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Old 24-06-2015, 07:44   #1
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The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

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.
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Old 24-06-2015, 07:56   #2
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

This is probably a dissenting opinion but.............

IF the immersion suits are of the type that you can wear and move around in and maybe actually do something, then I would go for the immersion suit.

Reason being is that the immersion suit will keep you warm on the boat. By staying in better shape on the boat you can manage the boat better, thereby lessening the chance of loosing the boat and needing a life raft.

Also, they will keep you alive for some hours, hopefully long enough for the EPIRB to do its work and have rescue on the way.

If they are just "Gumby" suits, then I think not.
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Old 24-06-2015, 08:15   #3
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

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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Old 25-06-2015, 18:23   #4
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

Have you got a good dinghy as well?

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Old 25-06-2015, 19:04   #5
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

Yes, but not to be counted on. On passages it'll have to be stowed.
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Old 25-06-2015, 19:27   #6
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

Raft first. Suits second.

Also, Colemj made several good points.

My position is: People tend to survive better when together. By staying together in the raft, with grab bag, you have a better chance of surviving, partly for physical reasons and partly for mental reasons.
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Old 25-06-2015, 19:51   #7
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

Myself I have two immersion suits. First they were used (fleabay) and far less expensive then a liferaft. Second I mainly do coastal. Third I have an inflatable two person kayak that would keep two people and a ditch bag comfortable (provided it could be pumped up in time).

I figured the suits store easier and are usable even on the SF bay. Cold waters here.
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Old 25-06-2015, 20:10   #8
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

If I were to hit something in the straits that allowed for massive water intrusion that I couldn't stem, and the weather was nasty enough that a dinghy ride looked problematic at best, I have two immersion suits that will extend your time in the water from an hour and a half to six hours. Chances are high that in those conditions I'd have my mustang work suit on anyway.

Yes, I think that in certain conditions, a suit is silly compared to a dinghy or a life raft. Say, offshore for example, but here in the PNW I might tend to want to stay afloat and as non hyperthermic as long as possible. An attached handheld with DSC to start the timer going too is a good idea.

I just saw an article about a guy here that sold his idea to stearns and they're manufacturing suits that you breathe into via a tube and a distribution system to keep your core temp up. I'd have one if I could.
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Old 25-06-2015, 23:09   #9
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Orchidius View Post
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.
Yes. Both

I hear it can get pretty cold and wet in a life raft.

Also hard to eat and drink and do other things when you're bobbing around in an immersion suit for a while...
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Old 26-06-2015, 01:12   #10
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

Heres a story thats worth checking your planning against. Two crew in bed with seconds to get out. Which one of your options would work best?

Kiwi survivor talks after Pacific Ocean rescue from burning boat | Stuff.co.nz
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Old 26-06-2015, 03:31   #11
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Orchidius View Post
Hi there,

Snip

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.
YES! Try and find a body in an ocean who is just wearing a suit. Now try and find a large bright orange life raft. A raft that becomes, not only your flotation device, but your home, your medical center, your water catchment and your pantry.

Its a bit hard to open a grab bag, open the water bottle and drink some while bobbing in a 20 ft swell. It would be even harder to ration the amount you drank without the potential of mixing it with salt water.

Frankly, if you asked me to crew for you, I would walk away if you suggested to me that suits alone were your survival plan.

How popular the route is and having an epirb means nothing. When the **** hits the fan, other boats may not be in a position to pick you up. Eg Hobart race 1998 and the NZ Rogue storm 1994. You may be in the water for some time- not a few hours. Plan for several days.
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Old 26-06-2015, 03:34   #12
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Orchidius View Post
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.
Further to that I suggest you read the following..
Rogue Storm- Tony Farrington
Fatal Storm- Rob Mundle.

Either of those books should convince you to ensure you have, not just a raft, but the "right" raft.

Good luck and enjoy.. But be safe!
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Old 26-06-2015, 12:10   #13
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

Quote:
Originally Posted by DumnMad View Post
Heres a story thats worth checking your planning against. Two crew in bed with seconds to get out. Which one of your options would work best?

Kiwi survivor talks after Pacific Ocean rescue from burning boat | Stuff.co.nz


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.
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Old 26-06-2015, 12:12   #14
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

Quote:
Originally Posted by ozskipper View Post
YES! Try and find a body in an ocean who is just wearing a suit. Now try and find a large bright orange life raft. A raft that becomes, not only your flotation device, but your home, your medical center, your water catchment and your pantry.

Its a bit hard to open a grab bag, open the water bottle and drink some while bobbing in a 20 ft swell. It would be even harder to ration the amount you drank without the potential of mixing it with salt water.

Frankly, if you asked me to crew for you, I would walk away if you suggested to me that suits alone were your survival plan.

How popular the route is and having an epirb means nothing. When the **** hits the fan, other boats may not be in a position to pick you up. Eg Hobart race 1998 and the NZ Rogue storm 1994. You may be in the water for some time- not a few hours. Plan for several days.


Multiple good points!
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Old 26-06-2015, 12:57   #15
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Re: The need for a liferaft <--> immersion suit

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.
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