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Old 06-04-2017, 02:39 AM   #1
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Looking for liferaft recommendation

Hi all, can anyone recommend a liferaft brand that offers good bang (safety) for the buck?

Thanks,
Mike
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Old 06-04-2017, 05:05 AM   #2
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We last purchased a life raft 12 years ago. At that time we had rather specific requirements we needed to conform with in order to participate in the Newport to Bermuda race. I found it very helpful to shop for that raft at our local life raft facility. We compared features, price and had the ability to see the actual packed rafts. In our case the decision on which raft to buy came down to how we would store it and where as not many brands could satisfy all of our requirements.
Remember too that rafts require re-packing every few years or so and you will need someone to do this as it is not a do it yourself job.

My wife and I have been discussing the idea of a life raft for our new boat and have not yet decided on whether or not we want or need one. If we do decide it is necessary, we will head back to the specialty store.
Bruce
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Old 06-04-2017, 05:12 AM   #3
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Find out who in your area recertifies (unpacks, inspects, tests, brings components up to date) life rafts. Then go talk to them. Manufacturers change what they have made for them as most don't make them in house. Have an Elliot on my charter boat that gets recertified every year. I'm told it's still in good shape after 16 years but the ones they sell now aren't as good. Have a Swiftlik on my trawler that's 15 years old. Had it recertified 2 years ago and was told it was in good shape and well made. Hope I never find out how good either one is.

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Old 06-04-2017, 05:54 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelB1969 View Post
Hi all, can anyone recommend a liferaft brand that offers good bang (safety) for the buck?

Thanks,
Mike
What are your intended cruising areas?

How far offshore?

Water temps?
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Old 06-04-2017, 06:18 AM   #5
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Re-certification is costly and can take your LR out of service for weeks depending on your service center's scheduling. So, apart from other considerations, also take into account the required certification schedule to maintain warranty. Our last raft was a DSB (German). Never used it (!!), so not able to really comment but was supposed to be good!! Lastly, buy a LR that is bigger than your normal crew complement. If you do ever need to use it, you will be grateful for the extra space (so I am told!).
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Old 06-04-2017, 06:34 AM   #6
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I just scanned a USCG safety circular that I beleive said new liferafts can go 2 years without repacking for commercial vessels in the US.

Also, it's your life, but if not required to carry a raft, recertification isn't required and you can repack it yourself if you want.

People pack their own parachutes so a liferaft sounds less scary.

For awhile...several companies were stealing the rafts and repacking the canisters with junk...big stink.....

Also recertified liferafts do blow seams and valves upon opening as well as fail to inflate.

So while a fairly new, recertification life raft might be a big comfort and most likely a great survival tool....just keep all probabilities in mind when deciding what survival plan is best for you.
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Old 06-04-2017, 06:36 AM   #7
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To purchase a life raft that is outfitted to your specific cruising areas and great customer support and local recertification give these folks a call:
http://winslowliferaft.com
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Old 06-04-2017, 06:47 AM   #8
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How to Choose a Liferaft - Sail Magazine

Life raft Rentals for Noobs - Ocean Racing Anarchy - Sailing Anarchy Forums

Six ISO 9650 liferafts tested
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Old 06-04-2017, 06:50 AM   #9
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I would suggest being wary of Zodiac LRs based off of personal experience. Our Zodiac valise raft was junk at 10 years. Failed re-certification - leaked like a sieve.
Glue seams were coming apart. Of course your experience may be different and they may have even improved the product!!
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Old 06-04-2017, 06:56 AM   #10
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I just scanned a USCG safety circular that I beleive said new liferafts can go 2 years without repacking for commercial vessels in the US.

Also, it's your life, but if not required to carry a raft, recertification isn't required and you can repack it yourself if you want.

People pack their own parachutes so a liferaft sounds less scary.

For awhile...several companies were stealing the rafts and repacking the canisters with junk...big stink.....

Also recertified liferafts do blow seams and valves upon opening as well as fail to inflate.

So while a fairly new, recertification life raft might be a big comfort and most likely a great survival tool....just keep all probabilities in mind when deciding what survival plan is best for you.
Some 20 years ago I remember reading an editorial in a sailing magazine about the first repacking/certification of a life raft that was purchased new for a trip around the world by the editor and his family.

At the recommended recertification date they brought the life raft to a certified facility for inspection/re-packing and arranged to be there when the raft was inflated. Apparently, upon inflation the raft assumed its designed shape for a few moments and promptly fell apart.
Something about faulty adhesive...
The editorial described the shock of watching it collapse to the shop floor, nothing but a pile of orange and yellow fabric.

Can you imagine? I would not advise a home re-packing of a life raft but I always looked at ours as it sat in its canister on deck and wondered.
Bruce
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Old 06-04-2017, 06:58 AM   #11
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From the Sail Magazine article.....

The inspection and repacking process generally takes between 4 to 8 hours depending on the size of the raft, the age of the raft and any repairs that might be necessary. You should plan on spending around $825 to $1,200 for the inspection, replenishing, repair and repacking every three years.

