Life rafts

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Life rafts

Postby storm petrel » Sat Jul 04, 2009 8:35 pm

Hi all,

I was about 8 miles offshore a couple of weeks ago when the conversation turned to how the crew and I would get on if the proverbial hit the fan (or in this case the hull). The crew thought that holding an epirb while treading water waiting to be recued might not be that much fun. They though it might be time to invest in a safer alternative than my old lifejackets. So I have started to look at life rafts. How many of you have got life rafts on your Tophats? Do you think they are necessary? If you do have one what did it cost, how much does it cost to service, where do you keep it on the boat and are there any other issues I should know about before I dip into the piggy bank for one?

Any advice would be appreciated.

Cheers,
Mark
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Re: Life rafts

Postby scott » Mon Aug 03, 2009 7:11 pm

Hi Mark,

I've wondered the same thing about life rafts. I currently have an inflatable tender, which while I haven't measured it, reckon it would fit on the foredeck above the hatch. It is reasonably light and shouldn't be too hard to lift up if needed. I could always deflate it, but if I'm sinking, I may not be able to pump it up quickly enough. Then again, if I'm sinking, anything is possible!

I plan to do some extended coastal sailing, both day hops and overnight. For longer trips, I'm going to look into hiring one of the RFD rafts. Having said that, I don't know how much they are so it may be quite pricey. I'd have to weigh up the safety benefits, vs cost vs the arrangements I have at the time I guess.

For the moment at least, towing my inflatable and then when / if needed lifting it on the foredeck is what is working for me. I don't think it's perfect, but not too bad.

Would be interested to hear if you've come up with a system that suits you.

Scott.
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Re: Life rafts

Postby storm petrel » Tue Aug 04, 2009 7:33 pm

Hi Scott,

I assume from the lack of replies that no one else has got a life raft on their Top Hat? Given that they are such a good little sea boat this seems surprising. At present I just sit my small fibreglass dinghy on the foredeck but I would hate to have to use it in rough seas, especially if I had a few people on board.

As skipper I am acutely aware of my responsibility for ensuring the safety of my crew (often family) and not having a suitable plan B is a concern. For this reason I will probably bite the bullet and buy a life raft, but at $2300 it may be a while before I do so.

Talking about safeties, I was a couple of miles offshore on Sunday and the Maritime Officers were going from boat to boat checking to ensure that each had a 406 EPIRB on board.

Cheers,
Mark.
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Re: Life rafts

Postby auriga » Tue Aug 04, 2009 8:11 pm

Have to say i dont have one onboard, but if i was venturing off shore for any extended journey i'd be hesitant not to take one. Rather have one and not need it than need it and not have it...

Speaking of such safety, how many people here have undertaken any sea survival courses?
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Re: Life rafts

Postby scott » Tue Aug 04, 2009 10:28 pm

Hi Mark,

Interesting re the 406 inspections. I picked one up a few weeks ago from Bias just when it had gone below the $500 mark. I kind of regret not getting the water activated one now given I'm normally single handed. Maybe I'll get one down the track.

You mentioned the $2300 raft - is that one of the RFD ones in the hard containers? Pricey, but I guess would solve a lot of storage, not to mention survival issues.

Speaking of survival, I haven't done a survival at sea course. I'm getting most things covered now with regard to safety, but must admit to have not considered this. I'd be interested though. Maybe if there a few people interested in the Sydney / Newcastle area it could be done as a group?

Still on heavy weather, I was reading my Heavy Weather Sailing book the other day while sailing across JB (I think doing that is kind of like watching Jaws on a water proof phone while kayaking). Some of the recounts of surviving storms are, while incredibly insightful, near terrirfying!

Scott.
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Re: Life rafts

Postby Phillip » Wed Aug 05, 2009 4:23 pm

Good Afternoon Scott, Mark and All,

I have attached a photo of a Top Hat Mk 1 that was for sale around October last year with a life raft.

