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Old 11-07-2015, 16:25   #16
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Re: Which life raft and where to Stowe?

Consider where you are sailing and check on the maker's service network. It is hard to impossible to find a certified repacking shop for some makes in some parts of the world.

Also check on the cost of repacking. Some makes are so expensive to repack that it tempting to just sell your old one and replace with new, especially after reading some horror stories about repacking fails.

Even expired old rafts may fetch $500+ on Ebay, and if it is nearly $2K to repack versus a new one for $3800 (not necessarily same brand), I'm feeling $1300 more net cost for new is worth it for warmer fuzzier feelings of safety than a 10+ year old repack gives me.

Anyone want a nice old expired Winslow Super-Light Offshore Plus, 6 person raft (Model 60SL/OP)?

- Rusty
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Old 11-07-2015, 16:34   #17
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Re: Which life raft and where to Stowe?

Don't buy larger capacity than necessary. Aside from the cost delta, the weight quickly becomes an issue, plus I have had raft manufacturers tell me that over-sized rafts (two people in a six person raft, for example) are not as stable as when they are loaded closer to capacity.

I currently have a Switlik canister raft, deck-mounted ahead of the mast, but feel that the Winslow brand is a smarter design, and they would be my current first choice in manufacturers.

Many years ago I attended a Safety at Sea weekend workshop where we actually inflated a raft in the water, as well as had a helicopter recovery demonstration courtesy of USCG. I have also pulled the cord on my life raft when it was scheduled for repacking. Doesn't make me an expert but I can tell you it is dramatic!

Boarding, as mentioned above, is a serious issue and should be taken seriously. Also double wall floor would be on my list except for the very most benign conditions.

As to color, I think either orange or yellow, but I can speak personally as to the calming effect, both to the stomach and the mind, of a blue inner surface to the canopy. Something to consider.

Plan a good ditch bag as well.

p.s. While I don't have first hand knowledge of this, I have heard of life rafts mounted on pushpits being swept away by following or pooping seas.
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Old 13-07-2015, 08:35   #18
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Re: Which life raft and where to Stowe?

So many great points!

Stern mounted if possible and secure enough not to get pooped away.

Consider not only how often to re-pack but how much.

Boarding provisions (inflatable ramp)

3rd party reviews

Weight

Release from the boat if you can't throw it over due to whatever

Color, yellow or orange

Well ballasted

Redundancy of air chambers in case of puncture

Insulated floors

Winslow and Revere were mentioned as good rafts, with Givens( the best now not still in business)

I appreciate your thorough discussion of a proper life raft!
Thank all of you for your time!

If any of you were going to replace your raft in the future, which one are you going to choose?


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Old 13-07-2015, 14:13   #19
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Re: Which life raft and where to Stowe?

Buying a new raft soon (self-righting Viking RescYou Pro 6p) to mount on aft rail in a container, and was thinking that on a cat, the HIT automatic release would be unnecessary because even if the boat flipped, it wouldn't be submerged deep enough to trigger it.

Having seen the current thread about the inverted Lagoon 440 which is floating at a steep angle bow up stern down, I'm rethinking that. Rather than flipping my boat to see how she level she floats inverted, I guess I should just pay the extra for the automatic release option.
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Old 14-07-2015, 06:57   #20
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Re: Which life raft and where to Stowe?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rgesner View Post
Buying a new raft soon (self-righting Viking RescYou Pro 6p) to mount on aft rail in a container, and was thinking that on a cat, the HIT automatic release would be unnecessary because even if the boat flipped, it wouldn't be submerged deep enough to trigger it.

Having seen the current thread about the inverted Lagoon 440 which is floating at a steep angle bow up stern down, I'm rethinking that. Rather than flipping my boat to see how she level she floats inverted, I guess I should just pay the extra for the automatic release option.
Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it
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Old 14-07-2015, 16:22   #21
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Re: Which life raft and where to Stowe?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rgesner View Post
Buying a new raft soon (self-righting Viking RescYou Pro 6p) to mount on aft rail in a container, and was thinking that on a cat, the HIT automatic release would be unnecessary because even if the boat flipped, it wouldn't be submerged deep enough to trigger it.

