Join Date: Jun 2006
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Single-handing with a lift raft is problematic, because to my knowledge the smallest available is a four-man raft and one guy is going to be a bean in a can in that, unless it's the type with floodable ballast bags. Also, and again only my probably faulty knowledge, there are no SOLAS grade four-man liftrafts.
You might want to find out what the single-handed racers use and purchase that, or go with a foam filled dinghy with hard points in which to lash food, sails, oars and a ditch bag with watermaker, EPIRB and light reading on laminated pages!
We are going to be a crew of two adults and one youth, with the potential for one crew or two guests (I can sleep nine at dock, but on passage, it's three sea berths on rotation). So we will get a SOLAS six-man liftraft and I will probably stow in in the pilothouse lockers, which means it's safer from the elements and I trust I'll be motivated to haul the thing onto deck. In addition, we have a positive floatation hard tender with a sail rig and a Portabote, but I think I would take the dinghy if I had the time to assemble it (it's nesting) and would put in the sail rig if weather permitted.
We all think a Force Ten or worse will kill the boat, but it's just as easy to navigate oneself onto an awash reef or to hit an awash container in perfect conditions. The situation could be terminal for the boat, but there might be plenty of time (15 minutes or better) before she settles even if fatally holed.
That's enough time to decide if it's a life raft or a dinghy situation. If you are within reach of SAR, you can throw the liftraft in the Portaboat and tow both behind the sailing dinghy! I recall Webb Chiles lost a boat and ended up towing an inflatable until he absolutely had to transfer his "flag" to it.