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Old 07-06-2013, 22:57   #1
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when it comes to Liferafts can too big be a problem

My local dealer has just informed me that his supplier has run out of 4 man life rafts. He is willing to offer a 6 man for the same price.

Apart from the 20lb extra in weight, which is a concern. Is there concern about the raft not being ballasted correctly and also the occupants being thrown around. Seem to remember reading a comment someplace? Advice?
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Old 07-06-2013, 23:09   #2
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Re: when it comes to Liferafts can too big be a problem

In my experience a 4 man has just enough room for two. So a six may fit four . But your stability question is a good one ...
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Old 07-06-2013, 23:13   #3
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Re: when it comes to Liferafts can too big be a problem

Never haveing to use one, Ive always thought larger was better, folks have told me that even for 2 bodys a 4 man raft is cramped. Again I have no real knowage about size I but I can't see why 20 lbs should cause a problem! To me I would take the larger raft and smile ! But then Im a Cheap cruiser!!
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Old 08-06-2013, 07:28   #4
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Re: when it comes to Liferafts can too big be a problem

Assuming you are a Mom and Pop crew, can the smaller of two people launch the raft from where it will be mounted - larger rafts are heavy, life lines get in the way, etc. From where you mount it, will the larger raft block your vision too much?
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Old 08-06-2013, 07:52   #5
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Re: when it comes to Liferafts can too big be a problem

Pauls comment is absolutely correct. You need to get up close and personal with the larger raft and try and pick it up, just the two of you. Now imagine doing this on a pitching deck in adverse conditions. That will answer your question. Bigger is better IF you can handle it. Otherwise, you and the raft will go down with the ship. There are sytems to automatically launch the raft if mounted in the deck in the right place and set up properly for larger rafts. That would be a good alternative for a larger raft but will add to the cost. A ballasted raft with double tubes and floor is a must for offshore. Inshore and inland waters, not so important. Chuck
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Old 08-06-2013, 11:19   #6
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Re: when it comes to Liferafts can too big be a problem

why would 20 pound difference be a problem when it takes more than one thousand pounds to make a difference in your boats performance...i have to laugh at folks who cannot understand the law of physics that covers this one....
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Old 08-06-2013, 11:33   #7
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Re: when it comes to Liferafts can too big be a problem

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Originally Posted by zeehag View Post
why would 20 pound difference be a problem when it takes more than one thousand pounds to make a difference in your boats performance...i have to laugh at folks who cannot understand the law of physics that covers this one....
What part of the Law of Physics do you not understand about a 108 lb women trying to launch a 120lb raft in a crisis?
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Old 08-06-2013, 11:50   #8
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Re: when it comes to Liferafts can too big be a problem

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Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
Assuming you are a Mom and Pop crew, can the smaller of two people launch the raft from where it will be mounted - larger rafts are heavy, life lines get in the way, etc. From where you mount it, will the larger raft block your vision too much?
My concerns as well Paul. Even for me it could be a struggle in an emergency situation. Thought I had this problem sorted, now back to the drawing board. WWG Since I will not see it until it arrives this is also a concern. As the raft was ordered 3 months ago I think we should be entitled to see it so my mrs can see it and try and lift the thing. Time is short for us as our off date zooms up.

Does come with a rail mount kit? I have no rail space left at the moment, but may be able to work something out.
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Old 08-06-2013, 12:05   #9
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A life raft is a life raft. I had to practice launching a 12 man in a gumby suit and that sucked. A 6 man should be easy. It has a trail line which you attach to the boat and all you have to do is get the thing in the water. When the trail line is pull the life raft will self inflate and upright it self. (just climb in)whistling... I can say when the crap hits the fan 20# means nothing and the extra space you will appreciate after you climb in. I am not an expert but I would think bigger means more buoyancy. I would go bigger, a 6 man to a 4 man is not that much and stability would not be a factor.
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Old 08-06-2013, 12:19   #10
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Re: when it comes to Liferafts can too big be a problem

Liferafts are designed for the occupants to be the ballast - I suspect that design being the "norm" also related to being smaller also being cheaper (to make and sell).

My gut says 2 people in a 6 man will only be a problem in a situation where the weather is really bad (pick own wind speed!).....probably won't want to be rolling down waves, but nonetheless a fully loaded 4 or 6 man raft will not be immune to that in all conditions.

So I guess what I am saying is that apart from the "sweet spot" (between "stability not a concern from sea state" and "it don't matter how many in the raft you are going to be rolling down waves") then it don't really matter - and indeed pros from a bigger raft if you are inshore or in benign conditions.

If not an ocean rated raft I would go for the bigger one, as will have already entered the realms of crap shoot on whether will stand up long enough for a rescue, so what's one more roll of the dice?!

Albeit for me the big decider would be ease of handling (I favour a valise) and of course cost.
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Old 08-06-2013, 12:26   #11
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Re: when it comes to Liferafts can too big be a problem

plenty of stories I've read and recommendations I've read are not to pick a liferaft too big for the crew else stability issues (and being blown around and out) - regardless of ballast (which also takes time too fill out).

Also, not to pick one too small else it will become uncomfortable, hence two for a 4 man may or may not be large enough. It's edgy choice, but as boaty I think said, its a 50/50 chance at that point anyway if you have to step up into it.

I had a 4 man for just me.

ps: Im with zeezee on this one. And I think NorthPacific has too many food pictures in his blog.
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Old 08-06-2013, 12:38   #12
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Re: when it comes to Liferafts can too big be a problem

Hi, everyone,

A long time ago, this issue came up for consideration at a meeting at an Alameda-based yacht club. The presenter was a fellow who serviced liferafts.
What he said was in conditions of high winds and large seas, the ballast offered by the Mom & Pop in the 6 man liferaft was not enough to keep the raft from rolling.

If you consider a "standard person" to be 150 lbs., two weigh on the order of 300, or less, depending, of course on reality. 6 such people represent 900 lbs. So maybe he was correct.

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Old 08-06-2013, 12:42   #13
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Re: when it comes to Liferafts can too big be a problem

I guess it also depends on what the size the likely occupants are.

Maybe OP could ask the wife how much she weighs so we can all advise further, not sure you should let her know will be posting the info on the internet..........
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Old 08-06-2013, 12:58   #14
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Re: when it comes to Liferafts can too big be a problem

I carry an eight man for the two of us. I have every intention of being comfortable if I need to abandon ship. Anyone who has been in a four man raft will tell you that you better get rescued within a couple of hours. There is sufficient room for two and four becomes very friendly.
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Old 08-06-2013, 12:59   #15
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pirate Re: when it comes to Liferafts can too big be a problem

I'd go for the 6 pack.... lifting is no real problem... its amazing how strong most folk become if the fear buttons pushed.
Another thing is where you place it.. if a hard top I'd put it just in front of the mast with a quick release... your lower guard wires tied.. or a quick release clip where they end at the gate.
As you move forward on the favoured side cut/release the wire.. release the LR and kick it over..
Valais type I'd rig a mount at the stern, kept in a locker when not at sea..
As for ballast... pack a bigger suitcase....
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