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Old 29-04-2013, 17:35   #16
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Re: Self Inspection of Life Raft

A question for those in the industry:

If you bought a boat with a 13 year old Switlik CLR-6S-FLsix-person life raft that had not been serviced in 10 years, would you simply pitch it and buy a new one, or would you have it serviced and be confident it would perform as specified when needed? If the answer is the latter, would you still answer the same if you left it in storage for another 3 or so years? Put another way, what is the "shelf life" of an unmaintained life raft of that vintage?

This is not a hypothetical. It's a situation I'm faced with. I'd rather not fork over $2,500 for a new one if I can avoid it, but I don't want to be penny wise and death foolish either.

I've read enough on this thread to decide for myself that self-service is unwise unless you have the servicing manual in hand. I for one would never abandon ship unless I was very certain that the ship was lost and that the life raft represented my best chance for survival. That is not the situation in which I want to test my skill at something that I'm not trained for and I did to save a few bucks (self-servicing a life raft). I'm not judging anyone else...everyone sails in different circumstances...just stating my own opinion for myself after a bit of reflection.

The packing your own parachute analogy occurred to me before I read a response that brought it up. I'm no sky diver, but I'm persuaded after the input from those in the industry that the comparison is flawed.
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Old 29-04-2013, 18:07   #17
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Re: Self Inspection of Life Raft

Well if you trust your own knowledge and you test the components why would you trust somebody elses work that you did not witness? They can show you your raft, blow it up etc. but you don't really see them put it back in the case. This is not a small task but neither is the $1000 they charge to repack it. As to parachutes, it is really pretty simple to repack one.
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Old 29-04-2013, 18:17   #18
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Re: Self Inspection of Life Raft

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Well if you trust your own knowledge and you test the components why would you trust somebody elses work that you did not witness? They can show you your raft, blow it up etc. but you don't really see them put it back in the case. This is not a small task but neither is the $1000 they charge to repack it. As to parachutes, it is really pretty simple to repack one.
I assume you're responding to me. It begs the question "If every liferaft is different and inspection and repacking specifications are different from one model to another, and require specialized equipment, and the knowledge and equipment are not commonly available, why would I trust it to myself when my time is more valuable than the considerable cost of acquiring the knowledge and equipment?"

As to your comment about parachutes...my point exactly. It's not nearly as complicated or product-specific as inspecting and recertifying a life raft.
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Old 29-04-2013, 18:32   #19
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Re: Self Inspection of Life Raft

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suijin View Post
A question for those in the industry:

If you bought a boat with a 13 year old Switlik CLR-6S-FLsix-person life raft that had not been serviced in 10 years, would you simply pitch it and buy a new one, or would you have it serviced and be confident it would perform as specified when needed? If the answer is the latter, would you still answer the same if you left it in storage for another 3 or so years? Put another way, what is the "shelf life" of an unmaintained life raft of that vintage?

This is not a hypothetical. It's a situation I'm faced with. I'd rather not fork over $2,500 for a new one if I can avoid it, but I don't want to be penny wise and death foolish either.
Caveat: I have no personal experience with Switlik liferafts.

There is no simple answer to the above question. I have seen 20 year old liferafts that were absolutely fine and 12 year old liferafts that were condemned as unsafe / unrepairable.

Bear in mind that even if it is still ok (and it may well be), the cost of getting it is service is still going to be significant. The cylinder will need pressure testing, it will need a gas inflation, with associated re-fill and every single consumable, from flares to first aid kit to batteries, etc. will all need to be replaced.

Given the age, it may require some repair (with associated labour cost) particularly in order to pass a 2x working pressure inflation test (with liferafts of this age it is not at all unusual to spend a few hours repairing leaking seams or glue joints... with the cost added to the total invoice).

I can't make the decision for you, but if it were me, my boat, my family and / or friends on board, I wouldn't take the risk. But, like I say, it is a personal decision.
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Old 29-04-2013, 18:33   #20
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Re: Self Inspection of Life Raft

The only special tools needed to repack a life raft is a vacuum cleaner. If you need to test the bottle weight then you need a scale or you take it to someone and have them weigh it. But you have the dough so why bother?
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Old 29-04-2013, 19:46   #21
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Re: Self Inspection of Life Raft

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
In the UK, at least, the labor charge is not the problem. It's only 150 quid which I gladly pay for the benefit of the skill and practice of the guy doing it. The problem is the cost of the supplies, and especially, canopy light battery, which is absolutely ridiculous.
it costs 2000 to 3000 squids in the US and that doesn't include the extra squids for supplies. As was noted above - lawyers, insurance underwriters etc. The same bunch involved in making sure our healt care costs more than anywhere else on the planet. In the Midwest US (inland) there are almost no service sites so you have to figure how to ship the 80 # box and the cylinder is special handling.

