Originally Posted by smackdaddy
And every story I've ever read about multiple people ending up in a liferaft has involved the shock at how small it is.
I can confirm that. I've done a sea survival course, part of which involved 8 grown men having to haul themselves into a life raft, one of those octagonal inflatable ones with the canopy over the top. We have to do this to fly offshore in helicopters, in addition to the submerged capsule escape training.
Anyway, we were in a warm swimming pool (it was in Nigeria) and in the most benign conditions you can imagine, and we were in the liferaft for about 5 mins tops. It was as miserable as sin, there was *no* room whatsoever, and you have to sit with your back to the wall, knees up to your chest, feet in the middle. Even after a few minutes you could feel the cramp starting to set in.
Also...as part of the same training, and again in some other facility induction course, I've had to do the lifeboat drills for getting off an oil and gas facility in one of the orange fibreglass lifeboats. We never actually lowered them, but I've been inside two kinds: the one lowered on davits, and the free-fall kind. When you get inside them, you look at the room available, then the capacity stenciled on the wall outside, then back to the room available, and then back to the stencil. Then you cheerfully ask which wag put a zero on the end of the stencil. Honestly, they are as hot as hell inside even with only 6-7 people in (instead of the capacity of 60). With the sea state and the engine fumes, people would be chucking up everywhere, it must be gopping being in there for real.
The free-fall one was worse...you strap into the seats at a weird angle with your head between the legs of the guy behind you. There is absolutely no room to move, the seats are hard plastic, and it is claustrophobic as hell. I couldn't imagine 60 people cramming in there with the rig exploding behind you...
Anyway, the point: a liferaft is designed to keep you alive, just. By that, I mean blood is pumping through the vital organs and air is getting to the lungs. But that's about it, no more. The things are designed with the assumption that you'll be picked up in a few hours, days at the most. But even a few hours would be the most miserable experience of your life, although you would at least live to tell the tale. I'd avoid having to use one at all costs, really.