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Old 12-05-2022, 09:02   #1
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Liferaft on a Cat

I know that this question will be very controversial before I ask it, but I'm struggling through the thought process.

I understand that life rafts are a critical piece of safety gear on monohulls due to their propensity to sink once flooded, but I'm struggling about the requirement for one on a cat. If most cats don't sink once flooded and your chances of rescue are significantly higher staying on the flooded cat, the only reason I can think of for leaving the boat is in case of a fire. In this case, wouldn't the dinghy be a better option as it's probably got some sort of range to motor?

Just throwing this out there. Thanks.
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Old 12-05-2022, 09:19   #2
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Re: Liferaft on a Cat

I believe the theory is on an ocean crossing, the dingy may be stowed or otherwise not easily accessible as it's considered bad form to leave it rigged and easily deployable on davits. Also, in storm conditions, a good liferaft will be less prone to flipping.

I think it goes back to govt/insurance company/liability rules more than anything else.

You can parse ever crazier possible scenarios forever to justify whatever you want.
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Old 12-05-2022, 16:14   #3
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Re: Liferaft on a Cat

The dinghy is a good option in coastal waters in reasonably calm conditions, but certainly not on an ocean passage or in bad conditions.
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Old 12-05-2022, 16:42   #4
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Re: Liferaft on a Cat

we followed your thinking on the cat we have just sold, as mainly doing short ocean trips no more than 100nm fm land. in such case we felt no need for a raft

however the new boat will be doing transpacific so we've made the decision to carry a raft. no legal or insurance compulsion - just our decision

however even a flipped cat is a much better place to be than a life raft (they should be called death rafts !) and life raft or no, we won't be leaving the cat until it sinks under us and we step up into the raft

previous cat had underside of the bridge deck painted fluro orange non-skid, and had hard points for attaching tethers. new boat will as well...

fire mid ocean is a whole different ball game. given how quickly a fiberglass boat can turn into a fireball the raft can then become your new best friend. agree with the earlier comment about time to launch a dinghy (although cutting everything is going to speed that up) and if you're in that much of a hurry (fire) then even if you grab the go-bag, the dinghy won't have all the safety gear packed into the raft.

on the whole, a RIB will be better than nothing - but rafts are comparatively cheap so why not ?

cheers,
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Old 12-05-2022, 17:06   #5
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Re: Liferaft on a Cat

There is a fair bit of wishful thinking when it comes to cats and liferafts.

Back in the day when most cruising multis were trimarans, there was a reasonable chance of living in the upturned main hull. You could even cut a big hole in the bottom of the main hull so that you could live safely in the upturned hull, waiting for help.

That is absolutely not the case with typical cruising cats. Since the times when multis were used as habitation (Gulf Streamer 1976, Twiggy 1982, Triton 1978, St Therese 1988, and the gold standard in surviving in an upturned multi - Rose Noelle - 119 days in 1989 all trimarans) most multis are now cats and they are much heavier and less inclined to have watertight compartments.

I feel there is a total disconnect between the ability of modern multis to cater for flooding and capsize and what some owners think their boats can do. The sad fact is that most production cats are not well suited for habitation after a large hole in the hull or capsize.

There are some, usually custom performance cats, that have properly wateright bulkheads and inverted flotation, but these are very rare. I would recommend people look at the videos of even some of the best designed cats for inversion (say the Chris White cats - ) This cat was designed to float high upside down and even it has its bridgedeck awash. A production cat will float much, much lower, not providing any real safety till rescue.

A while ago, we had a tragedy occur near our home when a modern composite 38 ft cat flipped and 3 sailors died. THis light boat did not provide good habitation for the crew. One huge problem with cats is that unlike tris, you cannot cut a hole in the hulls to provide safety because you will violate the airlock of the hulls and the boat will sink further. (If a full height bulkhead is installed you can cut access into the hulls into a compartment but again, this is very rare in cat design.)

Unlike the 70s and 80s, when capsize and bulkheads featured largely in the psyche of multi sailors and so they built boats that could provide habitation when flooded or flipped, I think that carrying a liferaft on a modern production multi is now as necessary as carrying one for a racing monohull. Unless you like standing awash clipped on to the boat in your immersion suit, neither will provide any long term habitation.

