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.
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.
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.
Peace and fair winds!
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