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Old 11-01-2023, 17:22   #1
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Do I Really Need a Life Raft?

I'm just starting my second year as a seasonal Caribbean cruiser, on a Privilege 435 catamaran.

Everything I've seen or read so far says to stay with the catamaran in the event of any type of catastrophe. The boat won't sink, it's a stable platform, and is more visible to searchers than a life raft.

Any rational reason I shouldn't ditch the (out of date) raft and enjoy the reduced weight and extra storage?
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Old 11-01-2023, 17:55   #2
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Re: Do I Really Need a Life Raft?

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Originally Posted by RBCurtis View Post
I'm just starting my second year as a seasonal Caribbean cruiser, on a Privilege 435 catamaran.

Everything I've seen or read so far says to stay with the catamaran in the event of any type of catastrophe. The boat won't sink, it's a stable platform, and is more visible to searchers than a life raft.

Any rational reason I shouldn't ditch the (out of date) raft and enjoy the reduced weight and extra storage?
Fire.

Thatís the wildcard here.
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Old 11-01-2023, 18:09   #3
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Re: Do I Really Need a Life Raft?

If you have a raft keep it. Paying to recertify it maybe not. I donated my old one last year and the group triggered it. All worked well but the granola energy bars tasted like vomit. It was six years past it’s date.
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Old 11-01-2023, 18:25   #4
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Re: Do I Really Need a Life Raft?

I'll repeat the comment: Fire.

Even been in a boat that's on fire? I'll tell you first hand it's scary. I mean REALLY scary, and your chances of putting it out are really, really small.

The chances of my boat sinking due to flooding are, while not zero, so small I'd stake my life on them. But I still have a liferaft that I recertify on schedule. Because: Fire.

How far can you swim?
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Old 11-01-2023, 18:34   #5
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What's wrong with a dinghy/rib.. launch off the stern davits and motor to a safe distance.. store a 25litre tank in it and it may even get you to the shore.
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Old 11-01-2023, 18:59   #6
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Re: Do I Really Need a Life Raft?

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Fire.

Thatís the wildcard here.
Good point. I must say I wasnít thinking of a boat in flames.
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Old 11-01-2023, 19:14   #7
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Re: Do I Really Need a Life Raft?

The question with a liferaft, as with all safety tools, is: what is the real risk assessment, what is your risk tolerance, and are the benefits worth the negatives (cost vs benefit). In this case the negatives are cost, storage space, and a rather difficult-to-define issue about how having one might change a person's approach risk*.

So it's not about whether something might happen (like a fire). It's about the risks, and the cost-benefit.

*On this last factor, someone else posted this elsewhere, but it is directly relevant: https://theconversation.com/the-safe...endency-190527
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Old 11-01-2023, 19:31   #8
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Re: Do I Really Need a Life Raft?

No. You will die sometime in the next 25 to 75 years anyway. Who cares if its a bit early.

Enjoy!
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Old 11-01-2023, 19:33   #9
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Re: Do I Really Need a Life Raft?

"The boat won't sink" is the type of belief that causes people to die. Catastrophes happen. "Unsinkable" boats do sink. You hit a shipping container that rips a hole the entire length of one hull. A fast mono hits you broadside. The boat breaks up on a reef. I agree with Greenwave, if you have a raft it would be be silly to get rid of it. If you have any service history of the raft, you might be able to estimate what the next service is. Sometimes it is just replacing expired food, inspecting, and repacking. You could probably safely skip that, just know that the food/water will be bad. Other services will include pressure testing, testing the CO2 cylinder etc. Those are more expensive, and you probably shouldn't skip those. (Just MHO, if you want to be sure, don't skip any service)

A 42 ft. cat is a lot of boat. On a small boat, say 30' or less, there is actually a good argument against a life raft. Someone on a small boat almost always has a small budget. And storage is much less, and even without a raft usually a real problem. So, in order to have a life raft, you must give something else up. Maybe the choice is between replacing below the waterline hoses or a life raft. Maybe it is replacing 20 year old rigging. Maybe the liferaft storage is giving up a bigger first aid kit, another fire extinguisher, emergency repair supplies or food. Balancing the odds, it is better to spend money and storage on keeping the boat in good order and crew safe than on a raft.

On a 42' cat, none of those apply to you. I also disagree with using a dinghy as a liferaft. Catastrophes happen in bad weather/seas.
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Old 11-01-2023, 20:04   #10
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Re: Do I Really Need a Life Raft?

If it is just you onboard then having/not having a raft is a personal choice. If other people are onboard I think, as captain, you have a responsibility to them. At least keep the old raft. you didn't say how out of date your raft is. I would be happier to know it was current.
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Old 12-01-2023, 00:29   #11
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Re: Do I Really Need a Life Raft?

I’m just sort of baffled how expensive it is to recertify vs buying a new one for the cheaper coastal life rafts. It’s sort of a frustrating cost circle to be in. I have a higher risk tolerance being coastal in a busy area and would bite the bullet and always have an up to date one if I cruised further or in less developed/trafficked areas.
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Old 12-01-2023, 02:10   #12
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Re: Do I Really Need a Life Raft?

we have a cat, with a good RIB. previously when we were coastal cruising we did not carry a raft. now it's more deep sea & isolated the owner has asked for a raft

cost is pretty small (1700 euro) to maintain harmony onboard

on the otherhand, if we had a mono (which we all know float like a lead fishing sinker), we would definitely have at least one raft...maybe 2 !

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Old 12-01-2023, 02:28   #13
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Re: Do I Really Need a Life Raft?

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What's wrong with a dinghy/rib.. launch off the stern davits and motor to a safe distance.. store a 25litre tank in it and it may even get you to the shore.
This will handle the fire concern as well or better than a life raft assuming it's on the davits and ready to deploy...and as mentioned, may actually get you somewhere rather than drifting randomly.

One thing to keep in mind with an "expired" life raft is some countries insist if you have one it must be certified but are perfectly happy for you not to have one at all. Not sure what would happen in the event it doesn't deploy and there are lawsuits that result.

We ran into that at one point but still left it in a back cabin as no one was checking.
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Old 12-01-2023, 02:48   #14
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Re: Do I Really Need a Life Raft?

I don't see the point of having a raft but not keeping the service up to date. You want it to work if you have it right? Staying with the boat is good as long as you can. Stay near it in a raft is also good assuming you can.

If you are saying it's a weight (35 kilos?) and storage space issue...hate to point out you are on a 40'+ cat already...

Out of curiosity I would have a look at the relevant regs for your area and flag. Maybe they don't have any, but if there are any it might help to provide a framework for risk assessment.
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Old 12-01-2023, 03:00   #15
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Re: Do I Really Need a Life Raft?

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This will handle the fire concern as well or better than a life raft assuming it's on the davits and ready to deploy...and as mentioned, may actually get you somewhere rather than drifting randomly.

One thing to keep in mind with an "expired" life raft is some countries insist if you have one it must be certified but are perfectly happy for you not to have one at all. Not sure what would happen in the event it doesn't deploy and there are lawsuits that result.

We ran into that at one point but still left it in a back cabin as no one was checking.
We have that here in Spain. If you have a raft, it needs to be current. It is somewhat rational in the requirements for a raft vary depending upon the distance from shore in which you operate.

I think the dingy as a life raft is just plain delusional. Self rescue is appealing, however if you imagine the conditions in which you would choose to abandon ship...

I can see in a slowly evolving situation (a leak for example), deploying a dingy as a planned stop gap, but never in an actual MAYDAY style emergency.
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