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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > USCG Liferaft Certificate ???
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Thread: USCG Liferaft Certificate ??? Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
02-18-2009 05:36 PM
billyruffn
Quote:
Originally Posted by amarinesurveyor View Post
I remember back in the 80's when I was sailing a Swan 44 around pretty regularly, the raft was due for re-padking and the owner of the boat said; Ok I think it's time for a life raft drill. We proceeded to act like we had an emergency and get the raft in the water and pull the rip cord, on a mooring in Newport harbor! I forget how long it took us exactly to be in the raft, but it was just a couple of minutes for the 4 of us to be in the raft with the grab bag. It was quite the experience, in a non-emergency...good practice.
Somewhere in the back of my brain is a notion that inflating your raft by "pulling the cord" shouldn't be done unless it's really necessary. When we had our raft repacked at the Winslow factory in Florida they manually unpacked it and inflated it with compressed air. I seem to remember that using the compressed gas to inflate the raft subjects elements of the inflation mechanism or the raft material proximate to the inflation mechanism to extreme cold generated by the expanding gas, and that this is not good. Obviously, it's OK to do when you need it, as that will probably be the only time it's done (assuming the raft is abandoned after a rescue) -- but that repeated inflations weakens critical components. Maybe someone with better knowledge on this subject could chime in here.

Quote:
Most manufacturers recommend repacking every year or 3 years, by a facitily that is certified by the manufacturer. It is important for it to be done when specified, because the more years you put it off, the more it costs, and then there might be the time when they say "sorry we can't repack your raft. If you are diligent you can get many years from a raft. Most times when I survey a boat with a raft, it is past due for inspection.
I also remember from discussions with the Winslow factory people that one of the reasons you get it repacked very so often is to lessen fatigue on the fabric at the fold points. If the fabric remains folded in the exact same place for years, it loses strength. Periodic inflation and repacking puts folds in slightly different places. This may be why some shops won't repack a raft that's seriously out of date.

In addition, one of the causes of degradation of rafts is moisture and it's effect on metal components of the inflation mechanism. Periodic repacking allows the insides of the raft package to dry out and metal parts to be inspected. I believe Winslow pioneered the idea of a "3 year pack" by using vacuum packing that adds a layer of moisture protection to the raft/contents. Other's may have followed suit, I don't know. One of the downsides of three years between repacks is that all the gear packed with the raft must have expiration dates that go beyond the due date of the next repack.

I'll admit I'm no saint when it comes to expiration dates, but I rarely let the raft go much more than a year beyond its due date for the reasons stated above. Given it's initial cost, I want to get as many years out of it as possible. Given the intended use, I want it to work as advertised if needed.
02-18-2009 11:47 AM
sailingdog Rockter—

I agree, but there was one company that I read of that had done exactly that. Since the rafts were often not used, the theft wasn't often discovered until years later when the raft was being opened to be repacked.
02-18-2009 09:42 AM
Rockter Man, you are getting pretty far down the pipe when you will steal the raft out of a cannister and put stones in there.

I guess I must stick to the valise type so I can see it.

I am 50 now, but it takes a long time to see just how low this species can stoop.

Expletive.
02-18-2009 01:17 AM
sailingdog
Quote:
Originally Posted by billyruffn View Post
I'd recommend that you witness the repacking if at all possible. You'll learn a lot about your raft and be able to see all the gear that goes inside.

I'd highly recommend this as well...since it also lets you know what is really packed in your liferaft. There was a recent spate of liferaft repacking where the rafts were not repacked but stolen...and rocks and other such stuff were left in place of the raft. If you're watching them repack it, they're probably not able to steal the raft.
02-17-2009 07:32 PM
amarinesurveyor
Quote:
Originally Posted by billyruffn View Post
The manufacturer's standard. You should pick a re-packer who has been certified by your raft manufacturer.
My guess is that the reference to the "inspector assigned to witness servicing of inflatable life rafts at the servicing facility" may be that for which the inspector wants to charge the $90, so maybe he's not ripping anyone off, he's just confused as to what type of boat the raft is going on. Bottom line is -- if the USCG doesn't require a raft on your boat, you don't need to follow their guidelines in inspecting it, and you won't need a USCG certificate from the inspector. That said, you should only use a repacker who's been certified by your manufacturer.

