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      A Few Simple Rules   05/22/2017

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Roleur

On the topic of liferaft storage...

35 posts in this topic

The conversation in the Production Boat thread passed through liferaft storage locations and it fueled some thinking I'd be doing already. Where do we put a liferaft on a J/120?

 

The common location on the coach roof has always seemed like a bad location to me. Too vulnerable, too big of a obstruction to sight, to much weathering, and terrible weight placement.

 

The locations I'm actually considering are:

 

1. In a valise, stored below just to port of the companionway steps in the huge storage area under the cockpit we affectionately call the garage (one of my favorite parts of the design). Very accessible and yet totally out of way of routine moving about. Solves the vulnerability issue, weather issue, sight issue, and weight issue mostly.

 

2. In a hard case in the cockpit under the traveller and in front of the binnacle. I like this location too, but I'm not sure if a canister will actually fit. Need to measure and verify. If it would fit then it is a convenient location. Better than the cabin top in all respects except weathering. Drawback is that it might take up too much space in the cockpit floor. Advantage is that is reduces the cockpit volume in the event of a pooping. I don't think the cockpit is particularly big to begin with, so this is minor.

 

3. Strapped/secured to the transom/swim platform. This would be a semi-permanent location only used for passages (like say, crossing the Atlantic...). I like it for being out of the way and easy to access. The question is could we make it secure enough that it doesn't wash away. Not an improvement regarding weathering and weight placement though.

 

Thoughts? I think I favor storing it below. The catch is that if you really needed it, like say due to a fire onboard, or rapid water ingress, could you actually get to it? Always a compromise, these things.

 

Option #4 of course, is to just do without, like at least two well known double circumnavigating couples have done. Lots of reasons for this option as well. I do envision a few offshore Cat 1 short-handed races in our future though, so the liferaft may become a requirement.

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Any ocean racing or passages you either have a canister on deck or you might as well leave it home. Most of the fatal ocean accidents with keel boats have been major hull failures which resulted in an inverted boat in a matter of seconds- which case any location other than on deck would be 100% worthless and even an ondeck location would have just a slight chance of the raft being deployed and successfully used. My current boat if we were to rig it for ocean we would mount it on the cabin top only place it would ever fit - on a larger boat we would find a place in the cockpit for it.

 

Its also Ok to operate under the program that when the boat is not seeing ocean miles or coastal passages and all your doing is bay type stuff that the raft stays home packed in a dry safe place.

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Any ocean racing or passages you either have a canister on deck or you might as well leave it home. Most of the fatal ocean accidents with keel boats have been major hull failures which resulted in an inverted boat in a matter of seconds- which case any location other than on deck would be 100% worthless and even an ondeck location would have just a slight chance of the raft being deployed and successfully used. My current boat if we were to rig it for ocean we would mount it on the cabin top only place it would ever fit - on a larger boat we would find a place in the cockpit for it.

 

Its also Ok to operate under the program that when the boat is not seeing ocean miles or coastal passages and all your doing is bay type stuff that the raft stays home packed in a dry safe place.

 

If the mostly likely need is due to an inverted hull, then it seems only the transom location would be useful. I don't see a cockpit or cabin top location working any better than down below in that case.

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as far as doing without..., like some well known couples..., i've done some offshore racing on a J/120, and while I like the boat, it's not an aluminum Van de Stadt 47...

 

I would not do a transatlantic crossing on a J/120 without a life raft.

 

putting it in front of the binnacle would be ok, if it doesn't make it too difficult to get to the wheel. I saw this done in another J/Boat - a 44, I think, and it worked ok.

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With J's which are light built for heavy cruising needs the J's that have had to use life rafts generally gave enough time for a raft to be inflated however a raft stored below deck be it a locker or cabin may as well be a raft left home. The J's lost or almost lost all suffered some type of hull failure be it sump or busted rudder gear etc. Which means your still going down fast even if the boat stays upright.

 

Put it on deck or leave it home. LOL

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I have the same issues fitting a liferaft to my IP38.

 

On deck is too exposed, sun and weather. Due to costs and the fact that I've reloacted to the Chesapeake recently, I'm renting liferafts for offshore cruising (soon racing). So it is an option to mount forward of the dodger, but realistically I can't imagine a worse place to have it.