Having seen the current thread about the inverted Lagoon 440 which is floating at a steep angle bow up stern down, I'm rethinking that. Rather than flipping my boat to see how she level she floats inverted, I guess I should just pay the extra for the automatic release option.
The auto inflate mechanism is often cheaper to purchase after market rather than with the lifeboat.

But the scenario your concerned about in all likelyhood would never happen again. Let alone getting into a situation where you flip a cat. Just a thought.
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Old 14-07-2015, 23:25   #22
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Re: Which life raft and where to Stowe?

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 cradles.

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.
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Old 15-07-2015, 00:33   #23
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Re: Which life raft and where to Stowe?

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Originally Posted by Pelagic View Post
<snip>
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 donít oversize based on coastal guests <snip>
I don't think the self-righting Viking RescYou Pro requires people for ballast, as in testing they couldn't flip it without putting a diver in the water to dump the water ballast bags.
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Old 15-07-2015, 00:48   #24
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Re: Which life raft and where to Stowe?

Not sure how Viking tests or if their Solas stability rating starts and zero crew ..

This was how Givens Tested


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Old 15-07-2015, 01:01   #25
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Re: Which life raft and where to Stowe?

It was this independent test of 9 rafts in Cruising World mag:

Bluewater Gear: Nine Life Rafts Reviewed | Cruising World

They said, "All of the rafts we looked at rely on ballast bags that hang below the raft for stability. On several of them, it took two or three people leaning on one side to tip them over, but neither Viking could be tipped without a swimmer in the water to manually empty the ballast bags. Once up-ended, the Pro righted itself unassisted immediately, thanks to the large tubes that support the canopy."

- Rusty
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Old 15-07-2015, 20:35   #26
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Re: Which life raft and where to Stowe?

Wow, lots of great advice on this thread!
Pelagic, thanks for the picture!
Looks like you've got a really nice boat too!
I have thought about a Life Boat, that last, and doesn't have to be re packed.
I don't know if it would be the easiest to get into and survive on in say heavy seas or not?




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Old 15-07-2015, 20:56   #27
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Re: Which life raft and where to Stowe?

Disclosure: I work in the liferaft industry, but not directly nor indirectly for any of the manufacturers mentioned below.

Personally, if you are considering travel beyond the USA and Caribbean I would go with either an RFD or a Viking liferaft - for a better Service Network in the rest of the world. Personally I am not a big fan of Zodiac liferafts. If only for use in USA / Caribbean, I offer no comments because I do not feel sufficiently familiar with the US brands of liferaft.
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Old 15-07-2015, 22:38   #28
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Re: Which life raft and where to Stowe?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Allanlowery View Post
.....I have thought about a Life Boat, that last, and doesn't have to be re packed.
I don't know if it would be the easiest to get into and survive on in say heavy seas or not?

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My 6 person RDF that I just inflated has tubes about the same height as a RIB and with a simple rope ladder...it is not easy to get in....unless your adrenaline is pumping.
Thinking out loud.... if I was setting up my tender as a lifeboat it would be well equipped for boarding, survival supplies, a canopy that can be sealed and a ballast system.
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Old 15-07-2015, 23:00   #29
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Re: Which life raft and where to Stowe?

Liferaft design is based on the concept of Mayday/Abandon Ship and minimal drift so that rescuers can find you

Instead...if adding to my lifeboat features... The rain catching full canopy could double as a sail with the help of one oar, while the other serves as a steering oar
One Grab bag would have GPS/multi band VHF/ spare batteries so that you could sail yourself out of trouble and also try to contact anything you see on the horizon.
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Old 16-07-2015, 16:31   #30
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Re: Which life raft and where to Stowe?

One of the original questions of this thread was "where to stow the life raft."

Today, while looking through some files I came across a photo I saved long ago. I don't recall where I originally saw it on the net. I saved it because I thought it was an unusual example of what someone has done with their "arch" on the stern of a boat.

Please note! I am NOT recommending this as the best solution.

But, it certainly looks like the owner of the boat has taken the dictum "Always Step UP from Your Boat to the Life Raft" seriously.
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