I get so much info from this forum, I thought I'd post about how we inspected our "new to us" life raft.
First some background. We're pilots and sailors, so the life raft is to serve two purposes. One for over-water flights in case of ditching the airplane and second to carry on the boat if we ever go further than from Oriental to Ocracoke
or Cape Lookout!
We've borrowed a small Survival Products life raft a couple of times for use in the plane on flights to the Bahamas
. They're small and nice for the airplane - but reviews
show them to be pretty bare-bones.
Now comes the power of Ebay - I bought a Hoover Industries 6 man raft. I know they're out of business and certification
is difficult or impossible. I did get a quote of $325 from a company in Charleston, SC to re-certify it (plus parts
costs, of course, if they could get the parts).
After some research
, here and other sites, we decided to dig in and investigate that nice yellow bundle. This baby weighs 37 lbs.
We simply started removing items from the snapped tote. Carefully...didn't want to discharge the canister in the living room!!
No worries, as the previous owner had disconnected the CO2 bottle from the raft. I guess that makes sense because he did ship it to us......good to check these things out for yourself!
Everything seems to be in order. The raft was last inspected in 2005, so we knew it needed attention.
Everything appeared in good condition. The CO2 bottle and fittings looked like new. I weighed the bottle and it was exactly as it should be.
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.
The pack to the left contains a nice flashlight that worked fine, a Swiss army knife, a mirror, a emergency
patch kit for the raft, a water
dye packet and a sponge for sopping up water in the raft. All were in excellent shape.
Everything is tied to the raft itself, so you wouldn't lose any of it if it's actually deployed.
In a separate compartment, there are misc. medical
supplies, a flare (outdated), survival instructions and the orange canopy.
A view of the orange canopy
The canopy "poles" and the emergency beacon.
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!
We already have 2 very nice, new life vests that we wear in the plane while over water and will be wearing in heavy weather
on the boat. In the pocket of each life vest is a new ACR ResQLink personal epirb
. So, we already feel like we're covered on that front. So, we're probably toss the heavy beacon.
So, the only real thing left to do is inflate it and make sure it holds air!
The raft has two tubes - and a nice valve for each. (The raft comes with a nice little bellows hand pump for inflation while "underway" - but we opted for a quicker inflation). We rigged a tube taped to a mating fitting - then just used a leaf blower to inflate.
And there she is - holding air just fine!
We'll leave it inflated a day or so, but we're pretty happy with the process. We'll pack it back up sans emergency beacon and have it ready for our next flying or sailing adventure!