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Old 05-13-2008
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Writer needs information on life rafts for story

Hi there,

My name is Kristene and I'm a writer (fiction), currently working on a short story about a couple adrift on a life raft for several weeks. I'm hoping someone here may be able to help provide me with some technical information - I'm living on Aitutaki, in the Cook Islands and my research resources are limited, to say the least.

Here's a brief plot synopsis and I'll follow it with some specific questions:
A couple, Miranda and Scott, make an Atlantic crossing that ends disastrously. The story opens on their life raft, 43 days after their boat has sunk, with Scott, who is barely surviving, slowly accepting Miranda has died. Weakened, both mentally and physically, Scott's perception of reality begins to unravel, threatening his survival.

OK, questions:
1. For two people making an Atlantic crossing, what type of raft would they most likely choose? I've put them in a 4 man raft but would you suggest larger?

2. I know this will likely vary according to brand, but, for the sake of the story, I need to know exactly how the raft is deployed (I'm not going with the type that inflates automatically once submerged). Verbatim instructions would be wonderful.

3. I'm aware of the old adage about "stepping up into the raft" but I'm curious to know how long you would actually wait before abandoning ship? In the story, the boat is sinking fairly quickly (cause is unknown), in rough seas.

That's probably plenty for now. Any input, any suggestions, comments, feedback, personal anecdotes are all very, very welcome! And if you're passing by Aitutaki, please look me up for a cold beer on the beach!

Many thanks in advance,
Kristene
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Old 05-13-2008
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Here are some books that outline real life liferaft stories very well.

Adrift by steve calahan

Survive the savage sea by Dougal Robertson

And (an investigatory book of many yacht losses) "Total Loss: A Collection of 45 First-Hand Accounts of Yacht Losses at Sea" by jack coote.

There is also a true story about a couple (the baileys) that spent 117 days adrift together in their inflatable raft it is called, oddly enough, "117 days adrift" by by Maurice Bailey

Good luck!

As for type of raft that yachts use? I have no idea. I wouldn't be caught dead (or adrift) in one of those. It's a Portland Pudgy (Portland Pudgy multifunction dinghy--the fun boat that could save your life!) for me! Or maybe a Tinker Traveler.

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Old 05-13-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bajagirl View Post

OK, questions:
1. For two people making an Atlantic crossing, what type of raft would they most likely choose? I've put them in a 4 man raft but would you suggest larger?
Will depend on their budget - are they well to do, sold everything to make the dream - or a poor rich couple that somehow managed to have their dream? Could of been included with the boat, given to them (see the 1000days at sea website), or they bought what they could afford...


Quote:
Originally Posted by bajagirl View Post
2. I know this will likely vary according to brand, but, for the sake of the story, I need to know exactly how the raft is deployed (I'm not going with the type that inflates automatically once submerged). Verbatim instructions would be wonderful.
Google "life raft" - and visit each manufactures website - they usually have pdfs that outline usage.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bajagirl View Post
3. I'm aware of the old adage about "stepping up into the raft" but I'm curious to know how long you would actually wait before abandoning ship? In the story, the boat is sinking fairly quickly (cause is unknown), in rough seas.
Google "Coast Guard Rescues" or "At Sea Rescue", "Boat Sinks" - that will give plenty of news items that relate exactly to with often user accounts of what happened and why they did.


Hope that helps and welcome to Sailnet.
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Old 05-13-2008
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A four person liferaft is good for two. Space "per person" on rafts is minimal and most would find 4 person raft just about right for two.
ALL life rafts inflate automatically...they have a line that is secured to the boat and when that line is pulled by the deployment of the raft, the air cannister inflates the boat. SOME live raft cannisters deploy with a hydrostatic release...others require the raft to be thrown overboard...which requires some strength as they can be quite heavy (79-80lbs.)
I would stay on my boat until it was absolutely clear that it was going down...no point staying any longer or waiting till the last second.

Suggest you answer the question WHY they don't have an EPIRB beacon as this is pretty standard equipment for cruisers and results in a speedy rescue. Suggestions include...beacon trapped on submerged boat and not with the raft. Beacon is old and battery dies quickly as raft drifts away.
Suggest you decide what equipment will be included on the raft. All life rafts are packed with some survival and signalling stuff...check out some options here:
Plastimo USA

If you want some drama...the raft can be old an not recently inspected and have a slow leak when inflated. Included patch kit and manual hand pump can be used to keep afloat.
Hope this supplies some fodder for you...good luck!
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throw in the water..pull cord..goes.PFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

jump in...there you go...most don't go PFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

then the story gets better....if it doesn't PFFFFFFFFFFFF

Sharks eat all on board as it deflates after 3 days....

OLD...OLD....
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Old 05-13-2008
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Just remember that the people in the raft are part of the raft's ballast and stability calculations, so getting one that is too big is more dangerous than one that is the right size.

Cam's point about the EPIRB is a good one... another possible reason is that the EPIRB they have is an outdated Type A and the signal from it was ignored. Type A/B EPIRBs have been phased out and are now illegal to use.
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Look, huh....what's your name...Bajagirl...

Look...I could be like everyone else here and tell you to get a real job....but I don't


Instead...LOOK HERE..it's all you need, especially after post #6...OK??

You're welcome...bye

PS...since you are looking at that..have a look at post #41 and #42.

Last edited by Giulietta; 05-13-2008 at 11:22 PM.
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Old 05-13-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Giulietta View Post


Instead...LOOK HERE..it's all you need, especially after post #6...OK??

You're welcome...bye

PS...since you are looking at that..have a look at post #41 and #42.
good info Giu, a very informative and educational thread on survival
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Alex, you just changed your avatar - nice!

You seem 'cranky', you are awake early, did you not get enough sleep?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Giulietta View Post
Look, huh....what's your name...Bajagirl...

Look...I could be like everyone else here and tell you to get a real job....but I don't


Instead...LOOK HERE..it's all you need, especially after post #6...OK??

You're welcome...bye

PS...since you are looking at that..have a look at post #41 and #42.
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Old 05-14-2008
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Thanks to all. I have read "Adrift" by Steve Callaghan; problem is it's a little dated, I know survival gear has changed. Another problem is that it takes at least a month to get any books to this little patch of sand - no libraries or book stores. But I will definitely add those books to my next order.

EPIRB, yes, I have already factored that in, with the old battery idea - however I like the type A suggestion. Nice.

The characters in my story are not rich, just living the dream.

Thanks to all for the helpful info - BTW I'm familiar with the survival enema, not intimately, mind you - and thanks (to most) for the welcome.

More suggestions are welcome!

Giu, I have a "real job", I'm a writer. Prior to that I was a stunt performer for ten years...you may look me up in the IMDB under "Kristene Kenward".
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