Cruising Gear: Life Raft

If your yacht sinks, you can try to await rescue in your dinghy; but if the conditions are so bad that your yacht sank, how long do you think your dinghy will last? This is where a good life raft comes into play. They are purpose built to keep you afloat while you await your rescue. I do feel they are misused though, where people abandon ship and climb into the life raft which is being towed behind their still-floating yacht. 

This makes me think of kids camping in the back yard of their house. The yacht hasn't sunken, yet everyone is piled into the small life raft! What's worse is rescue crews typically find the abandoned boat still floating! The real tragedy is when people abandon ship and die in the life raft while their sailboat washes up onto an island, still floating.

Never abandon ship until it has actually sunk. If your boat is taking on water, stay in it and work to stop the ingress of water and also work on removing the water that has come inside. Your yacht has all your provisions and water available and ready for you, the life raft has a very limited "survival" supply. People fear that if they are in a sinking boat, that they will be drawn down to the bottom with their boat. The truth is, most boats sink very slowly, and if you stay aboard and work to keep it afloat, this slow process can be prolonged even further; hopefully long enough for the rescue crews to reach you and recover you.

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