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Old 11-05-2009, 19:17   #16
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That was an amazing story of sheer determination. I think only his willpower kept that raft afloat.

In the oil industry I did a liferaft course and out of 2 commercial quality liferafts one didn't work. The guys running the course always carried a spare, they said failures were far from uncommon.

That's why my preference is for a boat that cant sink.
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Old 11-05-2009, 20:43   #17
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IMHO I think we can over-state the problem, and reach the wrong solution.

I have not yet (personally) seen a liferaft fail to inflate, but it sure happens. Seems to me there are plenty of stories of liferafts that inflated when needed, but that is not "a story worth telling". There are problems, but if a liferaft is your last option even 70% success is worth spending on.

Perhaps it is more useful to discuss things we can control, when we use them. Poor preparation and use may be the bigger problem. Saddest thing would be watching a liferaft inflate, but seeing it drift beyond reach ...

I recollect several incidents where panic and/or lack of skill caused failure. Two recurring issues are loss from premature inflation (a male problem, perhaps), and failure to tether (wave goodbye!). A surprising number of people have chucked liferafts overboard in an emergency before they remembered to hold the string ... Another is premature abandonment of main vessel (boat survives; liferaft never found).

None of this stops me wanting a certified liferaft when travelling far offshore.
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Old 11-05-2009, 21:53   #18
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Don-
"So of course the insurance company put it on my list of things needing fixed in 30 days." That's interesting, since there is no requirement that civilian yachts carry a life raft, or that any raft they carry be serviced/certified on any schedule, at all. Unless your insurer is planning to give you a discount based on carrying a life raft--I can't see that it is any of their business. Perhaps they would prefer that you carry Lapsong Soochong instead of Earl Grey tea onboard, as well?

HiRacer-
If I had better information I woudl share it, but that's my point precisely. We have NO really good information of this sort, and that group's little (ok, not so little) informal test is meaningless without more data. I have no contact information for them, the group wasn't even named here, so don't ask me for better information from them.
" If these things are so good, where's the proof that they work?" Ah, th eproof that they work, at least in some cases, comes from the number of victims rescued from life rafts every year, year after year. You can probably get some of that as hard numbers from the USCG, although I don't know that their experience is "globally" valid, or that they keep track of rescues from rafts versus rescues overall.

I guess the most reliable thing would be to keep a couple of industrial cans of urethane binary expanding foam on board. Since that stuff sucks up water as it expands and hardens...injecting it into a life raft ought to ensure that it is inflated, sealed, and buoyant, all in one. (Only half joking here, after all, millions of packs of that stuff are sold, and almost all are known to function properly!)
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Old 11-05-2009, 23:50   #19
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There's also "66 Days Adrift" (I think) about the couple east of hawaii that eventually drifted back to galapagos. Riveting read except that after 45 days the routine gets a bit repetitive.

I think the quality of the raft is a factor. There are tons of work boats around here. Periodically we get a donation of an expired raft from a work boat (oil rig boat). I have never seen or heard of one not inflating. The kids love it.

Don't save pennies on your final option is my vote...
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Old 12-05-2009, 08:19   #20
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My wife just told me she recently watched a "Cheers" show were they were boating. They had to use the life raft and when they pulled the cord a sign came out saying "if pulled this you are already screwed" and no raft came out. So it seems even TV knows the story here. So I'm with Hiracer, lets seem some proof other than fear for an expensive item!
Actually, there's an episode of the TV reality show Survivorman subtitled "Lost at Sea." One of two (pre-owned) life rafts that were used in the show did not inflate.
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Old 12-05-2009, 08:23   #21
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If you have better information, let's hear it. Fact is, I haven't found a better example of testing these things. Good or bad results. I think Evans Starzinger and Beth Leonard were entirely correct to post that ancedote on their website.

Seems to me the expectation is that we sailors are supposed to accept the manufacturor's performance allegations at face value without any critical inquiry of their actual efficacy. The only evidence, good or bad, is completely ancedotal.

