Do you really need a liferaft? Well, if you are out in water over your head, you certainly should consider having some alternative to your boat! Many small cruisers and sailboats do not even carry a dinghy, or if they do, it is stored in such as way as to be useless in most “abandon ship” situations. On striking an object, a boat can fill and sink in just a few minutes. Fire is another very real risk on a small boat. Do you have an “abandon ship” plan? Since the point of this article is to consider whether or not you should invest in a liferaft, I’ll concentrate on coastal and small vessels rafts. If you are planning an offshore passage and aren’t absolutely certain you need a liferaft, I’d suggest you just stay at home.

How far can you swim in cold water? On September 4th of this year, hurricane Earl made landfall near Halifax; there was one fatality. A marine business owner having secured a boat on its mooring decided to swim the short distance to shore. The water was choppy but not particularly cold (at least by Nova Scotia standards), yet after a short time he was seen from shore to be experiencing difficulty and sadly drowned before anyone could get to him. In this case he shared some aspects typical of people who suffer “swimming failure”: he was healthy, a good swimmer and close to shore. The waters of the Great Lakes, particularly the popular boating areas of Lake Huron and Lake Ontario warm up to reasonable temperatures during the summer months, but at the beginning of the season, while the air may be warm and inviting, the water is still very cold. In spite of the risk, people confidently venture into deep water in small craft, often without even a dinghy on board. According to Transport Canada (1), a lightly dressed person will last one hour in 5°C, two hours in 10°C and six hours in 15°C and that’s assuming you can stay afloat. Long thought to be the “just a requirement of offshore sailors”, a modern liferaft is really a basic piece of safety equipment.

The technology of liferaft design and construction is constantly evolving and there are a number of places to review the relative merits of different designs vis à vis ballast, drogues, etc. However, the main consideration for asmaller inshore craft is more likely storage and cost. The fully S.O.L.A.S. – Safety of Life at Sea (2) – compliant liferaft is a heavy and bulky thing. Too often, they are stored in a manner that would make launching difficult or even impossible in some extreme situations. There is no doubt that the offshore raft is the best survival option and if you have the space and don’t mind the cost, there is no reason not to have the best. However if space and cost are a factor, as they are for most people, then we should look at some of the basic coastal rafts and what they do offer. Here again the location and length of your boating season are major factors. On the east and west coast, the waters stay cool to cold for the summer and an open raft, while it is better than nothing, will still leave the occupants exposed to wind and waves. Hypothermia becomes a very real concern. In warmer inshore waters, however, an open raft may do the trick. There continues to be much discussion as to the merits of different liferaft designs. The main differences are over the proper amount of ballast. Water ballast is held in bags below the raft and a heavily ballasted boat will resist capsize and excessive drift, but in extreme conditions may be damaged by their inability to slide away from the wave face. Lighterballasted boats are therefore more prone to capsize. In the waters we are concerned with here, it is likely one would choose a coastal style raft and most of these have little ballast.

The most basic raft is usually open with a single tube. The “Coastal Compact” from Revere is an example of the simplest style raft. Revere also offers the “Coastal Elite” with a small canopy. Winslow Liferaft Company makes an extensive range of serious offshore rafts; however they also offer their “RescueRaft™” and the “DualShore™” with twin tubes. Both of these are open rafts with boarding ladders and optional (but important) 75’ trailing/heaving lines. Many companies label their rafts as coastal but there is a wide variation infeatures and style. While some coastal rafts weigh in at up to 100 lbs., others are as little as 20 lbs. for the most basic model. Compare the specifications and consider just when and how you may need to deploy the raft.

Having a raft is just the first step. The next is locating the raft where it can be easily retrieved and launched. Remember you may have to get the raft overboard in a very short time. Lockers are obviously the worst place, but also consider the style of the boat. A modern express cruiser may have an inviting location on the broad swim platform. However, the boat will most likely sink by the stern and in the event of fire the stern may not be accessible. Go through the liferaft launch scenario and select the safest location, not the most aesthetic. In the case of smaller boats, the valise type containers used on many inshore rafts can be stored below and brought out to the helm area when the boat is offshore. So, do you really need a liferaft? Unless you always operate your boat alone, you are responsible for the lives of friends and family who are aboard. Shopping for a suitable liferaft is a bit like buying insurance in that we’re spending money for something we hope not to need. Boaters will often spend large sums on the latest electronic navigation device yet resist the expense for a potentially lifesaving piece of equipment. (1) A detailed discussion of the dangers of cold water can be found in a Transport Canada report “Survival in Cold Waters” TP13822E. You can find it at www.tc.gc.ca (2) The International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea or S.O.L.A.S. dates back to the Titanic disaster. SOLAS has been updated over the years and is the international standard for offshore commercial safety equipment such as liferafts, lifeboats and lifejackets.

Destinations

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At the 2019 Vancouver International Boat Show I had the pleasure of meeting up with Allyson and ...
Following the harsh impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, The British Virgin Islands is making an ...
For the adventurous boater Bunsby Marine Provincial Park is a special place, situated due south of ...
There is good anchoring in Cowichan Bay and nearby, and salt water enough to make any boater happy. ...
We’re gliding through green-blue waters, colours so vivid and bright they hurt your eyes. We’re set ...
The Halifax waterfront has been attracting more and more large yachts in recent years. However, a ...
Ah Canadian simplicity at its finest; small town, big marina. Little Hilton Beach (population ...
Vancouver-based Big Blue Yacht Charters Worldwide owner Emma Murdoch explains that luxury crewed ...
In the 1920s, a small cove in Canoe Bay was used as a shipping point and safe-haven for rum runners ...
Here’s an update from Caroline Swann with some news for the adventurous types who may be heading to ...


