When talking about the safety of navigation, the first thing that comes to mind is an inflatable life raft, one that constantly gets underfoot, who never know where to shove, but when it is needed, it must be large, durable, efficient and in perfect condition.
However, commercially available rafts leave much to be desired. Despite the fact that they are being sold as oceanic, despite the fact that standards that raised the level of standards have recently been revised, rafts can hardly meet the needs of really crashed. Italian, as well as European, requirements for them are constantly changing, so it is difficult to advise some brands or models, but there are some important things that need to be controlled before going to sea.
The raft itself must be of the highest quality, double-welded seams, double or triple tube fabric, double bottom for good thermal insulation, reinforced tents and external surfaces.
Dimensions are very important. A few years ago, we conducted a test for filming a movie about security. When we dumped a six-seater raft and tried to really get into it in six, we realized how theoretical the dimensions are. Six people fit, but the crowding was incredible. It was not easy, and difficult to imagine, how to survive the week, and even with real agitation, and possibly in a storm. We came to the conclusion that even if you travel together, it is better to have a six-seater raft, if in a six, then at least an eight-seater.
What else we would like to recommend, personally participate in the technical inspection of the raft, be present when the specialized technician will open it, check the completeness and pack it. It may be that the inspecting firm scoffs at your request, but the fact remains that in the presence of the owner the work is always done more carefully, and for you this can be a valuable opportunity to get a better understanding of the raft and its contents. Each raft has a standard package containing, among other things, water supplies, pills against seasickness, rockets, sponges, graduated glass and so on. We have added to our hermetic jar with two aluminum thermo blankets, nourishing tiles, a Swiss knife, an ointment against burns. In addition, on the boat, next to the exit, we keep a prepared bag with emergency materials, including two wooden plates, absolutely necessary, when you need to cut fish, or some other prey, two solar distillers, a down sleeping bag, two woolen shirts, two pairs of woolen socks, two pairs of gloves, paper, pencil and eraser, scissors, materials for fishing, more nourishing tiles, two pieces of rope, patches and disinfectants (here you need to add specific medicines, if you need them), a flashlight with spare by batteries. In the same bag we packed an airtight container with portable GPS and VHF radio. As an alternative to GPS and VHF in a waterproof design, they can be stored in the navigational zone, always charged and ready for use if necessary. Thoughts to add these materials came partly after reading the reports of the wrecked, partly after discussions with the crews of other yachts. Fortunately, we never had the chance to test their effectiveness. But we personally made sure of one thing, that the inflatable raft tolerates the tropical climate very poorly. On the “Vecchietto” we had a raft in a soft case, and when after three years of being in the cockpit it was inflated, it could literally be thrown away, so it was stuck together and rusty. Therefore, the container of the raft must be tough, protect it from shock, creasing, and absolutely tight. In addition, since it is always on deck, it is better to close it with a waterproof cloth. And it is necessary to conduct technical control every year or two, albeit informally, without bureaucracy and seals. It's quite expensive, but ...
Another important thing for safety is a lifeline that is thrown overboard. There are kits for sale, which are quite expensive, but effective, in a package attached to a railing. In an emergency case, the packaging is thrown into the water, it opens automatically and provides everything you need: a means of rescue for the dropped out and an alarm for those who remained on board. In the absence of such a kit, there are landmarks "MAN OF BORT". We are talking about landmarks, which are thrown into the water along with a life-saving device, they are equipped with a float and a load to maintain an upright position, anti-drift fins, a flag and fire. Overboard, thanks to the flag, it can find a rescue tool that otherwise would not be visible because of the waves, those who are on board will not lose sight of it thanks to the flag and fire. In the end, quite ordinary landmarks, with a fender as a float and a flag at the top. Homemade or purchased, the main thing that was a similar thing. You can’t imagine how each head from the side of the fallen out of the board, with every meter, how you move away from it, eases out.
Recall once again that coming out of the Italian waters, the mom and the daughters of the captain RINA will no longer force you to forcibly check and pack security tools. There, at sea, everything will depend on your initiative and will, and as a result your life may depend on them.