.... Calahan's liferaft was trying to sink for the majority of the 76 days. His HEROIC measures kept it afloat....
I argue that our regular tenders, with some kind of shelter, and a ditch bag, are superior to the packaged raft....
Besides longevity your tender also has the advantage of being able to be maneuvered by oar or sail....
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:
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....
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?
Medsailor, thanks for the reply. A couple of clarifications, below, regarding the above excerpts from your post.
First, Callahan's FRIB as noted above was not the raft he was adrift in - it was the one he designed afterwards, to correct the deficiencies of the raft he was adrift in. The Callahan FRIB is maneuverable by oar, sail, or motor - check the linked info.
So the FRIB, like the Pudgy, would have similar maneuverability and survivability to a hard or inflatable dink or RIB, plus it would "come with" the necessary additional life raft items such as a cover, sea anchor, flares, medical kit, etc., etc.
Second, as this is a new subject for me, I was asking for confirmation or clarification as to whether I understood what appeared to be the consensus (on SN- lol!) of the bulk of the posts on this thread. At this point, I don't "think that [or any particular] way" - it's still an open question in my mind as to whether dink + life raft is best, or some all-in-one option is best. Right now it's a theoretical question for me, but a few years down the road, it may not be.
A separate point is that you state the cost of a packed life raft is @ $8K. Assuming this is right (I haven't checked), then the Portland Pudgy as fully equipped for life raft duty ($10K+) might be more expensive by itself than a regular dink plus life raft. Meaning that the additional margin of safety of having the life raft might be had at literally no cost (other than a bit of storage space in a lazarette, the psychological issues of likely reactions in an extreme emergency, as previously mentioned in this thread, aside) vs. the fully equipped PP. There are no cost estimates that I am aware of for the Callahan FRIB.
Interesting - though I realize that at some point in making potentially life or death decisions, cost is irrelevant.
I also realize that this post still does not resolve the issue of whether a suitably equipped, augmented dink might be a preferable or at least equally worthy option to a dink plus life raft.
To answer that, at minimum we'd need to consider what sort of additional prep and costs would one need to make a dink the functional equivalent of a blue water life raft. A cover, a sea anchor, storage for food/water/medical kit, communications, a swim ladder, etc.? Where and how are these to be stored so as to be accessible quickly as needed, yet not clutter up the dink for its regular uses? And then there's the issue of having all this already packed in one convenient place - how useful might it be to abandon ship, if it is inevitably sinking, in a dink *with* a packed life raft? Can one open the life raft in the dink, take out the emergency gear, and toss or tow the raft shell? Maybe this is a silly question - I have zero practical experience here, so my apologies in advance if warranted.
Thanks to everyone so far for your thoughts. No doubt there are other lurkers here who hope to learn about critical emergency systems from teachers other than (their own) bad experiences....