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Thread: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

  1. #1
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    Default Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    I cruise inland waters. Always within sight of shore. Towing a punt or skiff is a real pain, and not necessary for getting to shore. Anywhere we would want to anchor would typically have a few people on smaller boats happy to take us ashore. It's also never very far to a fishing wharf with enough water to tie up. Most of the waters we cruise are "arms", I guess elsewhere they would typically be called fjords. Steep banks on the shores and water too deep to anchor in right up to the shoreline. Towing a punt has the added risks here of sudden wind gusts (blow me downs), and some tight maneuvering in some places. I read mixed opinions on the safety of sailing without one. Our boat is a Catalina 27 which has a pretty robust hull. Another relevant factor is water temperature, it's bloody cold, ranging from about 8 to 13 degrees C over the course of the sailing season.
    Stay calm, be brave....wait for the signs. Possibly precariously prevaricating.
    .

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    Inflatable. Secondhand one made of Hypalon eg Avon. The Hypalon is important.
    IMAGINES VEL NON FUERINT

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    Thousands cruise without them. Many die each year for lack of one. Given the water temps and abundance of 'sunkers' in your area, I would suggest either lifeboat, liferaft, or gumby suits on board. Plus a waterproof radio &/or EPIRB.
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    I wouldn't do it. I have an inflatable on the swim step, a kayak on the pilothouse roof, and Gumby suits down below.
    Elect a clown expect a circus

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    We always tow an 8ft Zodiac. I don't find it a problem, and it offers some reassurance.
    Somewhere between Murder and Suicide, there is a place called Merseyside.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    I don't like inflatables. Marmalade's the first boat I had to tow the ding from. As you can see, not a hard tow but I was very careful about severe weather.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    Nothing like flat water and a strong following breeze.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    I would tow the Queen Mary if i could.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett View Post
    Inflatable. Secondhand one made of Hypalon eg Avon. The Hypalon is important.
    Is that a UV consideration, Andrew?

    Andy
    "We were schooner-rigged and rakish, with a long and lissome hull ..."

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    If you only take it as a lifeboat, not a dinghy, I wouldn't bother. There's so many things you can worry about you'd stay at home if you worked through it all. You probably won't sink your yacht.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    Phil, the difference between where you sail and where Steve sails is about thirty degrees of water temperature. If he goes in the water without a gumby suit, he lives for about ten minutes. In summer. Towing a dinghy, or having an inflatable stowed on deck, is cheap insurance when the alternate is not discomfort but probable death.
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    +1 for what Phil said. For what you're doing, it sounds like there are better options than a full-on lifeboat, even if you're somewhat worried about sinking. Gumby suits or an inflatable liferaft would be fine.

    If you want a tender, that may or may not suit you for a lifeboat (I can think of mods I'd make if I really wanted it to be a serious lifeboat), this is what I did when I got sick of towing a smaller boat with an already small boat:

    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...g-Dinghy-Build

    I really like it.

    Alex

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    I'll take a different tack. It is very, very unlikely that you will sink your boat in such a fashion as to actually go in the water.

    Most of my sailing has been done without a tender or raft. I have sunk dinghies, but never the mothership.

    Offshore or in remote areas I would take one- maybe your area qualifies. I do not feel it is necessary where there are other boats and a shore you could ram if you were sinking. A nice compromise is an inflatable kayak. They can be had for fairly cheap, stow quite compactly, and are useful for exploring the anchorage. They also don't sink if swamped.

    A gumby suit will not help you if you fall overboard, a dinghy wont either unless you are towing it which is often unsafe. The likelihood of the boat sinking fast enough you need to abandon ship is very small.

    Do keep good pumps and fire extinguishers handy. Safety is important, but some people here take it to such an extreme you wonder if they would ever go sailing on the bay for an evening.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    There seems to have been a bit of a shift in the hypalon V vinyl stakes in inflatable boats because of dilution of the hypalon label.
    In other words a good vinyl is regarded more highly now than some of the generic hypalons. The inflatable boat I'd buy to replace my AB ( hypalon)is a particular vinyl .I don't have the name offhand , made in Germany IIRC.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    LIFE Boat.

    LIFE Insurance.




    Any questions?