As far as safety courses are concerned there is that done in the coxswain's course and that for off-shore racing.

Speaking historically, the only Top Hat that I know of (at this stage) that has meet an untimely end was Chris Mitchill's BARCEROLE Mk0 in which went ashore in Java during 1971 :oops: .

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Re: Life rafts

Postby ozzibod » Wed Aug 05, 2009 10:25 pm

Good evening, Scott, Mark, Phillip and everyone
I note these posts with interest because I was in a dilemma as to whether to hire or purchase a life-raft to put on board Sintra II whilst sailing from Sydney to Hobart.
Initially, I investigated hiring but that was a horrific expense from a commercial supplier. Subsequently, I purchased a "Beaufort" Lifeguard 6 man soft valise case life raft which was being sold as virtually new (manufacture date Feb 2007)for $2600. At the time, I had the money and grabbed it.
Being a a soft valise, and being the size it was, it fit very neatly inside one of the cockpit lockers (Mark 1). I figured that it would be easy to get at in an emergency. Also, being there, there were no issues with it being on the cabin top or elsewhere in the way.
A financial downside of ownership of a life raft is that they should be serviced every 12 months and this costs about $300 or so I understand. For non commercial use like us lot, I guess we could stretch that to 2 years depending on the type and quantity of rations and medical supplies included in it. Some of you more knowledgeable folks may have some ideas or advice on that one.
Personally, I agree that it did give me a good measure of comfort when offshore during the trip and I wrestle with whether I should keep it or not. I mainly race here on the Derwent River or cruise our south east coastal waters.
As it may be a few years before I head back up to the big island, I would probably be interested in taking offers for it.

cheerio for now
Austin
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Re: Life rafts

Postby bornfreee » Mon Sep 07, 2009 3:10 pm

If you look at the racing yachts and all the safety gear they have to carry you would think we would have no deaths out at sea.The joy of sailing is from the freedom we attain from being away from the control of our every day lives, every where you look now we are being more and more controlled by regulations have a look at the guys who did the big journeys 20 years ago they didnt have all these electronic devices and safety equipment they had good boats and prepared them well so that they were sea worthy these new race boats are so lightly built and go so fast it is no wonder they fall apart and sink, we should be concerned because the more accidents the public here about the more the bureaucrats will regulate our sport. So maybe think about putting that money into your boat to make her very sea worthy eg getting rid of some of those sea cocks making sure all bilge pump outlets are way above the water line secondary system of wash boards as in ply cut out in one piece in case you loose one of your main wash boards over size rule bilge pump 3500 gall as emergency pump help your self stay afloat good seamanship is way better than getting into a raft having some risk is part of the enjoyment of the sport :D
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Re: Life rafts

Postby storm petrel » Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:15 pm

I agree with everything you say, but beyond the continental shelf I would still feel safer with a escape pod on board. I also think the only time you should enter a life raft is when you have to STEP UP into it (i.e. when absolutely everything else has failed!). I would like to think I could cope with a seacock failing, a window being washed in, losing a washboard, etc, but I read horror stories of boats hitting submerged containers and the having half their bow torn open. I am probably getting old, but now I have my children on board (and my grandchildren are getting keener to join us)this is a concern. After all, we are responsibe for the safety of our crew.

For coastal cruising I probably would not bother, but if I decided to make a trip to Lord Howe or NZ I think it would be good seamanship to pack a funtional life raft.

Mark
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Re: Life rafts

Postby bornfreee » Tue Sep 08, 2009 10:25 am

Hi Mark nice to hear from you again... have you thought about having your tender as a sailing life raft like the Pardey's do ?? their argument is you can sail your way to safety instead of just floating around you can make up your own survival pack, dinghy is unsinkable, is more reliable, kids can have fun with it (and yourself) dosnt have expensive inspections every year plus it is another way of helping yourself out of danger cheers mate Bill
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