You can probably tell this is a big thing for me. My 38ft cat has full height watertight bulkheads fore and aft and when offshore we carry and axe to access these compartments. When I painted non skid on my bridgedeck a friend laughed at me. I found, and still do, find that attitude strange.

cheers

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Old 12-05-2022, 17:42   #6
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Re: Liferaft on a Cat

Iíve never seen an ocean going boat or a lake club racer without a life raft and an ERB. Standard stuff. We have a lovely suitcase in the floor tether knife on the ready drought anchor water flares first aid kit awful blankets all in one ugly suitcase.
The Dinghy you leave in the slip racing or deflate and stuff in a locker for a regatta
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Old 12-05-2022, 19:18   #7
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Re: Liferaft on a Cat

I agree that the odds of a cat using its life raft is so absurdly low that itís hard to justify.

I talked to the captain of a cat that flipped. They spent the 12 hours waiting for the EPIRB initiated rescue while wearing survival suits sitting in the dinghy tied between the hulls.

I went out and bought survival suits. For a cat, they seem more important than a life raft - although I have both - mostly because everyone expects you to have a life raft.
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Old 12-05-2022, 23:56   #8
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Re: Liferaft on a Cat

A dinghy will do it if you are never going far from land. Crossing oceans definitely requires a liferaft because you can't sit in an open dinghy for perhaps days or weeks waiting for rescue.

Somewhere between leaving sight of land and crossing an ocean comes the point where you really don't want to without a liferaft.
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Old 13-05-2022, 15:50   #9
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Re: Liferaft on a Cat

Definitely crossing oceans a liferaft is required, I would'nt rely on surviving sitting on top of a flipped cat, especially in heavy weather, Catsketcher made some good points- I had'nt thought of the airlock issue...I also live near where the three sailors died when that composite cat flipped, I think they were stuck inside when it went over, the skipper & his young daughter survived, I'd be interested to know what led to the capsize, I haven't heard anything about an official enquiry, I liken tragedies like that to plane crashes,knowing what went wrong may prevent future incidents..
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Old 13-05-2022, 21:55   #10
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Re: Liferaft on a Cat

We have decided that a life raft is not needed and cruise without. Our catamaran has escape hatches and watertight beams - if it flips we are living in an upside down hull until rescue comes to our EPIRB signal. We will be investing in survival suits prior to moving into colder waters.

The only possible reason we can think of for a life raft is in case of fire. Prevention and automated fire suppression systems are better places to spend money than a life raft.

This analysis is our personal one. It only applies to cruising on a catamaran that has been designed to survive upside down.
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Old 16-05-2022, 00:42   #11
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Re: Liferaft on a Cat

Quote:
Originally Posted by fxykty View Post
We have decided that a life raft is not needed and cruise without. Our catamaran has escape hatches and watertight beams - if it flips we are living in an upside down hull until rescue comes to our EPIRB signal. We will be investing in survival suits prior to moving into colder waters.

The only possible reason we can think of for a life raft is in case of fire. Prevention and automated fire suppression systems are better places to spend money than a life raft.

This analysis is our personal one. It only applies to cruising on a catamaran that has been designed to survive upside down.

That follows our thinking.

EPIRB
Survival suits.
Fire extinguishers and fire blanket.

Boat has 11 water tight compartments.
Escape hatches are forward to cope with an inverted situation and to allow forward escape from guest cabin in the event of a galley fire.
The underside of the desk in the port hull was designed to act as a dry refuge in an inverted condition.

Automatic fire suppression in engine rooms.
Engine rooms are separate from accommodation.
Fuel tanks are on the bridge-deck, the compartments also used to store one petrol can for outboard and compressor are devoid of any electric cables and directly vented below.


We do not have gas (propane) as we cook with kerosene (closed flame) at sea/anchor and electricity in port.


Our rib lives on davits with fuel can on board.
Outboard without integral tank is run dry and stowed in engine room on longer passages.
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Old 17-05-2022, 08:30   #12
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Re: Liferaft on a Cat

I think it's up to you. You need to feel safe after you've done your risk analysis.

