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Old 13-01-2015, 01:08   #1
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What's It Really Like in a Liferaft?

Here's and interesting article from Yachting Monthly. They tested what it is like to abandon ship and be in a liferaft in force 6-7 conditions in the Biscay bay.

One point I especially noted is that your raft really should be stored in a holder mounted on your rail/targa bar. Ours is currently in the starboard cockpit locker, but we are mounting it on the rail this summer. I've had a holder made with hinges and a strap to keep it in place along with a knife to cut the strap. Should the need occur, we'll cut the strap, and the outer part of the holder falls down on its hinges and the raft deploys.

Good reading

Life in a liferaft
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Old 13-01-2015, 04:52   #2
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Re: What's It Really Like in a Liferaft?

That was indeed interesting. Thanks for the post.
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Old 13-01-2015, 07:13   #3
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Re: What's It Really Like in a Liferaft?

Good article with good information.


They look very small. One would need rocks in their head to get into one from a still floating 40 footer.
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Old 13-01-2015, 07:43   #4
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Re: What's It Really Like in a Liferaft?

It was a very interesting and informative "real world" article.

I have talked with people that have had to take to a liferaft in real life one of the major problems that they all mention is that of sharks.

In warm waters - Pacific and Gulf Stream - sharks will smash into the bottom of the raft in their attempt to eat the little fish that "hide" in the shadow of the liferaft. This can go on for hours and days at a time, so the physical and mental effects can be very brutal on the human body. The impact of the shark was described to me like being hit with a baseball bat.

On a trip from Puerto Rico back to North Carolina where our boat speed was just 1 to 3-knots (no wind - we were basically drifting with the Gulf stream) I had a 8-ft shark "attack" under the stern of our boat by the rudder area as it was trying to eat the small fish hiding there. You could easily hear and feel the impact of his body on the fiberglass hull. This went on for over 5-hours before he finally left the area. It would have been horrible in a fabric liferaft.

Something else to be mentally prepared for if you have to take to a raft.

Safe sailing,

Doug Brown
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Old 13-01-2015, 08:09   #5
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Re: What's It Really Like in a Liferaft?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Brown View Post

In warm waters - Pacific and Gulf Stream - sharks will smash into the bottom of the raft in their attempt to eat the little fish that "hide" in the shadow of the liferaft. This can go on for hours and days at a time, so the physical and mental effects can be very brutal on the human body. The impact of the shark was described to me like being hit with a baseball bat.
It all sounds like a Big Adventure until you mention that.
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Old 13-01-2015, 08:19   #6
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Re: What's It Really Like in a Liferaft?

I talked with one person that NEEDED the life raft. They were sailing / racing to Bermuda, and smashed head-on into something, flooding the vessel inside of a minute. He about lived the adage "Never get into a life raft until you need to step UP to get into it."
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Old 13-01-2015, 08:34   #7
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Re: What's It Really Like in a Liferaft?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Brown View Post
In warm waters - Pacific and Gulf Stream - sharks will smash into the bottom of the raft in their attempt to eat the little fish that "hide" in the shadow of the liferaft. This can go on for hours and days at a time, so the physical and mental effects can be very brutal on the human body. The impact of the shark was described to me like being hit with a baseball bat.
What an incredible form of torture this must be on an already stressed out crew. I'd probably wind up destroying the floor of the raft playing "whack-a-mole(shark)" with my paddle. Of course the noise and afflicted wounds will probably attract more sharks...
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Old 13-01-2015, 08:40   #8
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Re: What's It Really Like in a Liferaft?

Has anyone seen the movie "Unbroken" ?
About a quarter of the movie takes place in a life raft and yes, there are sharks.....................
Great book by the way and the movie does do it justice.
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Old 13-01-2015, 09:30   #9
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Re: What's It Really Like in a Liferaft?

Good share of a good article.

Carsten mentioned the location of the raft mounting and I found that interesting. As the article mentions, the testers had difficulty in handling the raft canister while the boat was pitching and rocking prior to deployment of the raft.

I think it was also good that the writer mentioned the disabling effect of seasickness on his two companions in the raft, one of them was mentioned as a person who had done this raft experience before (he works for the raft manufacturer).

In particular, the writer emphasizes the feeling of "apathy" and the inability to do simple tasks, if the crew is seasick, and that the seasickness affected them very quickly, especially when the raft canopy was closed. Seasoned sailors do sometimes get seasick, as this article shows, and the raft environment (close, no visible horizon, motion) precipitated the motion sickness. That the seasickness brought about "apathy" in sailors who were aware that rescue was nearby (observing their raft), shows something too.
___________

I also like Doug Brown's point about being mentally prepared for things like the potential for sharks to poke the raft.

Being "mentally prepared" is often the key to survival.
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Old 13-01-2015, 12:41   #10
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Re: What's It Really Like in a Liferaft?

Quote:
Originally Posted by carstenb View Post
Here's and interesting article from Yachting Monthly. They tested what it is like to abandon ship and be in a liferaft in force 6-7 conditions in the Biscay bay.

........
Good reading

Life in a liferaft
Here's my story:
I have abandoned a boat into a liferaft with five friends, after our boat took water and sank within something like 10 minutes in the entrance to the Gulf of Akaba (AKA Eilat Gulf).
The raft was in a s/s rail on top of the cabin and brought back by two of the crew and deployed over the stern (there was no bathing platform).
Luckily we have spent only short time in the raft as there were friendly boats nearby. Several points might be of interest:
Our skipper dismantled the grab-bag on the morning of the accident, thinking that as we are closing home (in Eilat, hundred miles to the north) the grab-bag is not needed anymore - obvious mistake.
Some sociology:
6 persons on board: 3 (skipper and two persons with considerable blue water experience) operated fast and efficiently, deploying the raft, collecting stuff from the boat like pyrotechnics, handheld VHF, water, personal documents, etc.
1 - no previous sea experience, remained totally calm and followed directions of the skipper.
1 - some sea experience, was in partial shock, but still operated as instructed.
1 - some sea experience, went hysterical, but turned to apathetic after some harsh comment, did not help but stopped interfering.
Nobody got seasick in the raft (6pax raft - very cosy for six survivors, no room to move) - the sea was around 8-10 feet with about 30kn wind. Not a storm but not calm sea either.

We were taken aboard a yacht - not an easy exercise, as the yacht is going up and down and the raft dances alongside. It could be easier if the rescue boat had a bathing platform where you can bring the raft close. As it happened, we had to climb the topsides. It may be very difficult for an exhausted crew. It is much easier to transfer into a RIB (I know from experience - did it during STCW survival course).
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Old 13-01-2015, 13:03   #11
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Re: What's It Really Like in a Liferaft?

Good reading, enjoyed it!
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Old 13-01-2015, 13:04   #12
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Re: What's It Really Like in a Liferaft?

I saw All Is Lost. No way I'm getting into one of those things. Not sure if my 9' dink is going to be looking so good if my boat actually does sink.

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