 

I guess I'm assuming I'd have to deploy in nasty weather. But the reality is just as likely to be foundering, in a swell, without power, after hitting some submerged object. Standing on the cabin top exposes crew to the boom at waist height, the main hatch, and companionway and high off the water, compared to the cockpit floor.

 

The stern of my boat is pretty flush and 'catboat-like' so the raft would be hanging out over the transom. Probably not a good idea.

 

The cockpit 'just right' as it is, placing the raft in front of the binnacle is feasible, but would crowd the cockpit floor with a relatively low object. and expose it to weather, feet, lounging, dinner time, etc. It's probably up for more wear as a piece of furniture at that point.

 

I settled on a valise in the starboard cockpit seat locker. It's at hand, yet out of the way. Making sure that it doesn't settle to the bottom of your locker after a serious thrashing, and that your other Go-Bag(s) are all right there, handles up, and easily slid out wasn't too difficult. The key thing to placement in a larger storage space instead of its own bracket/mounting is that you have to take extra care to prevent any other gear from fouling it's easy removal/retrieval from the locker. I solved this with well placed fenders and a simple loose-ish strap.

 

On the downside, that locker is one bulkhead away from both Engine and Genny, and shares the locker (about 3' away from) AC refer, battery charger, starter battery and rotary electric autopilot drive; all potential sources of fire. Like you were saying, it's all a compromise. ..

 

 

Here's to never having to use em in anger!

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Cockpit - Helps to reduce the volume of the cockpit. Does not add windage. It's on the way out from the cabin. Add a cover or box to protect the case from feet, weather and sun.

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Yep can always cover it to protect it if your parking it on deck for long periods of time. Also keep in mind that when you really need it nothings worse than a life raft jammed into a flooding compartment with no hope of getting it free before your treading water.

 

Not to mention I think you will find that many ocean races which take safety inspections serious do not consider life rafts stored below decks as an option. So pending on what your doing with the boat you may have no choice regarding the matter of on deck or below deck.

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I think on the cockpit floor with an easily removable platform over top, ideally at the height of the cockpit seats, would be a good call. Cover would keep the sun and feet off, keep lines from getting tangled, and give you a solid working / reclining platform.

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Not to mention that if your man handling the life raft out of a below deck compartment you run the risk of having it washed from your hands vs having it anchored in the cockpit with all hands on deck ready to deploy and manage it. Goes something like this - Joe get the raft up on deck while I and so and so do X Y and Z - Joe hauls the bin up only to get knocked down as he exits the companion way and bam life raft is gone. Lots of stories of life rafts never getting used because they were washed away from the boat either during inflation or even before inflation.

 

When the raft is on deck and not secured you want all hands on deck doing nothing but 100% focused on what could be your only chance at living - making sure that raft stays with you and you stay with the raft. ETC

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I believe that in the Passports there is a specialized compartment under the helm seat. That's good design IMHO.

 

First I had my raft in one of those canisters. Hated it. Now it's in a valise. Don't know where to put it. I suppose on a long passage I'd put it in the cockpit and use the valise as a beanbag chair.

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I think on the cockpit floor with an easily removable platform over top, ideally at the height of the cockpit seats, would be a good call. Cover would keep the sun and feet off, keep lines from getting tangled, and give you a solid working / reclining platform.

 

 

This is what I plan on doing. No bridgedeck, so the liferaft house will also perform this function. Going to make sure it drains well and is well ventilated. I have heard first hand accounts from liferaft owners who took their raft in for servicing to find the self inflating mechanism corroded or otherwise damaged from salt/moisture. There really is no good spot on a smaller boat unless the designer included it which seems an exceedingly rare feature. I think it was the Seaward 32 has a special locker in the cockpit that makes a hell of a lot of sense, but also a boat that the keel can fall off of (God that must suck) so who is to say what the efficacy would be... I didn't realize how damn big, bulky, awkward and fucking heavy these things are until I bought one. No way would I ever put one on deck on a small boat. Stern seems like the last place for that kind of weight too. Mine is tucked away neatly right below the companionway at the moment, but it is a royal PITA to get out as is and can only imagine it wouldn't be much easier in a time of dire need.

