The decision to carry (or not) a life raft is a most deeply personal one, with which you and your crew must be unequivocally comfortable. There are a number of rational factors you can consider; but (in the end) you (both/all) must be EMOTIONALLY satisfied with your ultimate decision. This is what makes this an almost impossible question to debate.
Among the factors you might consider:
Your intended cruising itinerary:
passages increase the likelihood of being “caught” by surprise in bad weather
, and the likely “time to rescue” in the event of disater.
Shorter inshore & semi-protected passages are easier to plan weather-windows, and you could be forgiven were you to expect rescue
within shorter time-frames.
More vessels are lost
on “hard” stuff, than on open water
. It might be more likely that you require a good dinghy
to reach a nearby safe shore; than a life-raft in which to survive a long/difficult time adrift.
Weight & space are valuable commodities aboard.
Is it practical to stow a life-raft on your boat? Depending upon your comfort level with foregoing the life-raft, this may help determine the suitability of the boat for your intended purpose(s). Many small vessels have made successful trans-oceanic passages (w/out rafts). In fact, I think the limiting factor in deciding boat-size (assuming a well found, suitable design) is usually it’s load-carrying ability.
Cost is almost always a factor.
What would you have to do without, in order to purchase
& maintain a raft? This boils down to a “value” choice. Which item(s) offer me higher value?
Self-confidence & Overconfidence:
Some sailors have a greater confidence in being able to deal with “anything”, than do others. This may be justified, or not. You could be forgiven for assuming that your very high skill-set will provide a large safety
net. I’ve arrogantly done so, to my ultimate disappointment.
Remember that “Murphy’s Law” is ALWAYS in play, and be prepared to accept the consequences. If you cannot accept the unlikely proposition that you may die in a very-unlikely sinking (fire, whatever) - then you NEED a life-raft, or you need to stay ashore. (This sends us back to the emotional comfort level).
I (personally) would not require a life-raft on any boat valued at less than $250,000 - but that’s where MY comfort level lies.
may mitigate the hazards of choosing "wronge".
The original posting
suggested rather longish offshore
passages, from New Brunswick to the Caribbean
, aboard a 35' Catamaran
, with lots of internal floatation. I would not consider this vessel anywhere near unsinkable. Nor would I consider a life-raft absolutely essential. I too, would be concerned with the weight & space problems associated with a raft.
In your case, you would have to sell the raft, to achieve an offsetting economic benefit. The selling price
will have to be factored in (too low a local value - too low a cost-benefit).
If you are looking for external justification and support, for (either) preconceived conclusion - then please re-examine your arguments. You may not yet be comfortable with that decision.
Remember, always step “UP” into a life-raft.