Liferaft
S/Y EFAKI is a Mirage 28 built in 1977 by Thames Marine (UK) 

S/Y EFAKI is a member of the SNAPDRAGON & MIRAGE ASSOCIATION

S/Y EFAKI is a member of the Piraeus Sailing Club (I.O.P.)

 

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Liferaft is an essential safety system aboard any boat in our days. Well servicing and keeping updated is a must for that moment in need, which as everybody I hope never to experience. 

Aboard Efaki there is a valise type Bombard liferaft suitable for six persons (as six is the max number of person allowed to sail with Efaki), which I bought used when I bought Efaki back in 1996. It was made in March 1985 as it is written on it, but it is in good condition so it will serve us a few more years before a new one replaces it.

Every year it is serviced in the "Pyrsos -Evagelos Kandris" service station in Piraeus which I use for a decade now and which I can recommend strongly especially after those stories of liferaft cases full of bricks instead of rafts that you can hear from time to time all over the world.

This year I asked Christos Eythimiou - the service station technician manager - to give me the opportunity to watch over the opening of the liferaft and take some photos for the site. He was more than happy to arrange it and he was more than helpful during the process which you'll watch bellow. 

   

Since we didn't want to stress the liferaft before we looked at it, we opened the valise manually. It is almost waterproof enclosed with tape and inside a plastic bag to be protected until it is used.

It took quite a lot of time to open it by first removing the tape and then the straps that kept it closed.

 

Then it was removed from the valise. You may notice the painter line which is outside the plastic bag and which is long enough as to through it away a sinking boat without been trapped underneath and without injuring somebody when triggered to auto-inflate.

 

Then we opened it. You may notice the reflective tapes on the canopy.

Here you may sea the bag (inside the liferaft) that contains the safety equipment.

After opening it wide and removing the equipment bag, we started to inflate it.

Since it's an old liferaft, it has only one level of tubes where new ones have two and therefore they are "deeper". The tube is split in two parts for added security. 

After inflating both tubes we started looking for spots that might needed attention. None was found since the liferaft it is kept inside the boat and therefore is in rather good condition. You might notice the canopy. Newer life rafts have an inflatable canopy to keep it up, rather this one that is kept up only by the persons inside it.

Then we over inflated the liferaft to check the valves that let out the over-pressure of the CO2 bottle during automatic opening without destroying the liferaft. At the same time we checked for leaks.

 

The check for leaks was continued with the help of soap water. Thank god the liferaft was sound.

Later we checked the CO2 bottle. Every 5 years it needs to be inspected in a hydraulic pressure test facility. This is the year that this will happen too. Not shown very well in these pictures is the "pocket" that collects seawater and keeps it as ballast of the liferaft not to let it capsize.

Here you can see the drogue and the throwing line with flotation ring to help people reach the liferaft.

Every liferaft has a sign with its class characteristics and manufacturing date. Well mine is old enough and will be replaced in a few years. (Donít start a debate here. Sailing is an expensive sport and I know it but it can be within logical economical limits a sport for everybody, even me!!). In the right picture is a laminated instructions sheet for immediate actions after entering the liferaft. It is attached to the inside of the liferaft. 

Here are the contents of the safety equipment bag of the liferaft. There are: a first aid kit, a flash light with extra batteries and a light bulb, two parachute flares and four hand flares, a lot of drinking water bags for six persons (about 30 I think but forgot to count them), a manual pump for the liferaft, two paddles, a servicing kit for leaks, a sponge, and last but not least laminated instruction sheets for security, signals etc.

The safety equipment dates are checked and where applicable the specific item is replaced. This last picture is probably the most important in a case you need to use the liferaft. The little blue case holds the knife that is to cut the painter line that attaches the liferaft to the sinking boat, so as not to take you with it in the bottom.

Just a final word: We take precautions so as to never need to live such moments. Be prepared should be the motto.


This page was last updated on May 21st 2003.