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Hi All,

Not anticipating a need for a liferaft, hadn't given it much thought. We sold the Achilles inflatable that came with our boat... and afterward the wife asked about "what if". My answer was I wasn't going to tow around an inflatable forever for the "what if". Do any of you have or thought about having a lift raft aboard, even for inshore sailing?

Dave
 

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A dinghy is better than nothing, but is absolutely not a good liferaft itself. If seas were as low as 2ft, you might really run the risk of capsize. You would certainly get wet. A good liferaft will have sea anchors to try to limit capsize, but even then, there is no guarantee.

The need for one when near shore, where you are not days from help, is more dependent on water temperature than anything else. Even water as "warm" as 50 deg F will kill you in a couple of hours, if you're exposed. You might get a mayday off, but still not be found in time.

Around here in spring, fall or norther Gulf of Maine waters, I believe they are mandatory. The next best might be a gumby suit, but hard to store and don and you require one for everyone.
 

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Inshore???
I have an inflatable I keep in the boat. Would take me 15 minutes to inflate (4 person west marine sells for about $400- I got on sale for $300). I could inflate it in while floating in the water if boat sinks real fast. I sail with wife and two young kids so I like the fact I got some kind of platform we could float on if need be. There are whales where I am so not far off sure you could potentially be sunk quickly if Moby Dick comes along.

I do not have a life raft. Looked into getting one but the initial cost along with the every few years inspection and repack turned me off. In addition the life rafts do not always auto inflate when you need them. However when I start doing a lot of long distance passages, I will probably get one.
 

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Hello,

For me personally, I am almost never more than 10 nm from land. I do not carry a life raft and I don't plan on it. If the worst happens, and my boat sinks, hopefully I will have time to issue a mayday and press the DSC Mayday button on my VHF. After that I will have to rely on a PDF and seat cushions to keep me and my crew afloat. I do carry a hand held VHF and I usually have my SPOT tracker close by.

I do most of my sailing in fairly populated waters so hopefully someone could fish us out before too long.

Barry
 

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Barry, the guy that went overboard between Block and Pt. Judith last year was in the water for 11 hrs. It was the height of the summer and that passage is extremely busy. If not for the warm water temps, he would be dead. LIS has pretty dangerous temps in Spring and Fall.
 

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Unless you're planning on nothing but marinas for stopovers, some sort of practical tender is a must.. you've got to get to shore somehow now and then. While dinghies, of what ever type, are certainly not liferafts, they are better than nothing in case something happens.

The odds of having to deploy a $$$$$ liferaft in the PNW are pretty long - I'd invest the same money on the best tender you can find for your needs. If you're totally opposed to towing and expect limited use then a good quality roll-up that can be stowed away below would be my choice..
 
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I view my liferaft/EPIRB/Ditch Bag as essential equipment. When out of sight of land they are in position and ready to go. Sailboats, with 6000# of ballast can go down quickly!
 

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PNW water temps don't look like they get out of the 50s in mid summer. Even in the upper 50s, floating in a pfd is 2 hours until being unable to move and not much longer until death. I would rather be in a raft.
 

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I needed a life raft to enter the Around Long Island Regatta. I rented it, then found out that shipping it back to Florida would be very expensive, so I kept it.

So, now I carry it. It does give me piece of mind. It's 4-6 man Survival Products, coastal version. Very small package. about 18 inches square. Has a canopy, sea anchor.

FWIW

Skywalker
 

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For many years I sailed without even a VHF until they became sufficiently commonplace that I could afford one and they became a requirement for participating in many races. Having had one (or several) aboard for nearly 40 years since, I can't imagine not having one.

Likewise, for many years I sailed without a life-raft, reasoning that inshore I really didn't need one, particularly so having a VHF; and, off-shore, having an inflatable aboard the yacht. Then I saw a couple of events that resulted in sinkings and destroyed yachts--and particularly a fire--that didn't give anyone aboard even time to free, never-the-less prepare, an inflatable. These events, tho' rare, do happen. The events we've witnessed, and the number of times we've had black-tip and other sharks circle our boat, or even rub up against the bottom, while we sat becalmed in the Gulf for a few hours at a time, convinced me that having a raft aboard would be wise for the health and safety of my (much) better half, daughter and dog when she's aboard, if not my own.

Whereas our cruising is now virtually always within 100 miles of shore or less, where relatively quick rescues are reasonably certain, we carry a coastal 4-person raft that is sufficiently light weight (55 lbs) that my wife can launch it in the event I am injured or disabled and cannot. The raft cost roughly $2K USD and is mounted in our lazarette locker, together with our ditch bag, with the tether firmly attached to a pad-eye. It can be retrieved and cast off the stern or either quarter very easily, even by a 105# woman. Hopefully it is a piece of equipment we'll never need, just like our EPIRB's and man over-board gear. Better to have and not need than need and not have, eh?

FWIW...
 

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Hi All,

Not anticipating a need for a liferaft, hadn't given it much thought. We sold the Achilles inflatable that came with our boat... and afterward the wife asked about "what if". My answer was I wasn't going to tow around an inflatable forever for the "what if". Do any of you have or thought about having a lift raft aboard, even for inshore sailing?

Dave
What I'm about to suggest is NOT a life raft. It's a soft bottom inflatable raft that will stow in a compact bag and keep 2 people out of the 50 degree water if you're well inland (thus limited chop). As a daysailor, I almost never need a dinghy, but I picked this up at Amazon for $110 to take on Chesapeake charters "just in case" I wanted to row to shore. (The boat model has since been renamed "Mariner 3" and price increased to about $200.) This year I bought a trolling motor for it, and did use it once when anchoring in a cove that had a nice restaurant on shore but no docking facilities:



If you plan to use a dinghy on a regular basis and are willing to tow it, you should get a "real" dinghy. And if you want a life raft, you should buy a real life raft. But if you just want something inexpensive to throw into storage in case you need to row to shore (in calm conditions), you might consider it. But this is NOT a life raft.
 

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I'm required to carry a covered life raft for 25 (about 10 grand) and inspect annually (6 to $800) I chat with skipper of Martha working in Canadian waters from the states, asks where he keeps his raft. Don't need one, he says; Got these floating deck cushions with hand straps on them. Jeez, even an exposure suit like the whale watchers use only insures the body is found (Three dead in Tofino, one {really fat girl]survives in cold water.) That 6 pack is a bit of a joke too. otoh, being partially prepared is ok until you're challenged
 
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