"Life Tender" as an alternative to life raft

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Owly, Jun 20, 2018.

  1. Owly
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    Owly Junior Member

    Most yachts have what is euphemistically called a "life raft" in a cannister designed to deploy.......hopefully in an emergency and give you a second chance. Unfortunately their life expectancy is very short, as is the quality of build and materials. Hopefully you have a working Epirb and are able to actuate it, and are close enough to shore that rescue is only hours away at most........ And more hopeful still that the thing will inflate and actually hold air. They are expensive, and unreliable, and require periodic inspection and replacement, and even then, it's an iffy proposition. That damned Irishman we all learned to hate..... You know the one. His name is Murphy, inevitably gets into the the game at the worst possible time.
    The alternative would seem to be the "Life Dinghy". It would double as your tender, a rigid tender, and would have positive flotation and a weather cover. It would be rowable and sailable. It would give you at least a fighting chance of getting somewhere, rather than drifting helplessly hoping someone finds you.
    The only one I know of that meets the criteria is the Portland Pudgie, but I don't know much about it except that it seems gawd awful expensive. But how much is your life worth?
    Reading about Richard Woods Duo, it occurred to me that the potential for a stitch and glue life dinghy design is realistic. Sealed areas for flotation and stowage for survival gear. Oars doubling to support outrigged flotation tubes, etc......

    H.W.
     
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  2. TANSL
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    TANSL Senior Member

    There have been many professionals working, for many years, and collecting experiences of shipwrecks, to draft some rules, design and construction, which must be fulfilled by all life-saving devices.
    The "life rafts" must be built according to these standards and must be approved by the competent bodies. So, although they could be improved, sure, there is no reason to harbor doubts about them.
     
  3. Owly
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    Owly Junior Member

    You have more confidence in them than I do.............. I've read too many accounts of rafts that failed to inflate, or proved leaky, failed seams, etc. As I mentioned above, I feel that they are only to be relied on fairly close to shore where help is hours away. The best life raft is your boat.... a multihull, instead of a boat designed to sink. Standards or not, they are far too light.........they have to be. Hopefully none of us will ever have to find out in the middle of the ocean. They are infinitely better than treading water. Standards or not, they are designed for short term occupancy with the idea that you will have a functioning epirb and help will be on the way. They are not capable of being propelled in any meaningful way. Thus far I have yet to read a positive account of survival in a death raft. Survival adrift at sea is an ordeal in any sort of life saving boat.
    H.W.
     
  4. TANSL
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    TANSL Senior Member

    You have your opinion, very respectable but I do not share. You, what do you want? Start the crossing of the Atlantic and, if your ship sinks, end it with life raft ?.
    Standards or not, life rafts are designed to fulfill a mission, which generally comply perfectly, and are not designed for anything that anyone can think of. Asking the life raft for more is not reasonable. If you want a propelled artifact, buy a lifeboat.
    A multihull? OK, why not a submarine?
     
  5. tom28571
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    tom28571 Senior Member

    The survival of the Dugal Robertson family offers a good comparison of hard and soft dinghy reliability.
    Dougal Robertson - Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dougal_Robertson I met Dugal when he gave a talk to my sailing club which was pretty instructive about placing your faith in different survival strategies.

    The soft dinghy failed by stages over time and the whole family survived in the hard dinghy until found some 38 days later. A hard dinghy with storage/flotation/weather protection and an ability to sail should be minimal insurance..
     
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  6. SamSam
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    SamSam Senior Member

    This guy spent 76 days on an inflatable raft, eventually he was quite disturbed thinking about how the tiniest hole in the deteriorating skin of the raft probably meant death. He worried about using his hooks and a spear he had and about the spines of the fish that traveled along underneath him. Steven Callahan - Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Callahan
     
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  7. Owly
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    Owly Junior Member

    I really wanted to start a thread about "life dinghies" as an alternative to "death rafts". It's clear that people differ greatly in their confidence in these emergency death rafts. I've read many accounts (including the ones people have posted here) of abandoning ship in these death rafts, and NONE is inspiring of confidence.
    They are very good for what they are intended for...... an alternative to treading water for a few hours to a day or two, when one is near the coastline, and has sent out emergency signals so that help is not far off. But that is the case ONLY if they are regularly inspected and replaced, and the inflation systems work as designed. The environment at sea, especially in the tropics does not help. The stories of testing these things and failed inflations, failed seams, etc are legion. It's not uncommon for people to actually lose the raft........ for it to break away from the mother ship before they are ready. Also on inverted multihulls, where it could provide excellent shelter, tied between the hulls, they inevitably break loose. The attachments for ropes are woefully inadequate it would seem.
    In defense of the death raft, they MUST be light and compact enough to handle, and to carry aboard in a small cannister, and that makes it impossible for them to be anything approaching rugged. The manufacturers have done a good job within those limitations. They are somewhat more rugged than a childs swimming pool toy ;-)