That it itself should be a hint. Let's put the shoe on the other foot. If these things are so good, where's the proof that they work? Why are we limited to only ancedotal evidence? Why hasn't some manufacturor sponsored a third party test so they can tout their horn? I don't see anything like that. At all. Instead, all I see is marketing to the baser instincts, i.e., fear marketing.

Fear marketing and an ever growing body of ancedotal evidence that these things don't work nearly as well as we've been led to believe. I think sailors need to be a little more skeptical about manufacturor claims, because as best as I can tell right now all we got are manufacturor claims and ancedotal evidence--and the two don't jib too well.
I'm in total agreement here. Firstly, these are not inexpensive pieces of kit and secondly, your life could depend on them functioning properly. Sort of like car airbags -- the car companies have had to PROVE these with crash tests. What would it really take for UL to test and certify these designs?
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Old 12-05-2009, 09:58   #22
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It seems to me that one needs to keep in mind that discussing the reliability of life rafts is in reality a part of a larger risk management of how to reduce the risk of being lost at sea. Considering the reliability of a life raft is only part of this and the reliance on such may vary depending on how one chooses to manage the other variable.

First, I think it's important to note there is only one absolutely fail-safe risk management technique to completely eliminate risk and that is avoidance. Stay on land and your risk of dying because your boat sank from under you is zero. All other risk management techniques will reduce risk, but never eliminate it all together. We must also realize there are other risks we must consider when deciding where to spend money to reduce overall risk at sea. It doesn't make sense to spend a great deal of money to reduce a risk of something that is 0.001% while doing nothing to address a 1% risk.

When it comes to the risk of dying from benig set a drift when your boat sinks, it seems to me there are several ways to go about reducing this risk including:

1. Stop a boat from flooding in the first place

2. Prevent yourself from having to leave the boat should it flood - (not sinking for example)

3. Being rescused quickly should your boat sink or be in danger of sinking.

4. Being able to survivie a long period of time should your boat sink and you are not quickly rescued.

It's important to me that there is only an argument for carrying a liefraft if you have failed at the first two and probably the third as well. It therefore makes sense to consider their ability to manage the previous risks as well as the cost and potentitial effectiveness when considering the worth of the 4th.

The likelihood of taking on water depends largely on the construction of the boat, competence of crew, upkeep, and cruising area. (Are through hulls updated, are you traveling where there may be sea containers, a lot of shippping, etc.) Preparedness and the nature of the boat can also reduce the risk of sinking should you begin to take on water - plugs for through hulls, ablity to get at damage, positive buyonancy, airtight compartments, good bilge pumps, etc.

Should you find yourself on a sinking boat - some of the risks you then face, will depend on whether it will completley sink and whether or not someone will come to your aid quickly. The conditions will also matter. Both of the survivial in a lifraft stories mentioned in this thread took place before the advent of 406 EPIRBs which greatly incrase the odds of having help reach you soon. If help will be there soon, how does this change what you need to survive and your need for a liefraft? I'd argue that at least in warmer conditions, it changes the equation greatly.

The last part of the equation is the reliability of the life raft. The less reliable it is, the more sense it makes to rely on safety measures prior to that point. I think hellosailor and other bring up a good point, in being cautious of general arguments about liferafts, (in my mind much like one need to be warry of general arguments about catamarans and monohulls). I'm sure the statistics on cheap, glued liferafts, that haven't been touched in 10 years is different than quaility expensive rafts that are newer and inspected according to specs.
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Old 12-05-2009, 10:24   #23
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I would have thought would have made an interesting (and cheap!) subject for a Magazine article, say with 50 readers liferafts - not very scientific, but I suspect very real world informative..........

...........of course the advertising dept may not be so happy
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Old 12-05-2009, 10:41   #24
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I would have thought would have made an interesting (and cheap!) subject for a Magazine article, say with 50 readers liferafts - not very scientific, but I suspect very real world informative..........

