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WRT batteries in ditch bags: You may want to keep the batteries OUT of the equipment. In recent years the competition for "the best" alkaline cells seems to have created highly reactive chemistry in thinner shells, and I've had Duracell, Eveready, and RayOVac all leak. (Duracell so frequently that I try not to buy them.)
Whether you keep the batteries in the gear or not, dab some silicon grease on all the battery contacts in the gear, this prevents corrosion from leaks, salt air, etc.
And, consider the special purpose disposable lithium AA cells, made by Everready and sold at Radio Shack. About 4x the price for 2x the power, but with an incredibly long shelf life.
Coming back to life rafts, if you are even thinking about a used one, first call an authorized repack center to find out if they are condemned after ten years (like Zodiac) and can no longer be repacked. Apparently the seams on glued rafts get unreliable after ten years, so a used life raft may simply be a life raft with less years of service life to come.
(Really disappointing considering this is emergency life saving equipment, which you'd expect to be made of the most durable materials possible.)
Last edited by hellosailor; 03-13-2007 at 02:21 PM.