The Marina at Blind ChannelOne of my favourite places

By Marianne Scott

Sailing north of Desolation Sound, the Discovery Islands and the Broughton Archipelago offer cruisers a bevy islands with ample anchorages. Tides cause swift currents to run through the islands’ waterways. Few marinas are found in this large, sparsely populated region but one that provides all the services boaters need and especially enjoy is Blind Channel, a marina and resort operated by the Richter family located on Mayne Passage on the east side of West Thurlow Island (50 24. 82N, 125 30. 00).

Read more about the Blind Channel Resort...

 

Lifestyle

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At the end of last month, Canadian sailors gathered on the Palma Beach in Palma de Mallorca, Spain ...
In 2019, C-TOW celebrates its 35th anniversary of providing 24/7 “Peace of Mind Boating” for ...
West Vancouver Yacht Club reports that following an independent certification process the Georgia ...
It has been hot in the Abacos this winter. Whoever said this area was cool this time of year must ...
Unfortunately this is not a picture from a boat but was taken on the evening of February 27, 2019 ...
On March 1, Tom Ramshaw of Stoney Lake Yacht Club was honoured with the most prestigious National ...
Vero Beach, aka Velcro Beach, lived up to its reputation again. Our original plan was to be there ...
My husband and I were visiting the Bra d'Or Lake from Newfoundland in our 39 foot Sea Ray ...
After an autumn in Canada, we arrived back in northern Florida at Adamant 1 on January 3rd and with ...
This issue, to kick off 2019, we have an unofficial Photo of the week and this, the unofficial ...

Boat Reviews

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ILCA is seeking new builders to complement its existing network of manufacturers, the International ...
Nelson Gilbert (1854-1921) began building canoes in Brockville in the 1890s, a time when the sport ...
I have heard a lot of talk lately about trends in yacht clubs where senior membership is getting ...
To get you in the mood for cruising the Boat Show then launching in spring, here’s a boat that ...
Quite simply, the styles of boats have changed. Where in past years a buyer might have been looking ...
At the boat shows, the Ranger Tugs’ classic tugboat lines always grab the crowds, with the wives ...
Sometimes a great idea requires an encore, and French yacht builder Jeanneau got that with the ...
Tactical Custom Boats announces the sale to a North American client of a custom Tactical 77’ – Fast ...
Bruce Elliott is an inventor. And when he sold the technology he developed to build utility poles ...
One often asks of a winning achievement or a fabulous design, could it have possibly been done ...

Swift Trawler 47By Andy Adams

You might look at the pictures of the new Beneteau Swift Trawler 47 and think that this is not a “performance boat”, but I think it certainly is, and here is why; it can top out at 30 mph to get you from A to B quickly or to beat the weather in, so it’s pretty fast, but it can also loaf along doing 1,250 rpm making 9.3 mph and at that pace, it travels 2.4 miles on a gallon of fuel. That’s great performance in my books!

With a light displacement of almost 28,000 lbs, this is a big boat. In fact, it looks and feels more like a small ship than a big boat.

Read more about the Swift Trawler 47......

 

Beneteau Oceanis 46.1By Andy Adams and John Armstrong

Beneteau Oceanis 46.1When Beneteau introduced their new Oceanis 46.1, they were inspired by the fact that their previous Oceanis 45 was one of Beneteau’s best sellers and the new 46.1 had to be a clearly superior boat. The Oceanis range is about space and comfort for cruising while still delivering strong performance.

The yachting world has now recognized the Oceanis 46.1 as being just such a worthy successor. On January 19th, 2019, the Oceanis 46.1 won the highly regarded title of European Yacht of the Year in the “Family Cruiser” category.

Read More about the Oceanis 46.1......

DIY & How to

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I’ve had two emails over the past few weeks with a count-down to launch (47 days per the last ...
Electrical ground is a term used to describe the reference point in an electrical circuit from ...
Last time we looked at making proper electrical connections – the tools, supplies and methods ...
Winter is a great time to look at some of the hidden spaces on your boat – to take stock of what is ...
When a boat is in the water, the bilge will often collect water that enters the boat from weather, ...
Recently I suggested doing an off-season (winter) project with a potential client, and my ...
A recent conversation with a fellow contractor got me thinking: With all of the information out ...
As the cold approaches, shrink-wrapping is a hot topic, and I’ve heard more than a few debates at ...
Nothing stops a vacation faster than a problem with the fresh water system – be it leaks, smells, ...
Pyrotechnic distress flares have been around for decades, while electronic strobe distress flares ...

Sea to Sky SailingSea to Sky Sailing has just been approved as the only Royal Yachting Association (RYA) recognized training centre on the west coast of North America just in time to deliver an epic 2019 season!

“This transition from our previous International Yacht Training (IYT) certification to RYA is a huge benefit to our students as it provides them certification that is known globally as the gold standard for yacht training.  The RYA requires training centres to undergo annual inspections of their vessels, business practices and training delivery in order to maintain a strong standard and guarantee a high quality experience for students. 

Read More about Sea to Sky Sailing......