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Any ocean racing or passages you either have a canister on deck or you might as well leave it home. Most of the fatal ocean accidents with keel boats have been major hull failures which resulted in an inverted boat in a matter of seconds- which case any location other than on deck would be 100% worthless and even an ondeck location would have just a slight chance of the raft being deployed and successfully used. My current boat if we were to rig it for ocean we would mount it on the cabin top only place it would ever fit - on a larger boat we would find a place in the cockpit for it.

 

Its also Ok to operate under the program that when the boat is not seeing ocean miles or coastal passages and all your doing is bay type stuff that the raft stays home packed in a dry safe place.

 

 

 

Couldn't agree more, B)

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I suppose on a long passage I'd put it in the cockpit and use the valise as a beanbag chair.

 

Probably not a great idea (the beanbag chair thing). If you don't protect the valise there are hard things inside that raft (such as the heavy CO2 bottle) that will chafe the flotation tubes or be forced out of position and tear off the inflation tube.

 

My valise-packed raft is in a locker under the helmsman's seat. It is secured by quick-release straps, which I hope don't place too much stress on the thing (so far the inspections have been good in that regard). I should probably attach the raft's tether / ripcord to a padeye inside the locker -- it wouldn't be a bad spot for that.

 

Be realistic about the raft's weight if you keep it in a locker or down below. There's a 15-second rule in the ISAF OSR, and that seems like a good guideline to me. Make sure that a single person will be able to get the raft ready to deploy in fifteen seconds or less.

 

I have heard that even the canisters may not protect the raft from U.V. degradation -- it depends on the cover material.

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I raced to Hawaii and sailed back on a J120 that had an eight man valise strapped down in the center of the cabin sole. If the boat was holed, sinking or lost its keel (note: J120's have had keel sump issues) and capsized, there was no way that even two of us could muscle it up through the companionway in under 30 seconds, let alone 15. When we sailed back, we had a tank of diesel strapped down in the cockpit that took up almost the entire cockpit. It was level with the seats and frankly it didn't seem to get in the way moving across the cockpit during the 2400 miles back. A canister life raft installed there for the duration of an Atlantic crossing should be OK and probably wouldn't take up as much space as the diesel tank we had. Not ideal for a permanent installation, but it would be better than a valise below.

 

For a less intrusive installation, I'd look for a good offshore raft with the flattest, rectangular canister and mount it on the coach roof just forward of the companionway hatch and a companionway dodger if you're getting one or have one. Mounting it on the transom is probably more exposed to big seas coming up astern than the coach roof.

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Here's hoping we can find a liferaft that will fit under the main traveller!

 

Regarding the keel. This is something we looked into a great deal before buying a J/120. All keel sump issues we could find information on (3, I believe) were some of earlier hulls built out of ~200. Ours is hull #79 and the boat was finished in Europe unlike the majority of the J/120's in the US (obviously). I've not found any information regarding keel sump issues for J/120's from Europe, any hulls built around the same time as ours, or any hulls built after ours. Our boat has been sailed hard (Key West a few times and the original owner was in the UK and had a triple-reefed main and #4 built). The structure of the hull, keel, sump, grid, etc... couldn't look better.

 

Regarding the keel #2. We spent 5 years on a boat with a keel "that couldn't fall off" and it was so boring we stopped sailing for 10 years, having sailed a ULDB and 49er before that. This time around it is either fun sailing or not at all.

 

WHL, did you sail to Hawaii on Time Bandit? Time Bandit is hull #50, one of the 3 boats with issues that I'm aware of, and the newest hull of the 3.

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I raced to Hawaii and sailed back on a J120 that had an eight man valise strapped down in the center of the cabin sole. If the boat was holed, sinking or lost its keel (note: J120's have had keel sump issues) and capsized, there was no way that even two of us could muscle it up through the companionway in under 30 seconds, let alone 15. When we sailed back, we had a tank of diesel strapped down in the cockpit that took up almost the entire cockpit. It was level with the seats and frankly it didn't seem to get in the way moving across the cockpit during the 2400 miles back. A canister life raft installed there for the duration of an Atlantic crossing should be OK and probably wouldn't take up as much space as the diesel tank we had. Not ideal for a permanent installation, but it would be better than a valise below.

