Life raft Rentals for Noobs

sshow bob

Super Anarchist
2,354
297
Maine
Inspired by the SatPhone thread, I thought I'd ask this one: any margin in renting rather than buying a raft? Where? Who? Etc? (Please)

 

Roleur

Super Anarchist
2,949
646
Orcas Island
Sal's Inflatables in the SF Bay area rents liferafts for a really fair rate, but they are catering to locals (Pac Cup, TranPac, SHTP, etc.), so I'm not sure how much the shipping to the East Coast would add. Surely there are other options, but Sal's is really good. You can get a Viking 4-person RescYou Pro in a valise and you are good to go for B1-2.

Sal's Rentals

 

Ocean View

Member
383
6
Australia
rent v buy

Really depends on how often you think you need to have it on-board.

Renting is not cheap - but it also means you get a fully certified liferaft ready to use every time you need one.

versus buy

Where you will need to service it and maintain it (and upgrade it to the current standards) if you plan to race in Cat 1 races with it.

 
One good reason to rent is if the requirements change for a race or the raft you purchased doesn't meet the standards set in the SI's of a particular race you've just paid a lot of money for nothing. This happened recently in our area, the RC increased the requirements for a particular race and some people who had previously bought a raft had to rent one anyway.

 

Roleur

Super Anarchist
2,949
646
Orcas Island
We bought and now I regret it. It is $1k-1.5k every 3 years to keep it certified. You have to be using the raft for multiple weeks every year to come out ahead owning. 8 years will cost me about $5.5k to own and recertify. You can do a lot of rentals with that.

 

WHK

Super Anarchist
1,657
115
Newport, RI
For east coast rental use LRSE in Tiverton, RI. We rented from them on a Newport-Bermuda race. I'm fortunate to live nearby and have toured their facility. It is top notch for servicing of life rafts, EPIRBs, etc. They have a knowledgeable staff and presented at many Safety at Sea seminars where they also have various rafts on display for demos. I bought my Spinlock Deckvest from them using discounted prices that they offered at the SOS seminar.

A friend of mine bought his own raft somewhere down south (Charleston?) and regrets having done that. The cost of ownership as most have pointed out here is not very economical. Unless your usage supports it, you are better off economically renting a fully certified life raft from a reputable firm when you need it.

 

WHK

Super Anarchist
1,657
115
Newport, RI
Ours was stored in a stern locker accessible from topside on a Swan. You may want to ask LRSE as they may be able to recommend something based on the experience they have with rentals.

 

Not My Real Name

Not Actually Me
43,039
2,823
Thanks WHK - how do you go about mounting a rental?
Get one in a valise and keep it handy down below. That's what we did when we delivered the HR when I first bought it. We didn't buy a new life raft until we knew we'd be sailing outside of VHF range of help for long periods of time. We tried to have the one that came with the boat repacked, but it was DOA and couldn't be redone. So we did without for a couple of years until we went cruising.

The repack/recert can be expensive. Which life raft you have and it's contents affects that. E.g. if you have a bunch of SOLAS flares in the liferaft kit they will often get replaced on a repack, which adds to the cost since those things are pricey.

If it was for a one time delivery or event, I'd rent. We had one shipped to Florida, where the boat was, then shipped it back when we got the boat to RI.

 

gn4478

Member
406
195
Perth Amboy, NJ
I rented for my first 2 Bermuda races then purchased. I highly recommend http://www.seasafety.com/

They are active with the safety at sea program and a great resource as well.

I think that if you use the raft for 2 races per yr, it pays to own it. I also wanted to pack a PLB in the raft, so that is hard to do with a rental.

On my boat, I thru bolted a stainless steel cradle to the deck. This allows for a hydrostatic release.

 
one tough thing with renting is its per day, and its not a low per day thing. Get stuck waiting for weather, that'll cost you (and possibly add to get-there-itis). Might not return to original port, which may or may not complicate things (eg. if newport to bermuda, but based in maine - you may take the boat right back to maine... now you need to either common carrier (life raft is technically hazmat due to compressed air and possibly flares) or drive it yourself back to, say, LRSE). That said you've got a handle on the numbers now, run them and make the call. Survival Products is good for florida, LRSE for north east. Survival Products has their rates online, i think LRSE does too. Run the number for how often and how many days you think you'll need it. should be an easy number. Repacks should be relatively cheap unless you need to replace the cannister - i dont know the cost or schedule on that. Ask a good shop.

 

Roleur

Super Anarchist
2,949
646
Orcas Island
Repacks should be relatively cheap unless you need to replace the cannister - i dont know the cost or schedule on that. Ask a good shop.
You sure about that? When a liferaft needs to be re packed virtually everything inside the raft gets replaced. All those $50-$100 SOLAS flares - replaced. The water packets - replaced. CO2 inflator - replaced. Then there is the inflation test. The recertification... It all adds up to nothing close to cheap.

 

TalonF4U

Anarchist
713
29
Nevada
I'm going through this as well. I have a raft aboard, but the recert is 1100-1400 (called the LRSE folks). Bermuda 1-2 rental is $750. It's a jimmy kicker for sure. I am discovering why young, non-rich people don't do this sort of racing. I am also enriching a lot of bankers in this process--hopefully they will offer me a drink off their 60ft Gunboat or whatever in Bermuda, since I'm funding their hobby just as surely as they're funding mine. FWIW, found new 4-man rafts in the $1700 range--but, again, with that 3-year recert requirement and my current life schedule, it just doesn't make sense.

If I had the time, I'd set up a swap website for rafts. Not going racing this summer? Rent yours to me for a hundred bucks and get back some of what you've invested.

 
I'm going through this as well. I have a raft aboard, but the recert is 1100-1400 (called the LRSE folks). Bermuda 1-2 rental is $750. It's a jimmy kicker for sure. I am discovering why young, non-rich people don't do this sort of racing. I am also enriching a lot of bankers in this process--hopefully they will offer me a drink off their 60ft Gunboat or whatever in Bermuda, since I'm funding their hobby just as surely as they're funding mine. FWIW, found new 4-man rafts in the $1700 range--but, again, with that 3-year recert requirement and my current life schedule, it just doesn't make sense.

If I had the time, I'd set up a swap website for rafts. Not going racing this summer? Rent yours to me for a hundred bucks and get back some of what you've invested.
i was shocked how hard it was to find a raft. Unfortunately, even if had easy access to a raft i still wouldn't be interested in wading back into offshore sailing.

 

Moonduster

Super Anarchist
4,823
230
You don't need to replace everything with ever repack. Only those things that will expire before the certification's expiration date.

And you should talk to a repack agent before buying a raft - and focus on your real needs and the life time cost of the raft vs the acquisition price alone; there are big differences. Unfortunately, SOLAS is the biggest obstacle to reasonably priced rafts as they insist on inane crap like biscuits and flashlights and flares in the pack when the only two things that are necessary are a hand gun and an EPRIB.

 




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