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Old 11-06-2009, 09:49   #61
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That thought has some validity. For the cost of a certified repack (upwards of $1000) & the subsequent failure rate that's been related the real question is: What's the value of that repack?

Maybe allow self inspection with a gauge on the inflation canister that's readily seen, inflate the raft yourself with an air compressor as a prevoyage check, check expiration dates on the included liferaft kit.

Or require the manufacturers to provide an insurance policy to warrant that the raft will inflate within a stated time period. If the issue of dysfunction was costing the manufacturers something the problem would be resolved shortly.
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Old 11-06-2009, 09:49   #62
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::mischievous grin:: A life raft that flips back up to sail away on?
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Old 11-06-2009, 10:08   #63
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Originally Posted by BigDreams View Post
Was there any publication of this event and/or government investigation?
None that I am aware of. The efficacy of liferafts for recreational sailors I suspect is below the radar screen of government agencies. They have bigger worries.

I'm sure the solution, to the extent there is one, will involve the commitment of lots of more money and space, both of which some of us don't have lot of to begin with.

Part of my response has been to go with a steel hull. Not a perfect defense (fire for example--plastic through holes--or a really determined reef) but it does decrease my odds of holing. Just last month I hit a submerged three-foot diameter log at six knots. Twice. First the hull and keel hit it; next the skeg. If the log had hit the prop shaft, I'm sure the shaft would have bent like a noodle, not to mention prop blades. But my prop is encased in the skeg and remained undamaged, same as hull.

I like trimarans also because they don't sink, athough in my example above I think a tri would have been holed. In high latitudes, even a holing can be life threatening on account of cold water.

Number one rule of boating: keep water on the outside of the boat.
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Old 11-06-2009, 10:18   #64
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I'm not sure which Country you hail from, but I would think that in the United States an agency such as the Federal Consumer Product Safety Commission would be interested in the event as would boating magazines such as 'Practical Sailor.'

I think that information you provided is just so important. Perhaps even contacting the publication 'Consumer Reports' to seek a direction in where to report that discovery?
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Old 11-06-2009, 11:57   #65
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Earlier in the thread there are links to PS issues that address liferaft inflation.

I agree that the issue is important and underreported. But recreational offshore sailors are not an important group to anybody except fellow sailors. Offshore sailing is, after all, a voluntary activity with obvious inherent risks.

I believe the sentiment is, "Why don't sailors do sensible things, like stay home and take up golf?"
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Old 11-06-2009, 12:21   #66
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I believe the sentiment is, "Why don't sailors do sensible things, like stay home and take up golf?"

HHAHAHAHA,

Some sailors surely golf, but I would think in general most sailors have a more adventurous soul. That's what takes us from what is considered the norm.....i2f
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Old 11-06-2009, 12:45   #67
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I passed along the story of life raft failure to appropriate consumer groups, just the same. A lifer raft is marketed as any other retail item and should be exposed whenever defects, especially life threatening types, are found.
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Old 11-06-2009, 14:14   #68
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I have just noticed (on the USCG website) that in the USA, it's possible to buy liferafts that are not approved by the USCG. I wonder about the quality of such rafts. If a manufacturer has a good product, he should take advantage of the endorsement by authorities.

Then, a yachtsman who bought such a substandard liferaft shouldn't be surprised if it fails to inflate. You don't always get what you pay for but don't expect to get what you don't pay for. Compliance with a recognized standard gives some protection to the user, but at the cost it takes to make a better product...

IMO Resolution MSC.48(66) applies for liferafts carried by SOLAS vessels (merchant, passengers, etc.). ISO 9650 standard is explicitly intended for raft to be carried by yachts less than 24 meters in length.

Alain
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Old 11-06-2009, 16:47   #69
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Life rafts that come apart...

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Originally Posted by nautical62 View Post
I also have no personal experiences but have read many such instances. .
As with you, I read a very interesting account of two men who found themselves in a life raft that eventually came apart after a brief period.

It was probably an older design and I can't recall the year in which the story took place, but I'd guess maybe 15 years back.

The long and short of it was that it was two tubes together, initially, and then it ripped apart. The only way the two men were able to remain afloat was to sit facing each other and stretch out their legs to force the then bottomless craft to support them.
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Old 11-06-2009, 16:56   #70
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One fine example of survival in a life raft....

