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Old 27-12-2020, 14:13   #1
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Offshore liferaft for 1-2 people?

The smallest liferafts I am finding online are for 4 people. I am going solo or at most with one other person. I don't want to have a raft that unnecessarily big for me to handle in emergency. Are there any smaller rafts? (ocean, offshore crusing).
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Old 27-12-2020, 14:20   #2
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Re: Offshore liferaft for 1-2 people?

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Originally Posted by suiramor View Post
The smallest liferafts I am finding online are for 4 people. I am going solo or at most with one other person. I don't want to have a raft that unnecessarily big for me to handle in emergency. Are there any smaller rafts? (ocean, offshore crusing).
The rescue swimmers I dropped in the water had a one person liferaft we'd kick out to them if we had to leave them on scene. We called it the taco, because that's what it looked like. I was told is was absolutely miserable and most swimmers wouldn't even deploy it, they'd just hang out in the water until we could drop off survivors, refuel, and come back to get them. Trust me, you don't want to be in a one person raft. A four person will be just fine with just one person in it, far more comfortable, and far easier to spot. You're only seeing four person and up rafts for a reason. Unless you're in a helicopter where every ounce counts, four person is the minimum size you want.
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Old 27-12-2020, 14:46   #3
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Re: Offshore liferaft for 1-2 people?

do yourself a BIG favor and go and see what the size of a 4-man liferaft really is...seriously....find a place that services liferafts or sells them and ask to see one blown up....and then ask to get in one......when the manufacturer sez 4 man......they mean 4 very tightly scrunched up midgets....

a 4 man raft whether in a valise or canister is quite small and manageable.....do yourself a favor and get one....don't chinz out either, get the double tube inflatable floor model...yes, off course, they are more expensive, but should you ever find yourself sitting in one.....you'll be double thankful that you did !!!
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Old 27-12-2020, 15:11   #4
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Re: Offshore liferaft for 1-2 people?

Here are some liferafts intended for aviation acc. to seller.

The link is in german: https://sostechnic.com/rafts/spi/index.php. In short: small, lightweight, rather expensive, yearly maintenance. That's all I know. Wouldn't use it myself, but intrigued by the small weight and size.
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Old 27-12-2020, 16:18   #5
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Re: Offshore liferaft for 1-2 people?

I've seen those aircraft type liferafts...they are small....no doubt....about the size of a briefcase...but seriously.....it has no place on a boat....

you get what you pay for.....you can get small 4-man liferafts, single tube, that are the size of two briefcases stacked on top of each other...they are designed for " coastal use", ie, the intention is that you should not have to spend much time on them......but for serious offshore work....why dick around ??

These rafts come in a soft valise or a fiberglass container..the valise is about 68 lbs...the container about 90 lbs....give or take....I've had both.....they take up little room.....either are very manageable.

Besides the raft, these packages also contain a few odds and ends.....some water sachets, flares, etc, but not much....you'll still need a " ditch" bag

If you really want to cheap out, get a truck inner tube, inflate it, and lash it to the foredeck..

to the OP......good luck with your decision......
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Old 27-12-2020, 16:37   #6
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Re: Offshore liferaft for 1-2 people?

Thank you all. This is very helpful. I will definitely go an have a look at an opened raft.

@MicHughV, its not the cost that worried me but rather having to handle something that was bigger (when opened) than needed in very unfavorable circumstance, e.g. strong wind. I had expected that a 2 person raft would in fact be more expensive since it seems to be a rare (or perhaps non-existent) item. I recall one of the reports from the infamous Howard race was about people being tossed around their raft because it was to large for their number.
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Old 27-12-2020, 16:56   #7
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Re: Offshore liferaft for 1-2 people?

I just inflated my 8 person and I can,t imagine more than 4 in it !
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Old 27-12-2020, 17:10   #8
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Re: Offshore liferaft for 1-2 people?

