Monday, September 07, 2009

Life raft vs Dynamic rescue, advice to a friend...

A friend of mine is getting his boat ready for his first long bluewater passage and my mailbox as a result has a constant stream of questions regarding all manner of subjects relating to the exercise. The subject most recently has been focused on safety systems and suchlike... Truth be told, I think I am getting as much out of the ongoing correspondence as he is. Talking through stuff always makes me reevaluate my various opinions.

One of the things we have been talking about is the whole life raft vs some sort of dynamic rescue system and of course the conversation always comes around to Steve Callahan who spent seventy-six days drifting around awaiting rescue. His book Adrift is really a must read for anyone who sails out of sight of land as it will change your views about a lot of things.

The fact that Callahan had such problems with his liferaft is one of the reasons I always carry a couple of Clamseals (I wrote about them in detail a while back) in my ditch kit as the silly repair kits included with those very expensive life rafts don't actually work when the raft is wet. Which I guess is OK if you happen to have your ship go down in the desert but not so good if you happen to sink in an ocean! The fact that it's obvious if they include a repair kit that won't work in a wet environment that it is not a far reach to assume they may have other negative issues as well.

The dynamic sort of raft is really only represented by the Portland Pudgy these days. For my boat it is just a little big and heavier than I'd like but for those with a boat bigger than 34 feet it would seem to be a contender. For those of us with smaller boats it seems the dynamic option is a DIY affair!

The new generation of smaller and lighter life rafts like the new Revere Coastal series come in at under twenty pounds for a four person with canopy and is actually small enough to work as a back up to something like the Portland Pudgy.

Personally I'm very much on the fence with the whole life raft and dynamic rescue camps but lean towards the dynamic rescue with a small coastal life raft just in case... Belts and braces!