Setting off a beacon or launching a mayday is no guarantee of rescue and no matter how confident you are about your vessel and its crew, things can happen.
Even with today’s sophisticated communications, which allow your position to be rapidly and accurately pinpointed, help may take time in coming. It may only be a couple of hours or a few days before help arrives, but if you happen to be in a hostile water environment, severe weather, or frigid water temperatures, a liferaft can mean the difference between life or death. Countless shipwreck survivors can testify that they owe their lives to the liferaft.
There is no way to determine if a liferaft will remain in optimum functioning condition without having it serviced regularly and this annual service will also increase the life expectancy of your raft. Liferafts exist in harsh environments and are often exposed to both fresh and salt water, extreme temperature changes and abuse by the crew in handling and storage that will accelerate the natural aging process of the raft and it’s components. Having a liferaft serviced on an annual basis will give you peace of mine, knowing that the raft will inflate properly, hold air once inflated, and contain functioning equipment inside.
Don’t leave this vital service to just anyone.
Annual Liferaft Servicing Procedure
• The container is opened and the liferaft is removed for inspection
• The Co2/N2 cylinder is removed for later inspection and weight tested
• A detailed inspection is performed while unfolding the liferaft to identify any damage or deterioration of fabric or adhesive.
• The raft is filled with dry, compressed air to it’s proper inflation pressure and the pressure relief valves are tested at this time to confirm proper operation.
• The liferaft is further inflated to stretch the fabric and the seams are again inspected for any signs of deterioration prior to pressure testing the air chambers. As well, all attachments are also inspected at this time.
• The air chambers are then pressure tested in a temperature controlled environment and under the strict guidelines of the manufacturer.
• The equipment packs are checked then checked and all expired items, replaced. At this point the Co2 cylinder is inspected, weighed and hydrostatically tested, if necessary.
Calculation of service cost
Only after opening the liferaft, evaluating it’s general condition, and identifying the replacement items, can we estimate the total service fee for repacking your liferaft. This fee is made up of the base service fee, the cost of any items requiring replacement or servicing and any necessary documentation. Other costs that may add to the total inspection fee include. . .
• Check List of dated items
• Hand Flares – 4 years
• Parachute flares – 4 years
• Signals smoke – 4 years
• Batteries, flashlight – 1 year
• First Aid Kit
• Drinking water – 5 years
• Gaskets & Seal
• Vacuum bags
• Hydrostatic Releases
• Repair Adhesive – 1 year
• Batteries, interior/ exterior lights
• Food rations – 5 years
• Manufacturer’s certificates
• Bursting straps
• Co2 cylinder testing & refilling
• 10 year test
Annual inspection and servicing is a vital step in ensuring that you keep your liferaft and it’s essential safety equipment, in good shape. When it comes to this service, it is no place for an amateur.