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Old 01-11-2009, 09:06   #31
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knocking the ORC cat 0 or cat 1 safety guidelines is nuts! these are an excellent blueprint for safety... and certainly knowledgable skippers can add/subtract/modify based on their experience and their boat.

estarzinger sums it up well -- there are trade-offs. small boats (25-50') can take a real beating on a bluewater passage, and that beating takes a real toll on everything on deck. life rafts are EXPENSIVE to buy, and can be costly to maintain. you definitely want them to work first time/everytime should you ever need them. if you have a secure, vented, well-drained locker... you're in great shape. if not, keeping a valise below extends its life and improves reliability significantly. when taking off on blue water voyage, the valise (and your ditch bag) should find their way to the companionway or some other suitable spot. if things get seriously bad, you can then move the raft & ditchbag into a more convenient position proactively.

naysayers should observe the servicing of a deck-mounted liferaft (from a small boat) after it has made a significant bluewater passage, or a year or so cruising.
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Old 01-11-2009, 19:38   #32
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Sorry to offend anyone about the racing safety rules since to me “Racing” and “Safety” is an oxymoron. When I read the compromises put into the life raft section it just confirmed that. Commercial safety regulations are not so wishy washy and we are talking about liveaboard cruisers, not weekend sailors

David M explains well the hydrostatic release and I can only say that if they failed on deck it was due to poor securing and design.

The only weather maintenance issue of life rafts is if you allow “wicking” to induce moisture inside the waterproof container from the deployment painter. There are ways to prevent that and the rest is totally sealed.

Obviously you have to live with what you have but the OP asked what to do if you had a choice.

Since he asked …my opinion:

On a small sailboat. An open protected rack near the stern designed for easy manual deployment as well as Hydro release.

And…This is the only raft I would buy for going offshore:
Givens Buoy Life Rafts - Safety Equipment & Liferafts
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Old 01-11-2009, 19:48   #33
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Our Privilege 39 had a special locker for the liferaft in the back of the cockpit. The locker could be opened from the top for deployment, or if the catamaran was inverted, the locker could be opened from the underside. We kept our valise in that locker, and we were happy that we had two different ways to gain access to the raft in the event of an emergency.
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Old 02-11-2009, 05:23   #34
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Quote:
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“Racing” and “Safety” is an oxymoron.

I once had a very experienced racing friend describe racing to me as "practicing poor seamanship as quickly as possible". He was obviously joking but there is a gain of truth to it. But that's why the Offshore reg are so carefully constructed - to be sure the safety fundamentals are clear and enforced. You should really read them sometime.

On a small sailboat. An open protected rack near the stern designed for easy manual deployment as well as Hydro release.

That's a fine opinion and I have no reason or interest in changing it, but for the sake of discussion, let me ask you two questions:

1. If you get seriously knocked down (say over by 120 degrees or more), but you and your boat are fine, do you want your raft to pop free (and then inflate when the cord tugs on it)? I would prefer that not happen.

2. In theory all the marine equipment we buy is high quality and watertight and in theory we all do exactly proper maintenance and in theory we never f&*k up like dropping an anchor or spin pole on a foredeck raft - but in your real-world sailing has that been your experience? Or have you had stuff unexpectedly break and made your own screw-ups? I prefer to plan as much as possible for what I consider the inevitable failures and screw-ups and to try to minimize their impact. Putting a raft in an easy to access but protected locker is a way to protect a serious safety investment from the possible real-world screw-ups.

And…This is the only raft I would buy for going offshore: Givens

Unfortunately, word on the street is that Givens has a serious cash flow problem, and is not delivering rafts that have been paid for. You might want to add Winslow to your short list.

Lengthen message
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Old 02-11-2009, 05:30   #35
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... I was wondering what the members think about the placement of the liferaft, i.e. outside in a mount or inside the vessel, as well as your reasons why ...
Would not a quick call to one or more liferaft manufacturing companies be a reasonable first step?
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Old 02-11-2009, 08:37   #36
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There seems to be a little confusion about what a hydrostatic release actually does. A hydrostatic release disconnects the raft from its mount after the boat has sunk to a specific depth, from 1.5 to 4 meters, depending on where the manufacturer set the release depth. The release itself does not inflate the raft. The raft floating to the surface pulling on the painter, pulling on the CO2 trigger inflates the raft. After the raft inflates, where the painter attaches to the boat, a weak link parts preventing the sinking boat from pulling the inflated raft underwater.

A hydrostatic release is part of a fully automated system that will deploy a raft without human intervention, provided there are no problems such as the raft snagging in the rigging. With this system you can of course manually release the hydrostatic release and deploy a raft before the boat goes under.
Hydrostatic release can fail easly. I have seen hydrostatic release becoming inoperative in their first year, made of alloy, they oxide easly seizing the plunger, the bleed holes will block themselves. Any sign of external corrosion and they should be overhauled frequently (3 month max.) and at least as experienced when the ship sink and they operate it give the satisfaction of a job well done even if the rafts does not deploy.
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Old 02-11-2009, 08:52   #37
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Sorry to offend anyone about the racing safety rules since to me “Racing” and “Safety” is an oxymoron. When I read the compromises put into the life raft section it just confirmed that. Commercial safety regulations are not so wishy washy and we are talking about liveaboard cruisers, not weekend sailors
pelagic, whatever your thoughts on liferafts... you lost me at "racing and safety are oxymoron's. sure, there are idiots out doing anything & everything, but my 40 years of sailing tell me that blue water sailboat racers are generally at the pinnacle of our sport.
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Old 02-11-2009, 09:50   #38
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Quote:
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I honestly have to laugh, when sailors start quoting “racing safety regulations” made by a bunch of guys sitting around the yacht club bar making up some rules that will keep their member happy............

