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Old 21-06-2009, 09:16   #1
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Do Catamarans Need Liferafts ?

"Indigo," our Antares 44 is preparing to go coastal (Sea of Cortez) then off-shore next year. She has crash boxes at both bow and stern and we have an 11 foot RIB.

The question is do we buy a liferaft - one school of thought is that because cats rarely sink we don't need one . . . . but what to do in the event of a fire ?

Any thoughts appreciated.

Paul and Maureen on "Indigo"
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Old 21-06-2009, 09:24   #2
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Fire is a good enough reason, especially in areas with less sophisticated Search and Rescue capabilities. The Antares can handle the extra burden, but remember that the cost of a liferaft includes regular maintenance and recertification.

A good bit of thought should also go into your ditch kit, which is equally important. Read a few survival stories for ideas.
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Old 21-06-2009, 09:52   #3
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I wouldn't go off shore with out a life raft. A good life raft should not flip in heavy seas in a storm and offer more protection than a dinghy from the elements. I do not cureently have one for sailing between the island here, but rescue assests are near by. It really comes down to the value of your life. The unexpected can happen.
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Old 21-06-2009, 09:56   #4
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Fire is the main reason why a cat needs a liferaft.
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Old 21-06-2009, 10:27   #5
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Personal choice I guess. Life is not without risks. One could say if living without risk is a goal, dont go sailing offshore. At what point have you minimised the risk adequately? Do you ever drive the freeway in a small car instead of an SUV? If so, you have probably already risked your life more than going without the raft. What are the odds that you will have a boat fire and be in the middle of a big storm at the same time? If you have a boat fire that you cant stop with extinguishers, what are the odds that it will actually be a propane explosion giving you little time to use the life raft? Would you be better to put some money into auto fire extinguishers? I guess no one can make those decisions but you. If by going offshore you mean crossing the Pacific, I would proably have one. Carribean and coastal Mexico and Central America? Maybe not.
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Old 21-06-2009, 10:37   #6
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It's only a personal choice if you are sailing alone!
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Old 21-06-2009, 13:08   #7
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A catamaran makes an excellent life raft. Just get rid of the electrical system, diesel fuel, and propane and you'll be fine without a conventional life raft.
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Old 21-06-2009, 13:27   #8
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(cats make excellent life rafts) until they tip over
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Old 21-06-2009, 13:35   #9
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(cats make excellent life rafts) until they tip over
When they tip over, they become the most expensive life rafts in the world.
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Old 21-06-2009, 13:48   #10
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Cats and Liferafts

Interesting feedback thank you !

So the conversation shifts to what characteristics should we look for and what brands should we review.

For our needs we would be considering a 6 person low profille canister with good ballast/self righting capability. Is a hydrostatic device worth considering or is an adrenaline boosted crew-member with a lanyard sufficient ?

Paul
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Old 21-06-2009, 13:51   #11
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Sometime it may make you feel better knowing that you have a life raft on board, even though that you have doubt about it’s performance. But at least you wont be blamed for not having one.
Been a cat then you are not supposed to sink so may be the hydrostatic device is not required.
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Old 21-06-2009, 22:10   #12
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I don't know how the hydrostatic-release works in a life raft, but you should look into it to avoid mistakes, such as the one I made:

I bought an EPIRB in a hydrostatic-release housing and discovered from reading the manual that it doesn't release until it's 12 feet underwater. My boat is unsinkable even if you cut it into pieces, and the maker says it will float at or near the hull-deck joint if inverted or all hulls flooded (improbable). So it would NEVER deploy, even if we flipped, sank or had a fire.

Now the hydrostatic-release housing sits on a closet shelf in my house and the EPIRB sits loose on a shelf in my boat.
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Old 22-06-2009, 03:25   #13
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... but what to do in the event of a fire ...
Fire aboard is only one, of many, scenarios in which the answer to “what if” is: “(in all likelihood) we die”.

I the first instance, I recommend that the prudent cruiser take every measure to mitigate the likelihood of these disasters occurring. This would include a careful survey of every source of combustion, ensuring robust construction & “fail-safe” design; and the preparation of (and adherence to) safe operating practices.

In the second instance, I suggest we prepare to mitigate the damages caused when disasters occur. This would include the installation of fire detection systems, and redundant fire suppression equipment; and education/training on it’s effective use.

Only when the prevention and cure issues had been dealt with, to the best of my ability (and sitisfaction), would I devote any resources to escape mechanisms.
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Old 22-06-2009, 03:48   #14
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(cats make excellent life rafts) until they tip over
Gee what a nonsensical comment, real bright spark mate...lol lol
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Old 22-06-2009, 05:43   #15
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IF you think capsize on a cruising cat is possible and that is part of your reason...

for having a raft, put it somewhere accessable when inverted.

Auto-inflate on the deck is going to be very cute.... when that is the bottom side.

I think I would chose manual inflate and mount it on the stern rail area. Sturdily.
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