I'd recommend that you witness the repacking if at all possible. You'll learn a lot about your raft and be able to see all the gear that goes inside.
That's exactly it, very well put, good suggestion about watching the re-pack also.
I remember back in the 80's when I was sailing a Swan 44 around pretty regularly, the raft was due for re-padking and the owner of the boat said; Ok I think it's time for a life raft drill. We proceeded to act like we had an emergency and get the raft in the water and pull the rip cord, on a mooring in Newport harbor! I forget how long it took us exactly to be in the raft, but it was just a couple of minutes for the 4 of us to be in the raft with the grab bag. It was quite the experience, in a non-emergency...good practice.
Oh well, back to the question. Most manufacturers recommend repacking every year or 3 years, by a facitily that is certified by the manufacturer. It is important for it to be done when specified, because the more years you put it off, the more it costs, and then there might be the time when they say "sorry we can't repack your raft. If you are diligent you can get many years from a raft. Most times when I survey a boat with a raft, it is past due for inspection.
Keep you inspection current, you want to make sure it will open when you need it. Can you imagine needing to pop it open and finding that it won't!
Brian
02-17-2009 03:17 PM
billyruffn
Quote:
Originally Posted by tommays View Post
Well

If there going to repack and give you a Certificate for 3 more years whos standard would they be working to ?
The manufacturer's standard. You should pick a re-packer who has been certified by your raft manufacturer.

See the USCG "GUIDE FOR INSPECTION & REPAIR OF
LIFESAVING EQUIPMENT" at http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/nvic/pdf/1960s/n2-63.pdf

The relevant paragraph from pages 19 and 20 is below:

Quote:
II. LIFE RAFTS
A. Rigid Types
(text deleted)
B. Inflatable Types

1. Except for external examination of the container and stowage of the equipment, this type of raft should be inspected and tested only at one of the inflatable life raft manufacturer's approved servicing facilities. The inspector assigned to witness servicing of inflatable life rafts at a servicing facility should use the manufacturer’s Coast Guard approved servicing manual to evaluate the repairs, conduct tests, and approve the servicing and repacking of the rafts. Each manufacturer's servicing manual contains a listing of the minor repairs that can be accomplished at a. servicing facility. Also contained in this manual is a listing of the major repairs which require the return of a raft to the manufacturer. Cognizant OCMI's should be provided with an office copy of the manufacturer's service manual to facilitate the inspection of inflatable life rafts.
My guess is that the reference to the "inspector assigned to witness servicing of inflatable life rafts at the servicing facility" may be that for which the inspector wants to charge the $90, so maybe he's not ripping anyone off, he's just confused as to what type of boat the raft is going on. Bottom line is -- if the USCG doesn't require a raft on your boat, you don't need to follow their guidelines in inspecting it, and you won't need a USCG certificate from the inspector. That said, you should only use a repacker who's been certified by your manufacturer.

I'd recommend that you witness the repacking if at all possible. You'll learn a lot about your raft and be able to see all the gear that goes inside.
02-17-2009 10:33 AM
Rockter Tell him to expletive off.
He will know full well that it is not needed for a recrreation boat.
02-17-2009 08:50 AM
tommays Well

If there going to repack and give you a Certificate for 3 more years whos standard would they be working to ?
02-17-2009 01:06 AM
nical Thanks very much. I thought that USCG Certificate sounded...um...like a bit of a scam.
Nick L.
02-15-2009 10:32 PM
amarinesurveyor
Quote:
Originally Posted by billyruffn View Post
Nical, Are you a commercial, fishing or passenger carrying vessel? If not, I don't think the USCG even cares if you have a life raft.
That's exactly it, the coast guard doesn't care if you have one if you are a private recreational craft. If you are a commercial charter boat then you are required to have life raft and various other equipment depending on where you are operating and how far offshore.
Sounds like the raft re-packer is trying to sell you something you don't need.
Brian
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