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Old 22-06-2009, 10:50   #16
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I think that is a personal decision subject to lots of debate. One of the factors is water temperature. In the higher latitudes, I would much rather be in a life raft, out of the water and in an enclosure than floating in the water grasping the side of an inverted catamaran. In the tropics it would be much less of a factor. If you have both a modern EPIRB and an Iridium phone, your wait time for rescue should be at most a few days. If you are in warm waters, you should be relatively okay until then.
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Old 22-06-2009, 11:22   #17
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This question of liferafts does come up occassionally. I cant remember did Hal and Margaret Roth have a liferaft? Lin and Larry Pardey? I know many of the prior sailors did not. I wonder if the Coast Guard or anyone like that keeps track of things like "how many boats/crew that go missing without a trace had liferafts?" I read books and tales about those that survived (not many books or tales!) but of course... how many didnt? It is said you should not enter a liferaft unless the water is above your knees.... if they are so safe why is that? Why not get out early? The obvious answer is that boats can often outperform people. The sailboat from the tale "the perfect storm" sailed itself ashore months later in North Carolina after the crewed abandoned it.... I'm trying to remember liferaft survivor tales of those that were actually in hurricanes etc.... not sure I remember any of those instances..? Last winter or the winter before, a crew on a fishing ship in the Bearing sea entered a raft in a storm when their mainship was sinking. They were soon dispatched into the water after the raft was tumbling down the face of waves like a soccer ball. Commercial raft. Only those who had managed to get their survival suits on prior survived.. not all of them either if I remember right....
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Old 22-06-2009, 13:26   #18
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Cheechako is correct - it is undoubtedly still (if not especially) wise in catamarans, just as in monohulls, to board a life raft only after the boat has submerged or broken up. I have installed four Wichard 12,500 lb. breaking strength ubolts with rubber boots on the inner topsides of my cat; in the unlikely event of a capsize, I intend to use these in order to fasten down the liferaft to the bottom of the bridgedeck as a sort of 'survival pod', as well as for attaching transverse jacklines. Only if the overturned bridgedeck submerges (or the boat breaks up) do I intend to separate and board the liferaft.

Brad
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Old 22-06-2009, 13:53   #19
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With tris the concept is to cut an access hole into the main hull & thereby inhabit it, albeit upside down. The two outer hulls manintain airtight integrity and the boat floats very high in the water.
Doesn't seem like you could cut an access panel in a cat & maintain as high a profile after losing that airtightness.
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Old 22-06-2009, 23:47   #20
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With tris the concept is to cut an access hole into the main hull & thereby inhabit it, albeit upside down. The two outer hulls manintain airtight integrity and the boat floats very high in the water.
Doesn't seem like you could cut an access panel in a cat & maintain as high a profile after losing that airtightness.
Randy, you're aware French charter and all other professionally made cats have these already? ... tongaboys
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Old 23-06-2009, 03:52   #21
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I have installed four Wichard 12,500 lb. breaking strength ubolts with rubber boots on the inner topsides of my cat; in the unlikely event of a capsize, I intend to use these in order to fasten down the liferaft to the bottom of the bridgedeck as a sort of 'survival pod', as well as for attaching transverse jacklines. Only if the overturned bridgedeck submerges (or the boat breaks up) do I intend to separate and board the liferaft.
That is damn smart thinking Brad. A very handy spot should you find yourself up the wrong way.

And I like the last line as well. You always step UP into a liferaft and you never leave your boat, it leaves you. Been too many case down here recently where people have got off and the boat is found a long time later still floating comfortably.

Would I always carry a liferaft? Probably, they could be a handy tool when all goes very bad. But these days with many boats about the only way they will leave you is by burning to the waterline, also more and more will just never sink. So I can see cases where maybe a liftraft could be nearly pointless.

If buying one now the inspection period would be something I'd be looking at hard. Those inspections can cost big sometimes.
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Old 23-06-2009, 05:45   #22
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As Tongaboys pointed out, most modern catamarans already have these hatches. In French boats, it is required. It is interesting that they even comes with a bar that spans across the two latches to secure it from accidentally being opened and as a lock. But, if one examines the bar, it becomes apparent that if the boat is inverted, the bar slips off the handles and essentially "unlocks" the "escape" (really entry hatches). Pretty cool!

Brad, thanks! I had no idea of the purpose of those eye bolts on the bottom of my bridge deck! Now, I know! The PDQ may already have them also. The PDQ does have entry hatches.

If I were going offshore, I would, whether I took a life raft or not, set up my RIB as a survival platform also. I seem to recall an assessment by the Coast Guard about RIB being in many way (NOT ALL) superior to a life raft. I'd probably rig it with a sea anchor, ballast and cover. Not that difficult to do and it provides additional options. Then, I'd think hard about the life raft. Definitely an additional EPIRB though!

