|Rolling that heavy case down the dock|
Before we set out cruising, we had a different idea about how it would be. We were in a frenzy. We thought we were sailing off the edge of the world. If we knew then what we know now, we would never have bought the raft. But we did...
|The rip cord secures to the cradle and there is a long rope inside.|
To be honest, when it came up last last year, we intended to do something about it but just forgot. We had planned to take it off the boat and store it on our daughter's garage until such time as we were prepared to sail off the end of the earth. Really! Well... it came up again this year. The new insurance company says we need to get it inspected or take it off the boat. So even if we spent the money this year, it would have to be done again next year, and the next... or our insurance company COULD say we're not in compliance if we had a claim.
|When it inflates, the bands have holes that form a weak point so they will break.|
|What's inside. Nice and tidy.|
WHY can't we have a life raft on board that is out of date? If we're in a position where we need it and it doesn't inflate, or doesn't work in some other mysterious way... say, the eye wash is expired by a few months (oh the horror)... Well I would say we were in pretty deep shit already! Same deep shit as we would be in without a life raft at all!
|Unfolding it all...|
OK say we have all the latest safety equipment on board. Before we even have time to have any fun out here, it's all EXPIRED! Safety equipment is essentially DISPOSABLE!
|Bording step inflation canister DOES NOT EXPIRE??? Hmmm....|
|The inflation cord attaches to the canister. Stay with the boat as long as possible .|
|Main inflation canister DOES expire...|
Talking to Dan over at Solution One Maritime, we were at least able to gain a bit of clarity. We took the raft to him and he inflated it. He took the time to give us a private lesson in Life-Raft-101 and we can't thank him enough! While he was going through it all, we expressed our frustrations. He can't really SAY OUT LOUD, the things that we wanted to hear. But he hinted at the fact that if your raft is old (like our 1997 Switlik) or out of certification date... you're probably still OK. And there is still a chance that your safety equipment will fail even if it IS within it's limits.
|Last service date, less than 5 years ago. Service every 5 years|
So our decision is made. We said goodbye to our raft. We took the unexpired goodies and the red ditch bag from inside the raft and we left it with Dan to dispose of as he will. It would make a great backyard pool or a nice float toy for somebody's condo. We will remove the cradle from our aft deck and reclaim that living space. We will epoxy in the mounting holes that were drilled in our bedroom ceiling and there will be nothing left but a minor blemish on our deck and the memory of this lesson learned.
Sirius Signal SOS Distress Light. It's pretty neat and even flashes S.O.S.
Next year when the battery and hydrostatic device inside our EPIRB expire, we will purchase a new one, maybe even two of the smaller PLBs (Personal Locator Beacons) that we can wear even exploring on land.
inReach tracking device so that we can reach our loved ones and the SAR team as well via satellite.
So like I said, the decision is an individual one that every Skipper must make. It is a crying shame that we had to leave our life raft this way.
This experience has been an informative one. We've spoken to industry experts and have a more clear information base upon which to make our decision.
|Cute little LED light that hands from the ceiling|
But now that our decision has been made, we're moving on. There is a raging debate out there: Life raft or NO life raft. We have gone over to the NO life raft side... for now.
|A knife is provided to use to cut the raft free from the boat. Hang on as long as you can before cutting.|
|We went over alternate inflation methods and learned that there are auto inflate gauges that keep the raft properly inflated.|
|Morse Code lessons to kill time and maybe get you rescued|
|Baffles beneath the raft fill with water to improve stability in high winds and seas|
|There is a removable canopy, pretty nifty|
|Inside with the canopy up|
|Rain catchment ridges bring water inside to store in bladders provided.|
|Sea Anchor attached to the raft. A spare anchor was inside the survival kit.|
|We inflated the boarding step.|
|Inflating the floor the easy way. The hand pump provided would take much longer|
|It's pretty tight|
|The trusty manual inflator|
|We HAD a watermaker! But Dan says they are very slow and not worth the money|
|Like Christmas unpacking the goodie bag!|