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Old 24-01-2019, 06:53   #46
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

I've been plucked from a life raft twice, once in the Bering Sea and once in the North Atlantic and I wouldn't go far from shore without a proper, inspected life raft, survival suits and an EPIRB. In my opinion a dingy is a poor choice as life saving equipment, yes they float but so does a turd sometimes. If somehow you can be completely assured that it will always be nice calm weather maybe a dingy would work but I'm unaware of anyplace like that except a mill pond. Something to consider is that in bad weather a dingy or any hard item will beat the crap out of you in a few hours. Life rafts are no fun to be in either but at least you won't be bruised and beaten. Have you ever tried to get in a dingy from the water in an eight foot sea?
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Old 24-01-2019, 07:05   #47
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

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People get scared, feel unsafe with 2 feet of waters sloshing around in the boat and think they are safer in a life raft......

Probably life rafts have killed as many people as they have saved.
As with any tool it's on the user to understand it's correct use, that includes maintenance and stowage. If you buy a raft in a valise and stick it in a locker in the bow for eleven years and then when an emergency happens and you lose your head and your ancient unmaintained raft doesn't work it's not the rafts fault your dead.
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Old 24-01-2019, 07:13   #48
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

I agree with Martin R. It depends on the dinghy. I am using the Lyle Hess design, Fatty Knees 8' sailing dinghy to double as a lifeboat. It's designed to take ocean chop without flipping and unlike an inflatable life raft I can point it in the direction where I want to go. It has airlocks that prevent it from sinking and a dry locker in the bow. An added fbg splash dodger over the bow keeps water out and provides some shelter from the sun and cold. It can be difficult to board in open water, though my solution to this problem is simply to hang a few gallon size milk jugs that have screw-on caps off of the opposite beam as counterweight. These jugs double as my water rations.
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Old 24-01-2019, 07:50   #49
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

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What are you Guy’s calling dry suits?
Diving dry suits? Bag type or crushed neoprene?
I have an immersion suit (Gumby type) for the wife even though I never intend to be in less than tropical water, much cheaper than a diving dry suit, much easier to Don, and I think much better for survival at sea.
I left my diving dry suit at home, seals are by now bad I’m sure, they only last about three years.
This....
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Old 24-01-2019, 09:06   #50
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

https://youtu.be/523KJ8pp8DU
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Old 24-01-2019, 09:41   #51
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

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Depends on the dinghy. In my opinion in warm waters the dinghy is a viable option. In cold waters not so.

Once upon a time there were the Tinker Tramp and Traveller, which were convertible to a life raft. Tests showed they were less likely to capsize than real rafts. Raft design has moved on since then, though.

I was actually in charge of video-ing the tests, which pitted a Tinker against a modern Switlik liferaft. It was conducted in a gale in the 'Potato Patch" area, outside of San Francisco Bay and was sponsored by West Marine and Tinker. Chuck Hawley, who participates on this forum, was one of the testers.


The Tinker was improperly set-up, so inflation, normally quick, was a chore. But, after set-up was completed, several interesting things were demonstrated:



The Switlik capsized easily and frequently, despite all of its balast pockets. Entering it, whilst inverted, was challenging and righting it was even more so. Exhausting, in fact.


The Tinker's liferaft rig utilizes an inflated cover, sort of like an air mattress over a covered wagon. The idea is to attach it, uninflated, before serious offshore work. This had not been done, which caused problems, but when it finally was installed and then inflated, the rounded cover, in conjunction with the drogue, PREVENTED capsize! With much effort, the testers were able to invert it by maybe 130 degrees, but simply shifting weight, without ever getting out of the Tinker, righted it. In fact, this process drained it of water. It was much less daunting that the Switlik. At the end of the test, still in rough weather, the two testers raised the mast and sails, and sailed back under the Golden Gate Bridge, where they met the mother ship and the rest of the observers (we had a party of 10-12 onboard) at the marina. It's worth noting that conditions were sufficiently rough for all but two persons to have become sea-sick, and all were boaters, quite a few from the industry.


The next day, I bought a Tinker and sold my Avon life-raft. The Tinker was already well used and eventually died, after much excellent service as my boat's tender. Fortunately, I bought another, which I still have. It's not a bad sailor as it has a centerboard.


The Tinker was truly great at its multipurposes. It's a great shame they have gone out of fashion and are no longer built. The principle was so simple: You used it as a dinghy every day, so were intimately familiar with it; it did not require testing as the gas bottles could be filled by anyone with CO2, including a restaurant; the actual stories of people who had to use a Tinker as a liferaft would end with something like, " and then, five days later, I reached Portugal, under sail", rather than "a ship appeared 30 days later". This was in the days before the modern 406 EPIRB's.



