Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Cape Cod
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Re: How many boats carry liferafts?
On one of our sailboats we had one, and I do carry one on my power boat which we fish offshore.
Perhaps the most dramatic experience I've had was I took a 1 day course where we put on survival suits and deployed a life raft in an indoor pool....absolutely benign conditions.
Here's what I learned -
First we donned Gumby Suits....they are more difficult to put on that I could have ever imagined. They are harder to move around in than you think. They are more claustrophobic than you think. But they float nicely and they'll keep you warm for a while. I think it would be interesting to try to put one on in adverse conditions, big seas, big wind as your boat is going down, in a rush....rather than on the apron of an indoor pool with an instructor.
Then we inflated a life raft. We tossed the container in the pool and yanked on the painter. It inflated inverted. In the calm pool, I was asked to right it. Grab that bottom strap, etc. Every right a 420....used to do that much younger. Yea, something like that, but again I was inside in a calm pool. Wasn't easy.
Then we were told to board it. Well the rope ladder swings under the raft when you try and board it. Again, harder than you think. We had one heavy set woman in the course, and we were asked to get her in the raft. She could not climb up on her own. The instructor said, make it work or if this was real she'd be in real trouble. We did it, again very hard. One guy pulling from inside the canopy, the other guy pushing from her hind end in the water...was quite a site. We were exhausted by the time she got in. And again, it wasn't easy to get in ourselves and we are quite able swimmers, we do triathlons and oceans swims.
If you have any of this survival equipment on your boat, I strongly recommend you take a course and try using it. It is eye opening. None of it works as easy as I imagined.
Would I have a raft if going offshore? Yes. For inshore work when I can time weather would I rely on an inflatable dingy? Yes. Do I feel stronger about this is cold water? Absolutely. Am I even more worried in a power boat offshore than a sailboat so my threshold for a raft is lower? Yes.
The bottom line is I think the major safety issue with rafts, gumby suits, etc. is the operator training. I would have never believed this until I spent a day in an indoor pool.