STOWING THE LIFE RAFT
The whole point of purchasing and provisioning the life raft can be quickly negated if the raft is stored in an inaccessible place on your boat. Finding a place to store your life raft where it’s in the most accessible place for an emergency situation and at the same time is safe from theft is admittedly difficult, and might necessitate some compromise.
To have the raft accessible during an instant capsizing or sinking, it must be located on deck, somewhere out of the way of rigging and working areas. Even though the deck is a vulnerable location in terms of theft or curious people, the majority of skippers seem to agree that it’s the preferred location (see Fig. 1-9 below).
Fig. 1-9: Life raft in canister stowed on deck. (Photo: VIKING LIFE-SAVNG EQUIPMENT.)
The problem with storing the raft below deck while in port is that, although the intentions are good, it’s too easy to put aside the chore of repositioning the raft on deck when you are going for a short sail.
How long would you need to locate your raft and launch it? Boats have been known to capsize and sink in minutes. And many an afternoon sailor has been caught in unforeseen storms with disastrous results.
The carbon dioxide inflation system should be stored toward the deck, so it will be protected. The line attached to the raft must also include enough length to allow the raft to drift clear of the boat once it has been launched. But this line should not be cut prematurely, since the possibility of the raft drifting away from the boat before you have boarded it’s especially high in a storm or high wind condition. (Follow the manufacturer’s instructions concerning deployment of your life raft.)
Additionally, a knife should be sheathed and taped either to or near the raft container to ensure that in an emergency the person launching the raft can cut free the storage lines.
Detailed information concerning use of your survival equipment should be provided by the manufacturer. Study and understand these specifications before you need to use them. Familiarize yourself thoroughly with the operation of each piece of equipment that you own.