The Tinker was by no means cheap. It was almost the most expensive inflatable dinghy, of its size. But it was cheaper than a regular inflatable plus a liferaft, effective, took less space, and was way more practical. It planed with a 4 Hp engine, too.



Sad that they are no longer an option. But don't think, for a minute, that they were not as safe as a liferaft. As Tinker would say, they were lifeboats, not liferafts. Ships can have lifeboats. Only space and weight challenged aircraft needed rafts. In fact, WWII planes were what inflatable liferafts were originally built for. And, the Tinker was fun to sail. In the UK, there used to be one design fleets!
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Old 24-01-2019, 09:53   #52
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

New Zealand authorities debated whether or not a kayak could be considered a liferaft despite the fact that I'm not required to have a liferaft and this only delayed me further putting me in a low pressure system I could have otherwise avoided which eventually damaged my boat from breaking waves.





There are some people who sailed from iceland to scotland in their sailing dingy as a test. It was unsinkable and possible to right and bail so I would say better than a normal inflatable liferaft. The same might also be considered of a kayak or any other craft that can be righted and paddled or sailed significant distances.
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Old 24-01-2019, 11:35   #53
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

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New Zealand authorities debated whether or not a kayak could be considered a liferaft despite the fact that I'm not required to have a liferaft and this only delayed me further putting me in a low pressure system I could have otherwise avoided which eventually damaged my boat from breaking waves.



.
As master of the vessel you are responsible for when you leave.
Surely you could have avoided the low by waiting until the next weather window?
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Old 24-01-2019, 13:42   #54
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

Thanks for the Wikipedia link. The article says "The inflatable raft became unusable after 16 days" (Wikipedia on the survival of the Robertson family and crew.) My recollection of the book was incorrect, the survival time was 38 days at sea before rescue.
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Old 24-01-2019, 14:22   #55
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

I feel in a storm that does your main ship in, that what we call "lifeboat" probably isn't.
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Old 25-01-2019, 20:13   #56
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

There are some cruising coastally in smaller boats who have decided that their boat will be their life boat. A sad story I know of has crafted my own thinking on this.
I am sailing coastally and out to local islands and though it is not far, it can get rough. One particularly rough day I crossed with a buddy in my 24' boat and a Coast Guard helicopter came down close to check us. They were looking for another 24' boat that tragically hadn't made it. It was an old Cal 24, with the swing keel, and the sailors, being out in the cockpit had apparently not noticed the boat filling up with water. In a boat like that with no fixed and heavy keel, as the boat fills and it's heeling, it can tend to stay on its side. Apparently they were able to send out a mayday, but there was no EPIRB signal and no sign of anything from the boat. It was presumed sunk and sure enough, the boat was eventually recovered by chance by a fishing boat trawling the bottom. After investigating, the theory was that in the rough conditions a battery or a scuba tank had fallen against a through-hull, breaking it, causing the boat to fill. The moral for me was that you don't need to strike something, be in a storm or be knocked down by an enormous wave to need a lifeboat, in a small boat anyway. As a result now I think in terms of: you have to have something and, whatever one has, it has to be something ready and easy and quick to deploy, easy to get into, has plenty of flotation even if swamped and definitely has an EPIRB or PLB at the ready, hopefully in a well-equipped ditch bag too. On the day I am speaking of, a hard dinghy would not have been a good choice.
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Old 26-01-2019, 02:41   #57
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

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. . . The moral for me was that you don't need to strike something, be in a storm or be knocked down by an enormous wave to need a lifeboat, in a small boat anyway.. .

Sailboats do sink from time to time.



Somewhat different topic, but it's surprising to me how little prepared for a flooding emergency many cruisers are.
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Old 26-01-2019, 06:13   #58
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

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Sailboats do sink from time to time.



Somewhat different topic, but it's surprising to me how little prepared for a flooding emergency many cruisers are.
Except the ones who had old wooden boats
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Old 26-01-2019, 06:21   #59
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

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Sailboats do sink from time to time.



Somewhat different topic, but it's surprising to me how little prepared for a flooding emergency many cruisers are.
Other than readily available plugs for all hull penetrations, a damage control kit, premade panels to replace broken windows and adequate pumps, manual as well as powered, what else is there? I have seen an inflatable sort of tube that when inflated partially filled the interior of the boat but I have no real information on those.
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Old 26-01-2019, 06:39   #60
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Re: A dinghy as a lifeboat

I have 2 pieces of rubberised sailcloth with eyelets in the corners I can use for fothering. Normally we use them as sunscreens for the pilot house windows.

I think this is a lot about mental preparedness. Having thought through what to do in different kind of emergencies. Not to panic with 2 feet of water sloshing around in the boat.
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