Is the emergency kit in a liferaft really up to saving your life? You don't sound optimistic


Since writing about the sailors who spent nine days in a liferaft after their keel fell off, and the appalling want of adequate emergency supplies in it, I’ve had lots of emails on the subject.

First, for those who asked about the make of liferaft, Pier Mori did not want to tell me because I gather that he and the yacht’s owner are going legal. For sure, there will be more in due course.

Several other people told me that when they’d opened a liferaft emergency pack (ashore) water had seeped in to the contents. Others suggested that if you have an opportunity to see a liferaft being serviced you will have a chance to see exactly what is inside.

Several were not optimistic about what to expect. From Allen Clarke: ‘Anybody who plans on serious sailing should go and do a sea safety survival course (ISAF, RYA), it’s a requirement for offshore racers, and then they will find out what they should have in the grab bag because what I have learnt is that your liferaft contents are worth bugger all when the chips are down.’

Our own Matt Sheahan said much the same thing, remembering that when he was in a liferaft during the 1979 Fastnet Race there had been a tin of water, but no tin opener.

After 1979, much effort was made to improve the standards and behaviour of liferafts, but now we’re beginning to wonder if these have slipped again, and whether the manufacturers are cutting too many corners or are we, as buyers, are a little too price sensitive?

It’s something we are looking into, so any and all comments and experiences would be welcome.