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Old 11-04-2016, 11:53   #1
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Small Liferaft

Hello im looking to but a liferaft for my boat. im thinking a 4 person size will be good, with cover, so some kind of 4 person offshore raft thats cheap maybe. if you know of a brand or type that you like let me know. I know nothing about life rafts, like how often they need to be inspected and certified and stuff like that. Any information, recommendations and advice would be great.
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Old 11-04-2016, 15:38   #2
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Re: Small Liferaft

Hi Sailuke, - Im basically in the same situation, - I have an old 4-person valise-packed raft under a bunk and will replace it with a container-packed 4-person raft on deck.

I guess there could be some threads about this somewhere from sometime back, here on the forum, - sorry if im excavating a subject which previously has been fully exhausted.

Having the raft under a bunk seems sub-optimal to me, in event of nighttime collission or fire below... Buying a $US 2000 toy-raft made of plastic/vinyl seems sub-optimal to me, when I can get a commercial quality heavy duty product if I invest about $ 1000 more?

And, - In 2013 we were given a 25 years old 6-person RFD (which hadn't been serviced for 10 years) from a scrapped fishing ship, - basically we just wanted to practice marine evacuation with the kids, so we fired off that old raft on the lawn. It all deployed perfectly, the sea anchor flew out about 15 metres and landed by the barn... And, at that moment I decided an extra thousand dollars could be well-worth investing.

I guess longevity can be an issue if sailing in places where local servicing of the raft might do more damage than good? I mean, - if I have the "recreational version" of a commercial quality raft on board, then i might be a bit more relaxed about oversitting the 3-year service interval?

For now I have tried make a list of "requirements" and a spreadsheet with the different manufacturers, weights, prices, options etc. Its all very confusing so far, but it points to an European brand.

Ill hopefully never ever need my raft, hopefully never ever even know how it looks like when inflated, - but I want a really safe one, one that works and stays inflated for days or weeks if needed.

I have a friend who works in marine rescue on the windy western coasts of Europe and he is quite basic about these things, - recommends an inflateable bottom, valves between chambers and optional top-up with manual pump. The water and food will go in an orange plastic barrel along with the grab bag, so Solas B is plenty for me. And, I wish to keep weight of raft low, as it will have to sit ontop of my pilothouse...

it seems quite a few of these rafts are now being manufactured in Asia, - possibly even such high-reputation brands as RFD (of UK), DSB (from Germany) and Viking (from Denmark)... does that have any significance??

What are people using? (or, rather, hopefully not using) any experiences? anything to avoid?

Any qualified comments would be appreciated...
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Old 11-04-2016, 20:23   #3
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Re: Small Liferaft

I too am in the market for a good life raft. I've been looking for more help on this forum. I posted a question a while back about which life raft and where to Stowe or install, and got a lot of great feedback!
However, I'm a slow at making decisions.
There is a good book recommended called "Surviving the Storm" that commented on actual disasters at sea (eg. Fast net and Hobart races) that is free online. Great reading!
Essentially the take away was if you ever think you might be in heavy weather, you would want a toroidal system, like the Givens( now out of business) or the Switlik ( in business).
I have been looking at the Sar 6 and the OPR ( open passage raft).
They seem to be highly regarded everywhere and in every forum, but they are expensive!
I'm looking at Sar 6 for about 7k ( cradle, canister, and hru)and not to mention it is about 124lbs.
The Switlik OPR is about 6,300.USD and is only about 72lbs (including cradle, canister, and hru ).
I would really like to get more information about great rafts out there that might be more affordable.
The Winslow Global Pro is priced close to the Switlik OPR, and seems to be a hot contender, however, no toroidal system for ballast.


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Old 16-04-2016, 09:32   #4
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Re: Small Liferaft

I'm still looking and compositing.
I'm leaning now towards a Viking Rescue You Pro.
It is one of the few recreational rafts( service every 3 years instead of every year, commercial) that has 2 main tubes in which either can support entire weight of maximum crew. Also, it can be purchased with a cradle, designed to be mounted vertically on perhaps your pushpit.
That makes going forward to a deck mount and launching unnecessary, or tugging up a heavy, possibly tight locker, throwing overboard.
It sounds as though it is made of more durable material than the kiddy pool type.
It is also self-righting.


