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Old 23-05-2012, 08:58   #1
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Safety issue with Raimar Life Raft

Hello, I had my Raimar Life Raft checked/revisioned at much to my unpleasant surprise, the raft is totally not fit/safe: the bottom came loose from the body (little and britle glue) and all major valves show the same poor attachements. The raft is from 2003. I did manage to send an email with pictures to the manufacturer (in Italy) but honestly, not sure if they will even answer my complaint. Does anybody else in our esteemed forum has had similar issues (with Raimar)? Can i actually repair the raft? The surveying company already told me they are not going to issue any certificate as they will not approve such kind of "McGyverism".

Looking forward to your comments.
Best rgds
Pieter Kommerij
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Old 23-05-2012, 17:13   #2
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Re: Safety issue with Raimar Life Raft

Thanks for posting this timely reminder about hidden problems. I recall one advert about liferafts (can't recall which one) that goes "when you are down to your last chance, it had better be a good one"........

I have told that the lifespan of a packed liferaft exposed to the elements is 10 years however I can't vouch for the veracity of this claim. Your experience might suggest there is some truth in it.

Better to find out now I suppose. Perhaps this should also be in the Can you Buy Safety
thread.
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Old 23-05-2012, 17:58   #3
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Re: Safety issue with Raimar Life Raft

Hi,

10 years is plenty of time so much depends on how the raft was stored - if on deck and esp in sunny climes then this is what I would expect to find inside. It is unusual though, that this kind of issue came unnoticed by the company that reviewed the raft last time ...

If, however, the raft was stored away from heat, frost / etc, then I would say this manufacturing company should no longer be in the business. BTW Are they?

barnie
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Old 24-05-2012, 20:45   #4
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Re: Safety issue with Raimar Life Raft

There is definitely a lot of difference between commercial approved life rafts and those designed for recreational only. If the life raft hadn't been serviced annually, you are wasting your time contacting the manufacture. This is a great eye opener for cruisers that haven't kept their life rafts serviced. I've seen huge pits in the co2 bottles due to salt water seeping around the aluminum bottle and brass valve.Ten years is when the best life rafts start to fail, after their second mandatory co2 inflation test. After that it's just luck and where the life raft was stored.l.
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Old 25-05-2012, 06:39   #5
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Re: Safety issue with Raimar Life Raft

Quote:
Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
Hi,

10 years is plenty of time so much depends on how the raft was stored - if on deck and esp in sunny climes then this is what I would expect to find inside. It is unusual though, that this kind of issue came unnoticed by the company that reviewed the raft last time ...

If, however, the raft was stored away from heat, frost / etc, then I would say this manufacturing company should no longer be in the business. BTW Are they?

barnie
Thanks for your comments. My life raft is stored inside a fibre "pod" and kept at the stern, proteced from the sun and water (rain and sea). Allthough i was kind of sceptic, the italian manufacturer did reply my message and told me that according to their files (?) the raft hadnt been serviced correctly and so there was nothing they could do.... After i asked them, they told me that i could repair the raft myself by using a heavy duty pvc (flexible) glue. So, that is what i am going to do...
Best rgds
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Old 25-05-2012, 06:43   #6
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Re: Safety issue with Raimar Life Raft

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pieter View Post
Thanks for your comments. My life raft is stored inside a fibre "pod" and kept at the stern, proteced from the sun and water (rain and sea). Allthough i was kind of sceptic, the italian manufacturer did reply my message and told me that according to their files (?) the raft hadnt been serviced correctly and so there was nothing they could do.... After i asked them, they told me that i could repair the raft myself by using a heavy duty pvc (flexible) glue. So, that is what i am going to do...
Best rgds
Hope you can swim well. if your repaired are anything like my dinghy repairs. id replace it if i could. or you might end up with what fishermen call "a shark feeder" ( those required orange floats)
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Old 25-05-2012, 06:48   #7
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Re: Safety issue with Raimar Life Raft