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    If you need a lifeboat I can’t think of a better one than a Portland Pudgy:

    http://www.portlandpudgy.com/portlan...lifeboat-faqs/

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    I've been admiring the Pudgy for years. But there is no way to fit it on Meg under the low boom or anywhere else since, outboard rudder, stern davits are out.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    Well, Steve certainly has lots of 'thoughts' to consider now. Ask for a glass of water, get sprayed with a fire hose... <grin>
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    I wouldn't sail without SOME sort of alternative, in the event of catastrophe. My sailing is primarily coastal, with occasional trips that might take me 10-15 miles off shore (but not often)... it's a range that, frankly, probably deserves consideration to a genuine life raft, preferably one with automatic deployment... but since we're exceptionally careful about what conditions we choose to sail in, the inflatable is a reasonable alternative.

    I would agree, though, that towing a dink is a crummy alternative, regardless of whether it's a hard dink or an inflatable. The inflatable offers a bit less risk, I think.... it can be swamped by a wave and still stay erect, whereas a hard dink, when swamped, can flip over, and dealing with that while offshore would be both difficult, as well as dangerous.

    The solution: davits. My 10' Achilles inflatable (with high pressure inflatable floor) is lightweight, and sits on the davits, well above the water. It can be launched in 20 seconds or less, and carries a Tohatsu 5HP 4-stroke kicker, sufficient to actually tow my 43' boat (albeit slowly) if there was a need. I've had davits on my last 4 boats, and wouldn't be without them... all made by Mike Thomas at Ocean Marine Systems, in British Columbia. Keeping the dinghy on davits also means there's no need to anti-foul the bottom, and in my local waters, a dink could grow quite a crop if not anti-fouled.



    (The photo is not of my boat, but the davits on mine are the same)

    As to the discussion about a rigid dinghy vs. inflatable: I've tried both, and definitely prefer the inflatable.... despite the fact that rigid dinghies are so much more attractive to the eye. Aside from the issue of style, inflatables suck when it comes to rowing... but you can't beat them for stability, and crashing into the stern of a boat with an inflatable doesn't leave gouges. I also definitely advocate Hypalon... PVC degrades too quickly in the sunlight, softens, and becomes hard to clean, whereas Hypalon is tough. I find that Hypalon boats last about 7-8 years, at which point, fittings and attachments begin to fail, and it's not worth professional repairs. I also find it difficult to patch small holes, despite the patch kits available, as well as provided when you buy the boat.... the professionals have the skill to do it properly.
    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







  20. #20
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    Their are several compact life rafts for coastal cruisers that take little room and provide great life-saving backup. That said, we carry an inflatable dinghy, use it all the time for getting ashore, putting around harbors, and tow it offshore, partially as a backup. Might also note that it is great for swimming, easy to pull yourself into, and the kids tend to adopt and love it. We sail in the Great Lakes, which often puts us 60 -plus miles offshore in quite cold waters.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    I just docked today from a 3-day cruise of Georgian Bay, with my daughter. The official water temp at the S. Buoy was 3C.

    We towed the 10 ft punt I designed. It tows easy, dry, has NEVER been a problem -- it's only been an asset.

    We saw almost no other boats. The chance of rescue in the event of sudden taking-on water was zero.

    Pretty easy decision.

    We also used that dinghy for a long shore walk of Hope Island. Ours were the first tracks of the year in that sand -- except for birds, deer, and beaver.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    ^ compulsory thread update required.

    I always feel a bit nervous without a dinghy of some sort. We have done it with just paddleboards (and the raft), but I still don't like it much.
    Of course our water tends to be a bit warmer.. THREE degrees C! mumblemadcanadiansmumble.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    I have a self inflating life raft but it takes up space and is generally ugly. I have it off the boat and would only stick it on if i planned to go a decent distance off shore - 50miles or more......maybe.
    Normally, tow a dingy around the bay or keep small inflatable tender tied on deck for coastal cruising.
    EPIRB up to date, radio working, pumps working, engine working, plan your passage, check in with marine rescue.
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  24. #24
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    A friend stepped down off his deck into his life raft as his cat burned, 100 miles of the coast of French Guiana . He's a lucky man, he was picked up 3 hours later by a passing fishing boat.
    '' You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know. ''
    Grateful Dead

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    Thanks for the opinions everyone.
    I don't have room on deck to carry anything, and the boat is too small for davits. I am going to see about getting together the materials to build a Nymph pram. I built one 20+ years ago that I gave away during one of many moves. I had good experience with it's seaworthiness and tow-ability.
    Stay calm, be brave....wait for the signs. Possibly precariously prevaricating.
    .

