Stanley Yacht Services: Love Your Life? Love Your Raft!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Love Your Life? Love Your Raft!

So, we're still thinking about pre-season safety checks here at SYS and now we're focusing on life rafts.

As you hopefully know, your life raft must be deployed, re-packed and re-certified regularly (usually annually). This should be done by a USCG-approved servicing facility, such as Inflatable Services, Inc. in Fort Lauderdale. If you have any questions about whether a facility is USCG-approved, you can do a quick search here. Also note, the facility should be certified by the manufacturer of your particular raft (each brand has specific refolding directions), so keep an eye on that as well.

Whenever your survival craft is being serviced, we encourage you to get involved; some service stations may even let you pull the painter to deploy the raft (good practice you hope to never need). And while your raft is inflated, take the opportunity to personally visit her (compliment her if she is bloated - that's a good look on her).

You may ask yourself: Is it time to upgrade to a newer raft? (The victims of the Katmai's sinking would urge you to consider this). Or perhaps it's time for one with a boarding ramp/platform? (We can assure you, climbing from the water into a life raft without a platform is no easy task, even in controlled, training situations!) Maybe you'd like an inflatable floor (others make for cold bottoms ... literally). There are many options to consider so don't hesitate to ask the service techs about your raft and its overall adequacy.

It's also a good time to double-check all the survival equipment packed in your raft and see if any additions/withdrawals need to be made. Are those meal replacement bars still edible (as in, "fit for human consumption" ... they're hardly ever edible as in "tasty"). Do you want to toss in a cheap pair of reading glasses like one of our clients does? (You'd hate to not be able to read the instructions on that flare at a critical moment). Whatever the case may be, it is always good to familiarize yourself with the meager supplies and survival equipment inside your life raft. If nothing else, it reaffirms your desire to never have to depend on them and encourages your overall safety consciousness.

Sometimes, service techs have to deliver the bad news: Your life raft is broken. She won't inflate, or she's not holding air for the requisite number of days, for example. Maybe the problem can be repaired or maybe a new survival craft is in order.While the thought of shelling out big bucks for a new one may be daunting, remember this: A life raft is like a parachute - it has to work the first time. Everytime.

So, make sure your life raft's certification is up-to-date. Go to the service center and introduce yourself to your raft; get to know her. And when your visit is over, it's polite to tell her, "No hard feelings but, I hope we never have to meet again. Until next year."

If you have any questions regarding your life raft or getting it serviced, just contact us.

For smooth sailing and zero stress ... call SYS!™

Interesting and related links:
USCG Liferaft Search Page
Life Rafts - Boatkeeper | Seagrant UAF
Captain describes Katmai's sinking | Seattle Times Newspaper
The Life Raft for the Norwegian Sailboat Berserk Has Been Found | Sea Shepherd

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