Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Ocean safety equipment: Suit or Life raft?

  1. #1

    Default Ocean safety equipment: Suit or Life raft?

    We always carried survival suits on our commercial boats, but those were 35-plus footers with lots of storage space, I now have a 24 footer and still want the safety but lack the space. I will likely never be more than 30 miles from shore. Is an inflatable life raft like the Zodiak Coastal or Revere Coastal a viable option instead of survival suits? The life raft probably costs more money than 5-6 survival suits, but seems more compact and takes up less space than the suits. In an emergency the life raft would seem quicker to deploy and get in than 5 people trying to put on a their survival suits. What's your opinion on the pros and cons of survival suits versus life rafts? Anyone carry one or the other, both, or none of them? If you do not carry survival equipment, do you have an Epirb? Or do you rely only on the VHF for a distress signal?

    Brian

  2. #2
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Juneau
    Posts
    271

    Default

    I would suggest both if you are that concerned with the safety side of it. You probably know as well as the next guy that exposure will get you killed up here and you will be faced with that even in a life raft. A life raft, even the good ones, definitly have the ability to fail and I personnally would not rely solely on either one. As far as the EPIRB's go, I would DEFINITLY suggest one. Makes it exponentially easier for us to find you if you have a problem. Say your batteries die on your boat and you can not make that VHF call, EPIRB's nowadays will not run unless YOU turn them on or throw it in the water. $900 seems like a chunk o' change until it saves your ass. ACR makes a PEPIRB (personal) as well and we use them for our gear. They are small, can be registered to you or your boat, but are a little spendy. Unlike the full on mounted EPIRB which will start transmitting when submerged, the operator has to actually pull start this model though.
    Hope that helps.

    Erich

  3. #3

    Default

    I will be primarily fishing out of Homer and occasionally Seward, so I won't be going way out offshore where there are no other boats. I'm just curious what guys are using (or not using) for survival equipment and what lead them to their conclusions. I definitely do not have the room for both survival suits and life raft, and I do not have the space on top of my hardtop to strap down an inflatable Zodiak. I've seen those Personal Location Beacons (PLB) for around $500 or less and I think I will definitely purchase one of those. http://www.lrse.com is a helpful website for safety gear.

    Brian

  4. #4
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    5,594

    Default

    Don't rely on other boats being there to save you. Plenty of people drown in waters that are plied with other boats. 3 miles or 30 miles from shore, doesn't really matter. You have 15-30 minutes in these waters w/o protection from the elements, and no one is making it to shore under those constraints unless they are very close in.

    Personally, I have survival suits, and will be adding an e-pirb and an inflatable.

    Small boats go down fast, so whatever you have needs to be deployed quickly. With survival suits you can don them if conditions seem dicey. To my thinking an inflated inflatable on the roof is better than one in a bag. An inflatable also has the dual use of being used to get to shore. While ideally you should size the inflatable to the number of people on board, one that fits on your boat and perhaps is rated for one less person than you have on board is better than none. Also you can take two trips to shore with a smaller inflatable.

  5. #5
    Member jrogers's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    1,539

    Default my thoughts

    I have a similar situation to yours and what I ended up doing is carring one survival suit and a costal liferaft like you are describing. I think it is a 5 or 6 man and it uses up most of one of my under seat storage areas. My theory is that the most competent person would put on the survival suit, and their job would be to assist others, and be in the water if necessary. Hopefully the raft could be deployed in a manner where the other people would be able to get into it without getting in the water.

    Hopefully none of my theories will ever be tested. I think the next thing I will get is an Epirbm not more survival suits. I have spent some time in one of these, and I question how well someone could function in this if they hadn't spent any time getting use to it.

    Jim

  6. #6
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    5,594

    Default

    If you're patient with e-bay, ie check once a week or so and control the urge to bid, you can get a survival suit for ~$100. I picked up 3 adult suits that way. I got a pair childrens survival suits in Anchorage off of Craigs list, $250 for both of them.

    I also have a handheald VHF and gps in the ditch bag.

  7. #7

    Default

    I think that whever you choose to take with you, they key is to have it available for immediate use. No having an uninflated raft, no having a survival suit stowed behind lots of equipment where it's hard to get to (and you've never tried it on), etc. I assume that if my boat's going to go down that it's going to happen in a matter of minutes, if not seconds.

    I carry my extra gps, vhf, flares, etc. in an orange waterproof box. I finally realized one day after having to dig it out from behind a bunch of gear to check the flare dates that I needed to have it someplace where I could grab it in seconds. Now I keep it almost within arm's reach.

  8. #8
    Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Douglas Island
    Posts
    248

    Default Survival suits or raft?

    Brian:
    You have already gotten some outstanding advice on this subject, so I only have a few things to add: Regardless of what survival/safety equipment you have, make 100% certain that it is serviceable and everyone on board knows how to use it/what to do. Survival suits need to be inspected (annually at a minimum), zippers waxed, tested for leaks and ready at all times. Rafts need inspections, periodic repacking, hydrostatic releases need inspections. EPIRBS need to be registered and tested. Skydiver's suggestion about carrying your survival gear in a waterproof box is critical (ask the guy in Petersburg who was boarded by the CG last year; the Boarding Officer suggested he get a survival suit and keep his gear in a waterproof box. He did and when his skiff sunk the very next weekend, he was prepared and survived; a great success story!) I might be more sensitive on the safety subject, but my personal survival equipment consists of an overboard bag (it floats) with a Cat II EPIRB, VHF radio with spare battery, flares, smoke, firestarter, metal cup, survival knife, compass, GPS, spare batteries, .22 pistol, space blanket, parachute cord, laser flare, sleeping bag and more. My life jacket has a Pepirb, knife, flares, whistle, mirror and PML. I carry 5 survival suits and a 11' aluminum bottom Zodiac. Being in the safety business, I cannot imagine the embarassment should I get into a dangerous situation while boating and not survive! My advice is to have everything that's required and whatever else you have room for and can afford. Getting killed should never be an option for any boater; however, 12 people have done exactly that since Memorial Day weekend in Alaska just this year. Being unlucky is one thing, being unprepared is unexcuseable in my opinion. Call me or PM me if I can be of any further assistance! Mike (907) 463-2297

  9. #9

    Default

    Thanks for all your input. I think I'm going to go with the inflatable lift raft and a class II epirb. I have all the other goodies you have mentioned (extra hand held VHF, GPS, flares, knives, horn, float coat, etc.) I appreciate all your opinions, keep them coming.

  10. #10
    Member Dupont Spinner's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Chugiak
    Posts
    1,425

    Default

    Something to PONDER...PLB's and EPIRB's are not just for boating......if your activities take you out in the winter..............

    I know someone who had to use an EPIRB last year after his sled went swimming. The rescue helicopter was there in about 45 minutes from the time he activated the unit. This was on the lower part of the Sustina River.
    Last edited by Dupont Spinner; 08-29-2007 at 12:04. Reason: spelling and langauge

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •