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Old 14-12-2019, 19:51   #1
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Seeking Recommendations for Life raft

I realize it's highly unlikely anyone has actually *used* one, but thought I'd ask the community how they have shopped for one. I have a long expired one (2005 service date) on the boat, so I believe I need to get a new one.

Crew size: 3 or 4.
Offshore: Yes - long crossings.
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Old 15-12-2019, 00:41   #2
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Re: Seeking Recommendations for Life raft

I am finally going to bite the bullet this year and do it at the boat show that's in April. That should give me time to save up for something that I'm guessing is going to cost more than $5K for a 6-person life raft with the cradle, but the costs range widely. From my research last year, there were also several ratings groups to look for that corresponded to them being "offshore" (ISO 9650, etc.) versus coastal. Not sure why there are so many rating organizations on the different rafts. Anyway, I'll be very interested in following this thread.
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Old 15-12-2019, 02:53   #3
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Re: Seeking Recommendations for Life raft

Just a suggestion, in France there is a website called Hisseetho.
They do group purchases for such items.
Have a look if something like this does not exist in the US too. Might bring prices considerably down.

Another remark, there are offshore rafts which are identical in built to coastal and rafts. The only difference (beside the much higher price) is the equipment stored in the container as well.
Might be worth to use a grabbag for this instead. Better quality equipment for a lower price.
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Old 15-12-2019, 05:43   #4
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Re: Seeking Recommendations for Life raft

https://www.hisse-et-oh.com/forums/e...n-achat-groupe

It's in French but Google translation is your friend.
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Old 15-12-2019, 09:00   #5
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Re: Seeking Recommendations for Life raft

Hisse et oh group purchasers will likely go with Plastimo liferafts, which may or may not be the best ones to get. Shipping from France may also offset any group pricing advantages. Research on this issue brought up the point that people IN a liferaft help to stabilize it, and that you do not want a raft with more capacity than the number of people you need it for. In rough conditions (when a raft is likely to be needed, no?), four people wedged into a four-person raft will be able to brace against each other as the raft is pummeled and tossed by the waves. Four people in a raft designed for eight can get tossed around inside like marbles in a spray can, leading to possible injuries when one crew lands on another. Switlick seems to build sturdy liferafts. The liferaft that came with our new-to-us boat was WWII surplus...
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Old 15-12-2019, 09:22   #6
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Re: Seeking Recommendations for Life raft

Just a thought, it's not necessarily "expired". While I was active duty (Coast Guard) I was one of the certification inspectors for life raft service facilities in Mobile, AL. There were several occasions when an "expired" raft would come thru and even several years past the certification date it was still able to pass certification and be repacked. Keep in mind, that old would certainly require pressure-testing the CO2 bottle, as well as the raft itself. I would check into servicing before replacing to see if it's more economical. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 15-12-2019, 09:23   #7
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Re: Seeking Recommendations for Life raft

While I cannot be certain, I am told that most (all) liferafts are made in China, and are packed in the 'country of origin'. Further, the biggest issue is getting any particular raft re-certified. If this is indeed the case, in the Eastern USA, you might check here; https://www.seasaferafts.com/
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Old 15-12-2019, 09:30   #8
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Re: Seeking Recommendations for Life raft

Not sure about the "most if not all" made in China. The facility in Mobile AL that I worked with as a certification inspector is not only still in business, they service all makes of commercial and recreational life rafts. I don't believe Viking or Revere are built in China, but they're certainly one facility I would have no reservations about using - Mobile Ship Chandlery, Mobile Ship Chandlery – Mobile Ship Chandlery
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Old 15-12-2019, 09:30   #9
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Re: Seeking Recommendations for Life raft

Quote:
Originally Posted by kev_rm View Post
I realize it's highly unlikely anyone has actually *used* one, but thought I'd ask the community how they have shopped for one. I have a long expired one (2005 service date) on the boat, so I believe I need to get a new one.

Crew size: 3 or 4.
Offshore: Yes - long crossings.
Greetings.
We searched the internet to learn as much as possible and then purchased one locally from Salís Inflatables in Alameda Ca. They are a very reputable company that only sells and services life rafts. They have attended many local boat show events and even deploy a life raft so people can see the process and even climb inside. If you give them measurements for placement on your deck they will order accordingly. We had ours shipped to my place of employment so we didnít have to pick it up.

