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.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.
The manufacturer's standard. You should pick a re-packer who has been certified by your raft manufacturer.Well
If there going to repack and give you a Certificate for 3 more years whos standard would they be working to ?
II. LIFE RAFTS
A. Rigid Types
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.
That's exactly it, very well put, good suggestion about watching the re-pack also.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.
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.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.
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.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.
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.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.