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View Poll Results: Do you have a liferaft?
YES - For mostly bluewater sailing 11 22.92%
YES - For mostly coastal sailing 10 20.83%
NO - For mostly bluewater sailing 3 6.25%
NO - For mostly coastal sailing 19 39.58%
Considering gettting one 5 10.42%
Voters: 48. You may not vote on this poll

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  #41  
Old 07-19-2013
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Re: How Many Have a Liferaft?

John you should talk to Steven as I have, you might be surprised as to what he has to say about relying on an inflatable life-raft.
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  #42  
Old 07-19-2013
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Re: How Many Have a Liferaft?

There is a published story out there of a boat that hit a submerged post on the ICW and fully sink in a minute or so. It can happen.

The need for a liferaft should include water temperature as a significant variable. Our early season has ocean temps in the 50s. I do not think one wold survive the wait for rescue, if you had to enter the water with only a pfd.
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  #43  
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Re: How Many Have a Liferaft?

Quote:
Originally Posted by barefootnavigator View Post
John you should talk to Steven as I have, you might be surprised as to what he has to say about relying on an inflatable life-raft.
I have, actually...

The only thing that would surprise me, would be if he branded anyone who chooses to carry a liferaft as one who "think(s) the rest of the world is standing by to cater to their every whim."

His FRIB, or 'Clam', is a very creative solution, no question - far more suitable than something like a Portland Pudgy, IMHO... I might consider such an option myself, if I sailed a boat large enough to comfortably and securely stow one on deck... But for the time being, I'm comfortable with my life raft & inflatable tethered together strategy...

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Last edited by JonEisberg; 07-19-2013 at 03:13 PM.
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Re: How Many Have a Liferaft?

This is a good discussion, so don't let this take away from it. However, no one does mostly bluewater sailing. Even bluewater sailors, mostly coastal cruise between passages.
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  #45  
Old 07-19-2013
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Re: How Many Have a Liferaft?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
This is a good discussion, so don't let this take away from it. However, no one does mostly bluewater sailing. Even bluewater sailors, mostly coastal cruise between passages.
That's a good point ... I guess I'm thinking that someone is a bluewater sailor if they even do it intermittently (highest common denominator).
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Old 07-20-2013
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Re: How Many Have a Liferaft?

Barefoot-I think we live in different worlds
I have loans on my boats and my house. When interest rates are considerably lower than return on investment it's foolish to do otherwise. I also have insurance on them. I don't expect my house to burn or be storm damaged but still do. I maintain these pocessions as they are where I live. When I sell my house I'll probably pay off the boat loan and may self insure.Your statements about loans are demeaning and do not reflect the reality of many long term cruisers. I am dedicated to proper boat maintenance. The boat is worth as much as my house and I'm betting my life on it. That argument is also foolish. I have been humbled by the sea and repetitively amazed by the ignorance and negligence of my fellow man. To carry a raft doesn't speak to a lack of seamanship and self reliance but rather to it's presence. From experience I know time may come when I may need to self rescue. Time may come that due to events beyond my control my boat may sink. So I have Winslow. It's inflated and repacked as suggested(i watch).It can be deployed in 15seconds by my 100lbs wife. I also have a true blue water boat with a collision bulkhead,2 Epirbs, ssb,etc. but in my mind and many others these things decrease the odds I will ever get in my raft but do not eliminate the need.
Hard dinghies or rafts are quite problematic on a boat. My rib is on davits when coastal. I can deploy it my myself. But it is lashed firmly to the foredeck off shore. Believe neither my wife nor myself could deploy a hard dinghy/raft in a significant seaway before we were swimming. Believe if lightly secured it would wash overboard.
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Last edited by outbound; 07-20-2013 at 09:22 AM.
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Re: How Many Have a Liferaft?

Quote:
Originally Posted by outbound View Post
I have been humbled by the sea and repetitively amazed by the ignorance and negligence of my fellow man. To carry a raft doesn't speak to a lack of seamanship and self reliance but rather to it's presence. From experience I know time may come when I may need to self rescue. Time may come that due to events beyond my control my boat may sink. So I have Winslow. It's inflated and repacked as suggested(i watch).It can be deployed in 15seconds by my 100lbs wife. I also have a true blue water boat with a collision bulkhead,2 Epirbs, ssb,etc. but in my mind and many others these things decrease the odds I will ever get in my raft but do not eliminate the need.
Hard dinghies or rafts are quite problematic on a boat. My rib is on davits when coastal. I can deploy it my myself. But it is lashed firmly to the foredeck off shore. Believe neither my wife nor myself could deploy a hard dinghy/raft in a significant seaway before we were swimming. Believe if lightly secured it would wash overboard.
Exactly... IMHO hard dinghies stowed on deck offshore are problematic on anything but the very largest of cruising yachts... Even when extremely well secured, any rigid tender with a high profile stowed on the foredeck will be vulnerable to damage, or being swept away by a boarding sea, or doing a significant amount of damage on deck... Even a liferaft stowed, as is so commonly seen, in a hard cannister in a cradle on the coachroof, can be extremely vulnerable in heavy weather, no comparison to the security of one stowed in a dedicated locker or well in the cockpit...

Rigid tenders offshore, or tenders secured in davits, represent way too much potential for drama, for me... Towing them, or bringing them on deck is one thing while coastal cruising, but for passagemaking, no way on anything short of a yacht WAY larger than I would care to be sailing, to begin with... :-)

Even on a vessel as large as NINA, presumably lost last month in the Tasman Sea, look at how vulnerable that tender would be in a storm, or the potential mayhem it might create on deck if it were broken loose in a knockdown, or by a deck-sweeping sea...


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  #48  
Old 07-20-2013
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Re: How Many Have a Liferaft?

