Life Raft Survival (staying warm) - Page 2 - SailNet Community
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post #11 of 18 Old 09-21-2010
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Puget sound typically is 42-45F no matter the time of year. There are a few spots, like the south end of Hood Canal that can get into the 60-70F range, and some other shallower bays etc. But, the main channels will be in the low 40F range, so 30'ish to 60 min before passing out. I've felt and seen water temps in the low 80's in lake washington in the upper 7-10' range, then it gets cold really fast and quick! a you go deeper!


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post #12 of 18 Old 09-21-2010
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Originally Posted by MedSailor View Post
The thought came to me a while ago, that all of the life raft survival stories that I have read (and I think I have read them all) take place in warm waters. Yet I sail in the Pacific Northwest where the waters are very very cold. So why are there no cold water raft-survival stores? Hmmm....
I think we have found the answer to your prior question about anxiety. STOP READING SURVIVAL STORIES!

I'm just a bit South of you in the Tacoma area. The only time I would worry about it is when you are going to cross the Straits. The rest of the time, as long as you have a VHF and wear a PFD, you can go overboard and your chances of survival are excellent.

A typical example, we were returning from a cruise and coming back home. We heard a call on Channel 16 about a power boat which had caught fire. We dropped sails and started motoring over to that location, about 2 miles away. By the time we got anywhere near the scene, there were four other boats on location assisting and Vessel Assist was only minutes away. There are very few places in Puget Sound where a VHF radio call won't get you help in a very, very short period of time.

So, if you have a life raft, staying warm won't be the problem, just keeping from being run over by all the yachts coming to your aid will be the problem.
Of course, once you are North of Admiralty Inlet, it is a different story. Even so, I don't have a life raft and don't plan on getting one, my dinghy is fine for this area. However, if you plan on heading out beyond the Swiftsure light, then a life raft might be a good idea.

As for survivability of the water. Puget Sound has a seasonal water temperature variation of less than 10 degrees F. In the Winter, with water temps in the mid 40s, a typical person in a PFD can last about 2 hours and in the mid 50s Summer temperatures, according to the US Navy. Of course, while you may be alive after and hour in 50 degree water, you won't be much use as far as swimming or pulling yourself on board a boat.

Anyway, given the relatively crowded waters of the Puget Sound, the rapid response by fellow boaters, LEOs, USCG, and Vessel Assist to any distress calls, your time in the water will be relatively brief.


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Last edited by dhays; 09-21-2010 at 06:37 PM.
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post #13 of 18 Old 09-21-2010
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Cold Water Boot Camp ( if I remember) has great discussions on cold water survival, as do some of the sea kayaker organizations. Even the plain old life vest will buy you some survival value, especially in terms of getting time to be rescued by your crew if you fall in. Without any flotation, people are likely to inspire water or become unable to swim very quickly. Of course, the survival suits and rafts buy much more time... and you hope you won't need as much time if you have a good EPIRB or PLB, (correctly registered) people who know about your voyage (float plan), etc.
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post #14 of 18 Old 09-22-2010
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I sail in warm waters but I have several space blankets in my ditch bag. They are small, light, waterproof and work well. In colder waters, it will help but the Gumby suit is your best bet.

"When in command, command." -- Admiral Nimitz

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post #15 of 18 Old 09-22-2010
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Effects of cold water

Here is a good article on the effects of cold water. TheChilling Truth About Cold Water

There was a demonstration tank at the Vancouver boat show and they had some buckles etc just like on a life jacket. The water was the same temperature as the local sea and after just a few moments it was awkward to manipulate the buckles. And this was just with my hand immersed, not my whole body. After 1 minute my hand was aching from the cold.

I am much more concious about wearing my lifejacket now!
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post #16 of 18 Old 09-22-2010
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thanks to the fishermans safety act of 1988,i carry liferaft,gumby suits&epirb.i carry them everywhere,i have lost very young and strong buddies in both summer and winter..god bless them....i have allways felt that if i have to leave my craft i might as well give myself some sort of a chance
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post #17 of 18 Old 09-22-2010
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An inflatable ramp for entry is critical. Climbing a net is hard in warm water. While you may be conscious, at best you will have reduced physical ability in freezing cold water.
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post #18 of 18 Old 09-23-2010
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Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
Dwayne must be talking about water that is freezing or below...since the numbers for various water temps are listed here are seen below.

For any reasonable water temps, the time is at least 30 minutes before you pass out.

Yup, I was exaggerating, but for effect. If you go into the water here and don't get help RIGHT NOW you are in serious trouble. Plan and prepare to NOT GO INTO THE WATER first and then plan and prepare for the possibility as an afterthought.

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