...........of course the advertising dept may not be so happy
Excellent idea. That would be a natural for Practical Sailor to call on its readership for volunteers to get together and collectively pull the cord. PS could do an in depth article with all the details about make, age, condition, service history, etc.

Even if imperfect information, it's still better than marketing copy.

I have contacted the editor of PS and passed on your idea.
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Old 12-05-2009, 11:01   #25
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I have contacted the editor of PS and passed on your idea.


FWIW I think a very decent test (in numbers) would probably be referenced accross the internet for many many years to come - in threads like these.........
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Old 12-05-2009, 11:11   #26
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When it comes to the risk of dying from benig set a drift when your boat sinks, it seems to me there are several ways to go about reducing this risk including:

1. Stop a boat from flooding in the first place

2. Prevent yourself from having to leave the boat should it flood - (not sinking for example)

3. Being rescused quickly should your boat sink or be in danger of sinking.

4. Being able to survive a long period of time should your boat sink and you are not quickly rescued.
I would have put at the top of my list, "1. Get a boat that doesn't sink (e.g., most multihulls) or failing that get a hull that doesn't breach easily."

I've always like multhulls, trimarans especially, because if built and designed correctly, they will not sink. I'm sure Mr. Woods, the originator of this thread, has a thing or two so say about that. A multihull is a liferaft. It might float low if a hull is breached but if done right it will float, and that's a big deal in my book.

The next point in the analysis, stop the leak, doesn't bode well for pan-and-liner construction because to stop the leak you may have to work from the exterior, which in a cold water situation could be problematic. I would much rather seal a breach from within the boat.

. . .

I will note there here that both the Pardeys, and Evans Starzinger and Beth Leonard do not carry a liferaft. Both have published their reasons why not.
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Old 12-05-2009, 11:37   #27
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It seems to me that one needs to keep in mind that discussing the reliability of life rafts is in reality a part of a larger risk management of how to reduce the risk of being lost at sea. Considering the reliability of a life raft is only part of this and the reliance on such may vary depending on how one chooses to manage the other variable.

First, I think it's important to note there is only one absolutely fail-safe risk management technique to completely eliminate risk and that is avoidance. Stay on land and your risk of dying because your boat sank from under you is zero. All other risk management techniques will reduce risk, but never eliminate it all together. We must also realize there are other risks we must consider when deciding where to spend money to reduce overall risk at sea. It doesn't make sense to spend a great deal of money to reduce a risk of something that is 0.001% while doing nothing to address a 1% risk.

When it comes to the risk of dying from benig set a drift when your boat sinks, it seems to me there are several ways to go about reducing this risk including:

1. Stop a boat from flooding in the first place

2. Prevent yourself from having to leave the boat should it flood - (not sinking for example)

3. Being rescused quickly should your boat sink or be in danger of sinking.

4. Being able to survivie a long period of time should your boat sink and you are not quickly rescued.

It's important to me that there is only an argument for carrying a liefraft if you have failed at the first two and probably the third as well. It therefore makes sense to consider their ability to manage the previous risks as well as the cost and potentitial effectiveness when considering the worth of the 4th.

The likelihood of taking on water depends largely on the construction of the boat, competence of crew, upkeep, and cruising area. (Are through hulls updated, are you traveling where there may be sea containers, a lot of shippping, etc.) Preparedness and the nature of the boat can also reduce the risk of sinking should you begin to take on water - plugs for through hulls, ablity to get at damage, positive buyonancy, airtight compartments, good bilge pumps, etc.

Should you find yourself on a sinking boat - some of the risks you then face, will depend on whether it will completley sink and whether or not someone will come to your aid quickly. The conditions will also matter. Both of the survivial in a lifraft stories mentioned in this thread took place before the advent of 406 EPIRBs which greatly incrase the odds of having help reach you soon. If help will be there soon, how does this change what you need to survive and your need for a liefraft? I'd argue that at least in warmer conditions, it changes the equation greatly.