Thanks Emmalina, I am starting to get the message. I assume there is a complaint number to call for 4 person crews when they discover the the size of their next accommodation during an emergency
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Old 27-12-2020, 17:36   #9
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Re: Offshore liferaft for 1-2 people?

This is a photo of my four person life raft being serviced. You will note by the serviceman crouching next to it that you would not want to share it with three others. Iím a singlehander and I think itís just the right size for one. I have a valise to save weight and for ease of deployment in my situation.
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Old 27-12-2020, 18:22   #10
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Re: Offshore liferaft for 1-2 people?

I have a 6 man even though its just the wife & I...will need extra room for a couple dozen beers while waiting for the rescue.
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Old 27-12-2020, 19:31   #11
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Re: Offshore liferaft for 1-2 people?

My understanding is that liferaft accommodations are SUPPOSED to be tight. In the conditions where a life raft is deployed, waves are likely to be bouncing everything in the raft around, perhaps even turning it upside down. Tightly packing the contents (you and the rest of the crew) keeps things from banging together and breaking - things like arms and legs and heads. If you are wedged in against your neighbor, you can't fall on him straight down from five feet away. Watching a World Wrestling match where the "bad guy" jumps up just a foot before coming down on his opponent will give you an idea of what a smaller impact might be like.
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Old 27-12-2020, 20:08   #12
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Re: Offshore liferaft for 1-2 people?

Liferafts designs (and race requirements) are from pre EPIRB days when you might drift for weeks drinking from a solar still and catching fish with a hook on a string.

Unless you intend to sail in high latitudes (which hardly anyone does), help will arrive within 12 hours of activating the EPIRB. And almost everyone who activates an EPIRB is rescued still on the boat.

So the first thing is to make sure you have multiple ways to contact SAR and can then survive 12 hours until they arrive. Which means trying to stay with the boat. There are countless stories of liferafts being blown away, not inflating, or people not making it from the boat to the liferaft.

That's why I carry the orange gumby survival suits that the fishermen carry. I can put that on in the safety of the boat and probably survive with that alone if I have to abandon ship.

Once you are in a gumby suit, there are many approaches. There's the dinghy. And here's a two person solution https://www.life-raft.com/store/p1/R...in_Valise.html

But only you can decide where you want to put your safety budget. Most people still carry a full ISO 9560 liferaft either because a race rule requires it or because people react with horror if you say you don't have it.

But those people never ask if you have a 2nd EPIRB/PLB/InReach in case the first is lost or fails - something that is much more important.
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Old 28-12-2020, 04:01   #13
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Re: Offshore liferaft for 1-2 people?

Uuu really cool
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Old 28-12-2020, 06:55   #14
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Re: Offshore liferaft for 1-2 people?

RedNeckRob is spot on. Based on your description go with a 4 person life raft. Winslow makes a 4 person offshore ultra-lite life raft that weighs in about 50 lbs.

MichHughV is also spot on...go to a boat show and look at life rafts. I would also recommend taking a safety at sea class with in-water training where you will be required to board a 4 person life raft with 3 other people.

CarlF also makes a good point regarding having multiple ways to contact SARS resources.

However, life-raft designs have significantly improved esp. since the FastNet disaster in 1979 and the Sydney - Hobart disaster in 1998. (Oh, and the straps inside the raft are used to keep you in place in rough conditions, and large ballast bags prevent inversion.)

Additionally rescue times vary greatly. If you are cruising east coast/Caribbean I read the mean response time is about 4 hours. For the Atlantic it is about 12 hours. For the Pacific you are looking at days.

The last thing you want to do is leave your boat as long as it is sill floating. The only thing that would get me off my boat would be if my deck is a foot below the surface or a fire onboard. In either case, I would much rather deploy into a life raft where I can tend to any injuries and present a much larger target for search crews.
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Old 28-12-2020, 09:36   #15
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Re: Offshore liferaft for 1-2 people?

My understanding is that larger than needed life rafts are more prone to flipping over - if they are under loaded. More weight to one side I assume. A 4-person raft does seem pretty small however.
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