Life Raft and Safety Flare Demonstration

Teresa Carey Words 13 Comments

Read on! The video at the end is a real treat!

This weekend was the start of the ARC Caribbean 1500 Rally. The marina at Portsmouth Virginia had 35 sailboats flying the rally flag and preparing their boat for departure. On Saturday they began their sail from Portsmouth to Tortola. Ben and I were invited to join the festivities as a media team and to give a seminar.

On Friday morning we gave our seminar titled, Leadership and Crew Dynamics to a group of eager sailors. We demonstrated new ways of communicating and then got them turning to each other to set goals for the voyage, establish guidelines for shipboard culture, and practice ways of addressing issues that might arise.

Our primary role at the rally was as Team Media! We photographed each crew aboard their vessel. We interviewed sailors, and we filmed events.

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One of the most exciting events was the safety demonstration. Ben and I have sailed aboard many vessels with inflatable life rafts and have practiced abandon ship drills. However, this was the first time we have seen a life raft deploy. It’s so expensive to have them re-packed and certified, that most sailors will never deploy their life raft, unless it is a true emergency. One way to observe your life raft being deployed is ask the service center if you can be present the next time it needs to be re-certified.

The World Cruising Club rallies require participants to carry SOLAS flares instead of the standard USCG flares. Despite having a shorter burn time, they believe they are still more effective because they are brighter. They suggested setting off two flares, one after the other, to increase the duration and allow the rescuer to confirm what they are seeing in the distance.

To see the life raft deploy and two types of safety flares take a look at this video. Then answer this question in the comments below:

Would you rather have the USCG flares, which burn three times as long as the SOLAS flares, or the SOLAS flares, which are brighter? Why?





Comments 13

  1. Douglas

    Ahoy Teresa ,,, T Y , for this ,,,, but ,,, what about L & L ‘s , findings in NZ ,,, that 50 % of all Liferafts , that come in for yearly certification , fail , for one reason or another ?

    Gee , and what about liferaft patches for their tubes ,,, that the Adrift , book by Steve Calahan , mentions ?

    Well , anyway ,,, nice to see a real “inflation” ,,,, Many Thanks , for that !!!

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  2. Martin

    The SOLAS are far brighter. Take 3 to equal the USCG burn time. Maybe there are other points to consider, I’ve no idea. Neat video. Thanks for the post.

  3. Douglas

    Ahoy Captain Teresa , T Y , for the quick response ,,, say Hi to Ben for me ,,,, I would like to digress a bit , and address your ARC Rally participants !

    Unlike rally participants , I set sail from San Diego , on a solo voyage , to the Marquesas,,, they set sail from Europe ,,, those sailors developed a following to their leaders in the fleet ,,, and bonded , for better or worse !

    When we met up with that rally in F P Uapoo , they forgot their seafaring manners ,,, and were so tied to their leaders , they willing were wanton to push their weight around , and displace , those who were already anchored and settled with great effort , because the anchorage was so very small ,,,, Ok ,,, I up anchored and moved a great distance away ,,,, but that bad taste of they left me with , has not been appeased !

    I really wanted to go to the local people show , that night , and felt the rally encroached , on my well earned priviledge , to enjoy that show ! A “Pox” on those Rally People , I still feel ,,, So ,,, I hope , that you and Ben , don’t , have to feel , that which , I felt , that night in Uapooh ,,,,

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  4. Douglas

    Ahoy Teresa ,,, T Y for your reply ,,, I will not mention this subject again ,,, I really appreciate all that ,, you have done to encourage new cruisers , to enjoy , the wonderful experience that you have to share with us ,,,, we need you !!! Thanks ,,, Ever Sooo Much !!!

  5. Bart Blankenship

    Thanks Ben and Teresa,
    I’m leaving just behind most of the rally sailors but may see some of them. Waiting on winds to decrease. I think brighter is better and just have more of them instead of the minimum. That said, I think that I’d still put most of my effort and resources into learning to sail and that my sailboat and crew are up to it. I see a lot of effort into “Plan B” or the the life raft and I hear that often crew abandon their boat to die in the raft. The adage of make sure you’re stepping up into the raft seems a good one. That’s also true in life where many folks settle for the back up job instead of what they really want. Thanks for your post and Is there a link to see their safety briefing? Thanks so much, Bart

  6. Rich

    Hi Ben and Teresa! Thanks for the GREAT video. I would like to share this blog with our Boat Club members if you don’t mind? Welcome to Portsmouth! Sorry that I missed you but I hope you enjoyed your time in the Hampton Roads area. I hope to meet you both one day, because you are simply awesome! Sincerely, Rich

  7. Andy Nixon

    Wow, the USCG flares are wimpy in comparison to the SOLAS flares. My gut reaction before was to have both types on board but after seeing the demo perhaps just more SOLAS flares.

  8. David

    Great video, I hope I never have to watch my life raft inflate!

    Under our local regulations, we have to carry 2 x Red Hand flares and 2 Orange Hand flares. The red ones are for night distress signalling – burn time over 60 seconds and rated at 15,000 cd light intensity and meeting an Australian standard 2092.

    The orange ones are smoke flares, for daylight distress signalling. The smoke is visible for up to 4 kilometres. Again meeting Australian standard 2092.

    My guess is that smoke is more visible during the daytime, leaving a trail that can be viewed from a distance. It may be more visible in a large swell where a bright burning flare will appear and disappear as you rise and fall with the swell?

  9. Stormy

    Ok how about a question and an answer. Did you guys carry a life raft aboard while filming OSQ? Just curious what your personal take is on the matter.

    I cant afford a life raft so I don’t even think about them just like I cant afford a sat phone or epirb.

    I have never used a flare but brighter sure seems to be better. I have lots of flares aboard new and old but hate the thought of ever using one. I figure the more I have the less likely I will be to find myself in the need of them just like my first aid kit and abandon ship bag. If I had the money I would carry a raft and more emergency signaling devices but not having the best of everything has not once been a factor in leaving the dock 🙂

  10. Knut Garshol

    I would clearly prefer the SOLAS flare since the time difference can be compensated by having more of them. For anybody seeing the flare, I think it works as a confirmation if you see the flare 2 or 3 times rather than one weak flare. In addition, it could happen that you need to use flares in daylight or before it is really dark and the brightness of the SOLAS flare would then be very important.
    The safety course for Category I offshore race to the Philippines included inflating a raft, getting into it from the water in full gear and PDF, inverting the raft and staying inside it (underneath), then getting out, righting it and enter the raft from the water again. I recommend anybody going offshore to an opportunity to get wet and participate in such a training. Confidence is invaluable when everything seems to go wrong!

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