Does my liferaft REALLY need servicing?

bluedragon

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I bought a Seago valise liferaft just under 4 years ago. The service intervals are every 3 years. I forgot to have it done last year (so the 12 year warantee is probably invalidated). So...do I REALLY need to get it serviced? It's been kept down below in the cabin, so never been wet, dirty, or exposed to anything that would degrade the raft of its contents. I can't remember offhand if there are any flares in the contents, but what else if anything needs replacing? Am I taking more of a risk in having it "serviced" when there seem to be some horror stories around about the quality of some of these? Would it be best to leave well alone for at least a few more years? Opinions for and against? Thanks.
 

Richard10002

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I guess it all depends on what happens when the flames are licking your ar*e and you pull the painter /forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif

By which time, if it doesnt go Bang! and Blow Up!, you will be wishing you had either had it serviced, or not, as the case may be /forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif

On the other hand, in many circumstances, (probably not fire), if it doesnt work, you will be forced to stay with the boat, and may survive, as against being lost in the liferaft.

The potential for irony is great.

"I got my liferaft serviced - it didnt work - I lived!!"

I didnt get my liferaft serviced - it worked - I lived!! and so on
 

Cerddinen

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The answer has to be: who knows what condition it is in unless you check. Some of the contents (water supply, anti-sea sickness pills etc.) have use-by dates for good reason. The liferaft itself may well be perfect and need no servicing. When I bought my first boat I retrieved a cast-off liferaft from my father-in-law's shed. It had been sitting about eight years in a fairly damp environment, and had not been serviced for at least 12. It inflated perfectly and needed no work at the service other than replacement of consumables. But if I had put it on my boat without checking you can be sure the opposite would have been true, and it would proved useless when needed.
 

fuss

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When I bought my boat it came with a very high quality, very expensive liferaft that had never been serviced and was 9 years old.
I reluctantly had it serviced, everything inside worked when we inflated it. Even the torch.... the batteries were like new.
Now after one year the sun has damaged the new rubber seal which is not nearly the same quality as the original. I wonder what else is now inside that is not the same quality.
When I bought the boat I knew I had a damm good liferaft.... Now I'm not so sure.
 

gjgm

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it may be a life or death situation, but how many UK leisure boaters ever evacuate into a liferaft in a year?Anyone know ? 5? 500? 1?
 

JackFrobisher

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Two considerations:
1. What does your insurance say about service/end of life dates? Things like fire extinguishers, flares as well as your liferaft.
2. Do you ever go out of the UK? For example, the French authorities sometimes look at stuff like that and get very sniffy about things that are "invalid". Did you know they maintain a list of stuff that should be on board - the old "two buckets" list?
Oer.
 

BoyBlue49

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No doubt you take crew on board sometimes, if you were unlucky enough to realy need the life raft and it malfunctioned and a crew member were lost I don't think the Courts or insurance co. would be too happy. How much is a life worth ? How much to service the life raft ? In a situation as above you don't count but the family of the unfortuate crew would have every last penny.
The service certificate is your insurance policy !!!!!!!
 

awol

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1st decision - do you really need a liferaft? Does your sailing justify it or is it a nice-to-have white box to sit on that keeps your SWMBO happy?
If the answer is "yes, I need it" then the servicing is a no brainer. Knowing that the cylinder is full and tight, the flares (oh god, not them again!) are in date, the water hasn't leaked, the Stugeron have been refreshed, the batteries renewed, or just that there really is something in the box is called security.
If the answer is "no" then put the thing on eBay and buy a new toy with the proceeds.
 

grievesie

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As it is a Seago raft, it is apparently only Seago that can do the servicing. I bought mine recently from Force 4 Chandlery and they told me a service cost £220. As the raft only cost £449 for 4 man valise (now £549) I would be inclined to keep it for 4 years then sell it for £100 to £200 and buy a new one! In a basic raft such as the Seago it is only the flares, torch batteries and sea-sickness tablets that have an expiry date - all items that should be in a grab bag anyway.
 

KenMcCulloch

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Schroedinger\'s Liferaft

[ QUOTE ]
I guess it all depends on what happens when the flames are licking your ar*e and you pull the painter /forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif
......