However experienced you are, surely the comment is a bit one eyed?

Most who define racing rules and safety at sea standards are not actually doing it to 'make members happy' but to make the sport just as safe as it can be.

The collective wisdom of those who go sailing on small boats and the modification of safety rules based on events and outcomes is exactly the kind of background I think we all benefit by taking experience from.

And IMHO most people making such judgements have multiple hours at sea in bad weather usually on the same boats they write rules for, and it ensures the rulings are practical and not based on the wrong principles.

For instance, someone with commercial or military sailing experience may see hydrostatic releases as being invaluable.
Quite understandable if they had gained experience on bigger vessels (where you need to get off pronto usually due to an accident and rarely in heavy seas) where such devices are fitted to rafts which have nothing set above them to prevent deployment if the boat sunk.

On a small yacht where one invariably wants an ability to step off into a liferaft when the vessel is sinking - and usually this happens in heavy weather - and it is hard to find a fixing location for the raft where it will be guarantted to float free if auto inflated underwater - then manual deployment has to be your goal.

Plus remember if you've not got a hydrostatic release then you do not risk an accidental inflation when / if the boat were swamped with a big sea.

So back to the first question.

1. IMHO above deck is better than below deck - for obvious access reasons.
2. IMHO inside railing better than outside on either side - due to risk of being swept off by big seas / broaching etc. But suggest transom mounted outside would not take same risks even though weight not best placed there.
3. IMHO better on deck than in locker - deck is easier to get to if the oba tis bouncing around.
4. Meaning I am left with deck mounted or inside transom mounted, in hard case, as close as can be reached from cockpit, as the spot I'd always choose.

Good question. Good luck with assessing the options - and let us hope you never need to use that raft!

Cheers
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Old 02-11-2009, 16:20   #39
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Most who define racing rules and safety at sea standards are not actually doing it to 'make members happy' but to make the sport just as safe as it can be.

Used to be the case, now they are making sure the organizers arses are covered if they ger sued.





On a small yacht where one invariably wants an ability to step off into a liferaft when the vessel is sinking -

Not always true, I'm no big fan of liferafts, a well prepared alternative can be an improvement.

and usually this happens in heavy weather -

Not really, far fewer boats are overwhelmed by weather than are lost by bad navigation, lots of boats are abandoned in reasonably benign conditions for other reasons, personally, if the weather is too much for your well found cruiser then the liferaft is a pretty dodgy alternative.
Just an opinion
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Old 02-11-2009, 18:07   #40
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I honestly have to laugh, when sailors start quoting “racing safety regulations” made by a bunch of guys sitting around the yacht club bar making up some rules that will keep their member happy.
If you believe the above to be the case, you are, I feel, sadly mistaken. Go read the ISAF Special Regs for Offshore Racing (especially Cat 1) and then tell me that these were made up by a bunch of guys at a yacht club bar.

If I am unsure about a point of safety, the racing regs are not, in my opinion, a bad place to start from
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Old 02-11-2009, 18:12   #41
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Hydrostatic release can fail easly. I have seen hydrostatic release becoming inoperative in their first year, made of alloy, they oxide easly seizing the plunger, the bleed holes will block themselves. Any sign of external corrosion and they should be overhauled frequently (3 month max.) and at least as experienced when the ship sink and they operate it give the satisfaction of a job well done even if the rafts does not deploy.
On commercial vessels they are required to be serviced once per year. Because something has the possibility of failing, does not make it worthless.
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Old 03-11-2009, 03:06   #42
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In the cockpit

Not sure if this has already been mentioned but I have always liked the idea of stowing the liferaft in the cockpit under the tiller. Of course only works for tiller steered boats which are usually the smaller yachts.

Given these boats also have the least available space (on deck or below), putting it in the cockpit has IMO, some merit.

The area under the tiller (aft end) is often unusable anyway, the liferaft is not as exposed as on the deck, still accessable and it reduces cockpit volume.

Yes, of course there is the potential for water ingress if (when) the cockpit is flooded but there is a down side to every option.

FWIW, I notice this is the position used on Pink Lady.
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Old 03-11-2009, 04:24   #43
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... I was wondering what the members think about the placement of the liferaft, i.e. outside in a mount or inside the vessel ...
I suspect this limits the discussion to valise-packed rafts. I have not encountered an installation where a cannister-packed raft was carried below, although cannisters are sometimes stowed in purpose-built enclosures on deck on larger yachts. FWIW, and this is a bit afield in this thread, I have never encountered a commercial grade raft in anything other than a hard cannister. Is there a message of some sort being transmitted here? Whether for economic or space reasons, are yachts using valise-packed rafts getting short shrift safety-wise?
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