 

For a less intrusive installation, I'd look for a good offshore raft with the flattest, rectangular canister and mount it on the coach roof just forward of the companionway hatch and a companionway dodger if you're getting one or have one. Mounting it on the transom is probably more exposed to big seas coming up astern than the coach roof.

 

 

For the purpose stated by the OP, this might be the best option. For a passage, the cockpit option will usually work as long as the raft does not create a dam that inhibits cockpit drains. For a Cat 1 or 2 race, perhaps not so much as it will likely be in the way of the racing crew.

 

Dedicated lockers and the like are a good option if building or refitting a boat for distance cruising where you will want the raft easily accessible but not where you are going to have to fight it once on the hook.

 

Slickest setup I've seen was on a 56 foot Alden design built for doublehanded cruising (in other words, plenty of space). Stbd cockpit seat held the liferaft locker with the bottom level with the cockpit sole and a removeable "front". A quick release put the raft into the cockpit immediately but inport the removeable section made it lockable to prevent theft, UV exposure and chafing. That owner had had problems with theft in the South Pacific on his previous boat (late 80's to early 90's) and the new boat was set up for safety at sea and good ventilation in port but well secured from casual theft. Nothing was stored on deck.

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On our J120, Heron, we strap our 8-man hard case down over the propane locker using high-strength webbing and 4 airplane seatbelts that release quickly. If necessary, we could undo the straps and push it overboard.

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I think on the cockpit floor with an easily removable platform over top, ideally at the height of the cockpit seats, would be a good call. Cover would keep the sun and feet off, keep lines from getting tangled, and give you a solid working / reclining platform.

 

+1 ....how about a quickly removable, Starboard -type 'box insert' cover for the cockpit life raft compartment. The top rests on the seats/lockers or could be braced to a height just below the locker openings. Depending on how much space you have, perhaps design in separate winch handle, line storage, etc. compartments with their own lids. Presumably, if you are racing the distance requiring a life raft, the extra, storage space for offshore=specific gear will come in handy. Caveat here is that the cover should still allow a water to drain.

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....snip...........

WHL, did you sail to Hawaii on Time Bandit? Time Bandit is hull #50, one of the 3 boats with issues that I'm aware of, and the newest hull of the 3.

 

Yes. I raced on TB for 4 yrs during which time we didn't hit bottom, but after one Oregon Offshore race, a crack had developed all around the sump, visible inside and out.

In any event, the J120 was a great boat offshore, particularly surfing. The big rudder was great during some sustained surfing linking wave sets. B)

I'm sure you'll have a great time crossing.

post-5483-015304000 1330444573_thumb.jpg

 

As an aside, TB had a modified end fitting on the sprit. A dyneema bobstay attached to a padeye on the stem at the waterline, ran up through a steel sleeve at the end of the pole, attached to which was a block for the spinnaker tack line. For offshore races, we would add a second tack line block to it for doing spinnaker peels. This replaced the original fitting that broke under load. The new method supported the tip, particularly when we overran the wave in front and buried the bow. We often flew the chicken chute in 35+ knots with no concerns about the sprit. If you're interested in that arrangement, PM me with your email address and I'll send you drawings.

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I think on the cockpit floor with an easily removable platform over top, ideally at the height of the cockpit seats, would be a good call. Cover would keep the sun and feet off, keep lines from getting tangled, and give you a solid working / reclining platform.

Here's my setup, best compromise I could come up with on my 30-footer... Out of the way, yet readily accessible. Occupies otherwise "dead space", reduces the volume of the cockpit in the event of pooping, and the dyform wire that secures the cannister can be padlocked, as a deterrent to theft... Only real downside, it puts weight near the stern, but - all in all, the best solution on my boat... By a very fortuitous coincidence, the case just happens to wedge itself into that spot with about 1/8" to spare on either side...

 

The raft is a Winslow, stored inside one of their dedicated airtight cases made by Pelican, then covered with a Stamoid UV/water cover... I HIGHLY recommend this combination, my raft still looks brand-new after living inside this case for over a decade (it's been re-certified during that time, of course)... Another nice thing about the Pelican case, in the event of an abandonment, it could make a very handy - not to mention, rather voluminous - catch-all/watertight floating compartment for any loose items not already packed in a ditch bag, and for a secure, dry storage compartment once aboard the raft...