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Old 16-04-2016, 10:38   #5
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Re: Small Liferaft

If I were buying a life raft today I'd probably go with the Viking RescYou Pro as well.
All other rafts on the market can open upside down. The RescYou Pro is self righting.
It is not cheap and there are plenty of other good rafts on the market for less money.
Even Viking makes less expensive rafts that are very good if price is a big factor.
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Old 27-04-2016, 19:21   #6
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Re: Small Liferaft

Quote:
Originally Posted by Allanlowery View Post
I too am in the market for a good life raft. I've been looking for more help on this forum. I posted a question a while back about which life raft and where to Stowe or install, and got a lot of great feedback!
However, I'm a slow at making decisions.
There is a good book recommended called "Surviving the Storm" that commented on actual disasters at sea (eg. Fast net and Hobart races) that is free online. Great reading!
Essentially the take away was if you ever think you might be in heavy weather, you would want a toroidal system, like the Givens( now out of business) or the Switlik ( in business).
I have been looking at the Sar 6 and the OPR ( open passage raft).
They seem to be highly regarded everywhere and in every forum, but they are expensive!
I'm looking at Sar 6 for about 7k ( cradle, canister, and hru)and not to mention it is about 124lbs.
The Switlik OPR is about 6,300.USD and is only about 72lbs (including cradle, canister, and hru ).
I would really like to get more information about great rafts out there that might be more affordable.
The Winslow Global Pro is priced close to the Switlik OPR, and seems to be a hot contender, however, no toroidal system for ballast.


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I went thread few months of teeth gnashing and finally decided on the Switlik OPR with the toroidal ballast and insulated floor. They are more expensive than Viking and much heavier than the Winslow offerings. They now have 5 year inspection intervals due to the way they now separate the raft from the supplies. I am going to mount it on the deck once it arrives. Just look at the massive mounting cradle it uses, much sturdier than the Viking and Winslow.

I emailed the Switlik company directly because I could not find a lot of info on their web site. They answered all my questions quickly and forwarded a ton of info not available anywhere else, they also advised me of a boat show discount that saved me $600. You rely on these things to save your life, make sure you get the right one.
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Old 28-04-2016, 19:07   #7
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Re: Small Liferaft

well, - for me it ended up as a compromise, as always, - so im getting the RescYou heavy duty version in a deckmount. at about 45 kg its not too heavy to handle and it will sit tight. nominally this is a 4-pax raft, but its a bit larger than some of the other 4-p models, also somewhat larger than the viking Rescyou 4-pax standard version. on the few passages when a long-wait could be feared, it would possibly be an option to keep the needed water etc in a tight-seal orange-color bucket from the Home Depot (probably ill have two buckets, just in case). i dont like the hydrostatic release, ill have my raft tightly clamped down to bolts in the deck and ill cut it free if ever needed. also, i want it to be difficult to steal. if weather eventually forces me into the raft, that weather could have ripped a traditional single-cord mount off the deck long before posing a threat to the integrity of the hull? also, hydrostatic release is no good when i manually need to get the container and line as far out away and off the uncountable bits-and-pieces of rigging (rigging, which in a situation will be all over the place?)

but then, off course, there is the nasty thought of nighttime collision, - in light weather, - the the hydrostatic release probably wouldnt be such a bad idea... ?

hell, - lets hope this whole line of thought remains forever purely hypothetical, - i hope we will never ever have to actually see whats inside those white fiberglass caskets...
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Old 29-04-2016, 09:34   #8
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Re: Small Liferaft

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Originally Posted by SY Marelot View Post
well, - for me it ended up as a compromise, as always, - so im getting the RescYou heavy duty version in a deckmount. at about 45 kg its not too heavy to handle and it will sit tight. nominally this is a 4-pax raft, but its a bit larger than some of the other 4-p models, also somewhat larger than the viking Rescyou 4-pax standard version. on the few passages when a long-wait could be feared, it would possibly be an option to keep the needed water etc in a tight-seal orange-color bucket from the Home Depot (probably ill have two buckets, just in case). i dont like the hydrostatic release, ill have my raft tightly clamped down to bolts in the deck and ill cut it free if ever needed. also, i want it to be difficult to steal. if weather eventually forces me into the raft, that weather could have ripped a traditional single-cord mount off the deck long before posing a threat to the integrity of the hull? also, hydrostatic release is no good when i manually need to get the container and line as far out away and off the uncountable bits-and-pieces of rigging (rigging, which in a situation will be all over the place?)

but then, off course, there is the nasty thought of nighttime collision, - in light weather, - the the hydrostatic release probably wouldnt be such a bad idea... ?

hell, - lets hope this whole line of thought remains forever purely hypothetical, - i hope we will never ever have to actually see whats inside those white fiberglass caskets...

