Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 11-05-2009, 10:20   #1
Sponsoring Vendor

Community Sponsor
Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: UK and BC, Canada when not sailing
Boat: 25ft Merlin catamaran, 34ft Romany catamaran
Posts: 116
Liferaft Failures

In the "Sink or Swim" thread on the Multihull forum two experienced sailors recounted their experiences of liferafts that did not inflate.

As many people rely on these as a last resort, how many other people can relate similar stories???


Richard Woods of Woods Designs


Woods Designs Sailing Catamarans
Woods Designs is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-05-2009, 11:41   #2
֍֎֍֎֍֎֍֎֍֎

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 13,055
"how many other people can relate similar stories???"

With life rafts, as with parachutes, there are few people around to complain when it didn't work. More people complain about parachutes failing, simply because there are often other people WITHIN SIGHT OF THE FAILURE.
__________________

__________________
hellosailor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-05-2009, 12:24   #3
Senior Cruiser
 
sneuman's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: May 2003
Location: Jamaica
Boat: Tayana 37 Cutter
Posts: 3,167
Images: 37
I can't say, but I have heard (anecodotally) of a number of such failures. *Apparently* it's all too common.
__________________
Voyage of Symbiosis: http://svsymbiosis.blogspot.com/
sneuman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-05-2009, 12:30   #4
Registered User

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: The boat lives at Fidalgo Island, PNW
Boat: 36' custom steel
Posts: 992
"First, liferafts, like much of the available 'safety equipment', especially the single purpose 'sealed magic boxes' do not work very well. In NZ about 20 cruising boats got together to get their rafts repacked. Before repacking they all pulled their inflation cords and about 1/3 did not inflate, 1/3 inflated but promptly deflated and only 1/3 inflated and stayed inflated (this after the rafts were on average only two years at sea)."

Seamanship.
__________________
John, sailing a custom 36' double-headed steel sloop--a 2001 derivation of a 1976 Ted Brewer design.
Hiracer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-05-2009, 12:33   #5
Senior Cruiser
 
nautical62's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Live Iowa - Sail mostly Bahamas
Boat: Beneteau 32.5
Posts: 2,264
Images: 12
I also have no personal experiences but have read many such instances. In addition to inflation failure, I've read of rafts getting severely torn when inflated or blowing away. I read one book where the family escaped with their dink and liferaft and eventually ended up having to abandon the life raft in favor of the dinghy.

Reading so many such tales certainly makes me think differently about the role of a life raft in terms of survival. I also think the reliability of 406 Epirbs which haven't been around all that long can change one's survival strategies.
__________________
nautical62 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-05-2009, 14:41   #6
Registered User

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: The boat lives at Fidalgo Island, PNW
Boat: 36' custom steel
Posts: 992
Quote:
Originally Posted by nautical62 View Post
I also have no personal experiences but have read many such instances. In addition to inflation failure, I've read of rafts getting severely torn when inflated or blowing away. I read one book where the family escaped with their dink and liferaft and eventually ended up having to abandon the life raft in favor of the dinghy.

Reading so many such tales certainly makes me think differently about the role of a life raft in terms of survival. I also think the reliability of 406 Epirbs which haven't been around all that long can change one's survival strategies.
How many sailing stories have I read where it went something like, "And then we got pitchpoled and the liferaft was swepted off, never to be seen again."

Or, "We got knockdown and the liferaft surprisingly inflated and then got blown off the boat."

Lots.

There's a moderator on SSCA who witnessed a company rep do a demonstration of his company's liferaft at a boat show--only it didn't inflate. My goodness! The company itself can't get it to work all the time on dry land in perfect conditions.

Sure, a liferaft is better than nothing, but the lingering question is how much better than nothing?

Good thread. This topic needs more coverage, IMO.
__________________
John, sailing a custom 36' double-headed steel sloop--a 2001 derivation of a 1976 Ted Brewer design.
Hiracer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-05-2009, 15:12   #7
Don't ask if you can't handle it
 
sailorboy1's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: On the boat somewhere
Boat: Hunter 410
Posts: 12,319
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.
__________________
sailorboy1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-05-2009, 15:14   #8
֍֎֍֎֍֎֍֎֍֎

