Choosing a life raft - Page 3 - SailNet Community
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post #21 of 38 Old 03-13-2007
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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 01:21 PM.
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post #22 of 38 Old 03-13-2007 Thread Starter
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Life raft

Thanks. I'm in no hurry. If a 2 or 3 year old used raft comes along at the right price I would consider it, otherwise I'll probably bite the bullet and buy new.
Tom
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post #23 of 38 Old 03-14-2007
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I wouldn't hesitate to buy used, especially if you can see it before the repack. Keep in mind that most of these rafts have virtually never been used and existed in their packed state away from harmful UV rays. Cams concerns about heat do bear some considering with possible weakening of material where folded. This should be fairly obvious at the re-packing. SOLAS approved is the only way to go and a water maker is required under that for basic gear. Water is very easy to add as it now comes in mylar packets, versus the old cans, and easily stowed. Dye markers are much more valuable in a raft than flares, parachute or hand-held, as operating flares in a plastic raft tends to be a bit iffy. Like alot of things, it looks do-able alongside the dock.
When re-certifying the raft do not neglect the hydrostatic release to the cradle if so equipped.
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post #24 of 38 Old 03-15-2007 Thread Starter
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sailaway21,
Thanks for you thoughts. Do you have any experience with Winslow Ultra Light rafts?
Tom
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post #25 of 38 Old 03-15-2007
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You might also want to look at Doug Ritter's site, www.equipped.org, for some blunt comments about life rafts. Generally the "light" stuff is meant for aviation use where every pound really is critical on overwater flights, and it would be wasted on boats. (Unless you're the kind of racer who sands down the floors and bulkheads to strip out dead weight.)
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post #26 of 38 Old 03-15-2007
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The lighter "aviation" life rafts aren't really all that suitable for sailors, as they aren't as durable from what I understand. They're really one-shot, if you manage to survive the crash into the water devices...and when was the last time you heard of a plane hitting the water and having survivors??

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post #27 of 38 Old 03-16-2007 Thread Starter
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Hellosailor,
Hey, that's a great site, thanks for that. Interesting reading and now back to the drawing board! The Winslow Ultra Light sounded ideal for my boat for me because I know I can handle the weight. Some of the others tend to be a bit heavy. As you and sailingdog point out, you give up something for that light weight and it would be at a time when the last thing you want to do is comprimise. Thanks for your thoughts.
Tom
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post #28 of 38 Old 03-16-2007
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Don't worry about being able to LIFT your life raft. Remember, you never want to step into a life raft unless you are stepping UP to it. Odds are that means you will be able to "float" it over to the cockpit and the rail, rather than lifting it, if you've waited long enough to fetch it. (That, and adrenalin can do marvelous things for your lifting abilities.)
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Hellosailor,
i agree with the up, not down. My concern, based on complete ignorance, is that I can envision a time when I might want to launch the raft before it floats. Weight is a cencern then.
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post #30 of 38 Old 03-16-2007
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Adrenalin. Seriously though...there's a lot to be said for being able to lift anything that might need lifting. Makes you wish more boats were designed with life raft stowage in the companionway step or cockpit floor "where it ought to be". Remember too that anything you need to get on deck, can be hoisted with the deck crane, sometimes mistaken for the mast and boom. Assuming you weren't just dismasted.

Or, as it said on the doors of Steve McQueen's Mustang in the movie "Bullitt":
"If you can read this, please turn me right side up."
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