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My "new" boat came with a life raft that needs new cert. and was listed that way on the survey. So of course the insurance company put it on my list of things needing fixed in 30 days. But from my reading it is just a false security due to the problems and think I'll just get rid of it. Doesn't seem many (none that I've read) stories where someone used their life raft, were recused, AND their boat went down. Seems the stories are they were or weren't recused from the life raft, and/but the boat was found afloat.
I agree, Don. I've spoken to a fellow who soloed to CA from Hawaii and said essentially what you stated. That once you get into the life raft, "your problems are only beginning."

That said, there is an extemely well written book on the subject titled, "ADRIFT: seventy days lost at sea" by Steven Callahan. If I recall, he went on to become an Editor at Large for Sail Magazine.

Among the harrowing descriptions that he related was one event in which he was attempting to fish and gashed his raft causing it to leak. He spent the next 8 hours or so both bailing AND trying to make a repair. There was no choice and nobody to help. He would have sunk.

He went on to relate in another section how he, as I recall, either wanted to or actually did verbally propose marriage to a fish that was following along side.

Great read. Great information.
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Old 11-06-2009, 23:51   #71
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Weyalan, would life rafts be somewhat akin to aircraft? That is, every one that has catastrophically failed while in normal service, was carefully designed, extensively tested, inspected, maintained, and certified to incredibly carefully prepared national and international safety standards?

After all, the Titanic met all international safety standards when she was built. Met and exceeded them. And we all know how the standards changed afterwards to reflect their inadequecies.

Or am I being unfair to say that life rafts still need a paradigm shift because they just aren't good enough?
Hmm...
I can assure you that the people who put together the regulations covering liferafts are not fools. But, having said that, they are human.

The biggest problem with liferaft manufacture and everything relating to it, and it is a problem that is not suffered by the aircraft industry or the ship building industry, is that liferafts are not something we use. And because we don't use them, we don't like spending money on them.

Remember that an aircraft costs hundreds of milions to develop and tens of millions to build, ditto a ship. But you paid how much for your liferaft?

The average person wants a liferaft that is
a) Cheap
b) Small
c) Light
d) Doesn't cost much to service
e) Reliable

It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to work out that (a), (b), (c) & (d) are not exactly compatible with (e).

People want a liferaft that they pay a couple of thousand bucks for, that costs a couple of hundred bucks to service, and preferably doesn't need to be serviced very often. They want it to be small enough to fit anywhere, light enough to lift easily, but expect it to save their lives, when the boat that cost 200 times more than the liferaft lets them down... go figure.

Sure there could be some paradigmal changes in liferaft design and manufacture and testing. But, realistically, there would also need to be some paradigmal changes in the end users perceptions about their liferafts. Would you pay $25,000 for a really good 6 man liferaft that you would probably never use? I'm guessing that the average joe would say "no way". While people want to pay $2000 for a liferaft, they are gonna get $2000 worth of liferaft.
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Old 12-06-2009, 06:03   #72
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::mischievous grin:: A life raft that flips back up to sail away on?

....GOOD ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.......i2f
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Old 15-06-2009, 22:57   #73
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Hello Sailor does have a point. It is very hard to judge the worth of the story without knowing the extra important details about age, condition, servicing regime etc. Safety equipment must be checked and maintained so it functions when you need it. Don't take this the wrong way but cruisers are not known for their extravagance. I know as I spent a year cruising the Pacific with my family. We had a liferaft but as it had never been tested who knew if it worked. Liferaft technology has improved out of sight over the last few years and I would want to carry one on any boat I was cruising.
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Old 16-06-2009, 05:38   #74
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I think we are like most. Our life raft and MOM is out of date from it's last inspection, it's been 3 years. If it fails I consider it my fault not the fault of the life raft. Gear must be maintained to work properly.
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Old 16-06-2009, 06:02   #75
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I know this might be a case of the fox guarding the chicken coop but when a liferaft is repacked why can't they test it then for full deployment and be required to report the results to an agency as part of the repacking? How much stress is placed on a LR when it's deployed? IF it blows apart when deployed you get a discount on your next purchase!

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