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Old 26-06-2015, 13:30   #16
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

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I forget where I was reading this but I got the link here on CF, "Most boats abandoned in the Queen's Storm were found after having been abandoned." There is an attitude, on one extreme, that we are supposed to be self reliant out there and that it is not the job of commercial traffic to save us when we are out playing in the ocean. This equtes to no life raft or EPIRB. There is another extreme where the attitude is that someone should come and save me no matter what fool thing I do or what the cost. It really depends on where you fall on this scale.
An interesting point.
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Old 26-06-2015, 14:13   #17
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

Perhaps look at threads dealing with accidents that happen on the way back every year. Then rethink you choices.

Your boat, your life, your choices.

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Old 26-06-2015, 14:44   #18
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

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Good example of how a liferaft is considered essential in some circumstances. The fire, once noticed, only gave the crew a few minutes to leave the boat.

And even for catamarans.

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Old 26-06-2015, 22:01   #19
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

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I forget where I was reading this but I got the link here on CF, "Most boats abandoned in the Queen's Storm were found after having been abandoned." There is an attitude, on one extreme, that we are supposed to be self reliant out there and that it is not the job of commercial traffic to save us when we are out playing in the ocean. This equtes to no life raft or EPIRB. There is another extreme where the attitude is that someone should come and save me no matter what fool thing I do or what the cost. It really depends on where you fall on this scale.
Yes, you are correct about the Queens storm- several were found later. But my point in this case, is that no other sailing boat nearby would have been in a position to assist due to the intensity of the wind and sea states.

There was somewhat of an outcry during the 98 hobart when one boat sailed past another in distress. In that particular case the skipper had to choose the safety of his own boat and crew at the expense of not giving assistance to the other vessel. I hold no judgement over that decision either way. Its what he thought was the best option at the time. So be it.

But it re-enforces the need to be self sufficient in the time of crisis and that rescue may be hours/days away in some circumstances.
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Old 27-06-2015, 12:38   #20
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

I fall on the self reliant side of the equation but am not sure how far I would go toward no EPIRB or life raft. I have both. Now that the kids are grown and no longer sail with me often I am leaning more towards the self reliant side.
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Old 28-06-2015, 10:43   #21
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

In water much below 70 degrees, survival time is very short and when it gets below 50 degrees virtually zero. If forced to go into anything but tropical waters without a survival suit, your chance of being rescued alive are extremely poor.

A life raft can greatly increase your chance of rescue but still isn't much protection against hypothermia. A life raft will probably have some water sloshing around in it so you'll be soaked. Being in direct contact with the ocean, they will essentilally be at water temperature. You'll need some form of thermal protection in colder water or you'll still be more likely to die of exposure than anything else.

Have had the pleasure of floating around San Diego Bay in a small life raft in March wearing a thermal flight suit courtesy of the US Navy. To put it politely, I froze my ass off and was severely impacted by the cold in just a short hour or so on the raft. If you want to be safe and have much of a chance of being rescued alive, have thermal suits and a life raft.
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Old 28-06-2015, 12:17   #22
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

Raft, sure.

What about a drysuit instead of an immersion suit, particularly if you have the raft? Many of us have used drysuits either paddling or dingy/beach cat racing and know them to be reasonably livable and very agile. They actually make excellent weather gear">foul weather gear for certain conditions (bow work for certain).
* Coupled with a neoprene hat, gloves, and shoes, cold water survival times are very good. Not quite as good as a gumby suit, but close.
* You can actually get into the raft!
* You can put it on when it gets nasty, not when you are nearly sunk.
* You are more likely to use it regularly enough to be familiar with it.
* Much more compact to store.
* Handy for diving to clear a prop in cold water.

Seems like a better choice for most sailors.
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Old 28-06-2015, 12:52   #23
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

I think for crossing the ocean you need a dingy ready to deploy as minimum or a liferaft. Coastal, the immersion suit is fine. But really it's a personal choice. What are the odds of the boat sinking from under you? ...... low. Does it happen ?....Yes. every year.
Fisherman survive in the suits in the Bearing sea. how long I'm not sure. ... and the water is real cold. Going that route I think I'd want two epirbs. one tethered to the suit and a special grab bag situation for water, dye etc to be found.
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Old 28-06-2015, 13:40   #24
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

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So your abandon ship plan if your ship sinks out from under you is to get in an immersion suit and float around in the middle of the Atlantic until help finds you?

Do you plan for all the stuff in your extensive grab bag to stay dry when you open it to retrieve flares, food, water, flashlight, etc during storm conditions. Or even calm conditions?

Do you plan to tie yourselves together while donning these immersion suits so that you don't drift miles apart?

Have you decided who gets to be burdened by the extensive grab bag?

Who gets to be the fortunate one that has the EPIRB tied to just them, vs the unfortunate ones whose lives depend solely on never being separated from the fortunate one?

I think the answers to those questions would help you decide which way to proceed.

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Indeed.

An immersion suit doesn't substitute the functions of a life raft.

I would not want to be out of sight of land anywhere without a raft, much less in the middle of the Atlantic.

Just trying to breath in a storm with spray will be hard to do bobbing around in a suit, much less survive for up to days hoping a passing freighter will find you.

