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Old 07-15-2002
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Help Us Test Life Rafts

If you have ever wondered about how life rafts function, have we got a deal for you! Equipped To Survive Foundation, in collaboration with Practical Sailor and Powerboat Reports, will be conducting another round of Life Rafts tests. We will be testing both Recreational Marine and Aviation life rafts.

Since our last test conducted in 2000, a number of new and upgraded or revised life rafts have been introduced. These developments, spurred in many cases by our previous reports, could conceivably have a significant effect on some of our life raft ratings and our aim is to ensure consumers have access to the latest and the most relevant information.

"Our aim is to ensure that anyone looking to purchase a life raft for their boat or for their aircraft, be it a light single or a corporate jet, will be able to make an informed decision based on independent, unbiased information," said Doug Ritter, Executive Director of the Foundation and Editor of Equipped To Survive ( ). "When you’re talking about equipment to which you’re going to trust your life in extreme circumstances, you need hard data, not just the manufacturers’ sales and marketing hype."

The comprehensive in-water tests will be performed in controlled conditions using a wave pool to ensure consistency and enable accurate comparisons and measurements. Ritter has previously conducted three series of breakthrough evaluations on aviation life rafts and one previous breakthrough evaluation of recreational marine life rafts using similar procedures. Subsequent open ocean testing of many of the same life rafts proved the results are accurate and scalable.

The wave pool tests will be conducted in late August, 2002. Persons interested in participating as volunteer "survivors" and "life raft virgins" in these tests can review the requirements and sign up on the ETS Web site

This is an incredible opportunity to gain the sort of experience that could easily save your life someday. Rarely does the opportunity arise to really see what life rafts are like in the water, how they work and perform, and what you must do to make them work for you and compensate for their inadequacies. It will be an eye-opening and invaluable experience. The experience and knowledge you will gain by participating in these tests would cost a small fortune at a specialized survival school, and even there you’d never see the quantity and diversity of life rafts you will be exposed to here. This is a rare opportunity, don’t let it get away from you.

Please note that this time around we expect to be testing more aviation life raft than marine life rafts, but as one of our sailor volunteers from the 2000 test noted recently in a message, "don''t underestimate the learning value of sailors jumping into the
water and trying to board/capsize/right ANY raft. My guess is you''d find many sailors who
recognize this as a rare opportunity"

Again, you can read more and submit a volunteer application at

Doug Ritter
Equipped To Survive
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Old 07-15-2002
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Help Us Test Life Rafts

For those of you reading Doug''s invitation, thinking about the cost of flying into Phoenix to jump in a wave pool, and wondering about the worth of the event, I can tell you that my wife and I found it extraordinarily valuable when we did this in 2000 - our need to pick a life raft for our boat & some offshore sailing aside. When we weren''t battling waves to try and board the damn things (you can''t believe how dysfunctionally designed some rafts are...), we were trying to capsize and then right them. Doug''s team was perverse, tenacious and thorough; the experience was exhausting but eye-opening in the extreme. We now know *exactly* what to expect when launching, boarding & using our raft. When we weren''t testing rafts, we were rubbing shoulders with USCG rescue instructors, 406 Epirb experts, USAF "Egress Instructors" (they''re the ones that train the pilots in what to do after the flame dies and they land in the drink) and other similarly talented folks who ''dropped by''. We paid our own way there, got far more value than money spent (as did another cruising wanna-be couple who also flew in at their own expense) and neither my wife nor I remember a damn thing from about 8 p.m. each evening until 6 a.m. the next morning...but boy, did we have fun!

Highly recommended...

Jack Tyler
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