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    Get a $1000 - 4 man one from defender. A dinghy on a boat is not a life saving raft if the boat goes down fast These inexpensive rafts weight between 16 to 25 lbs. Since you are thinking about it - work on refreshing your ditchbag which includes a hand held radio and a GPS.

    any boat that is older than 8 years - needs a raft if you go do coastal sailing. Your keel bolts may not be as good as you think they are, lots of sharp debris in the water, a hole opens up or if you suffer a collision which sinks the boat. The weakest person on the boat must be able to deploy the raft or it is not appropriate for duty.
    Be wary of your critics, at peace with your decisions, and work hard to be a better man.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    I've been admiring the Pudgy for years. But there is no way to fit it on Meg under the low boom or anywhere else since, outboard rudder, stern davits are out.
    They're darn heavy things to handle. Interesting little boats, but given the weight and the gear needed to get one up on deck, I'd prefer a small RIB.

    With regard to the original post, I've three different scenarios. One being my liveaboard motor cruiser, on her I have a small and very light hard dinghy up on the cabin top plus a 9 ft RIB on davits. On my 18 ft gaff sloop I tow that little hard dinghy which has enough foam bouyancy to allow me to use it to at least stay afloat, our waters here being between 18 deg c and 24 deg c winter to summer drowning is more of a risk than hypothermia. I can though get into the little thing and bail it to get afloat, and it has a bailer and oars strapped into it. In my cruising dinghies, those are not powerful enough to tow a dinghy without being slowed more than I like so I build in multi compartmentalised floatation and a means of righting and reboarding so the boat is its own "lifeboat". In all cases there are pfds and multiple means of signalling for help.

    John Welsford
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  28. #28
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    Exactly, the weight of the things.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    Just went through survival at sea training - All lifeboats/rafts should be deployed within 15 seconds by weakest smallest crew on boat.
    Be wary of your critics, at peace with your decisions, and work hard to be a better man.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve McMahon View Post
    Thanks for the opinions everyone.
    I don't have room on deck to carry anything, and the boat is too small for davits. I am going to see about getting together the materials to build a Nymph pram. I built one 20+ years ago that I gave away during one of many moves. I had good experience with it's seaworthiness and tow-ability.
    We carried a small (just viable for two people) inflatable on the cabin roof of a 17' trailer yacht, when we were cruising the Marlborough Sounds. Not pretty, but not in the way either. Just saying.
    We tried towing it, which worked too, but it was a bit like a sea anchor and cost us a lot of speed that we didn't really have in the first place.

    Pete
    Don't underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers!

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    You can build an Elegant Punt in a weekend. I did, and used it for a few years. A bit noisy, but light and simple and a surprisingly good rower.

    http://www.mcssl.com/store/hhpaysonc...s/elegant-punt

    It needs a skeg aft.

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    I'd have to say I think a tender is vital for a cruising boat, unless the cruising boat is small enough ...light enough ....... that you can manhandle it onto the beach and off the beach. So those folks that are cruising with "oar and sail boats" can totally function without a tender....though even there you have to be a little careful.

    I sail a beach-able boat. It is big enough though that if I push up on the beach a little too far, or the tide drops a bit I may not be able to get off on my own....and that might be really bad. I dry out fairly regularly, but always with care picking my spot.

    I prefer to tow my tender, at least for coastal cruising. A somewhat longer boat with fair lines can be about as easily towed as a shorter (more spherical) boat. My current tender is 9 ft long. I have had my tender break free twice in the last 40 odd years, both time recovered. I have never had a tender flip or swamp, even in very rough conditions, though my Father had one boat swamp in a very rough sea. In that case the towing point was through the breast hook rather than lower on the stem or bow transom.

    Like Ian, I am not a fan of inflatables, though I grant there are some attractive qualities. For cruising I prefer a rowing boat...part of the cruising ethic, I think..... At home in the harbor I like having some power (small outboard) for getting about....out to the mooring, and back in....

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    We blew a butt joint mid channel (Catalina Island) back in the 80s. I had three hours to ponder the subject while we bailed our keesters off. Have had an appropriate size life raft on deck ever since.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Thoughts on sailing without a "lifeboat"?

    How about a Canadian canoe ,Steve. If you got it right it would store on top for transport and when you were on the water you'd tow it. There's hardly any drag on a narrow hull despite length.

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