. Some dinghys are filled with floation and essentially unsinkable.

We plan to have a raft (if I can get one at a price I can afford) an EPIRB and a good dinghy filled with survival gear.

We have several hand held radios in addition to what's in the boat and phones and even the internet work up to 50 miles offshore where we are going to be sailing for the next few years. So I'd say we should be covered.

I've worked in marine rescue and a liferaft has its place. The number of people that go to sea (even a few hundred yards can be too far for some) with not even a lifejacket is ridiculous. Or they try and put a child in an adult jacket (guaranteed to drown the child if they fall in). Children must have child sized life jackets, adult ones will probably kill them.

If you are offshore or inshore with kids and such, you should have a raft or boat that can be quickly launched (stowed deep below where you need to shift half a ton of gear to get at it is futility) so a decktop cannister or a valise in the cockpit please, or don't bother.

That said, a sound dinghy, preferably inflatable with multiple compartments, with survival gear, EPIRB, radio etc is probably just as good or possibly better, as you may be close enough to shore to self rescue or at least get close enough to get out of danger.

A life raft is a drifting, floating bag of people that depends on others coming to find it, better if you can help your self. Much of the time, a good inflatable boat, properly prepared (the last two words are critical) may be a better/safer prospect than a raft in other than extreme seas.

That covers coastal.

Offshore, you must have something that will at least FLOAT in the worst case scenario and liferafts are designed for that.
If you have an inflatable or unsinkable dinghy as well, so much the better, but you need that last possible haven too. You can't self rescue if you are a hundred miles from land, so the raft is the best option if you really, really, really have to abandon (which to my mind is when the boat actually sinks and not before) or is on fire. I've heard of a ferro boat that caught fire and the crew abandoned, either to raft or tender, not sure, the fire eventually burned out, having consumed most of the interior, but the hull was still sound and the sails and rigging intact.
When it cooled off, they reboarded and got it home. I believe it's still around after a major refit. Steel and ferro hulls don't burn, but everything in them can, including you, so we plan to carry several small extinguishers plus a couple of larger ones and have a firefighting pump (a decent bilge pump will work pretty well).

The most overlooked thing here I believe might be communications. If you can communicate your position and situation to rescue services in your vicinity, or even ships/yachts not too far away, you chances of survival go way up. Make sure you have good radio gear. On long cruises, a sat phone is excellent, make sure it stays charged. A phone call to a competent Marine Rescue Centre can be your best bet. If you don't trust the locals, phone home or any 'westernised' nation with a decent rescue capability and have them light a fire under the locals. That may be far more useful than calling a coast station in Rinkydinkland that might not bother with you.
Yell for help on everything. VHF, Ham bands, CB, Marine HF frequencies, Twitter, Facebook, Email, whatever you have. If you have a VHF radio that covers air band, 121.5Mhz AM may get you an airliner at Flight Level 350 that can stay in contact for some time on VHF and call out rescue for you via satellite or HF. Don't worry about rules or licenses, if you are in distress, you may use ANY MEANS to call for help, without fear of consequences for transmitting on an unauthorised frequency.

Well, that's gone way beyond just liferafts, but hey, why not?

One last thing. A teenage Dutch girl was attempting to emulate Jessica Watson and got into trouble in the Indian Ocean. She set off her EPIRB and aircraft went out, found her, still in the (dismasted IIRC) boat and established comms. She was later rescued. The boat is still out there somewhere if it hasn't gone down. EPIRB. Carry one. If you can afford it, carry several, including personal ones, ideally with the GPS option. If you have an EPIRB someone will find you. If it has your exact position someone will find you quicker/easier. Time is crucial, particularly if you are cold and wet.


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Old 17-10-2011, 12:25   #94
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

If you're within 5 miles of shore I'd keep PFD's and a handheld around. Guys are swimming that distance routinely. Kicking on your back in warm water with a PFD wouldn't be crazy if you're in shape for it.
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Old 17-10-2011, 12:56   #95
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by James S View Post
Lots of our members have that feature including me..it's real easy to do the retro fit...tee into the raw water hose between the tru-hull and strainer... ball valve off the tee....hose off the ball valve into the bilge.
Uh huh. If it's so easy to do the retro fit, why haven't I done it in the five years I've owned this boat?

