Observations & Options
Liferaft: When we sailed across the gulf, we rented (for the price of my making a custom bosun’s chair) a liferaft and lashed it on deck. I don’t think it made us feel one whit safer (we were 30 then) and with the luxury of hindsight, I’m not sure it would have worked. Liferafts have improved in a lot of ways since then, but they are still a very last resort. Now that we are more mindful of mortality and plan to sail a but further offshore we decided to use one again. This time we have made a deposit on a Viking 4 person raft. We will pick it up in the spring. We’ve already templated the volume of the hard-case and believe we can install it on the coach roof abaft of the ventilator to port without doing too much violence (if any) to helm visibility.
EPIRB/GPIRB: We cannot see any point in having a position reporting beacon that doesn’t have the ability to update its reports with the latest received GPS position. Yes, there is a price premium, but penny wise and drowned foolish. [For the Bahamas -- Turks and Caicos, we decided an ACR PLB with SPOT (and extra batteries) and a Satphone would best meet out needs.]
Ditch Bag. For some years we have used a kayaker’s white water bag(s) for this purpose, and we have always made sure they weren’t loaded too heavily to float. Arguably, they should be stowed on deck next to the liferaft. Just as arguably, if one is going to step up into the raft, they can be kept below next to the companionway. They are stocked for two/four weeks of consumables (full/half rats). We have yet to decide it they should be augmented with a “survival” watermaker. Our range of operations doesn’t seem to justify the complexity. We are watching the osmotic bag technology but that seems a bit fresh to market yet. [We have moved beyond this solution and use a more traditional Ditch Bag. The big ticket additions have been the PLB, the SOLAS flares and smokes, the First Aid Kit.]