Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 06-29-2013, 07:35 PM   #1
Senior Member
 
Nsail's Avatar
 
City: Benicia CA
Country: USA
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 498
Life Raft vs Survival Suit

Personally I would never consider going offshore without a life raft and therefore have a six person Switlik. However, in the recently closed thread, one of the persons involved said being warm and floating vs wet and in a raft seemed like an even trade off and it got me thinking more seriously about adding survival suits.


The advantages to me of a life raft over a survival suit are it's easier to be seen by search teams and the onboard supplies that they carry.


The only advantage that I see with survival suits over a life raft is keeping warmer in frigid waters.


In warmer climates the life raft would obviously win out as my choice.


But, I spend most of my time in the PNW (no immediate plans north of the Broughtons) and am wondering which PNW'ers have one or the other, or both. Or, may be considering, and why.
__________________
Advertisement

Nsail is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-29-2013, 08:20 PM   #2
Guru
 
Moonstruck's Avatar
 
City: Hailing Port: Charleston, SC
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Moonstruck
Vessel Model: Sabre 42 Hardtop Express
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 7,854
It seems to me that for a near coastal trip (withing 30 miles of shore) that the following would be a sufficient survival plan:
  • DSC equiped radio
  • Spot
  • AIS sender
  • EPIRB
  • Personal locator devices
  • Flairs and strobe lights
  • VHF handheld radio with DSC
  • Cellular Phone
  • Survival Suits

Of course a life raft could be great to have, but for one trip the above seem an adequate survival plan.
__________________

__________________
Don on Moonstruck
Sabre 42 Hardtop Express & Blackfin 25 CC
When cruising life is simpler, but on a grander scale (author unknown)
http://moonstruckblog.wordpress.com/
Moonstruck is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-29-2013, 08:28 PM   #3
Guru
 
O C Diver's Avatar
 
City: Fort Myers, FL... Summers in Crisfield, MD
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Slow Hand
Vessel Model: Cherubini Independence 45
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 4,820
It all has to do with temperature and time. My charter boat has a SOLAS life raft even though I'm not required to have one. Because I charter as much as 60 miles off shore, I felt that the expected time it would take for the Coast guard to respond to my EPIRB merited me carry a lift raft.

Whether you need a survival suit or not, IMO, is a matter of the temperature of the water you boat in. For most of us, a good fitting 7mm wetsuit with hood gloves and boots would likely be more that enough thermal protection, especially if you are getting into a covered lift raft. Now if you are boating in water below 50 degrees, maybe you do need a survival suit.

My plan would likely be the wetsuit and several towels in a water proof bag. I would be prepared to don the wetsuit once I was in the life raft. It would be nice to think that I would have time to don the wetsuit or survival suit before abandoning ship.......my luck seldom works that way.

Ted
__________________
Blog: mvslowhand.com
I'm tired of fast moves, I've got a slow groove, on my mind.....
I want to spend some time, Not come and go in a heated rush.....
"Slow Hand" by The Pointer Sisters
O C Diver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-29-2013, 09:05 PM   #4
Scraping Paint
 
City: Fort Lauderdale
Vessel Model: CHB 48 Zodiac YL 4.2
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 3,804
With training and practice you can don a survival suit very very quickly. If you have never done it, trying to figure it out as your boat is sinking is a really really bad time to learn. A suit that is not properly donned is all but useless.

I can't imagine anyone taking off their clothes and attempting to don a wetsuit as the boat sinks ... and who in the world is going to wear a wetsuit for the entire trip? You can buy a survival suit (even a brand new one) for way less money than a dry suit that is probably less likely to keep someone alive for long.
RickB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-29-2013, 09:49 PM   #5
Guru
 
BruceK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 7,573
Let`s all stay on the thread topic and help Nsail with his question.
An associated issue is the cost of owning a raft and keeping it current. Do suits need servicing/certifying too?
As Nsail says, suits are less likely here in warmer climes, but I`m pretty sure the pics of a solo round the world sailor rescued off South Australia a year back showed him in a suit on the raft. Gets cold down there in winter, nothing between SA and Antarctica.
__________________
BruceK
Island Gypsy 36 Europa "Doriana"
Sydney Australia
BruceK is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-29-2013, 10:26 PM   #6
Guru
 
psneeld's Avatar
 
City: Avalon, NJ
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Freedom
Vessel Model: Albin 40
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 15,922
After 23 years of cold water survival training with the USCG (including Polar Operations and Alaskan training) and another 11 teaching it for an assistance towing operation...I'll always give the nod to the survival suit. You can still die of hypothermia in a liferaft if you have no thermal protection.

