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Thread: Liferaft vs. Immersion Suit

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    235

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    As one who is somewhat familiar with military aviation, I would point out to Mr. Paine that a main requirement for the military is most likely the need for the raft to fit into a parachute seat pack...as the one I had did. This is a teeny-weeny space! None of the sailboats we use for the SHTP are quite so space limited. The parachute seatpack life raft is an attempt to give a ditched aviator a fighting chance for survival, without adding to cockpit space requirements. In 1984, I could not even get the SSS to specify what sort of life raft they required. Just a "liferaft", they said. I kept trying, to no avail. As the race date approached, I simply had to assume (logically?) that they would require an "offshore qualified" life raft. So I bought one (88lbs) and used it for two races until a competitor in the 1886 race got away with what she called a "helicopter liferaft". Looked just one I had brought from Vietnam, even had no canopy. I had a canopy attached to mine and ran with it in 1992. That resulted in the rule addition requiring a self erecting canopy. The SSS still does not require an "offshore" raft, which is fine with me. I never even bought a liferaft until the SHTP rules required them. Did a round trip to French Polynesia and three passages to Hawaii without a raft, so never have been passionate about requiring them. Were I the SSS, I would increase the stringency of the SHTP raft requirement, not reduce it...liability and all that!

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    517

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    As "the powers that be" who declined to open up the can of worms of liberalizing the equipment requirements less than two months before the race, I thank DaveH over in the "SSS and NCORC" thread for digging up the details on the previous discussion about allowing these things. I had forgotten most of those details when I was corresponding with Doug (sdpaine). Thanks also to the General and Mike Cunningham for their observations.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    46

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    To be fair, my request of the consideration of the one-man life raft first occurred in an email sent on Feb. 1st of this year a full half year ahead of the race, not "less than two months before the race". I only got a reply when I made a further inquiry this week. While I regret that the decision they made means I cannot race, I fully recognize that it is the job of the volunteers of the committee to make those decisions and am grateful they are willing to devote their time and efforts to do so. Seriously, thank you to all of you who give up your time to make the SSS happen.

    One other point: there does seem to be some confusion on this thread about the difference between a survival suit and a one-man life raft. They are quite different.

    Until next time -

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    517

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    My apologies Doug, good point. When I saw this discussion, I had enough balls in the air that I hoped it would resolve itself without my jumping in. And my math was wrong: it's still 2+ months before the race.
    Cheers and best regards,
    Max

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    15

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    Switlik Parachute Company, Inc. of Trenton, New Jersey, announced their success in delivering 500 of their Inflatable Single Place Life Raft (ISPLR) to the United States Coast Guard for their rescue aircrew and swimmers. Switlik has delivered another 300+ to the USCG Auxiliary as well.

    Why is this product good enough for the USCG rescue swimmers but not good enough for the single handed sailors they would be rescuing?

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    2,757

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    Those rescue swimmers are in a lot better shape than many of us, and while deployed they have backup close at hand. If we're well offshore our likely source of rescue will be AMVER and that could take awhile.

    For LongPac I'm again renting a life raft from Sal's. I know it meets everyone's offshore requirements, it has been serviced/tested and will have the listed, in-date supplies. When I'm done I'll return it so I won't have to store it and pay big bucks to have it serviced in a year or two. If I was planning an extended cruise (and maybe you are) I'd buy one, but then it would be even more important to have a full-sized raft.

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    314

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    Why is this product good enough for the USCG rescue swimmers but not good enough for the single handed sailors they would be rescuing?
    As one of the people who reviewed the Switlik ISPLR regarding the rules I can chime in. At first I was very excited about the product...... low weight, small size, fairly inexpensive (compared to a standard liferaft), self serviceable, etc. The biggest issue with the product is that you sit in it below the waterline.

    Yes, they have been issues to the USGS for guys to ditch aircraft or for rescue swimmers who are wearing DRY SUITS. The only way I would want one of these is if I were wearing a dry suit or a immersion suit.

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    46

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    If the primary objection to the ISPLR is the below the waterline position and the restultant danger of hypothermia, how does that danger differ from that of a larger life raft with no insulated floor? Your body depresses the floor of the larger one or the smaller one, putting you below the waterline. You displace your weight in water, which ever raft you are in and the surface area exposed the oceanic cold is likely to be nearly identical. But this argument is further made moot as they are available with an insulated floor like the one I purchased (ISPLR-1002-13).