(Actually, I've been ticking off at least one of these boat-improvement projects every summer. This past summer I installed a dual Racor filter system. But the raw water Y-valve just hasn't yet surfaced high enough on the list. The only thing I know for certain is that it's one notch higher than the anchor wash-down pump.)

(And, James, don't you dare tell me that you've already installed a wash-down pump as well.)
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Old 17-10-2011, 14:18   #96
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
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.

That's a red herring, as we pretty much ALL carry gasoline one way or another for our outboards. (except those very few with electric outboards). You can in fact very safely keep the pump fueled with all the valves and breathers closed (this is allowed by for example MCA). AND you can get diesel trash pumps if you want.

crash pump . . . Maybe it will give you enough time to find and/or stop it. But maybe not.

That's true of ALL this sort of equipment, maybe it will solve the problem, and maybe it will not. Its true of rafts . . . maybe it will be burned on deck, maybe it will not inflate, maybe it will be rolled. Why is it you don't ask those maybe's when comparing the trash pump to the raft?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bash View Post
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.
Actually the flow rate from a yacht engine cooling system is relatively low, not enough to keep up with a serious leak. The crash/trash pumps will do 500 gpm, while your cooling system will be lucky to do 5. It's not a bad thing to do and can't hurt but you have to be realistic about its flow rate and what sort of leak it could keep up with.
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Old 17-10-2011, 14:30   #97
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

Barnakiel- While I agree with the gist of your recommendation to do your own repack (at least as opposed to no repack), I think it is incumbent to actually learn how to do it, rather than winging it.

Specifically, your recommendation to do an emergency inflate to test it is a bad idea. The cold expanding gas freezes the raft material near the gas fitting, which can result in deterioration of the fabric (probably very dependent on material type). Basically, it can only be done a few times before reliability suffers. Repackers don't do this - they inflate with a low pressure hose, rather like a shop vac outlet.

Repacking is not rocket science, but it must be done right with great attention to detail. So anyone doing it themselves must do the research to get it right.
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Old 17-10-2011, 21:39   #98
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cormorant View Post
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. . . .

Here is the short version of the story. He had a Grand Soleil 39. He/we think the motor or sail drive blew. After he lost his motor, the boat filled with water fast. In the video he is wearing my clothes because he lost everything. I can
definitely see why people don't want to carry a raft. I hope that if I am ever in a similar situation, I exhaust all options before jumping up onto a life raft. It may not happen often but his boat completely sank. He needed his life raft and I'm glad he had it. He had a great trip besides the sinking and has been offshore many times since.

Sailor stranded at sea lucky to be alive - TODAY People - People: Tales of survival - TODAY.com
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Old 17-10-2011, 23:16   #99
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bash View Post
Uh huh. If it's so easy to do the retro fit, why haven't I done it in the five years I've owned this boat?

(Actually, I've been ticking off at least one of these boat-improvement projects every summer. This past summer I installed a dual Racor filter system. But the raw water Y-valve just hasn't yet surfaced high enough on the list. The only thing I know for certain is that it's one notch higher than the anchor wash-down pump.)

(And, James, don't you dare tell me that you've already installed a wash-down pump as well.)
You're right...I havent done the washdown pump yet...I have the pump and the wire and cuircut is all done....Finishing the boarding ladder and biminy are higher on that list.....so is general goofing off!
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Old 17-10-2011, 23:18   #100
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

If I owned a boat that could sink, undoubtedly I would consider having one.