I have interviewed many a fisherman fished out of Alaskan, North Pacific and North Atlantic waters. Both are almost a necessity in many waters...but if only carrying on or the other, I'll take the survival suit every time.

Now...as Rick said, and a lot of others too..."what's your life worth?"...ya gonna gamble when the costs of running a boat generally dwarf what a rental or purchase would be?

And no matter what a bunch of so called experts say...a single tube coastal raft is all you really need for coastal cruising. Unless you need weeks to be rescued....all you need is to stay warm and generally out of the water.
psneeld is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-29-2013, 10:46 PM   #7
Guru
 
SomeSailor's Avatar
 
City: Everett, WA
Vessel Name: Honey Badger
Vessel Model: 42' CHB Europa
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 784
My opinion is you'll stand a greater chance of surviving in a raft with 3 persons than 3 persons in survival suits would on their own.

Better scenario, three folks in gumby suits, in a raft.
SomeSailor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-29-2013, 11:03 PM   #8
Guru
 
O C Diver's Avatar
 
City: Fort Myers, FL... Summers in Crisfield, MD
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Slow Hand
Vessel Model: Cherubini Independence 45
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 4,820
Quote:
Originally Posted by RickB View Post
With training and practice you can don a survival suit very very quickly. If you have never done it, trying to figure it out as your boat is sinking is a really really bad time to learn. A suit that is not properly donned is all but useless.

I can't imagine anyone taking off their clothes and attempting to don a wetsuit as the boat sinks ... and who in the world is going to wear a wetsuit for the entire trip? You can buy a survival suit (even a brand new one) for way less money than a dry suit that is probably less likely to keep someone alive for long.
Rick,
Disinformation helps no one. Diving drysuits are warmer as they let absolutely no water in and can have far better insulation than exposure suits. They are also more durable as they are designed to be used many hundreds of times. There is a reason the good ones cost a great deal more than a survival suit. If you saw the TV series where they were diving under the ice for gold nuggets off Alaska, all the camera crews (friends of mine) were diving drysuits in sub 30 degree (salt water doesn't freeze at 32 degrees) water for up to 4 hours at a time.

The point that you seemed to miss from my previous post is that a survival suit is only better than a wetsuit if you can don it before the boat sinks. We have all seen the videos of small boats that we all have, being sunk quickly by unexpected catastrophes. If you have five minutes, you could put a wetsuit, a drysuit, or a survival suit on. If you have less than a minute, your not getting anything out of it's bag, on, and abandoning ship before it sinks. If you had to don a survival suit in the water, it would be far less effective than a wetsuit as it would hold a great deal more water, requiring more heat from your body. A wetsuit that fits properly, holds far less water requiring far less heat to warm it up. As I said before, if your going to boat in cold water, you need a survival suit. For the cool waters, a wetsuit would be adequate thermal protection.

BTW, the definition of a pessimist is an optimist with experience. That's why my life raft and Epirb are on Hydrostatic releases. I'm not counting on having 10 minutes to put on my exposure suit, deploy everything, and abandon ship.

Ted
__________________
Blog: mvslowhand.com
I'm tired of fast moves, I've got a slow groove, on my mind.....
I want to spend some time, Not come and go in a heated rush.....
"Slow Hand" by The Pointer Sisters
O C Diver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-30-2013, 12:48 AM   #9
Guru
 
Alaskan Sea-Duction's Avatar
 
City: Inside Passage Summer/Columbia River Winter
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Alaskan Sea-Duction
Vessel Model: 1988 M/Y Camargue YachtFisher
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3,159
Quote:
Originally Posted by SomeSailor View Post
My opinion is you'll stand a greater chance of surviving in a raft with 3 persons than 3 persons in survival suits would on their own.