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 13,055
" Before repacking they all pulled their inflation cords and about 1/3 did not inflate, 1/3 inflated but promptly deflated and only 1/3 inflated and stayed inflated (this after the rafts were on average only two years at sea)."
That's still misleadingly incomplete information. How old were the rafts? Who last repacked them, how and when?
As for the rafts coming apart...That's why the French government requires rafts to be condemnded at ten years of age, and Zodiac won't repack them once they reach that age--even with a waiver and instructions from the owner. Apparently "glued" rafts have endemic problems that "welded" ones don't.
__________________
hellosailor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-05-2009, 15:34   #9
Senior Cruiser
 
bstreep's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: San Antonio, TX/Port Aransas, TX
Boat: 1990 Macintosh 47, "Merlin"
Posts: 2,274
Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Lucas View Post
So of course the insurance company put it on my list of things needing fixed in 30 days.
Ours said the same thing - then I made the point that they had the BOAT insured, not us. If we stepped up into a liferaft, at that point they no longer had anything to insure...

I also heard a story this weekend about the couple who had a liferaft recertified in Europe, and crossed back to the US. At some point, they needed it recertified again, and when the canister was opened, the one thing it did NOT contain, was a liferaft...
__________________
Bill Streep
San Antonio/Port Aransas, TX
bstreep is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-05-2009, 15:39   #10
Don't ask if you can't handle it
 
sailorboy1's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: On the boat somewhere
Boat: Hunter 410
Posts: 12,319
sounds like a weight savings, guess they thought that if you needed it and it wasn't there odds are no one was going to be around to complain, sad

but that probably means you saved with the boat and lived
__________________
sailorboy1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-05-2009, 15:40   #11
Registered User

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: The boat lives at Fidalgo Island, PNW
Boat: 36' custom steel
Posts: 992
Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
That's still misleadingly incomplete information. How old were the rafts? Who last repacked them, how and when?
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.
__________________
John, sailing a custom 36' double-headed steel sloop--a 2001 derivation of a 1976 Ted Brewer design.
Hiracer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-05-2009, 16:21   #12
Registered User
 
Equinox's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Maine
Boat: Westerly Corsair 36 - Equinox
Posts: 15
Images: 6
We were in St.Lucia in 2007 and a friend wanted to get his 1989 raft certified. This was the first time for the raft and the raft had been submerged in a dock box during a hurricane a few years before. We went with them and when they pulled the cord the raft inflated and stayed inflated. We were all surprised. The other contents of the raft such as the flairs and the paddles needed to be replaced.
__________________
Dick
S/V Equinox
Equinox is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-05-2009, 17:01   #13
Don't ask if you can't handle it
 
sailorboy1's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: On the boat somewhere
Boat: Hunter 410
Posts: 12,319
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!
__________________
sailorboy1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-05-2009, 17:13   #14
Sponsoring Vendor

Community Sponsor
Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: UK and BC, Canada when not sailing
Boat: 25ft Merlin catamaran, 34ft Romany catamaran
Posts: 116
An interesting thread already.

I think the main thing was that some clever marketing guy called it a "liferaft" when they were first introduced

They all look more like childrens paddling pools to me.

The puzzle is that the authorities (where Coastguard or race organisers) don't allow one to use a "lifeboat" which can be seen to be in working condition and can also be used for other purposes.

There is, however, a change in thinking from the old days - especially amongst ship owners.

Nowadays people are encouraged to stay where they are and await rescue, as the EPIRB gives the position to the Coastguard. There is no need to seek help yourself by sailing towards land or shipping lanes. This can cause psychological problems. We all know self help increases morale.

I await more replies with interest

Richard Woods of Woods Designs

Woods Designs Sailing Catamarans
Woods Designs is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-05-2009, 17:17   #15
CF Adviser
Moderator Emeritus
 
Hud3's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Virginia
Boat: Island Packet 380, now sold
Posts: 8,929
Images: 49
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
__________________

__________________
Hud
Hud3 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
liferaft

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Hurth / ZF M15A Transmission Failures tomj Propellers & Drive Systems 138 06-05-2016 05:05
Maine Passage - Successes and failures, Moving On... skipgundlach General Sailing Forum 2 20-08-2008 09:20
Warning: Pre-1994 Crewfit PFD failures hellosailor Health, Safety & Related Gear 0 12-07-2006 19:41
Bilge Pump Failures ? GordMay The Sailor's Confessional 6 14-08-2003 02:23
Equipment Failures GordMay Construction, Maintenance & Refit 2 31-03-2003 17:47



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 14:11.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.