    These rafts have been accepted by the Coast Guard for its air crews and its auxiliary crews in case they have to ditch. This may happen hundreds of miles offshore. While the swimmers may be in dry suits, the remaining crew are not. These rafts are also sold to private pilots for the same function. Those who specialize in the very rescues we are talking about determined that this equipment would allow their crews to survive until help arrives (even though after ditching their physical condition might well be compromised). Whether the person in the water got there from a boat or an aircraft seems to matter not at all, what does count is the ability of the individual to stay afloat and to avoid exposure until a rescue is completed. In both cases the location of the individual(s) is likely known (EPIRB, DeLorme, Yellow Brick, DSC, etc.) and the nearest assistance will be rendered, if recent history is to be trusted, within two days at the outside.

    I realize that to many in the SSS a three hundred dollar life raft rental for a week from Sals for each offshore race that requires it is well within their budget, but for others it is less so. This is especially true when the cost of the other safety equipment is included. If there is a less expensive alternative to the traditional life raft and the safety factor is there, why not adopt it? There have been discussions on the forum about how the cost may be driving some sailors away. As decisions are made about safety equipment it is obviously important to have safety paramount, but it also important to allow access to these events to as many sailors as possible. Higher costs eliminate the little guy (like me).
    Last edited by sdpaine@cox.net; 05-18-2015 at 07:40 PM. Reason: Grammer correction

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    314

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    Quote Originally Posted by sdpaine@cox.net View Post
    If the primary objection to the ISPLR is the below the waterline position and the restultant danger of hypothermia, how does that danger differ from that of a larger life raft with no insulated floor?
    First, look at the image at this link: http://www.switlik.com/aviation/isplr/tech-specs

    See how the guy is sitting BELOW the waterline? On a ISAF/SOLAS raft you have an insulated floor that you sit over the ocean, not in a bag surrounded by it. Also, the ISPLR is a single tube raft of the most basic specs. Like I said wish it would have worked out.

    I pulled up my email after I did the research including calling Switlik and getting the thumbs-down for our intended use from the product manager himself. I hope that makes you understand why it doesn't meet the requirements:

    Did some research on the ISPLR and didn't find all the answers I wanted so I contact Brian Kender @ Switlik, the Marine Products manager. He answered a few questions I had and stressed that they only recommend this raft for aviation use. As much as I wanted to have to product fit the needs of the racers I wouldn't recommend it for several reasons:

    Most of the stability comes from your body sitting below the water line.
    Sitting below the waterline will ensure your body heat is transferred rapidly to the surrounding water = hypothermia much quicker.
    No space for a decent size ditch bag and/or supplies = no possible extended stay in the raft if a EPIRB signal doesn't go out due to a malfunction, etc.
    No room to move around if an extended stay happens.
    The big red flag was that it's a single tube. No 2nd tube like an offshore raft, no inner safety tube (even their basic single tube coastal raft has an inner backup tube).

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    15

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    There are currently only 3 singlehanded entries in the 2015 Longpac which has traditionally been the primary feeder event and qualifier for the SSS Transpac. There are 80 individual equipment requirements on the 2015 Longpac MER list. Could there be a relationship between these two numbers?

    One way to achieve a perfect safety record is to make it so onerously expensive to meet the requirements that no one sets sail.

    Providing an overly rigid formula to be followed by every skipper without exception for every possible (however unlikely) potential danger drives good people away from organized events.

    VHF – not good enough. VHF with GPS locator – not good enough. VHF with GPS locator and individual MMSI number– OK we will let you in the club. How many SSS sailors have actually used this equipment in a rescue situation and have found it to have been indispensable (as compared to just using a standard VHF radio without all the bells and whistles)? Probably zero.

    USCG standard three flare requirement – not good enough. Add SOLAS approved rocket flares – not good enough. Add SOLAS handheld flares – not good enough. Add SOLAS smoke flares – OK, we will let you in the club. Now I understand why solosailor needs more space in the liferaft – to provide room for all the unnecessary additional flares.

    Discretion and judgement are valuable qualities that solo sailing develops in each skipper. Feature bloated safety equipment lists are a poor substitute for these qualities.

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