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jollysailor17
21-01-12, 15:36
Does anyone know of any articles relating to adapting an inflatable tender as a life raft? I have an Avon round tail inflatable and wonder if anyone has done that with one of these. Obviously one can buy the Tinker Tramp with liferaft kit, but that means a whole lot more money etc. Just asking.

sailorman
21-01-12, 15:55
Does anyone know of any articles relating to adapting an inflatable tender as a life raft? I have an Avon round tail inflatable and wonder if anyone has done that with one of these. Obviously one can buy the Tinker Tramp with liferaft kit, but that means a whole lot more money etc. Just asking.

hire a bespoke good quality raft

jollysailor17
21-01-12, 17:43
yes....but....that was not the question

BlackPig
21-01-12, 17:48
How do you pump it up quickly? compressed gas attachment loads of faffing around when you do not have the time. Foot pump? I would rather spend the time loading a life raft with water, sleeping bag, food, more water etc
Exposure? you need a cover.
keep supplies in it in rough weather or a capsize? Assuming that's why you went down. "if boat floats stay in it".

Life raft 600 what are you worth?

Alchemist V274
21-01-12, 18:59
In the late '70s the boat I sailed on had an avon with gas bottles and a canopy as a next best thing to a liferaft for the first couple of seasons. It was sold as a kit. Cant say I have seen the kits in the last 10 years.

jollysailor17
21-01-12, 19:00
I was thinking about one of those personal life rafts military pilots have, designed for one person and thinking how nice it would be to have one of those and it would stow in a locker until needed. A four person life raft, just for one person seems like overkill and takes up an awful lot of room on a 22 foot boat. So I wondered if the Avon inflatable which I carry could do double duty, in an emergency. I am sure I had read about ocean voyagers equipping their inflatables for just this purpose, but I might be mistaken.

oldbilbo
21-01-12, 20:43
The s/seat dinghy you have in mind is all that will fit inside the seatpan of a Martin-Baker ejection seat. Having spent time sitting in those, and also in multi-seat liferafts during services sea survival training off Plymouth Sound and elsewhere ( albeit quite some time ago ) I can assure you that the little 'uns are unlikely to keep you alive for very long, unless you are within range of an SAR helicopter when you step up into your chosen liferaft. You certainly wouldn't want to spend more than a couple of hours in one.....

When military s/s liferafts are time-expired, they are damaged/destroyed to prevent them falling into the hands of 'adventurers'. Even if a manufacturer was wiling to sell you a new one, I suspect you would find the cost such that you could have 3 or 4 Avon/Zodiac/Plastimo/Seago types for the money and still have change.

You might fruitfully consider spending some time/energy/cash on making your Hurley 22 unsinkable, much as Roger Taylor has done with 'Ming Ming'. There remains the question of uncontrolled fire on board, and I have no answer to that, save for a remorseless diet of mung beans and cold muesli.

Glayva
22-01-12, 08:49
When 'Tahiti Belle' went down in 2008, I understand that the only alternate to the boat that Nick Barham had was his old Avon, which in the YM video you can see tied to the port side of the trimaran. Maybe Nick will be along shortly to tell you more about whether he had to manually blow it up, if he had a gas canister or he kept it permanently blown up. Perhaps the point that should be made here is that with a good EPIRB you may not need a liferaft. Andy Lane was also rescued from his boat [I'm not sure if he had a liferaft or not]. Alan Rees unfortunately took to his liferaft before he was rescued after setting off his EPIRB.

Just a point with size of liferafts. I've never been in a liferaft in my life although I carry one when ocean sailing. I have often looked out at the weather and thought 'I wouldn't want to be in a liferaft in that'. From everything I have read it seems that too big a liferaft is dangerous. Even though a proper liferaft will have those pockets that hang down to fill with water and provide stability, it also needs the body weight of the crew to stop it flipping over in the waves and the wind. So while the 4 man liferaft is the smallest I can find on the British market, evidently it won't be much use to me in bad weather. An old Avon may be slightly smaller than a 4 man liferaft but doesn't have the stability pockets so may have a greater tendency to flip over. Of course if you had to exist for 6 weeks on your liferaft and the weather was kind then bigger might be better.