If accurate that means raft ownership is around a dollar a day after initial purchase....not too bad when you step back from it. Especially if you cruise a lot.
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Old 06-04-2017, 07:04 AM   #12
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for a different view, check out Portland Pudgy. no repack necessary.
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Old 06-04-2017, 07:09 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce B View Post
Some 20 years ago I remember reading an editorial in a sailing magazine about the first repacking/certification of a life raft that was purchased new for a trip around the world by the editor and his family.

At the recommended recertification date they brought the life raft to a certified facility for inspection/re-packing and arranged to be there when the raft was inflated. Apparently, upon inflation the raft assumed its designed shape for a few moments and promptly fell apart.
Something about faulty adhesive...
The editorial described the shock of watching it collapse to the shop floor, nothing but a pile of orange and yellow fabric.

Can you imagine? I would not advise a home re-packing of a life raft but I always looked at ours as it sat in its canister on deck and wondered.
Bruce
I taught different safety at sea courses for the better part of a decade, some included pool work with inflating life rafts. Out of the couple dozen class inflations through the years, I think I saw 3 different failures or partial failures. One tube valve, upper tube and canopy leak and one failed to inflate past about 20 percent.

Pretty high percentage rate....plus all the inflation failures of USCG equipment though the years in actual emergencies....makes me wonder and wary.

So many times you hear people here on TF say that they had to go back and fix things others have fixed for them......hmmmmmm....liferafts probably have a better QA than many businesses, but there are still plenty of failures. Not so sure I wouldn't trust a repack if I learned the proper way and did it myself....
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Old 06-04-2017, 07:30 AM   #14
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I have the Revere Coastal Commander 6 person life raft.

Big advantage for me is that the Revere recertification location is right here in Jacksonville so I was able to drop it off and pick it up in January before my Exuma trip.
It requires recertification every three years.
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Old 06-04-2017, 07:50 AM   #15
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Our Zodiac was repacked for the second time earlier this year by Westpac in Tacoma. Upon inflation and letting it sit on the floor for a day they said the seams and air pressure checked out well.

Then they proceeded to remove listed items from the raft. The previous Richmond BC re-packer had not re-upped several things ncluding no flares at all. As mentioned by others, who does the recertification and where located is the key for LR selection in your area.
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Old 06-04-2017, 07:50 AM   #16
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I taught different safety at sea courses for the better part of a decade, some included pool work with inflating life rafts. Out of the couple dozen class inflations through the years, I think I saw 3 different failures or partial failures. One tube valve, upper tube and canopy leak and one failed to inflate past about 20 percent.

Pretty high percentage rate....plus all the inflation failures of USCG equipment though the years in actual emergencies....makes me wonder and wary.

So many times you hear people here on TF say that they had to go back and fix things others have fixed for them......hmmmmmm....liferafts probably have a better QA than many businesses, but there are still plenty of failures. Not so sure I wouldn't trust a repack if I learned the proper way and did it myself....
Based on what I have read here, I have no doubt that you could perform the service. I believe that I could too as I have developed a fairly decent set of hands-on skills in my life.
Like any task I perform, the question always involves effeciency vs cost vs performance.
I can perform a lot of jobs to a very high standard if I don't have to be efficient. Cost of the job in question can be much more than the dollars spent...
Bruce
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Old 06-04-2017, 07:02 PM   #17
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Just purchased a Revere Coastal 2.0 6 person for our 44 trawler. Valise was not an option due to size/weight so we went with container.
Before you purchase - take a look at the "allocated" space per person - not much so we went from a 4 to a 6!!!! Also 3 year certification.
+/- $2K and hope it is the best money spent - but never used
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Old 06-04-2017, 08:35 PM   #18
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WE have the Revere offshore commander 6 person.

Nice price, and three year maint intervals.

Bought it at West Marine black friday sale last November. Free shipping to the store. Saved a bunch
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Old 06-04-2017, 10:12 PM   #19
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We got a Winslow that was not the cheapest option, but it was by far the lightest. I felt it was the only one that there was any chance my wife could have a chance of being able to deploy on her own if the chips were down, due to the weight. We did our first recertification this year and I was very impressed with their system for shipping it back to them for certification, which was much cheaper than the semi local place I could have driven it 45 minutes to. Shipping a raft with compressed gasses, and flares in it is not straight forward unless someone has is all lined up and pre arranged with a shipper. I also like the pelican case pack option they do. It fits nicely behind the seats in out pilot house, but is right there if we need it.
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Old 06-05-2017, 01:16 AM   #20
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In the past I used to just rent liferafts when making hazardous offshore trips. I never thought it necessary to own one for the 90%+ of coastal cruising that I did. I would still recommend this approach depending on your plans.

We've all read how some truly exceptional sailors (like the Pardays) decided to rely on specially modified dinghies instead of an inflatable liferaft. There are many reports describing how truly awful survival conditions are onboard an inflatable raft.

It would seem to me that a robust plan would include three things: (1) deploy the inflatable liferaft; (2) grab the emergency ditch bag with additional supplies; (3) deploy your dinghy (hard or zodiac) with emergency sails.

Obviously it depends on conditions. There is a difference between being in a hurricane versus holing after hitting a container in smooth seas. But the important thing about systems in an offshore boat is redundancy. Your expensive inflatable might not inflate, might blow a seam, get slammed against a sharp edge of your boat and rip open, etc.

I would not rely completely on an inflatable only.
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