The last part of the equation is the reliability of the life raft. The less reliable it is, the more sense it makes to rely on safety measures prior to that point. I think hellosailor and other bring up a good point, in being cautious of general arguments about liferafts, (in my mind much like one need to be warry of general arguments about catamarans and monohulls). I'm sure the statistics on cheap, glued liferafts, that haven't been touched in 10 years is different than quaility expensive rafts that are newer and inspected according to specs.
I think we all understand that a liferaft is a last resort. Precisely why we should expect it to work. Considering it's required kit to meet SOLAS guidelines and costs several thousand dollars in some cases, given proper maintenance and age parameters, it damn well ought to work.
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Old 12-05-2009, 11:44   #28
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Practical Sailor review of Life Rafts
"Life Rafts: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly":
Life Rafts

The Life Raft: Don't Leave Your Ship Without It:
The Life Raft: Don't Leave Your Ship Without It - EQUIPPED TO SURVIVE (tm)

Equipped to Survive Marine and Water Survival:
EQUIPPED TO SURVIVE (tm) - Marine and Water Survival

More ETS reports from Equipped to Survive:
EQUIPPED TO SURVIVE - Outdoors Gear, Survival Equipment Review & Survival Information

Transport Canada’s Liferaft Study concluded that the inspection interval can be safely extended from one year to four years. The report also recommends that life rafts be retired after 16 years in service, or that the inspection interval revert to annually for life rafts in service for more than 16 years.
Extension of service interval for life*rafts - Marine Transportation - Project Directory - Transportation Development Centre -
and:
Liferaft service interval extension (TP*14170E) - Transportation Development Centre -

Summary of Transportation Safety Board of Canada Pool Tests

Defence R&D Canada Stochastic and Life Raft Boarding Predictions in the Cold Exposure Survival Model:
Stochastic and Life Raft Boarding Predictions in the Cold Exposure <STRONG>Survival</STRONG> Model (CESM v3.0)

Examination of the Contribution of Personality to the Ability to Board a Life Raft:
Liferaft service interval extension (TP*14170E) - Transportation Development Centre -

Study Operational performance of inflatable life rafts.
Research Report 2005 | Students volunteer on a life raft for safety research

http://www.revver.com/video/941440/1...-julie-update/

Life Raft Servicing, What You Should Expect and Why:

http://www.usmsa.org/PDF/raft_flyer.pdf
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Old 12-05-2009, 11:45   #29
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On the other hand, Steve Callahan drifted for 76 days in his life raft, all the way across the Atlantic, and he's alive to tell the tale. Amazon.com: Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea: Steven Callahan: Books
True, but have you seen Steve ever endorse the product that saved his life? I haven't. Just asking.

I ask because he seems reticent to lend his name to promote liferafts. Also, he has designed a competing product.

From the Pardey website ( http://www.landlpardey.com/Tips/Tips_2003_January.html ):

Life Rafts In our book, Cost Conscious Cruiser, we have a complete discussion of why we are not comfortable with currently available life rafts. Steve Callahan is definitely someone who supports our view that a tender that is rigged out to work as a sailing life raft not only saves money, but presents a safer alternative since daily use means you know the thing will work when you need it in an emergency. That is why he spent a lot of time and thought coming up with what he calls the FRIB, folding rib. Steve holds two patents on this folding boat. Light weight, easy to store. Definitely worth a look. Steve can be contacted at massahan@onebox.com.
These photos are provided by Steve as is this diagram, reproduced from Cost Conscious Cruiser The FRIB is 10 feet long, excluding inflations tubes and weigh about 100 pounds. These photos show her folded, with her lifeboat canopy, sailing and being rowed with four on board.











Old CNN blurb about it:
CNN.com - Sinking survivor designs life raft - April 22, 2002
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Old 12-05-2009, 11:53   #30
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GordMay,

I haven't activated my internet subscription, and I'm sure others don't subscribe. Further, I didn't subscribe until recently.

Can you summarize PS's experience with inflation rates?
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