I have bought, owned, and had liferafts serviced for close on forty years.
And we just bought a liferaft for our new-to-us J/109. If memory serves that's my fifth.
Here's what I have learned, other than the fact that I hate the damned things:
Like with almost all cruising-boat gear, starting off the acquisition search for a liferaft with the idea that all we need to do is figure out which raft is "best" is a fool's errand.
Rather, the first step is to think about why we even want a liferaft in the first place, and then progress to a set of purchase criteria, assuming we decide the answer is "yes" to the first question.
That process can be further broken down into four parts defining:
- The types of emergencies we are making provision for in order of likelihood.
- The likelihood that the liferaft would actually do its job and save our lives in each type of emergency.
- How long we are likely to be in the raft before rescue.
- The type of sailing we plan to do.
Of course this process is highly subjective, personal and likely to be wrong a lot of the time:
No plan survives first contact with the enemy.
Who knows, but let's go with Helmuth von Moltke
So why even go through the process?
Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.
Phyllis and I agree with both quotes. Even though it's unlikely that things will go according to plan in an emergency, only a fool fails to plan.
If nothing else, the thinking we will have done to formulate the plan will make it more likely that we will do the right thing when said plan turns to dust in an emergency.
So here's Phyllis and my thinking: