LIFERAFT SURVIVAL Pt 1: We didn’t know this would happen!

In the first episode of our mini series on liferaft survival, we demonstrate just how easy it is to get into a liferaft from the water…

As we upgrade our sailboat safety kit for the long passage ahead, we thought it would be a good idea to test our liferaft. So on a broiling, tropical afternoon we donned our wet weather gear and jumped into the pool to see just how easy it would be to get into and use the liferaft.

We didn’t put Millie through this exercise, but instead used her carry case and put Clive, Liz’s stuffed toy cat, to replicate her (sort of). Clive didn’t do very well, so we are busy coming up with a plan for Millie in a similar situation. She needs to be contained because those claws and teeth would rip through most materials, and she would be in ‘fight or flight’ mode.

We are looking for a floating container which we will be able to strap to one of us as we swim. Of course, Millie will also be wearing her PFD. At the moment it looks like we will have to make one for her out of an existing holder and pool noodles… Unless you have any suggestions?

Even in these benign conditions the exercise proved to be much tougher than we had imagined. In a bucking ocean at night it would be nearly impossible, and we would soon run out of energy. If we had to abandon ship we would try everything to get into the liferaft from deck rather than from the water.

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We asked Mimi and Kevin of SV Aquabego to join us, because we wanted to get a feel of what it was like to have more than two people in a six person dinghy. Despite not wearing foul weather gear, you can see in the video how difficult it was for Mimi to get in. We’d like to thank these guys for joining us, and for adding a little levity to a difficult test.

Mimi jumps in to give us a hand…

We have already bought a higher spec liferaft, so many of the problems we encountered in the pool should be minimised, but it has made us think much more about the difficulties we would encounter if we had to abandon SY Esper at sea.

This was a good example of learning about potential problems through first-hand experience, and we would like to suggest that if you are ever offered the chance to take a survival at sea course like those run by the Royal Yachting Association, grab it with both hands.

Thanks to all our FTB Mates from Patreon and the Rum Fund for your continued support. You keep us motivated and focused. We love you!

Peace and fair winds!


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3 Comments on “LIFERAFT SURVIVAL Pt 1: We didn’t know this would happen!”

  1. If you assume at this time the wind is Force8 or over and waves are high and the boat was sinking and you were not yet in the raft one would have to cut the line attached to life raft. ( noted cutting device inside raft) should you still be struggling to get in this might not be accessible? Assuming you manage to release this line if you were not somehow attached to the raft yourself there is a strong probability the wind would pick the raft up and blow it away from you. Scarey stuff and a lot learnt from your little exercise. Depending on the scenario there seems to be a high chance of not achieving the goal of energy was sapped just watching you guys go through that exercise! New one sounds like a much better investment.
    Peace and fair winds to you 👍

    1. Very good point, well put! Did you see the following two parts to the series? Kevin’s talk in Part 3 is sobering… Peace and fair winds!

  2. Hi Jamie and Liz. We met at Krabi in early October. I absolutely recommend that anyone who goes to sea in a small boat undertakes a Sea Safety and Survival course prior to departure. This would have shown you how to overcome many of the problems you faced.The most important thing is that you “step up to the life raft”. By that I mean you get in to the raft from the boat before the boat sinks. Getting in to a raft from the water is never easy and almost impossible when cold and badly fatigued.
    I am also horrified that you were sailing around with a raft which had not been serviced for 9 years – no wonder it deflated. It is imperative that rafts be serviced according to the manufacturers specifications. Please make sure you do so with your new one. How much is your life worth?

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