Alchemist V274
22-01-12, 09:28
Just a point with size of liferafts..... From everything I have read it seems that too big a liferaft is dangerous. Even though a proper liferaft will have those pockets that hang down to fill with water and provide stability, it also needs the body weight of the crew to stop it flipping over in the waves and the wind. So while the 4 man liferaft is the smallest I can find on the British market, evidently it won't be much use to me in bad weather. An old Avon may be slightly smaller than a 4 man liferaft but doesn't have the stability pockets so may have a greater tendency to flip over. Of course if you had to exist for 6 weeks on your liferaft and the weather was kind then bigger might be better.

One of the key things I picked up from the RYA Sea Survival course I did was the point John has made about the size of the raft. Too big in bad weather and it wont have stability even with the water pockets underneath.

One other 'fact' stated was in about 50% of openings the raft will be upside down and as a reasonably fit 48yo (then) swimming to it in full foulies and righting a 6 man version in a marina in calm conditions when not scared etc was hard enough. OK it was November but in the open sea with your home sinking next to you in possibly storm conditions does not fill me with comfort!

The most significant point I picked up was you should only ever STEP UP into a liferaft, never step down into it. For as long as the parent vessel is floating you have a better chance of survival.

jollysailor17
22-01-12, 14:28
I worked out that I could make a canopy by using blue alkathene water pipe for the frame and a bradshaws tarp for the cover and a velcro system to fit it and keep it in place and could top up the air bladders with the pump every day as required. A grab bag could be made up out of nylon that would fit the curve of the bow with velcro to hold it in place and unlike a life raft I could row towards land. With a bit of thought I could probably convert a wind surfer mast and sail to form a small sailing rig for days when wind and sea were calm enough without resulting in capsize. The outboard bracket could serve as a mounting for a small rudder and leeboards could be fixed in some way to the row locks. The downside would be stability as inflatable tenders can all too easily flip if you get your weight in the wrong place or the wind gets under the raft when it becomes a big floppy dinner plate. Purpose made life rafts on the other hand have large water bags underneath to help them stay upright in high seas, though research I have read, says that they can flip over. The downside of a raft, apart from the weight is that they are static, whereas the dinghy can be rowed or sailed towards rescue.
This was certainly my experience, when some years ago I attended a sea survival course. To make things as realistic as possible and with divers in attendance in case we got into difficulties, we jumped into the sea in full oilies, life jackets and sea boots and had to swim a good distance to the raft that had been thrown overboard and was sitting inflated waiting for us to climb on board. I am not a strong swimmer and can just about manage a few lengths in a swimming costume. So swimming 50 yards in full kit with inflated life jacket on my back and a bit on my front was a tiring business, before I even tried to climb into the raft. We had a four person and a six person raft to work with. When you are in the water, floating around in your life jacket the life raft looks huge and a long way up. Getting yourself the right way round is tricky and then you need to get from water level up a couple of feet into the raft and this is NOT easy. Getting the first person into the raft proved the hard part. Once one is in others can be helped in as well, but the first one has to get in without flipping the raft. To start with I would get part way in and the raft would tip up and come to meet me and land on my head. Eventually I got the hang of it and in dolphin mode managed to launch myself upwards enough to land in the raft in a heap without it turning over. In a very rough sea and high winds I don't know if I could have done it. As it was by the time I got in I was pretty cold and wet and then to make matters worse the motion of the raft made me quickly succomb to sea sickness, making me feel pretty miserable. One person in a raft feels pretty lonely. Even the four person seemed big and with the floor wet and the motion of the sea it was hard not to slide around. I suppose if you had had time to gather enough food, water etc, you might wedge yourself in with all the stuff.
So to answer anyone who thinks I would calmly abandon my yacht on a whim for a raft of any kind, let me say chaps that wild horses would not get me to do that. unless I found myself in a situation where I had no other choice. That might be a galley fire that got out of control, possible but not too likely, colliding with a container, or a tree that rips a big hole along the side of the boat so that she quickly sinks, a big rusty tanker smashes into her and I find myself in the sea surrounded by debris that was once my boat, foundering on a lee shore or rocks, or mistaken by a pod of killer whales for a small whale that they fancied for lunch!
If the yacht sinks quickly then the avon idea would not work. One minute you are in a nice warm cabin the next you are fighting for survival in a cold ocean. Not so likely but again possible. If you have done everything possible that you can think of to stem the incoming tide and it is not working and the writing is on the wall then if you have time to get into warm clothing and survival suit and life jacket and pump up the raft, collect the grab bag, spare food and part filled water containers that will float until you need them, then you have a better chance. Another factor is where she goes down, the weather at the time and the water temperature.
In the North Atlantic you might only get four mintues before hypothermia kills you, so probably not much hope there then, but in warmer waters you might survive for hours in the water and for days, weeks or months in a raft as some have done before being found and rescued.
When I read the various negative comments about using the avon as a raft, I remembered from my MOD days about the single person life rafts used by RAF pilots and wondered if one of those might be an option. I made an internet search and after a lot of dead ends I found a brand new single person aviators life raft which is both very small to stow and very light. It can even be worn on your belt! This seems like an ideal raft for a single-hander and certainly would answer my problem of handling a heavy raft. See link http://www.switlik.com/aviation/isplr/tech-specs The reclining position might work well for my back and I like the fact that you can float into the raft and it works either way up.

