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Old 07-01-2010, 09:56   #1
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Liferaft Question

Hi. I am new to this forum and I hope this question is in the right place. I will be moving a Catalina 34 that my nephew and I just bought with a small crew from Long Island to the Chesapeake. I suggested that we rent a liferaft for the offshore cruise down the New Jersey coast but the others think that I am being overcautious. The plan is to make a direct overnight run from New York Harbor to Cape May running about 15 miles offshore. They feel that having an inflatable is enough but to my thinking it would be useless unless we towed it and even then it's usability is questionable in unforeseen circumstances. I have no experience sailing offshore (all lake sailing) but some of the other guys do.
My question is am I being overcautious?
Thanks
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Old 07-01-2010, 10:06   #2
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Can you really be overcautious?

Let's weigh the factors:

You have no experience offshore.
It's winter. It's cold and the seas are rougher.
It's your boat, and you're the Master.

I don't see the problem. Are some of your crew "offended" because you want to have a liferaft aboard? Tell them to get over it.
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Old 07-01-2010, 10:11   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loner View Post
Hi. I am new to this forum and I hope this question is in the right place. I will be moving a Catalina 34 that my nephew and I just bought with a small crew from Long Island to the Chesapeake. I suggested that we rent a liferaft for the offshore cruise down the New Jersey coast but the others think that I am being overcautious. The plan is to make a direct overnight run from New York Harbor to Cape May running about 15 miles offshore. They feel that having an inflatable is enough but to my thinking it would be useless unless we towed it and even then it's usability is questionable in unforeseen circumstances. I have no experience sailing offshore (all lake sailing) but some of the other guys do.
My question is am I being overcautious?
Thanks
If you are the Captain, don't ever let other people talk you out of doing what you feel is needed for safety. If you feel it is right or needed get it done. It is one of the great joys and burdens of being Captain - the responsibility and authority are really both all yours.

But to debate the point a little . . . would the inflatable fit (with the jib flying) lashed on the foredeck inflated? Do you have a good fixed and hand held VHF and handheld gps (to tell uscg where you are)? So, long as you can make the distress call, you can get rescued pretty fast along that coast, so you would not be in the inflatable/raft very long.
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Old 07-01-2010, 10:11   #4
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Thanks for the reply. We are planning

to move the boat at the end of April or early May after some shakedown/drill cruises in Long Island Sound.
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Old 07-01-2010, 10:19   #5
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I am not the captain on this trip as.....

I am a minority owner. My nephew is the majority owner. That's another topic. At the end of the day if I spring for the raft no one is going to complain.
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Old 07-01-2010, 10:35   #6
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I live and sail in the area you are planning on transiting. Had a friends 27" Cape Dory 15 miles off the coast of Jersey last October, 3am in 6'-8' very short seas with the winds gusting upper 20's. we were under full sail and couldn't reef because my partner was deathly seasick. I ended up breaking the solid teak cockpit coamimg with my back after getting thrown against it. We had discussed getting a liferaft but decided against it due to expense and weather forcast was for moderate conditions. In retrospect it was a very foolish decision. My Father used to say a person can drown in a glass of water. If you check the water temps for the time of year you will be traveling you will see it is still cold enough to kill in a short period of time. Used liferafts are for sail all the time, Ebay and may make more sense for you in the long run over renting.
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Old 07-01-2010, 11:31   #7
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If you get a used life raft be sure to get it re packed/serviced...around here that costs $100
I have one and get much comfort in knowing its there.
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Old 07-01-2010, 12:08   #8
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Loner,
I struggled with this question as well. In the end, I purchased a liferaft even though I doubted that "I" would be inclined to use it especially since we sail on an "unsinkable" catamaran (still a risky gamble in the event of a fire). In the end, the reason I went ahead with the raft was because I never wanted to face a crewmember's spouse's attorney in court having justify why I thought that crewmember's life/health wasn't worth a liferaft. I can think of many issues that make it difficult for the captain to sleep while on passage with other's lives in their care. I decided that this was on less worry. But that's just me.
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Old 07-01-2010, 12:18   #9
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I am going to go ahead and insist on the liferaft.

I have sailed long enough to know that anything can happen at any time and the last thing I want to think about is "If Only I had...."
We are planning on keeping the boat on the Chesapeake probably around the Patapsco river.
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Old 07-01-2010, 13:12   #10
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Here's to a safe trip and restful sleep! Maybe see you on the Bay. We are on the Magothy just south of the Patapsco. By the way, I have a Plastimo 3 year old, never used, kept indoors, six man, coastal that I am looking to sell cheap. It needs to be serviced, though.
PM me if you are interested.
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Old 07-01-2010, 14:35   #11
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You would do more for your safety to spend the same money on taking an experienced person along for the ride, you'd learn a bit as well wth luck.
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Old 07-01-2010, 14:57   #12
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I'm not experienced offshore but some of....

the other guys are. I do expect to learn a lot on the trip.
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Old 07-01-2010, 23:48   #13
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Enjoy your new boat! I am a fan of life rafts, even for close in coastal cruising and have no problem with a direct run from Sandy Hook to Cape May...that said...
If you are going to be cruising the Chesapeake after your delivery, and you don't want to spend the money(even to rent a raft) you might want to break the trip into 2 daylight runs and
put into Barnegat Inlet(about half way) and spend the night.
Then on the second day, if weather and current are favorable
you can continue into the night up the Delaware Bay for a while.
You won't need to sail 15 miles from the coast, max of 5-7 miles will keep you west(out) of the traffic lanes. 15 miles out you will be sailing in the traffic lanes, and then you will have to cross
into/over the north bound traffic lanes as you make for the
bay entrance on a southwest heading.
In the end wind/weather conditions and how well the crew is doing, usually decide if we are to sail through the night....and hopefully not a schedule.
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Old 08-01-2010, 04:34   #14
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While you're at it, rent an EPIRB from BoatUS. Cheap insurance.
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Old 08-01-2010, 06:37   #15
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Loner,
You've got it right. Going out in the ocean, take a liferaft. Don't know how much it costs to rent one as we have our own Switlik 6-man raft, but whatever it is you'll be buying at the very least peace of mind and at the most, your lives. An inflatable is not a liferaft and towing any dinghy in the ocean IMHO is a very poor idea. Also go with Hud's suggestion and rent an EPIRB. And make sure you have harnesses, tethers and jacklines set up. Our rule and I expect that of many others on this forum is that you don't come on deck when your sailing in the ocean without hooking up to a jackline.
The fact is you might not really need any of this. I sincerely hope you have sunny skies, moderate wind and following seas but it never pays to igniore safety.
And I think that a course close in to the Jersey shore should be reconsidered. A look at the charts will show you that there a just a few places to run to on that coast and in bad weather your boat might not have enough power to get through some of the inlets. What you're going to need is sea room (Any Jersey folks on the forum who can give yea or nay on this?)
On my way up to Cape Cod I've always kept well offshore and not only because I was aiming for the end of Long Island. Lee shores with no place to run just scare me.
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