Rich
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Old 15-12-2019, 09:41   #10
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Re: Seeking Recommendations for Life raft

In 1991 I was a crew member on a commercial longline fishing vessel working in the Gulf of Alaska. Something in the engine room failed and the vessel sank in less then a half hour. All of us (5 total) were working on deck hauling gear at the time and we just had time to grab the EPIRB, survival suits and deploy the life raft. An attempt was made to call mayday on VHF 16 but there was no response and we assume it was never heard. The US Coast Guard responded to the EPIRB and we were all rescued from our life raft via helicopter. Today I own my own fishing boat in Alaska as well as a sailboat having never gave up my love of the sea but....... I make sure I have top quality survival suits even in warm waters, an EPIRB and without doubt a real SOLAS approved offshore life raft. Please please donít cut corners here.
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Old 15-12-2019, 09:51   #11
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Re: Seeking Recommendations for Life raft

That's why I suggested to look into a group purchase in the US and not in France.
Seems pointless to buy in France if you live in the US.
Hisseetoh was just an example of what some folks do.
Quote:
Originally Posted by psk125 View Post
Hisse et oh group purchasers will likely go with Plastimo liferafts, which may or may not be the best ones to get. Shipping from France may also offset any group pricing advantages. Research on this issue brought up the point that people IN a liferaft help to stabilize it, and that you do not want a raft with more capacity than the number of people you need it for. In rough conditions (when a raft is likely to be needed, no?), four people wedged into a four-person raft will be able to brace against each other as the raft is pummeled and tossed by the waves. Four people in a raft designed for eight can get tossed around inside like marbles in a spray can, leading to possible injuries when one crew lands on another. Switlick seems to build sturdy liferafts. The liferaft that came with our new-to-us boat was WWII surplus...
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Old 15-12-2019, 10:05   #12
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Re: Seeking Recommendations for Life raft

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wallaby View Post
While I cannot be certain, I am told that most (all) liferafts are made in China, and are packed in the 'country of origin'. Further, the biggest issue is getting any particular raft re-certified. If this is indeed the case, in the Eastern USA, you might check here; https://www.seasaferafts.com/
Depending on where you recertify your liferaft, it might cost almost as much as getting a new liferaft locally. There are several threads in Cruisers forum on this.

I was troubled by the recertification cost and availability when I had to decide for my liferaft. I ended up getting the Amel factory supplied liferaft. The brand is 4Water, which is popular in Europe. It turns out that the 4Water liferaft is a rebranded Sea-Safe liferaft, which is USA based company.

Just some more info...
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Old 15-12-2019, 10:47   #13
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Re: Seeking Recommendations for Life raft

Quote:
Originally Posted by gamayun View Post
I am finally going to bite the bullet this year and do it at the boat show that's in April. That should give me time to save up for something that I'm guessing is going to cost more than $5K for a 6-person life raft with the cradle, but the costs range widely. From my research last year, there were also several ratings groups to look for that corresponded to them being "offshore" (ISO 9650, etc.) versus coastal. Not sure why there are so many rating organizations on the different rafts. Anyway, I'll be very interested in following this thread.
Can I ask why a 6 man? A 6 man is very heavy, the 4 man is heavy, I'm figuring if I ever need it adrenaline should help
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Old 15-12-2019, 11:30   #14
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Re: Seeking Recommendations for Life raft

If you are sailing offshore with a 4 man crew you will find that the 4 man life raft is very small since you will be wearing foulies and should have a ditch bag and other gear. Remember that even with an EPIRB you may not be rescued within 24 hours. I carried a 6 man offshore life raft for 4 people when sailing to the Caribbean.
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Old 15-12-2019, 11:42   #15
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Re: Seeking Recommendations for Life raft

It seems to me that Siberian Sea has given some good advice. In any case, for our recent passage from Galveston, TX to St Petersburg, FL, we purchased the 6-man Viking RescYou ISO 9650-1 ISAF offshore raft in a valise. It weighs a little over 100 pounds which could be a consideration for some. We had 3 souls on board for our recent trip, we expect we'll have 3-4 occasionally in the future, and could have 5-6 rarely. The 6-man raft should also accommodate the two ditch bags we have assembled, it might be a little sturdier and more stable than a 4-man raft, and, being a little larger, it might be a little easier to spot. Viking has a network of almost 300 service stations globally.
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