Better scenario, three folks in gumby suits, in a raft.
Being a long time Alaskan and have actually expericed such an event, SS is 1000% correct!
__________________
1988 M/Y Camargue Yacht Fisher
Alaskan Sea-Duction
MMSI: 338131469
Blog: http://alaskanseaduction.blogspot.com/
Alaskan Sea-Duction is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-30-2013, 06:24 AM   #10
Guru
 
psneeld's Avatar
 
City: Avalon, NJ
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Freedom
Vessel Model: Albin 40
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 15,922
Survival is a plan and a process....just saying one device is better than another is like one engine or two.

They both have their good and bads...

Bottom line...rafts provide floatation and wind protection. Survival suits provide both plus direct thermal insulation. However ...to what degree those features dominate and whether you can don a sit or the raft has blow away or gone down with the ship...etc...etc goes back to my first sentence....

You have to have a plan with backups and properly execute that plan.
psneeld is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-30-2013, 06:41 AM   #11
FF
Guru
 
FF's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 16,534
Our choice is for a pair of suits and an "unsinkable" sailing dinghy.

Self rescue would not be fun , but perhaps more reliable than simply waiting praying the batteries in the EPRB are OK.
FF is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-30-2013, 06:52 AM   #12
Guru
 
psneeld's Avatar
 
City: Avalon, NJ
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Freedom
Vessel Model: Albin 40
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 15,922
In today's inexpensive electronics market...I plan on having an EPIRB AND a PLB when venturing more than 10-15 miles off the coast...

But true in many areas of world cruising...self rescue becomes wayyyyy more
important.
psneeld is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-30-2013, 09:47 AM   #13
Guru
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 734
One important consideration missing from this discussion is that getting into a life raft is usually a wet affair. The adage about stepping up into the LR is a crock! My LR service company strongly advised carrying plenty of dry, warm clothes including socks, gloves and watch caps in our ditch bag. We had these sealed in strong ploy bags inside the DB.
Chrisjs is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-30-2013, 09:57 AM   #14
Guru
 
psneeld's Avatar
 
City: Avalon, NJ
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Freedom
Vessel Model: Albin 40
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 15,922
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chrisjs View Post
One important consideration missing from this discussion is that getting into a life raft is usually a wet affair. The adage about stepping up into the LR is a crock! My LR service company strongly advised carrying plenty of dry, warm clothes including socks, gloves and watch caps in our ditch bag. We had these sealed in strong ploy bags inside the DB.
The guys from the liferaft company must not have spent much time in a life raft...it is almost impossible to keep dry inside....unless in a great high pressure area of the tropics....thus the need for survival suits, drysuits or even wet suits when "pleasure rafting" in cool/cold waters/climes and your boat sinks.

Form my experience...most "safety gear experts" have a lot of "book learning" on the subject...but no practical experience. A lot of times from someone who has become "instant famous" from surviving one situation and deciding to write a book and go on a tour.

I have literally hundreds of hours in liferafts from different survival schools to teaching the stuff myself (even at Trawlerfests and the Naval Academy)...even the reflective coating on cheap mylar space blankets dissolves in salt water....ask me how I know..
psneeld is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-30-2013, 11:24 AM   #15
Senior Member
 
DCBD's Avatar
 
City: Sidney BC
Country: Canada
Vessel Name: Our Island
Vessel Model: KK Manatee
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 202
I remember a news story a few years back about a Canadian fishing vessel that sank in the North Pacific. On board they had immersion suits and a life raft. In addition to the crew there was a fisheries authority on board. I don't recall the details but when the vessel sank the only one who was ready/prepared for an emergency situation was the fisheries officer who got into his immersion suit while the crew ran around looking for theirs. Nobody got into the life raft, after it deployed it floated away. The only one to survive was the fisheries officer, I don't think any of the crew was ever found. So for my money, if going offshore I would have both immersion suits and a life raft in addition to EPIRB and flashing light. To me a survival suit is something like a Mustang floater jacket and pants, they have their place but they will not save you if you're floating around in the ocean for any length of time.

