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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related)
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  #1  
Old 09-20-2010
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Life Raft Survival (staying warm)

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....

For those who routinely sail in cold water, what abandon ship measures do you (or should you) take against hypothermia?

I for one, make sure to keep my diving wetsuits onboard in case of the need to abandon ship, but I don't keep them ready to go in a ditch bag. I think I feel comforted by being a costal sailor for now, yet I know I can't row my inflatable dink against a wind or current and where I sail if the tide is an ebb or the wind is easterly I could end up on my way to Japan faster than I would like. Me thinks I should be a little better prepared...

I can think of a few things that I ought to be doing but haven't been, like having a ditch bag made up which would include wool long johns. What would y'all reccomend?

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Old 09-20-2010
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Life vests

Hypothermia is a real danger here in the northwest. Wearing a life vest just helps recover the body. If you are serious about staying alive in an abandon ship situation you need a survival suit and a life raft that has a double bottom in it. You have about 3 minutes in the water without a survival suit before you pass out. A wet suit that you don't wear all the time, i.e. you have to put it on after you are in the water is useless as you won't survive long enough to get it on.
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Old 09-20-2010
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The gumby suits are the way to go in cold water climates. They're designed to be easily put on, even over clothing, boots, etc. They also act as flotation.

Most bluewater liferafts have double floors, and that helps with hypothermia.

Wearing the right clothes help—avoid cotton, as it acts as a heat sink once it gets wet. Wool and some synthetics are good. Fleece is pretty good.
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Old 09-21-2010
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Survival suit... and don't worry about floating to Japan from Seattle... the current will take you down the coast first.
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Old 09-21-2010
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Posts above pretty much sum it up, but I’ll add that I have several "space blankets” packed in the life raft. They are useful in any area as you don’t need really cold water to get hypothermia. When I was involved in naval aviation air crews were required to wear survival suits whenever the sum of the water and air temperatures (in deg. F) were less than 120.
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Old 09-21-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DwayneSpeer View Post
Hypothermia is a real danger here in the northwest. Wearing a life vest just helps recover the body. If you are serious about staying alive in an abandon ship situation you need a survival suit and a life raft that has a double bottom in it. You have about 3 minutes in the water without a survival suit before you pass out. A wet suit that you don't wear all the time, i.e. you have to put it on after you are in the water is useless as you won't survive long enough to get it on.
I appreciate your suggestions and your warning about the PNW waters, but I think your numbers are a little fatalistic. I go swimming without a wet suit all the time in the PNW and while it IS deadly cold I don't even come close to passing out in 3 minutes.... For loss of conciousness, without looking it up, I would guess 30 mins would be closer.

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Old 09-21-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MedSailor View Post
I appreciate your suggestions and your warning about the PNW waters, but I think your numbers are a little fatalistic. I go swimming without a wet suit all the time in the PNW and while it IS deadly cold I don't even come close to passing out in 3 minutes.... For loss of conciousness, without looking it up, I would guess 30 mins would be closer.

MedSailor
Buy and carry a Gumby Suit--the USCG RCC will take more than 30 minutes to recieve your EPRIB signal and then an hour or more to confirm the validity of the signal before it launches a SAR effort.
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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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MedSailor View Post
I appreciate your suggestions and your warning about the PNW waters, but I think your numbers are a little fatalistic. I go swimming without a wet suit all the time in the PNW and while it IS deadly cold I don't even come close to passing out in 3 minutes.... For loss of conciousness, without looking it up, I would guess 30 mins would be closer.

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Old 09-21-2010
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The survival suit suggestions are right on. And if you get one, I recommend you put it on and jump in the water at least once. Even better, practice with a life raft, jumping in the water with a survival suit on and getting into a life raft. Even better, flip the life raft over and right it.

I've done this in a heated, calm indoor swimming pool for training, and it isn't that easy. The sensation of being enclosed in the survival suit is disconcerting to some. Moving in the gumby suit is clumsy. Getting into a life raft from the water with a survival suit on isn't that easy either. As part of the exercise, two of us got a "heavy" less fit person into the raft as well. That took some doing, pushing and pulling...

IMHO, survival suits are terrific, as are life rafts.

But try em in calm conditions with your crew. This will up the odds if you need them, in what are likely to be much more challenging conditions.
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Old 09-21-2010
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SD, thanks for posting that table. Will be very helpfull as I am heading back up to Lake Superior in about 10 days. PNW is not the only place will cool waters. Superior is pretty chilly too, NOAA says the temps will range from about 45 - 52 on Friday the 24th. Hopefuly they won't get much cooler than the that following weekend. All the boats will have life rafts but doubtfull on the survival suits. And the link is from U of M.
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Last edited by cb32863; 09-21-2010 at 05:28 PM.
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