No one has yet raised the issue of having the correct raft though. A raft that is too big is just as useless as one that is too small, life rafts are designed around the ballast weight, reference the 1998 Sydney Hobert where most loss of life occurred in a life raft.
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Old 18-10-2011, 00:16   #101
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

Geoff -- I believe it was the American girl, not the Dutch, who got into trouble.
Abby Sunderland, who had previous trouble on her Open 40 "Wild Eyes", departed South Africa to cross the southern ocean in winter (didn't sound like a good idea), and was rescued from her dismasted boat on June 12, 2010, near the Kerguelen Islands in the vicinity of lat. 40 S. Laura Dekker on "Guppy" is taking a much more mellow route westbound across the Indian Ocean after having departed Darwin, Australia, and is doing just fine:

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Old 18-10-2011, 10:58   #102
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

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Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
If you're within 5 miles of shore I'd keep PFD's and a handheld around. Guys are swimming that distance routinely. Kicking on your back in warm water with a PFD wouldn't be crazy if you're in shape for it.
You would think so, but swimming in ocean is not easy. I had to rescue two marines last summer in warm Florida water that were only 1/4 mile offshore and nearly drowned. One had the straps break on his snorkal and was no longer able to prevent ingestion of seawater.

Launching a dinghy from that distance, no problem, but I wouldn't try to swim it.
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Old 18-10-2011, 11:11   #103
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

One train of thought is that it is better to spend the exorbitant amount of money that life rafts cost on your boat to make sure you are less likely to need one. My personal opinion on life rafts relates to the vulnerability of inflatables. I would rather set my hard dingy up to be a life boat. I am decking my dinghy over from just forward of the rowing station, this serves a double function (how often have you been rowing out and your groceries and such got drenched). My dinghy stows upside down on the foredeck while at sea I would store my "ditch bag" in the dinghy. I would rather have a sailing lifeboat than something that just floats around like a piece of sea trash.
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Old 18-10-2011, 11:18   #104
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

Carina, it is very easy to get hold of bad statistics and make worse use of them.

I could "prove" that owning a liferaft increases your odds of drowning or being lost at sea. Just look at the number of life raft owners drowned or lost at sea, versus the percent of the general population. Including the billion Chinese interior farmers who never went to sea, or owned a life raft.

Statistics? Yeah, folks should be trained and licensed before they are permitted to use them. Perhaps a mandatory eight-hour class or completion of the Safety-At-Sea seminar should be required before anyone is allowed to buy a life raft, huh?
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Old 18-10-2011, 11:37   #105
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Re: Liferaft: Yes or No ?

Marqus, I would suggest that anyone can test and repack their own life raft--although, some folks really should call the road club and not attempt to change their own spare tires or oil, both of which are simpler tasks.

For the "handier" and more attentive owner, inflating the life raft is no issue. You don't want to use the gas bottle because that gas freezes whatever it hits, and repeated freezing can break the raft material. You'd use a shop vac, air compressor, or other source of clean dry air. Note that it must be clean and dry, if you blew it up bu mouth [sic] you'd fill it with bacteria and mold too. So you don't orally inflate PFDs to test them out, either.

Repacking? Again, a matter of using that shopvac in reverse, to suck the air out. And folding carefully, since even road maps tear when folded repeatedly on the same lines. And of course, working on a totally clean floor, so you don't add in any grit. Indoors, so nothing falls into the packing either.

A bit of a handful, but certainly not impossible. I suspect most raft owners would prefer to send it out--like the ironing--when possible. Or having their oil changed.

-------------------

On life rafts versus things that are more mobile, like sailing Tinkers? One form just doesn't fit both functions. The need for ballast compartments in heavy wx is proven and great. Unfortunately, they restrict mobility so now you need, what? retractable ballast compartments? Another design challenge, another manufacturing expense, another user training issue. The general premise of "crash rescue" has always been "stay at the crash site" until that's not feasible. Mobility is good unless it gets you loster. Is the added cost of mobility (sailing kit, etc.) really any cheaper or more reliable than the added cost of communications equipment today? Say, buying two cheap EPIRBs or PLBs or a satphone and packing it away to call in help? Any more reliable?

I think this is one of those areas like "castles versus cannons", where on the one hand you can argue a better defense will always win. Until someone trumps the defense with a better offensive weapon, and the you have to re-examine the question completely. Big heavy solid forts were perfect--until the rifled shell in the 1860's, when fort building got abandoned because those big cheap rifled cannons could tear right through them.

Today? Powerful life boat, still a good thing. Stay in place and call for assistance...might be a paradigm shift. (Don't you hate that phrase?)
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