Rhetorical WHY. We can outfit a yacht, wire it, instrument it, be certified as captains, masters, navigate the globe but somehow we are unable to stuff a rubber boat in a box. There ought to be plain instructions with every raft sold to private owners on how to service. This is the least you would expect with any equipment purchase. What is more amazing is that an independant bunch of coots like us will accept this as OK. There is nothing I resent more than people/officials who are unambiguously uninterested, deciding what I must do.
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Old 09-09-2013, 19:43   #22
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Re: Self Inspection of Life Raft

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Originally Posted by karenmccraw View Post
I get so much info from this forum, I thought I'd post about how we inspected our "new to us" life raft.

The emergency water rations were dated to expire in 2009. These are the little silver packs on the right. One of them was leaking slightly.

Let me discuss the floating emergency beacon....the beacon looked to be in excellent shape - the battery exp date was 2009 but it did appear to be functional still. But it's heavy. And the new battery sells for about $500. Yes, you read that right, $500!

And there she is - holding air just fine!
We also are self-inspecting. Ours is an AVON 8-man ocean type that came withthe boat. You can buy a variety of water or switch activated lithium battery lights for less than 50 bucks. We used a SEE ME SELECT lifejacket unit with USCG approval & 5 year battery. I also replaced the dome interior exterior water activated single use (batteries disintegrated) light with a trigger-string activated lithium battery switched light (15 bucks imported from my Chinese coworker & SOLAS approved) _XIAMEN LONAKO INDUSTRY & TRADE CO., LTD For some reason the picture came in attaced instead of thumbnail.

On the air filling, you must over-fill to verify the relief vent functions or the risk is bursting the raft if the bottle over-fills.

On the water pouches - remember that all water on earth was dinosaur pee. If the pouches have not leaked - up to you.

Ours also had a terrible mildew stink. I handled this (after several failed methods) by over-chloriniating the pool and dunking & flippping it in the water. I also mixed a pouch of dry super-shock in a 5-gallon bucket and scrubbed the entire thing and then thoroughly rinsed it. Smells like fresh rubber tires. You can see in the indoor photo the airborn mildew flakes evident in the flash. I should have started outdoors.

Our bottle was well under-weight. I found a leak where the valve bonnet screws into the tank. Easily repaired. My problem issue is that no place will fill it. It is DOT numbered & inspected but raft servicers will only fill if they service the raft and they will not divulge any other source for filling. I have contacted every bottle filling gas company for 200 miles and they also won't do it. My only recourse is to get the adapters and fill it in our weld shop using the precision digital scales. You can be sure that lawyers are at the root of this problem.
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Old 10-09-2013, 06:40   #23
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Originally Posted by Nicholson58 View Post

it costs 2000 to 3000 squids in the US and that doesn't include the extra squids for supplies. As was noted above - lawyers, insurance underwriters etc. The same bunch involved in making sure our healt care costs more than anywhere else on the planet. In the Midwest US (inland) there are almost no service sites so you have to figure how to ship the 80 # box and the cylinder is special handling.

Rhetorical WHY. We can outfit a yacht, wire it, instrument it, be certified as captains, masters, navigate the globe but somehow we are unable to stuff a rubber boat in a box. There ought to be plain instructions with every raft sold to private owners on how to service. This is the least you would expect with any equipment purchase. What is more amazing is that an independant bunch of coots like us will accept this as OK. There is nothing I resent more than people/officials who are unambiguously uninterested, deciding what I must do.
I'm not aware that there is any rules requiring non coded vessels to have officially serviced liferafts. , so don't quite know what you are belly aching about. Most servicing rules are manufacturer enforced not legally so. I know sone jurisdictions like france require a in date liferaft, of yiu carry one , but I don't believe its requires any body specifically to certify it. Make up a fancy sticker if you like

Never quite understand both the costs of US liferafts and associated servicing. They' re cheap this side of the pond

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Old 10-09-2013, 08:20   #24
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Re: Self Inspection of Life Raft

I had accreditation in Australia as a Shipbuilder of steel and aluminium construction of any size under the USL Code that AMSA adopted.

My accreditation covered Construction, Mechanical and Electrical. The insurance premium to cover me in case of litigation was around $16,000:00 per year. I chose not to be accredited for the safety installations as the premium doubled.

No one will touch any item of safety equipment unless duly covered for their 'expertise' or risk losing all for the sake of a few dollars earn't.

It's my belief but i may be wrong that the AYF requires all liferafts to be in current survey, self servicing is one thing it may save money however should someone gets injured or perishes in an incident and the law can prove that it MAY have been a result of your negligent servicing then you are screwed.

Far safer to go the right way and keep records.

Just my opinion.
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Old 10-09-2013, 09:07   #25
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Re: Self Inspection of Life Raft

I really like the idea of self inspect, mainly for the valuable knowledge of our particular raft and all its workings. That info must come in handy if you ever need to ditch and find yourself in the raft with an issue, you can trouble shoot much quicker.

On that same note I would not be comfortable self inspecting without the proper tools and training. What about paying for an inspection and doing the inspection with the facility? Watch what they do and how they do it. We don't need to learn about multiple rafts, just our raft.

Our local inspection place is Triad, they have a great reputation, and allowed me to watch the deploy process. It didn't occur to me at the time to arrange to watch the packing and folding steps, so not even sure it is possible ( this was years ago, and was a friends raft).
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