Some very good posts here and I would 2nd Keepondancin’s comments about Givens, also about the dangers of stowing inside.. as mstrebe cautions.
I think you have to start with a practical assessment of your needs, your ability to store and ability to handle.
Allan, while you may want to keep the boat in harmony for offshore
, it really is a waste of money
if not actually needed…. since rafts have a limited shelf life, finite number of repacks before legally condemned…..and the SOLAS Offshore pack adds considerably to the weight!
I deployed my last 6 man offshore in the back yard last week as a training session and soon to become a kiddie pool and water
tent, so checking and going thru the heavy offshore contents, really reminded me of why it was a struggle to handle
Things to consider:
Life rafts were basically designed for large merchant vessels, with open spaces, bowsing equipment
for loading and davits
or numerous crew for lifting and deploying from outboard
While the painter has a weak link attached on Deck
, once the Hydro releases, the painter length is around 27 ft. before it will activate the inflation canister.
Odds are very high that this length of painter will get fouled in a sailboat’s rigging
, if it goes quickly to the bottom after being rolled under the keel
of a freighter at night
Also, with the exception of Givens, most life rafts require people for ballast and are only certified for example 4-6 for a 6 man. So don’t oversize based on coastal guests
A Practical Sailor’s Solution
First Identify Your Immediate Cruising Needs-Not your long term Offshore needs because life rafts have a limited shelf life… (and there is a good reason they are condemned after (I think) 3 or maybe 4 services
Keep the handling weight down by using emergency
grab bags for rations/water and survival gear
If Hypothermia is an issue in your cruising area, then survival suits and your tender
are better investments.
Consider ways to improve on using and outfitting a quality inflatable tender
, so that it can be properly equipped as a life raft, with step entry/sea anchor/ inflatable
cover and even attachable water ballast bags, to improve on stability.
Or better still, look at RIB
designs with integral water ballast to use as your new tender. I have used them, they are great! SeaRiders
On overnight passages, my tender on the aft davits
has all my survival grab bags already lashed in place.
While I am lucky, Stargazer has enough deck
space to handle a canister life raft, I am rethinking a new multifunctional tender with integral water ballast as a more practical replacement, for my tropical cruising needs.