Survival Suits and Rafts: Do you have it? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 20 Old 11-06-2008 Thread Starter
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Survival Suits and Rafts: Do you have it?

Having seen the mention of survival gear, and having been in "survival mode" once before thought I would see whom has survival suits and the emergency rafts. Brands, cost considerations and actual experiences desired.

For me this about the only two items that I do not have. I think the biggest issue is cost, availability at local stores, and the minimum / rare / maybe never usage - I would see. However, to perpetuate a argument in my own views - I have plenty of safety gear that never sees use but is there "in case that one time"...

I just find it cost prohibitive to spend 3-6K for a 4-6 man survival raft that needs to be shipped off to the manufacturer to be certified every X number of years. Survival suits are also way more expensive than the foul weather units and would only be worn on the occassion one is out in the worst of conditions.

Does the fact that we see that we see limited usage as most of us are coastal or if we do a oceanic jaunt - that it is of short duration? Is it the costs that prevents most of us from having them. For those that have them - why did you - and honestly - how many times have you used as such? Which do we recommend in terms of brands etc....

Should you be licensed before you can purchase either (sorry CD - just had to add it)...

-- Jody

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post #2 of 20 Old 11-06-2008
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Well

All the bigger boats i race on have rafts BUT only keep them onboard for races that require them as most of the other races in this area are within eye sight of land during daylight hours

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post #3 of 20 Old 11-06-2008
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We have exposure suits on the work boat. I feel a lot better having one on board because we are often out in snotty weather and often when there aren't many other boats around. I've gone in the water in an exposure suit once and I feel pretty confident about staying alive long enough in one to be rescued.

I don't know yet what we're going to do when we go off-shore with our boat, but I don't like the idea of having to recertify a liferaft either. In coastal waters, we're usually dragging a dinghy around behind us and that's what we'll be stepping into if we ever sink the big boat.

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Boating for over 25 years, some of them successfully.

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post #4 of 20 Old 11-06-2008
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What's the difference between a good one ($4-6K) and a cheap one? I don't presume to know. A quick google turned up a raft for $1500 and a gumby suit for $400. I know that's the bottom of the barrel for quality and price. Throw in an EPIRB and you're in really good shape to survive.

unlike this guy:

S/V Freefall

Given what I know about about CG rescues, I would not go offshore without one even if it was really cheap. Historcally, the CG finds people pretty quick if they have any kind of cummunication and some way to stay warm and afloat.

In over my head?
First Boat, a well-equipped 1977 Camper Nicholson 31
What is all this stuff and how does it work?
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post #5 of 20 Old 11-06-2008
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1 have both a raft & survival suits,they are mandatory when[and still is]iwas commercial fishing as well as an eprib.all this heavy gear is aboard all the time. the coast guard has a rule that if the air and water temp does not add up to 120 then they have to wear a survival suit[mustang type]....i have never used my gear but when things get dicey it sure is nice to have them in my possesion....
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post #6 of 20 Old 11-06-2008
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We have a 6 man off shore raft that will fit 4 comfortably. A big difference in price comes in the difference of near shore or off shore and the extras packed inside.
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post #7 of 20 Old 11-06-2008
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I am not entirely sure what constitutes a survival suit but if you sail in the PNW this time of year you will need a reasonable facsimile. I was out twice in October and to withstand the elements I wore a Helly-Hanson softflex floater coat with floater bib pants and rubber boots plus all the fleece layers underneath, it was cold out. The HH pants and coat were not cheap, I paid good $$ for them and am glad I have them. For the most part folks are within CG rescue distance in this area so one would have a fair chance at being found provided a mayday was sent. My coat has lots of reflective tape, bright red, is quite warm and between the coat and pants I am unlikely to ever sink but at some delayed point the cold would cause hypothermia. What I wear may not qualify as total survival but I am not sure it is required, but rather, a reasonable facsimile will do just fine. I will never be out of sight of land or help. Many years ago I was in a survival situation from an overturned canoe in the Broken Island Group (Barkley Sound) and I almost met my maker, only a few minutes away, fortunately I lived to tell about it. I do not take such risks anymore but that was when I was young and foolish. My only emergency raft is a dinghy I tow when on extended trips, I carry the usual safety gear on board all the time and exercise due care and attention so that I may live to sail another day.

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post #8 of 20 Old 11-06-2008
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We have always carried survival suits on board (2) the boats (ebay and craigslist are good sources for used ones) and we have a Viking coastal raft in a valise that we swap back and forth between boats. Offshore I would have a raft in a canister with hydro realease. Things can happen quickly, at night, in adverse conditions so you might not have time to grab anything. We also have a floating ditch bag with emergency supplies in it and an automatic deploying epirb.

With summer water temps a balmy 50F you are only going to survive about a half hour here in the PNW and even less further north where we will be cruising.

I think of them as insurance, there when you need it but you hope you never need to use it.

John
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post #9 of 20 Old 11-06-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hertfordnc View Post
unlike this guy:

S/V Freefall

Given what I know about about CG rescues, I would not go offshore without one even if it was really cheap. Historcally, the CG finds people pretty quick if they have any kind of cummunication and some way to stay warm and afloat.
That was pretty harsh. While I've read a lot of tales of idiot sailors in unprepared boats losing fights with gales here, I can't say there is enough information there to judge. If they could still float, why the night rescue? Did the old guy have a heart attack? Did their boat suffer a dismasting or a rudder failure?

While it seems that a lot of people call the CG if they see a whitecap or get an ouchie, there are a lot of people who do the opposite and try to deal with a worsening situation until they shout MAYDAY! when it's almost too late.
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post #10 of 20 Old 11-06-2008
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Valiente-

IIRC, Freefall was taking on water and in the process of sinking...

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