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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 03-08-2008
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Old Flares

I double checked the dates on my flares today, and I have the reuired number of current flares. I also have quite a few expired flares that I had been keeping as a back up. The oldest ones I have exoired in 2001. I started to wonder if flares that had been made 10 years ago and had long expired might still work. I brought two of the oldest flares in my inventory into work tonight, took them down to our pond and tested them. Here's the "test" (use that loosely) conditions and results.

Both flares are Orion handheld red, the one's most people get at WM so they are in good standing with the USCG regs. Weather conditions; anyone in Maryland right now can tell you that it's raining cats and dogs, and wind is blowing 20+ and gusting. Those are conditions you might find yourself in when having to use a flare. I was standing out in the open, not blocked by trees, buildings, etc. etc. (fully exposed to the weather).

First flare fired on the second strike. The first strike was a little weak, but I really hit it hard the second time. The flare was as bright as a new one. I let it burn for about 30 seconds, then I submerged the lit end into the pond and held it underwater for 30 seconds. I brought it back out of the water and let it burn off in the air. Total burn time was about 1 min 45 sec. Less than the claimed 2 min on the package, but not too far off. The second flare lit on the first strike. I put it through the same 30 sec. in air, 30 sec. underwater, then burn off in air. This one only burned for a total of 1 min 30 sec (approx.). Still not bad for a 10 year old flare.

My little back yard experiment makes me a firm believer that just because the date is expired doesn't mean it can't save your bacon one day. Of course I will continue to maintain the proper inventory of up to date flares, but I'm not getting rid of the old ones "just because". Two for two on 10 year old flares is pretty good I'd say.

Anyone else keep old flares?
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Old 03-08-2008
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Four standard, handheld Orion flares and four pistol-launched shells came with my Nauticat - commissioned from Finland in 1986. The original owner had bought them but up to my purchase in 2004, none had ever been fired/or replaced.

I've been upgrading flares through the years, including before and after the Nauticat, and have accumulated at least 3 dozen - both gun, parachute and hand versions. Always keep the dates current, but fortunately have never been in a situation where I needed to use them . . . except the 4th of July.

We fired off all 8 of those 20 year old flares in July, 2006 - each and every one of them ignited. So, like you Sapper - I've kept all the rest - just in case that time ever does come.
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Old 03-08-2008
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I'm a big believer of SOLAS grade flares, as they're a lot better than the USCG spec ones. A couple years ago, when I attended a Safety At Sea seminar down in Newport, they did a demo of flares and the difference between the USCG flares and the SOLAS ones was pretty amazing. They also fired off some 10-15 year old SOLAS flares, which were better than the current USCG flares in terms of duration and brightness.

I keep the expired ones on hand, and if I ever need to use them, I plan on firing off the older ones first..
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Old 03-08-2008
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I agree that SOLAS are better. However, almost every weeender and bay boater out there has USCG type Orion or similar brand flares (if any).

It's hard to convince the Busch Lite connoisseur, Sea Ray drivin, southern rock blastin, sheep admirin, average boater to buy SOLAS.
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Old 03-08-2008
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Sapper-

That's fine by me... evolution in action in my opinion.
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Originally Posted by Sapperwhite View Post
I agree that SOLAS are better. However, almost every weeender and bay boater out there has USCG type Orion or similar brand flares (if any).

It's hard to convince the Busch Lite connoisseur, Sea Ray drivin, southern rock blastin, sheep admirin, average boater to buy SOLAS.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 03-08-2008
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keep them on board if they don't lite on the time of need overboard they go. But can you have to many flairs on board? I have never seen that the Coast Guard issued a violation that during a emergency the the flares were out of date.
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Old 03-08-2008
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I had a senior coast guardsman tell me one day that some of the flares they have used in training exercises date to WWII. His point was that if the flare has been stored in an appropriate manner it will last a very long time. Guess the issue is: Have all the flares in your "expired" inventory been stored in an appropriate manner?
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Bubb2-

In an emergency, i doubt the USCG cares how old the flares were... the reason I'd fire off the oldest first is if I got boarded and inspected later, the non-expired flares would still be there.
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Telstar 28
New England

You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 03-08-2008
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no problem dog, my point was in the time of need you can't have too many flares
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Old 03-08-2008
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Very, very true... no argument on that point from me.
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no problem dog, my point was in the time of need you can't have too many flares
PS. How's Courtney doing... Tell her I said Hi.
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Telstar 28
New England

You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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