 

 

liferaft.jpg

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I think on the cockpit floor with an easily removable platform over top, ideally at the height of the cockpit seats, would be a good call. Cover would keep the sun and feet off, keep lines from getting tangled, and give you a solid working / reclining platform.

Here's my setup, best compromise I could come up with on my 30-footer... Out of the way, yet readily accessible. Occupies otherwise "dead space", reduces the volume of the cockpit in the event of pooping, and the dyform wire that secures the cannister can be padlocked, as a deterrent to theft... Only real downside, it puts weight near the stern, but - all in all, the best solution on my boat... By a very fortuitous coincidence, the case just happens to wedge itself into that spot with about 1/8" to spare on either side...

 

The raft is a Winslow, stored inside one of their dedicated airtight cases made by Pelican, then covered with a Stamoid UV/water cover... I HIGHLY recommend this combination, my raft still looks brand-new after living inside this case for over a decade (it's been re-certified during that time, of course)... Another nice thing about the Pelican case, in the event of an abandonment, it could make a very handy - not to mention, rather voluminous - catch-all/watertight floating compartment for any loose items not already packed in a ditch bag, and for a secure, dry storage compartment once aboard the raft...

 

 

liferaft.jpg

 

Jon,

 

Great setup.

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I just happen to have the ISAF Cat 1 requirements open, so here is the lift raft mounting requirement:

 

4.20.3 Liferaft Packing and Stowage

 

A Liferaft shall be either:

 

a) packed in a transportable rigid container or canister and stowed on the working deck or in the cockpit,

 

or ( b ) packed in a transportable rigid container or canisteror in a valise and stowed in a purpose-built rigid compartment containing liferaft(s) only and opening into or adjacent to the cockpit or working deck, orthrough a transom, provided that:

 

i each compartment is watertight or self-draining

 

ii the cover of each compartment is capable of being easily opened under water pressure,

 

iii the compartment is designed and built to allow a liferaft to be removed and launched quickly and easily,

 

iv in a yacht with age or series date before June 2001, a liferaft may be packed in a valise not exceeding 40kg securely stowed below deck adjacent to a companionway.

 

Each raft shall be capable of being got to the lifelines or launched within 15 seconds.

 

Each liferaft of more than 40kg weight should be stowed in such a way that the liferaft can be dragged or slid into the sea without significant lifting

 

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Keep in mind that injured crew or the only souls on board being injured adds to the issue of hauling a loose unsecured canister to the deck if your ever faced with the life raft decision.

 

What hasn't been discussed here yet is the fact that when your moving a life raft to the deck from a below deck location the life raft cannister probably is not tethered to the boat. Which is a very high risk situation when the life raft may be your only hope to start with.

 

Vs a deck mounted rig the raft is already secured to the boat and the risk of loosing the raft is primarily after its inflated- which the rule that you never inflate the raft till your ready to step into it given once inflated you now have a light craft trying its best to leave the sinking mother ship.

 

But a loose unsecured canister on deck in clearly less than ideal conditions isn't much different than inflating the raft and not being ready to get into it right away. IE risk of loosing the raft remains high either as a loose canister pulled to the deck or a inflated raft which is being held on standby till all crew are ready to board it both cases are high risk to loosing the raft and being stuck on a sinking rig.

 

I bet if you talk with folks who work the foredeck lots and find them selves trying to hang on to gear in some pretty rough situations will view the Idea of holding onto a life raft canister not tethered to the boat very different than people who spend all their time in the back of the boat and don't find them selves wrestling with large items and trying to hold on to them all at the same time.

Just an interesting thought. I happen to have lots of foredeck time in some pretty rough ocean conditions and I can't imagine trying to keep a grip on a smooth rounded canister like what the life rafts are packed in especially in rough conditions and possibly cold temps etc.

 

An interesting experiment would be for all the crew to take a turn trying to keep the raft canister on the foredeck while in some decent wind and choppy conditions. I would hazard to guess that all the crew will find that in just a few minutes their ability to keep a good grip on the life raft canister is going to be very hard if not impossible for some of them.