"I got my liferaft serviced - it didnt work - I lived!!"

I didnt get my liferaft serviced - it worked - I lived!! and so on

[/ QUOTE ]

Imagine there is a cat in your liferaft container which has just eaten an unstable hadron. Only by pulling the painter will you know whether or not the cat is alive or dead. If the cats is alive you will be happy to share the liferaft with it but if it's dead you will be so unhappy you won't care.

Readers may detect that I hav ebeen drinking.
 

bluedragon

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Well...I wanted some opinions...and got them. But I think some of you have missed the point here and assume that a 4-year raft is going to be safer or more likely to work AFTER servicing, when the quality of servicing has at least in the past been in question itself. Is there not a risk that I'll end up with a less safe raft? How does one balance that out? I suppose only by being present and questioning what's going on...which is what I'll do. In fact that's probably the main reason in favour of it...that I can see it all myself...like packing your own parachute.

I was told today that Seago don't service themselves now, but to go to COSALT.
 

mcframe

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It's tricky.

What's the failure rate of new liferafts in years 0-1?

What's the failure rate of serviced liferafts in years 4-5?

What's the failure rate of unserviced liferafts in years 4-5? Years 6-7?

What's the failure rate of self-serviced liferafts in years 4-5? Years 6-7?

What are the consequences of failure in any of the above cases?

If you can put a price on that, you can probably get a job on Wall Street ;-)


The three years thing is a bit arbitrary - like the corporate IT helldesk that say a password is safe for 89 days, 23 hrs, 59 minutes, then *bang!* it's suddenly at risk of being hacked.

(4 year-old basic liferaft, Solent only, no plans for serviceing in the next couple of years)
 

bluedragon

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I plan to have a chat with COSALT at Milford Haven when there next. I assume as they do a lot of the fishing and commercial work in Milford Docks, then as you say they should be reliable (unless anyone knows differently).
 
A

Anonymous

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We had our liferaft serviced by Ocean Safety Southampton. Ours is a very expensive Zodiac top of the range in a fibreglass container as the previous owner was doing a circumnavigation. We were able to watch it being opened. Inside, there is a heavy duty plastic bag under vacuum, and the actuator passes through into the bag (I don't recall, or didn't notice how that is possible while maintaining a vacuum). The idea is that the raft bursts out of the vacuum bag when actuated. I wouldn't be comfortable about using a non-standard vacuum bag or assembling that without instruction, so not DIY-able for me.

Ocean Safety did not operate the gas...they said that it puts unnecessary strain on the raft. Instead, they cut away the vacuum bag, remove the explosive actuator for the gas cylinder and then gently pump up the raft with clean, dry compressed air. They don't fully pressurise them but they inspect visually for any damage, etc. Disposable stuff -- food, water, meds, first aid, is all removed or replaced. There are various categories of liferaft and a professional will not put the raft back again unless it is brought up to the appropriate standard, i.e. with the required consumables. Otherwise they will downgrade the raft. If you have an EPIRB in there, they will not put it back unless the battery change date is at least as long as the service interval.

Our raft had been outside for an entire circumnavigation over nearly five years and was in as-new condition. I cannot be persuaded that it will have deteriorated before another five years however, Ocean Safety were only prepared (or allowed?) to give it an extension of one (or was it two?) years. So you end up with a bill of several hundred pounds every couple of years /forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif

My raft is far too good to throw away but servicing to the schedule is not really an option.

It is a real dilemma caused by inappropriate servicing rules. Sailing with an out of date raft might be a problem even if your vessel is not required to carry one. An idea that I might use.... Put a clear label on the raft stating that this is NOT a liferaft but decorative trim to enhance the appearance of the yacht. 'Do not use in an emergency, for display purposes only' could also be added. This might get you out of trouble if you are checked by a lawyer, but would it make matters worse if stopped by the Italian, French or Spanish Coastguard? Thoughts, please!

Finally, I don't think that DIY servicing is worth considering unless you've worked for a service company and really know what you are doing. Better to leave it packed and undisturbed.
 
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