jollysailor17
22-01-12, 14:31
This should have come before my other post, but for some reason did not appear!
I was not asking how to make my avon dinghy into a liferaft to save money, as Black Pig suggested but to solve a dilemma that I face with regard to my back.
Unfortunately I suffer from a serious back injury. Lifting heavy items at odd angles can result in a slipped disc or my pelvis slips out of alignment and can only be put back by a chiropractor. When the disc slips or the pelvis is out, the result is extreme pain and immobility. I take great care to prevent this hapenning and can usually go for a year, or even two, before in a moment of haste I forget and lift something too heavy, or even something light, but bulky and at the wrong angle, or the wrong way and then find I cannot stand up again and am immediately in immense pain. I have thought out all the things I will want to do on the boat and have worked out routines to make sure that I protect my back. The most difficult will be anchoring and deploying and retrieving the drogue but I will practice both these things in easy conditons so that when the chips are down I can do both without resulting injury. As to suffer a slipped disc, or pelvis at sea would result in my being incapacitated and would certainly spoil my day. My partner had asked me to carry a life raft with me, just in case circumstances demanded that I needed to abandon ship and use one to survive. So with this in mind I thought I would go and check out life rafts to see how easy, or difficult they would be to deploy, so went to see some at a firm who service life jackets and life rafts, who kindly assisted me and showed me a number of different makes and size of raft. I was horrified to find out just how heavy even the 4 person raft was. In the valise it was too heavy and bulky for me to lift down below, or up into the cockpit again and in any case would have taken up far too much precious space in an already cramped cabin, so I looked at a four person raft, the smallest one made, in a container and this was even heavier. Whilst it could sit on the pushpit in a cradle it is unlikely that I could lift it out of the cradle and heft it over the side without sustaining serious injury. If that happened there would be no way to haul myself into the raft even if I did manage to deploy it, without tearing it. The only way that I could see that I could deploy it without slipping my disc in the process would be to float it off which is a good way to snag, or tear it and probably lose it in the process. I came away from this visit feeling rather worried, as having agreed to my partner's request to carry a life raft, I would need to come up with some other solution, if I were to avoid injury.
I thought about what to do and then thought perhaps I could use my avon inflatable tender, which would be better than nothing, assuming that I had enough time to pump it up before I had to abandon ship. I recalled reading some years ago about sailors, who had worked out ways to convert their inflatable tenders into liferafts. I did an internet search but found nothing on the subject, so I thought I would post a question on YBW as I have found this a great way to find a URL on almost any boating subject. If you yourself don't know, then most likely someone else does.
My avon spends most of its life stowed on the spare quarter berth and is pumped up on the cabin top when I need to get ashore from a deep water mooring. I have a seagull outboard for it and a pair of wooden oars. It is the roundtail shape with an outboartd bracket that pushes into four rubber grommets on the round tail and has an inflatable seat. There are two valves for inflating the boat and one for the seat. It takes me about five minutes with the yellow foot pump to inflate the boat on the cabin top and as it is very light weight to carefully slide it over the safety rail and into the sea alongside the yacht. To fit the outboard is much harder as I cannot lift the engine on my own, due to my back problem and have to fix up a sling using the boom, all a bit of a hassle, but necessary at times when it is too windy to row ashore.

reginaldon
22-01-12, 15:44
Bought a K Type after WW2 - about a fiver, also had one when I went for trip on a Barracuda in '49.