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Some observations about the J120 and life raft mounting:

 

- There's no where below that a valise can be stowed, secured and yet be readily accessible to pull up through the companionway within the ISAF guidelines

- The port side cockpit locker is very deep stow and secure a valise, and once you open it, the interior would be open to swamping as there is no watertight bulkhead (although there is a hinged hatch from the galley into that area for access to the engine and that large port side storage area).

- The aft deck behind the helm has two lazarette hatches and similar to the port cockpit locker, they are deep and the hatch opening is a tight fit for a valise. Mounting on top the aft deck would make one or both hatches inoperable, depending on where you would mount it.

 

There are really only two places on a J120 that would be unobtrusive, yet easy to stow and launch and meet the ISAF guidelines..

- under the main traveler, or in that vicinity depending on the canister

- in a frame mounted on top of the coach roof ahead of the companionway.

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Some observations about the J120 and life raft mounting:

 

- There's no where below that a valise can be stowed, secured and yet be readily accessible to pull up through the companionway within the ISAF guidelines

- The port side cockpit locker is very deep stow and secure a valise, and once you open it, the interior would be open to swamping as there is no watertight bulkhead (although there is a hinged hatch from the galley into that area for access to the engine and that large port side storage area).

- The aft deck behind the helm has two lazarette hatches and similar to the port cockpit locker, they are deep and the hatch opening is a tight fit for a valise. Mounting on top the aft deck would make one or both hatches inoperable, depending on where you would mount it.

 

There are really only two places on a J120 that would be unobtrusive, yet easy to stow and launch and meet the ISAF guidelines..

- under the main traveler, or in that vicinity depending on the canister

- in a frame mounted on top of the coach roof ahead of the companionway.

 

Our J/120, having been built in Europe is configured a bit different. The stbd. Aft hatche opens only to a small sealed propane locker. Not a huge deal to cover as you need acces to change a bottle once in a blue moon. The port settee lazarette is only about 3" deep. Quite weird actually as it is only suitable for winch handles a few dock lines or a chart. There is no access from the cockpit to the port side "garage" which from a safety standpoint is a good thing.

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At over 200#'s I don't know where else we could put it.

 

DSC03023.jpg

 

For a less intrusive installation, I'd look for a good offshore raft with the flattest, rectangular canister and mount it on the coach roof just forward of the companionway hatch and a companionway dodger if you're getting one or have one. Mounting it on the transom is probably more exposed to big seas coming up astern than the coach roof.

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In my days of ocean racing many moons ago, our raft had a tether to the doghouse handholds. You remove the mounting straps and move it to the lifelines and it inflated once that tether pulled. Not much man-handling....

 

in a yacht with age or series date before June 2001, a liferaft may be packed in a valise not exceeding 40kg securely stowed below deck adjacent to a companionway.

 

Interesting.....2001 isn't that old.

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18 total, clutches are expensive!

 

The Mrs. is smiling because she doesn't have to clean an grease them. I figure it's just another excuse to drink rum.

 

 

 

polly.jpg

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Joli, do you manage to clean and grease all of those, every year?

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At over 200#'s I don't know where else we could put it.

 

DSC03023.jpg

 

For a less intrusive installation, I'd look for a good offshore raft with the flattest, rectangular canister and mount it on the coach roof just forward of the companionway hatch and a companionway dodger if you're getting one or have one. Mounting it on the transom is probably more exposed to big seas coming up astern than the coach roof.

 

 

Are the cockpit seats slippery with that varnish on them? I would like to varnish the slats that make our cockpits seats but am worried about slipping.

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They aren't bad when wet. I use a poly varnish, 6/7 coats and leave some orange peel for the last coat, no wet sand and polish.

 

At over 200#'s I don't know where else we could put it.

 

DSC03023.jpg

 

For a less intrusive installation, I'd look for a good offshore raft with the flattest, rectangular canister and mount it on the coach roof just forward of the companionway hatch and a companionway dodger if you're getting one or have one. Mounting it on the transom is probably more exposed to big seas coming up astern than the coach roof.

 

 

Are the cockpit seats slippery with that varnish on them? I would like to varnish the slats that make our cockpits seats but am worried about slipping.

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No, not here. Fresh water, short season and cool temps, we only clean and grease every 3~4 years. That will change in the tropics but then rum is cheap and free time is abundant.

 

Joli, do you manage to clean and grease all of those, every year?

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