I crossed the Atlantic (east to west) in 2020 on a Seawind 1190 sport. We didn't carry a liferaft, but we had a Portland Pudgy as a dinghy (on the davits). It felt right for us, but I'm sure some people would feel differently.
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Old 19-05-2022, 07:57   #13
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Re: Liferaft on a Cat

Quote:
Originally Posted by fxykty View Post
We have decided that a life raft is not needed and cruise without. Our catamaran has escape hatches and watertight beams - if it flips we are living in an upside down hull until rescue comes to our EPIRB signal. We will be investing in survival suits prior to moving into colder waters.

The only possible reason we can think of for a life raft is in case of fire. Prevention and automated fire suppression systems are better places to spend money than a life raft.

This analysis is our personal one. It only applies to cruising on a catamaran that has been designed to survive upside down.
Hi Fxykty.

I really hate the word "unsinkable", but for lack of a more descriptive word for what we're talking about, I'll use it here.

I'm curious if the non-cored outremer 55l is an "unsinkable" type cat? Will the beams keep her up, without the benefit of trapped air in the hulls?

Could you go over some of the precautions you've taken to help mitigate the boat sinking? What if the boat's not upside down, but flooded? Do they have buoyancy chambers, besides the beams?

I had not wanted a liferaft, but my wife did; my father gave us one as a gift, and now that we have one, we'll certainly keep it.

Cheers.
Paul.

PS, is there a thread where you talk about how you like your new sails? I'm curious to know how everything turned out.
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Old 19-05-2022, 09:28   #14
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Re: Liferaft on a Cat

I have long used the term "death raft" rather than "life raft". Their integrity is pathetic as far as long term survival in open ocean. Read any survival story of a man in a life raft. They are designed for use with an EPIRB and fairly brief survival until rescue. If for some reason your EPIRB fails, you are truly F***ed.


I would choose a "life dinghy" over a life raft. The only one that comes to mind is the Portland Pudgy, but there probably are other designs, and perhaps John Welsford the famed designer of dinghies and other small craft has a design that would work well. He has a number of unsinkable dinks that are easily rightable. I would inquire there first I think. The ideal "life dinghy" would be sail able.


.... I'm biased.... I want a dinghy that can be rowed or sailed anyway.
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Old 19-05-2022, 15:20   #15
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Re: Liferaft on a Cat

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Originally Posted by GRIT View Post
Hi Fxykty.



I really hate the word "unsinkable", but for lack of a more descriptive word for what we're talking about, I'll use it here.



I'm curious if the non-cored outremer 55l is an "unsinkable" type cat? Will the beams keep her up, without the benefit of trapped air in the hulls?



Could you go over some of the precautions you've taken to help mitigate the boat sinking? What if the boat's not upside down, but flooded? Do they have buoyancy chambers, besides the beams?



I had not wanted a liferaft, but my wife did; my father gave us one as a gift, and now that we have one, we'll certainly keep it.



Cheers.

Paul.



PS, is there a thread where you talk about how you like your new sails? I'm curious to know how everything turned out.

The main and aft beams are large voids. The deck and salon/cockpit are foam cored. Once flipped the air trapped in the bottom 40cm of the hulls will also help (and wonít be buried with hatch opening). According to the designer she will float flat with the underside of the bridgedeck just awash. I hope to never verify that.

Each hull has two watertight bulkheads in the bows (1.3m and 5m behind the bows) and two watertight bulkheads in the sterns. The engines/shafts and rudders are completely separate from the living areas.

Other than maintaining the under water openings and the bilge pumps Iím not sure what precautions one could take that donít involve sailing conservatively and vigilantly.

If youíve got a liferaft that becomes a decent place to live while waiting for rescue, as long as you stay attached to and sheltered by the boat, say sitting on the underside of the bridgedeck.

Iíve referenced our sails elsewhere. In short, after one year and 7,000 miles on them so far, including three open ocean passages in the Tasman Sea, weíre happy that weíve achieved what we planned. The materials and construction continue to look great. The removal of furling reefing for the headsails is a bit of a pain as one has to manage and execute the changeover from jib to staysail. But I prefer the better shape of jib without any luff turns and now that weíve better secured the tack the staysail luff has minimal sag.
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