BlackPig
23-01-12, 10:36
I have a 4 man canister in the cockpit. To get it in the water I can lift it but if need be. I also have a loop on the case I unclip the main sheet and clip it on then lift it up with that. I also have a block and tackle set up (useful for man over board, haling up stuck anchor and other jobs) That can be quickly rigged on boom or mast if the main sheet is out of action.

jollysailor17
23-01-12, 22:07
Hi Black Pig
Those are good ideas. I collected my copy of Yachting Monthly today (Feb Edition) and on page 92 there is an article about a Revere four person life raft, available from Ocean Safety which only weighs 8kg. That is much better. The only drawback is the price of 1214, compared to a heavy Seago at around 550.. Your ideas set me thinking that perhaps I could have a blacksmith make me up a life raft holder out of 316 for the pushpit, that could hinge over and when hinged also extend, making a launching ramp for the raft. If I had six months to prepare Windway for the Jester and not two months, I would most likely follow Roger's lead and line the cabin with Plastazote closed cell foam for its warmth and high buoyancy value. Reading his book I recall it took him all winter to complete the job. I thought I could count on this excellent forum for some really good ideas and suggestions to solve the problem!

ScallywagII
24-01-12, 18:58
.. Your ideas set me thinking that perhaps I could have a blacksmith make me up a life raft holder out of 316 for the pushpit, that could hinge over and when hinged also extend, making a launching ramp for the raft.

I would think carefully about how the stability of a 22' boat would be effected by the weight of a raft and associated ironmongery in this location. Any weight above the waterline will increase the tendency to roll over and weight in the ends will increase the tendency to pitchpole. Even if neither happen, it can't do wonders for performance.

njsail
25-01-12, 01:39
I would have to belive that anything that has potential to float when you home is slipping under the water and you have nowhere else to go will be very welcomed. The performance / comfort / saftey of the alternate floating craft will be determined by the sea state, wind, weather amongst other factors. An inflatable dingy is certainly better than floating in the water in a vest. A dingy has limitations in bad weather. They could be tossed over relatively easily in bad weather. A proper life raft at least has the water bags that have a chance to fill and provide additional balast. No promises if your out in a storm it will be sitting upright when it deploys but with the inflatable canopies on many liferafts you have a better than average chance to get it upright. I can only imagine being in a raft in a storm to be a very sickening experience....but if I would probably be glad to be sick and alive vs the alternative. boarding would be a last resort but great to have that option.

Like most people I've had never been in a life raft. Last summer i actually had the chance. Somone in my marina needed to repack their raft (an expensive maintenance item that rafts need every 3 years or so). We decided to toss it in a local pool and see what happens. There's nothing like first hand experience. We had a good crowd of people all interested in what's in the case. I'm glad I learned how the hydrostatiic releases worked on the case, how the line needs to go past a certain point to trigger inflation and also the pressure trigger on the line that holds the raft to the boat. If the boat sinks in deep enough water the raft could be dragged down with the boat without it. We had to play with it to figure out how to open in it in a pool on a beautiful sunny day. It was good to actually jump in the pool after the raft opened and get in it (wish we could have stayed all day). The boarding ramp and all the handles really helped getting in. I wasn't even in a survival suit and realized it was much easier to get into the raft vs my dingy.

Regarding weight...I don't think I would want to try and lift it from down below myself due to my back limitations...but mounted I think I could get it launched easily. and the andrenaline pumping from a boat sinking would certainly help. I carry a RIB on davits so that would be a secondary option. I can't lift the dingy either but at least it hangs over the water and has 8:1 levarage in the blocks.

note to self: keep the water on the outside of the sailboat hull.

barnaclephill
25-01-12, 12:58
Thanks for the Switlik link, I read some rumours that one-person rafts exist but not in my local shops.

Given the size of the Switlik, and the thousand dollar price, compared to a typical liferaft which seems to be ruled out, I am thinking folding dinghy. A 22-foot yacht doesn't have much space on the foredeck, my 26-footer neither.

What about a 6 or 7foot folding dinghy, but to aid buoyancy add closed-cell foam to the panels, and add a canopy as proposed? My 6'6" Origami weighs about 17kg, but the plan is easily modifiable in length or width. A simple single sail of a sprit (e.g. Optimist) or lugsail design, a rudder and a leeboard would complete the boat. Canopy and grab bag extra. With a sprit/lug sail the mast and spar would each be 7' long, so you have one package of the boat, and one package for the spars/sail.