    As I said in my first post, I believe a stitch and glue tender could be designed to be a REAL "life raft". They are capable of being rowed or sailed, and can be quite light. Sealing off and decking off areas strategically for flotation and stowage using very light plywood. Inflation tubes can add to stability, and even offers the possibility of being used as an outrigger(s) for sailing. On a narrow tender, oars could be used to support the outrigger(s), and fabric stretched between them could serve as a side deck for hiking out while sailing, or simply to lounge on, increasing usable space.
    This sort of project should be "open source", with numerous people contributing their design expertise or ideas to a scalable concept boat of which most every one would reflect the builder's choices and priorities, and personal innovations. Richard Woods Duo would be a good starting point at only 45 pounds (bare hull), sailable, with inflation tubes, a centerboard, a two piece option, and made from inexpensive 4mm plywood. Just a starting point, as it is quite small, but full of excellent ideas. For one or two people, it would probably do the job.

    The real advantage of the "life dinghy" or "Life Tender" (probably a better term), is that it is a daily use boat when in port / at anchor. That means that you will know the limitations, how to handle it well sailing or rowing. It's a boat you will be comfortable with. You will know the condition of it. It will be on the davits or deck. There is no question of weather it will inflate or not. You aren't jumping into an unfamiliar inflatable craft only to discover how helpless you are, and how utterly useless it is in terms of navigation. Even a jellyfish has more mobility and control.......... Is it a "life raft", or a prolonged slow death raft? To me, an I speak ONLY for myself, there is no feeling more frustrating than being utterly helpless with no resources to control my destiny or direction. No positive action I can take to improve my situation.

    H.W.
     
  8. TANSL
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    TANSL Senior Member

    I am sure that this is not the case but I do not have data to prove it. I would like you to be able to demonstrate in some way such a negative assertion, which goes against what the regulatory agencies of many states are consenting to. As I said before, life rafts must be approved by the administration of the flag country of the ship and, frankly, I do not think that these organisms lend themselves to approve "these things failing inflations, failing seams, ..." so often
     
  9. TeddyDiver
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    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    I'm inclined to concur with OP. That said liferafts have their place on vessels when there's no proper lifeboat or "life dinghy" or their capacity is inadaquate. What is a proper "life dinghy" is quite hard to say.
    Teddy
     
  10. portacruise
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    portacruise Senior Member

    Inflatable rafts and dinghies can be designed to hold their own compared to the pudgy. The material in Whitewater rafts can hold up to daily impacts, harsh conditions and exposure for several years without leaks or seem problems. They could be designed for Speed or rowing or sailing and with self bailing insulated floors. They would possibly have an advantage in being lower weight, storing in smaller volume, and cost. Inflatable dinghies could be left tied down deflated on Deck and inflated without using the canister when dangerous conditions warrant, or when periodically checking for integrity. Just my humble opinion, but it is not fair to compare the pudgy to existing high-efficiency, compact liferafts which have probably saved more lives than dinghies.
     
  11. Angélique
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    Angélique aka Angel (only by name)

    Don't bet your life on it . . .

    - [​IMG]

    ALSE life raft (ALSE = Aviation Life Support Equipment)
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018
  12. Angélique
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    Angélique aka Angel (only by name)

    I remember this one from two years ago, where one survived to tell the tale; - link 1, - link 2 (quote source), - link 3.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018
  13. Angélique
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    Angélique aka Angel (only by name)

    And there's operator errors too...
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018
  14. Angélique
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    Angélique aka Angel (only by name)

    From a currently running sales ad (spare link) of a 1986 Kirie Feeling 960, from and in France, showing life raft storage under the abeam aft cockpit seat, I wonder how that one is gonna float free when the boat suddenly sinks bow first, and the hydrostatic release unit automatically releases the life raft at the set depth, what happens then . . ?

    1986 Kirie Feeling 960 showing life raft storage under the abeam aft cockpit seat.jpg
    (click pic to enlarge, and click again to shrink)
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018

  15. Angélique
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    Angélique aka Angel (only by name)

    Quote from the third link's post #7: (by Malo 37 from North East Scotland)
    I've just digged up the MAIB (Marine Accident Investigation Branch) investigation report and recommendations about this accident, the linked thread till now ended long before the investigation was finished, it it turned out to be the case as suspected in the above quoted post...

    From the MAIB: Sinking of vivier creel boat Louisa with loss of 3 lives:
    PDF: MAIB full investigation report #17 - 2017: Louisa

    PDF: Annexes to MAIB full investigation report #17 - 2017: Louisa

    PDF: Safety flyer to the fishing industry, highlighting a number of the safety lessons produced from the investigation report...
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2018
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