But all the equipment in the world will not save you if you don't regularly practice and prepare for the worst. (unless you're as lucky as the Captain of the Costa Concordia who tripped and fell into a life raft).
DCBD is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-30-2013, 02:04 PM   #16
TF Site Team
 
ksanders's Avatar
 
City: SEWARD ALASKA
Country: USA
Vessel Name: LISAS WAY
Vessel Model: BAYLINER 4788
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 3,956
We boat in cold Alaskan waters, north of the inside passage at 60' north lattitude.

We have always carried survival suits on any boat we had. We have the "gumby" style.

We have also always carried a inflatible skiff, and planned on that as a liferaft in an emergency.

On our current boat aw have a SOLAS approved 8 person llife raft as well. Its a big heavy suitcase up on the flying bridge.

In order of "should have" my opinion is:

Survival suits and the skiff you already have.
Liferaft
__________________
Kevin Sanders
Bayliner 4788
Seward, Alaska
www.mvlisasway.com
ksanders is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-30-2013, 02:13 PM   #17
Guru
 
rochepoint's Avatar
 
City: Sidney BC
Country: Canada
Vessel Name: Rochepoint
Vessel Model: 1985 Cheer Men PT38 Sedan
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 1,192
We boat in the PNW, inside of Vancouver Island. We have 4 survival suits that were leftover from our sailboating days. Between them and our inflatable dinghy I feel good in the waters we cruise. Had them on many times but have never had to use them.
__________________
Cheers Mike Barge
MV Rochepoint
Sidney, British Columbia.
"Yes, I have the right anchor"
rochepoint is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-30-2013, 02:22 PM   #18
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 83
That sounds like either the Hope Bay or the Pacific Charmer sinkings, or maybe a combination of the two.

Stability issues caused the Pacific Charmer to roll over while fishing on a calm, clear December night. Two dead, three survived.

Transportation Safety Board of Canada - Marine Investigation Report M97W0236

She went over so quickly there was no time for the crew on deck to get to the survival suits before they ended up in the water. One liferaft failed to deploy and went down with the ship, the other got tangled in the rigging and eventually reached the surface partially inflated and upside down.

The fishery observer was wearing an unapproved jacket with an orally inflatable buoyancy system built in. He is alive today because of it. The best life jacket is the one you're wearing when you end up in the drink with 2 seconds notice. (Assuming it hasn't pinned you to the overhead if you are inside during the capsize.)

The Hope Bay was laden and heading to a fish plant when she went down during a storm. Three dead, one survived.

Transportation Safety Board of Canada - Marine Investigation Report M04W0034

Again, life raft was trapped in the rigging and went down with the ship. Three crew entered the water wearing survival suits and the skipper wearing a floater coat. Only the fishery observer wearing the current version of the survival suit (two piece urethane shell/fabric insulation) survived.

This report is a really good read on the strengths and weaknesses of survival suits. One thing that is not mentioned is that the modern two piece version is next to impossible to don in the water, at least in the models I tested a few years ago. They need to go on while you still have a deck to stand on.
Sisuitl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-30-2013, 02:23 PM   #19
Scraping Paint
 
City: Fort Lauderdale
Vessel Model: CHB 48 Zodiac YL 4.2
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 3,804
Quote:
Originally Posted by O C Diver View Post
Diving drysuits are warmer as they let absolutely no water in and can have far better insulation than exposure suits.
For starters, someone trained and practiced can don a gumby suit in less than 30 seconds over whatever they happen to be wearing. Unlike a dry suit, it provides adequate insulation without requiring a set of fleece underwear or a hot water system. Unlike most dry suits, a gumby suit includes hand and head covering. Promoting the idea that a wet (or dry) suit can be donned in the water and used as a means of extending survival time is like promoting playing field hockey on the freeway.

Exposed hands and head will quickly lead to hypothermia. Very few people, even those trained and practiced in donning any kind of exposure suit are likely to be successful attempting it in the water.

I am sure Mr. Sneeld will back me up in stating that survival with just a suit is problematic in cold water, and survival with only a raft is doubtful for any length of time.
RickB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-30-2013, 02:49 PM   #20
FF
Guru
 
FF's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 16,534
and survival with only a raft is doubtful for any length of time.

Unless you are far enough South that an inflated floor is all that's needed , and the Sun and lack of water become the problem, not hypothermia.
__________________

FF is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off





All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:37 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.0
Copyright 2006 - 2012