Part of my "sinking boat" strategy includes a kayak. I keep an 8' whitewater kayak mostly for exploration and fun. Within 30 miles, it would certainly be a ticket back to land. Time allowing, I would make sure the kayak, paddle and skirt were launched after the liferaft.
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Re: How Many Have a Liferaft?

Reviewing this thread (full disclosure - I'm not a bluewater sailor, at least not yet), it appears that other than a packed life-raft that needs regular inspection and repacking, and may or may not work when needed, there are 4 potential double-duty dink-cum-life-raft options:

1 - Steve Callahan's FRIB, though it appears from the links above that it is not now in production;
2 - a Portland Pudgy with life raft options, new at least $5K and up to $10K depending on options (sailing kit, electric, solar, etc.) selected;
3 - a regular hard dink, or possibly a kayak/s; or
4 - an inflatable or RIB dink.

Clearly, items 3 & 4 are short term options at best, even surmising the addition of a (presumably custom) cover.

As between items 1 & 2, while 1 *may* be better conceptually, only 2 is now available commercially. And it is $5K plus, clearly a big chunk of change for a smaller cruising boat that may itself cost only $5K-$20K itself.

Add to all of the above a ditch bag with short term necessaries, signaling and communication devices etc. And of course, proper boat maintenance and seamanship, which greatly help but cannot guarantee a safe passage.

So:

A - Am I reading this thread and understanding the blue-water life-raft options and associated issues correctly? Confirmation, but especially correction as appropriate, is welcome.

B - Assuming that I've got a decent basic understanding here, what are your opinions on the most sensible course of action for a day sailor and weekend cruiser on the Gulf or US Atlantic coasts to take?

My guess at B would be either a Portland Pudgy properly outfitted, or a dink of choice plus a packed life-raft, depending on their respective costs and on how often and far one ventures "outside" the ICW or sight of shore. (The more regularly outside, the stronger the case for the packed life-raft).

Thoughts and comments appreciated. TIA for helping this relative newbie learn to prepare for potentially rare but life-threatening tragedies, other than through direct experience.
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  #50  
Old 07-21-2013
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Re: How Many Have a Liferaft?

Quote:
Originally Posted by joebeach View Post
Reviewing this thread (full disclosure - I'm not a bluewater sailor, at least not yet), it appears that other than a packed life-raft that needs regular inspection and repacking, and may or may not work when needed, there are 4 potential double-duty dink-cum-life-raft options:

1 - Steve Callahan's FRIB, though it appears from the links above that it is not now in production;
2 - a Portland Pudgy with life raft options, new at least $5K and up to $10K depending on options (sailing kit, electric, solar, etc.) selected;
3 - a regular hard dink, or possibly a kayak/s; or
4 - an inflatable or RIB dink.

Clearly, items 3 & 4 are short term options at best, even surmising the addition of a (presumably custom) cover.
...
Interesting that you would say that. I think the exact opposite. My issue with pre-packaged liferafts is that they're flimsy and only designed for short term use. They often fail while in use, whereas our trusty tenders, be they hard dinks or hypalon/PVC inflatables give us years of service in the face of abuse (at least by me) I got over a decade of use/abuse out of my PVC Sevylar inflatable and it spent YEARS at at time (it had antifouling) in the water.

Calahan's liferaft was trying to sink for the majority of the 76 days. His HEROIC measures kept it afloat.

Dougal Robertson's raft DID sink and they were only alive to write "survive the savage sea" because all 6 of them spent the rest of their time in the rigid dink.

In the more recently published "66 days adrift" their raft nearly sank a couple times.

Then there are the accounts of people watching their rafts get serviced and they fail to inflate. There are also the rafts that DID sink with their occupants. These folks don't get to write books...


I argue that our regular tenders, with some kind of shelter, and a ditch bag, are superior to the packaged raft. The main reason is that if your raft sinks, you die. PERIOD. Your tender will inflate, will last for hundreds of days adrift (years/decades actually).

Besides longevity your tender also has the advantage of being able to be maneuvered by oar or sail. My colleague who is the only one I personally know who has used a liferaft in blue water says the only part where he thought he was going to die was when the freighter was maneuvering to meet his raft. He realized that if the ship maneuvered wrong, the raft would be run over, or sucked into the prop. He actually jumped from the raft and swam to the Jacob's ladder because the approach wasn't looking good. This wouldn't be as much of a problem with a set of oars to help...

The only advantages I can see of the packaged rafts are that they are possibly easier to launch, and might fair better (than a regular tender) in a huge storm. Fairing better in a storm, however, only applies if you spend the big bucks on an "offshore" model with lots of ballast bags. As for the advantage of being easier to launch, your tender, you will have practiced launching, whereas most haven't actually practiced launching and boarding their raft.

The big storm is also NOT the only reason you'd be abandoning ship. The reasons I can think of to abandon are:

1: Fire.
2: Sinking by collision with debris.
3: Sinking by collision with whale.
4: Sinking by collision with ship.
5: Huge storm.

I really think that in case #5 you're probably screwed anyway. See also Fastnet force 10 and the 1998 sydney to hobart. People didn't fair all that well in the rafts, but wouldn't have done better in their tenders.

In case 1-4 there is no huge storm, and no need for your ballast bags, and all that. What percentage of our time do we spend in storms anyway? Lyn and larry pardey, who sail full time and go off the beaten track say they're in gale or above conditions 3% of the times by their logs. The tradewind sailors that pick their windows sometimes never see a real storm.

So, I would like to ask again if everyone really thinks that the flimsy $8,000 raft that may or may not inflate, and is only superior 3% of the time, and can't be maneuvered, is really the better choice?

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Last edited by MedSailor; 07-21-2013 at 11:29 PM.
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