Just my opinion, but you asked for it -- the life raft is not the place to save money. Very unlikely you will need it, but when you need it -- you REALLY need it.
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Old 28-06-2015, 14:48   #25
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

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Hi there,

I've hit yet another dilemma in the preparation for our big trip, and was curious about what you guys had to say about the matter.

So here's the story: we'll be sailing an "Atlantic circuit" from Europe to the caribbean and back again, the classical route. I have an extensive grabbag prepared, but don't have a liferaft yet. However, I have the option to borrow a commercial grade immersion suit free of charge for me and the other crewmember.

Of course both have their advantages and their disadvantages, and sadly enough we won't have the room to stow both options on board as I'm sure many of you would suggest.

The main question is: would you consider it vital to have a liferaft if you had acces to a commercial grade immersion suit for every crewmember and an extensive grabbag, considering the very popular route we'd be sailing, the season we'd be sailing it in as well as the fact we do carry an EPIRB with GPS function.
Agree with many points above. You are not comparing like to like or even close. A survival suit, gumby or otherwise, will NOT keep you alive long in North Atlantic waters, and will dehydrate the hell out of you in no time flat in the tropics. Your idea of relying on such a thing as an alternative to a craft into which you may climb and find shelter out of the water is seriously flawed. I would not even consider such a thing. Thinwater and roverhi's points are well taken. Thermal protection INSIDE a liferaft. How on earth are you going to operate actively to effectively ensure your survival in a "survival suit" while bobbing chin deep in an unswimmable bag? I mean, apart from dying of hypothermia, dehydration (including because of the osmotic differential between seawater and your skin), or heatstroke, you will in short order be floating in a bag of your own faeces. As Dockhead suggests you will also likely drown at the surface simply from wave action.

A TP suit or drysuit will substantially help within a liferaft. Also choose a raft with double tubes, a canopy, a drogue and an inflatable floor. Do not assume it has sufficient kit within the raft. Liferaft pack kits are often TERRIBLE. I attend the repack of each raft of my own (I carry two) and as many of those on boats which I skipper as I can. I regularly throw out half the pack kit and replace with my own. Remember that the rated area allocated for each passenger is only 4 square feet! A four man liferaft is TINY.

But a good liferaft vs a "survival suit" for deep ocean work???? As others have said, unless coastal and aid is IMMINENT, so Jayhawk or Sea King or similar is going to be overhead within a few hours maximum, AND be able easily to find each one of you, I would suggest that you mentally rename your proposed "survival suit" as "body bag".
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Old 28-06-2015, 16:16   #26
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

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.. . I attend the repack of each raft of my own (I carry two)...
I also carry TWO liferafts.


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Old 28-06-2015, 17:23   #27
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

Reading the above suggests you should forget about abandoning ship.
Put your effort into over-heat alarms near the exhaust,
Gas alarms.
Improved battery management and emergency charging system,
Seacock checks and improved bilge pumping,
Good weather forcasting,
Good navigation.
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Old 28-06-2015, 19:10   #28
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

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I also carry TWO liferafts.


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Old 29-06-2015, 02:07   #29
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

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Originally Posted by Charlie View Post
I forget where I was reading this but I got the link here on CF, "Most boats abandoned in the Queen's Storm were found after having been abandoned." There is an attitude, on one extreme, that we are supposed to be self reliant out there and that it is not the job of commercial traffic to save us when we are out playing in the ocean. This equtes to no life raft or EPIRB. There is another extreme where the attitude is that someone should come and save me no matter what fool thing I do or what the cost. It really depends on where you fall on this scale.
In other words -- some people don't carry life rafts or EPIRBS because they would rather just die than put commercial traffic to the trouble of rescuing them?

Scratching my head over that one.

I don't think that this attitude exists at all. If someone says something like that, then it is far more likely to be just a rationalization for not investing in safety gear and just taking the risk, than something like that.

I think just about every single person in the world, other than perhaps someone seriously intending suicide, would gladly put all commercial traffic, rescue services, etc., to whatever trouble it takes to save their life, no matter what it costs, rather than drowning or starving to death in the ocean. That's just human nature.

Chances are better than 100:1 on any given ocean crossing, or maybe 1000:1, that you won't need the raft -- so it's a crap shoot which for some people might be worth taking if money is short. But I don't think there's any need to dress that up into some kind of self-reliance myth.
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Old 29-06-2015, 03:09   #30
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

Couple of years ago, 2 crew were tossed overbard about 2nm from the coast here in DK - the narrow straits between DK and Sweden. The authorities were alerted and out looking - nobody spooted them until one of them unwrapped their bright orange hood of their foulies. Helicopter spotted them then.

The searchers knew almost exactly where they were and while it was blowing perhaps 14-18 knts - they couldn't be seen.

Now imagine being out in the Atlantic with searchers only having a rough idea - think they can spot an immersion suit?

I seriously doubt it - although if you have personal EPRIB and a personal AID on the suit it will be easier.

I carry a six man raft affixed to the railing with a handle release - simply turn the handle the raft falls out of the holder and into the water, jerking the ripcord and inflating

Of course it is your life (and the lives of those with you), but I would never take on an ocean crossing without a good raft
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