A folding dinghy is erected in less than one minute, the fabric (truck/lorry curtain material) is very strong, and the final price is what you make it. No pumping no nothing, just one minute. A folder of plywood bottom (microfolding dinghy/Seahopper) sails/rows faster than one with the flexible curtain material underneath (Ken Endean's models - see PBO, or the www.woodenwidget models of Fliptail and Origami)

In a recent PBO (they are 2 months late here) Ken Endean shows how to make a Puffin type boat, which is the bottom 5 inches of a dinghy, plus a raise-able curtain of about 8 inches. You still have the foredeck issue, but without the height of a normal dinghy, but for me, even a nesting dinghy interfered with the inner forestay and anchoring.

Links: www.woodenwidget.com
and http://www.microcruising.com/ding1.htm and my uploaded magazine scans, esp. of folders: http://s1136.photobucket.com/albums/n491/barnaclephill/

jollysailor17
25-01-12, 14:17
Thanks for all your suggestions. The weight bulk of a 4 person cannister raft has always troubled me and as Scallywag11 says that is a lot of weight, bulk just where you don't need it in such a small boat. Having sailed and raced dinghies for many years I know how unstable they can be even in moderate weather, so I would question how stable a fold up dinghy might be out on the ocean. If the dinghy capsizes how hard would it be to right it if you were in the water and would it float. At least an Avon will float right way up or upside down. Not ideal I grant you but as njsail rightly pointed out much better than bobbing around in your lifejacket. It all boils down to how quickly one is forced to abandon the yacht. Hopefully never, but if I do have to watch my pride and joy sink from view, then the best option so far seems the Switlik Single Person Life Raft. This is easy to deploy, no back issues, easy to swim into and from reports I have read has succeeded in keeping pilots alive until rescue arrived. It also stows into a bag the size of a small sleeping bag, so ideal for stowing with the grab bag. If I had time I would inflate the Avon and strap in bags of food and water, but until it happens and I hope it never does, one doesn't know what you would manage to salvage. So I have added the Switlik Single Person Life Raft to my ever growing budget and will have to see what in the end I can manage to afford.

Jabs
15-02-12, 11:19
Just in case it is of interest to anyone, I noticed this on eBay:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Liferaft-cover-Tinker-Tramp-dinghy-/270912578363?pt=UK_Sporting_Goods_Sailing&hash=item3f13a5e33b#ht_500wt_1163

Tony.

jollysailor17
15-02-12, 12:39
Excellent Jabs. Thanks!

c2518
18-02-12, 17:42
This pilots life raft is for sale in the US but willing to ship internationally and he is selling a couple of them. It might be something that could be refurbished
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/USN-USMC-USAF-Jet-Pilots-Survival-One-Man-Life-Raft-LR-1-1986-NICE-/220908590032?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item336f2d93d0

sam_uk
18-02-12, 20:19
I happened across this today. A couple of reports on using a tinker as a liferaft

http://www.mahdee.com/tinker.pdf

Jabs
02-03-12, 14:25
Another ebay possibility

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Liferaft-cover-kit-for-Tinker-Tramp-dinghy?item=270922502722&cmd=ViewItem&_trksid=p5197.m263&_trkparms=algo%3DSIC.NPJS%252BSI%26itu%3DI%252BUA% 252BUCI%26otn%3D12%26pmod%3D180829666397%252B18082 9666397%26po%3DLVI%26ps%3D63%26clkid%3D67184383093 33163628#ht_500wt_1163

Vamoose
05-03-12, 18:03
I was thinking about one of those personal life rafts military pilots have, designed for one person and thinking how nice it would be to have one of those and it would stow in a locker until needed. A four person life raft, just for one person seems like overkill and takes up an awful lot of room on a 22 foot boat. So I wondered if the Avon inflatable which I carry could do double duty, in an emergency. I am sure I had read about ocean voyagers equipping their inflatables for just this purpose, but I might be mistaken.

Mmm ... There was also a version that was incorporated into a backpack for helicopter aircrew.. I had the pleasure of sitting in one for 14 hours on a cold December day / night in a flat calm gravel pit back in 1969 on a aircrew survival training course.. My advice is for open sea use dont even think about it !