You must be talking about the "Pro" model. The folks at my life raft store say good things about Viking. As far as the hydrostatic release, typically there is also a manual release to get the canister out of the cradle. I would not do the home depot bucket deal, spend a few bucks and get one or two good waterproof floating ditch bags. We plan on having one with the top open so we can quickly add more stuff if time allows. I would not count on having enough time to cut away a raft if you need to use it. I plan on fabricating a chain/lock to protect against vandals when in iffy ports, for staying in a marina I will keep the raft below.
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Old 29-04-2016, 13:09   #9
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Re: Small Liferaft

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Originally Posted by deluxe68 View Post
You must be talking about the "Pro" model. The folks at my life raft store say good things about Viking. As far as the hydrostatic release, typically there is also a manual release to get the canister out of the cradle. I would not do the home depot bucket deal, spend a few bucks and get one or two good waterproof floating ditch bags. We plan on having one with the top open so we can quickly add more stuff if time allows. I would not count on having enough time to cut away a raft if you need to use it. I plan on fabricating a chain/lock to protect against vandals when in iffy ports, for staying in a marina I will keep the raft below.
yes, - its the heavy duty version, the Viking RescYouPro. Im still worried about weather washing the raft off if i only apply a single strap.

About the orange bucket: thats just for the extra water, biscuits and chocolate. the satphone, flaregun secondary epirb etc thats all in the main grab bag below deck. Those orange buckets (pseudo-SolasA pack) sit by the raft when needed (only a fraction of the time). So, 1) a permanent grabbag for always, and 2) a double secondary grab-bag only w. Solas-A supplement of water & food for ocean crossings.

The logic here is: So much water (Solas A) is rarely needed, so lets keep the weight of the actual raft low and have the water on the side, on the few passages when its relevant. Off course, in a situation we might loose that orange bucket (a Solas A pack is usually inside the raft when it inflates). so, we keep double buckets. Cheap and easy. Also, in 2013 when we deployed the RDF-raft w. Solas A pack inside, that water was a bit old and mushy and not really inviting for consumption. But then we weren't really thirsty either...
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Old 30-04-2016, 19:20   #10
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Re: Small Liferaft

I liked Switlik for many reasons such as the gauge that you can look at each time you sail, to be reassured you can be inflated but I particularly liked Viking's device for rail mount on pushpit. Other brands might be able to be also installed in that configuration, however little details that ensure that it works right might be overlooked on custom job,I don't know.
Also I like the idea that it will self-right in the event that it tumbled out of the vertical rail mount and landed upside down.
The idea that the interior light and exterior strobe comes on automatically as soon as the life raft inflated seems to me to be easier to get into on a dark night, heaven forbid.
I went with the Viking Rescue You Pro.


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Old 30-04-2016, 21:16   #11
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Re: Small Liferaft

Here's one little boat's thoughts..

I went with a 4-man Winslow SLOP weighing in at about 50lbs in a valise in a dedicated spot in the lazarette. The lazarette lid gives better UV protection that deck mount cases, and the painter is already secured to a bulkhead, ready to heave over by any member of the crew from the "comfort" of the cockpit. No chance of waves whisking the raft away. Ditch bag right next to raft.

Heavy weather is not it's intended use. Not that there's any "intended use", but every square inch of the boat is fully accounted for..all holes and hoses are of known quality and checked. All plugs ready to go. The boat's hull is of known quality. Bilge pumps ready. So unless we happen to hit a submerged container in a wild storm and the boat's going down fast, there's no way the liferaft is coming out.

The thought of having a liferaft ready to deploy in a storm is nice, but at the end of the day it seems counter-productive to seek any comfort by the thought that a liferaft could survive a survival situation better than the mothership. This only seems possible if there is some serious defect in the mothership.

Re: saving water weight, my solution was a handheld watermaker like the katydyn 06 into the ditch bag. For me, it has the added benefit of being an emergency source of water should my tanks foul and the main watermaker goes south.
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