4.20.3 Liferaft Packing and Stowage

June 26, 2008   

In Seahorse on the RORC club page the skipper of Holligan V described how difficult it was to access the liferaft when their yacht capsized.

‘Our liferaft was stowed at the stern of the cockpit sole with the knife for cutting the lashing attached to the tiller ahead of the raft – all now underwater and beyond reach. We all carry knives so one of us started to cut through the lashing to release the liferaft. With the stern submerged for muh of the time and at maximum reach for the rest of the time, this proved very difficult and exhausting. It took about half an hour to release the raft and by then the cold was getting to us. Frozen hands dropped the knife just as the last strands were cut through, and we were rapidly losin the ability to think rationally. We finally board the raft but found it impossible to bail with the flexible bailers provided.’

Some key lessons learnt from this experience.
* all crew should carry knives and small waterproof torches as a matter of course.
* liferaft stowage should be reviewed. Ours was accessible with the boat upside down. The four survivors would not be around if our raft had been safely stored in the locker.

Also attaching the liferaft with a hydrostatic release would be a lot safer.

A Liferaft shall be either:-
a) packed in a transportable rigid container or canister and stowed on the
working deck or in the cockpit, or:-

b) packed in a transportable rigid container or canister or in a valise and
stowed in a purpose-built rigid compartment containing liferaft(s) only and
opening into or adjacent to the cockpit or working deck, or through a
transom, provided that:-
i) each compartment is watertight or self-draining (self-draining
compartments will be counted as part of the cockpit volume except
when entirely above working deck level or when draining
independently overboard from a transom stowage – see OSR 3.09) and-
ii) the cover of each compartment is capable of being easily opened under
water pressure, andiii)
the compartment is designed and built to allow a liferaft to be removed
and launched quickly and easily, oriv)
in a yacht with age or series date before 6/01, a liferaft may be packed
in a valise not exceeding 40kg securely stowed below deck adjacent to
a companionway.

c) The end of each liferaft painter should be permanently made fast to a strong
point on board the yacht.

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