Quote:
Originally Posted by RUSTYNAIL View Post
There is definitely a lot of difference between commercial approved life rafts and those designed for recreational only. If the life raft hadn't been serviced annually, you are wasting your time contacting the manufacture. This is a great eye opener for cruisers that haven't kept their life rafts serviced. I've seen huge pits in the co2 bottles due to salt water seeping around the aluminum bottle and brass valve.Ten years is when the best life rafts start to fail, after their second mandatory co2 inflation test. After that it's just luck and where the life raft was stored.l.
Thanks for your comments.... As mentioned in my other reply, the raft has been stored in rather ideal conditions (out of the sun, and not exposed to water... nonetheless, this happened... Having read the comments of the Pardey's it made me thinking: I have been sailing around THINKING I had a great and safe life raft...(but I didnt). The best life raft is my my trusty 40ft Cat and not a flimsy rubber life raft... Of course in extreem (very extreem situations it is obviously important that the thing works), but it makes more sense to have a pro active, anticipating attitude towards safety on board: anticipate on bad weather (even better: try to avoid), life lines, shifts on deck (not inside the comfort of the cabine), proper general boat maintenance etc etc... So, I didnt like the life raft situation, but instead of spending big $$$ on getting a new one, if bought for Us$ 100 the pvc glue, and will get if fixed.... Safe sailing and enjoy
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Old 25-05-2012, 08:47   #8
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Re: Safety issue with Raimar Life Raft

Pieter, If you need a life raft, you'll need an EPIRB. I spent many of my of 43 years with the Coast Guard studying boating rescues and searches in my spare time. The most important thing for serious offshore boaters after good safety practices is an EPIRB with gps. With an EPIRB you usually wont miss your next meal if you need help. Every year it just gets faster with new technology to locate you.. That's the best money spent. An inverted Cat is difficult to locate with radar, so have a radar reflector available so ships can locate you if they are the first responder off Brazil.. Ships have nothing to locate an EPIRB, but binoculars and your last position.
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Old 25-05-2012, 09:24   #9
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Re: Safety issue with Raimar Life Raft

should not a liferaft be inspected every 2 or 3 years? taken out of its box and serviced?? are not flares only good for 3 years at best??

I was having the same problem with a sailboat I looked at. The owner kept saying that the raft was worth 5k. It was 11 years old. i call the manufacture, the number the owner gave me and they said most likely throw it out as it had never been serviced. It was cheaper to buy new than get it repaired. The owner kept telling me it was only 300 dollars to get it serviced.

I mentioned that he might want to call the manufacture and ask them what they told me
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Old 25-05-2012, 09:28   #10
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Re: Safety issue with Raimar Life Raft

This is something that worries me. My life raft's condition is somewhat unknown, having remained packed over two years now since last service. The thought that I might not make every posible effort to keep my boat afloat thinking I have a good raft to rely on, and then to find the damn thing unusable? Better to not have the blasted thing on board in first place?

In photo your raft looks in good shape other than the obvious fact that the floor is not attached. I have repaired many river rafts, and if done with care the result can be better than new. Make sure you are using proper materials and methods and you should be able to repair your raft to good condition.
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Old 25-05-2012, 15:39   #11
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Re: Safety issue with Raimar Life Raft

Quote:
Originally Posted by RUSTYNAIL View Post
Pieter, If you need a life raft, you'll need an EPIRB. I spent many of my of 43 years with the Coast Guard studying boating rescues and searches in my spare time. The most important thing for serious offshore boaters after good safety practices is an EPIRB with gps. With an EPIRB you usually wont miss your next meal if you need help. Every year it just gets faster with new technology to locate you.. That's the best money spent. An inverted Cat is difficult to locate with radar, so have a radar reflector available so ships can locate you if they are the first responder off Brazil.. Ships have nothing to locate an EPIRB, but binoculars and your last position.
Great info and thanks for that... As it so happens i do have an EPIRB and a PLB as well... So that part of the safety management is covered. Never would have thought abt the radar reflector... Would be very easy to have one ready to go in the ditch bag as well.. Great tip.. thanks...
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Old 27-05-2012, 10:18   #12
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Re: Safety issue with Raimar Life Raft

Wotname, the French government condemns life rafts at 10 years and Zodiac NA will no longer repack them past that point as a result. All of this apparently because Zod used to glue their rafts (as opposed to using welding) and the glue and materials let go as they aged.

So yes, ten years for a glued raft may be all it is good for, depending on the original quality of the materials and assembly.

Pieter-
While it is possible you could clean it up (and thatmeans surgically clean, not just clean) and reassemble it, again assuming the plastic itself hasn't degraded because not all PVC is the same...that could be like playing "whack a mole". You'd need to open up every seam in the raft and rebuild it from scratch to have any real trust in it.
Sadly, it might best be turned into a kiddy pool now, and your time and money spent on other pursuits.
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