Cheers,

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Old 23-06-2009, 14:16   #23
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I have installed four Wichard 12,500 lb. breaking strength ubolts with rubber boots on the inner topsides of my cat; in the unlikely event of a capsize, I intend to use these in order to fasten down the liferaft to the bottom of the bridgedeck as a sort of 'survival pod', as well as for attaching transverse jacklines.
Brad
Good idea but if you have already flipped it is probably very windy. In what kind of winds do you expect that you will you be able to inflate your raft, hold it down and tie it to the ubolts?
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Old 23-06-2009, 14:46   #24
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All this theorizing about life rafts presumes that there is a 100% success rate of their deployment and continued and sustained inflation.

Other than anecdotal evidence, I have not been able to find statistics of failure rates of life rafts. With confidence however, I accept that the failure rate is some number greater than 0%. I'll leave it for others on this forum to provide that number.

Perhaps, we should be looking at a less failure prone Plan B. Or even a Plan C.
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Old 24-06-2009, 02:02   #25
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Interesting point neelie. I read somewhere recently that a pile of cruisers (20 odd from memory, it was quite a few) had to get all their rafts serviced at about the same time. They decided to pop them all for some practice so chucked them in and pulled the string.

The spooky part was something like 30% failed to inflate. Another pile failed to fully inflate and some inflated but leaked excessively. There was only something like 25% that did actually work as expected. NOTE: I don't fully remember the numbers but do remember the ones that work correctly were the minority and it was somewhat spooky. I'll see if I can find where I read it.

I've popped 5 now, none in vengeance, and all worked fine. One was 6 years past due service date. I banged off a 24man Navy one 2 years ago, that was fun and very very loud. Spend 3 hours (and quite a few beers) floating up Auckland Harbour in it and only one boat came along side to see if we were OK. Many waved as they went passed though We found that somewhat sad.
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Old 24-06-2009, 06:37   #26
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Anders, the strength of the wind will not effect the inflation of the liferaft and the overturned hulls will actually provide some shelter from both wind and waves. The idea is, as always, to tether the life raft to one of the ubolts when inflating; thereafter attaching the other lines and pulling them tight should not prove too difficult (although obviously the lines should not be too short).

Brad
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Old 24-06-2009, 10:22   #27
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GMac:

I believe you are referring to the Blog by Beth Leonard and Evans Starzinger Seamanship.
Two circumnavigations and no liferaft. Their take is interesting.

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Old 24-06-2009, 11:41   #28
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Cheechako is correct - it is undoubtedly still (if not especially) wise in catamarans, just as in monohulls, to board a life raft only after the boat has submerged or broken up. I have installed four Wichard 12,500 lb. breaking strength ubolts with rubber boots on the inner topsides of my cat; in the unlikely event of a capsize, I intend to use these in order to fasten down the liferaft to the bottom of the bridgedeck as a sort of 'survival pod', as well as for attaching transverse jacklines. Only if the overturned bridgedeck submerges (or the boat breaks up) do I intend to separate and board the liferaft.

Brad
Brad,

I like the concept and have thought of doing the same but I am concerned that unless there was a lot of elasticity in the attachment lines that wave motion might create large forces that could damage the raft at the attachment points. Maybe a long painter or bridle that would allow you to lie in the lee of your boat would be less stress on the liferaft?

Mike
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Old 24-06-2009, 12:12   #29
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I have had the same concerns, Mike, although take some comfort from the following:

1. Many if not most offshore certified rafts are either equipped with, or designed to use a sea anchor - surely the stresses of that upon the attachment point at the liferaft would also be quite significant.
2. Inflatables can be hoisted and towed from rings attached to them at significant speed and under significant pressure for significant periods without failure.
3. Using 4 (or 8, if the lines are doubled-up) attachment points on the raft and nylon line should keep the stresses at acceptable levels; regardless, regular inspections for chafe/failure would enable you to do exactly what you suggest, if there are any signs of imminent failure.
4. Once things calm down, the inverted bridgedeck/hulls should provide a reasonably stable platform.

Here are some other potential advantages to this strategy:

1. Liferafts can and do capsize with the potential for injury to occupants; I would suggest that the risk of an inverted multihull doing the same would be substantially less.
2. Having a solid deck with jacklines in conjunction with the liferaft would make searching for ships/aircraft, fishing, firing off flares etc. much more comfortable and safe. Indeed, it would permit the opportunity to actually stretch your legs, something that is impossible in a liferaft.
3. A liferaft on an inverted bridgedeck should be much easier to spot by aircraft than a raft alone (and I have left the underside of my bridgedeck the original white gelcoat so that there would be significant contrast with the liferaft, when deployed).
4. Finally, ingress/egress from the liferaft should be much easier/safer when inflated on the bridgedeck.

Have I ever had the opportunity to test this out? No, and for obvious reasons I hope to never have the opportunity. Still, I am firm in my belief that we must all develop strategies in order to cope with worst case scenarios before they arise. This is mine.

Brad
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Old 24-06-2009, 14:05   #30
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By experience, in a cyclone, a liferaft will fly off like an air baloon and a survival suit or a neoprene diver suit become a necessity.
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