Bluewater Cruising Association (which we are members) put on a one day safety at sea course for those of us that have never had the misfortune to use that expensive piece of safety equipment call the ” Life Raft”. Our thinking was it might be a good idea to have this experience before we were actually in a crisis, in fact our inflatable lifejackets had never been activated either! So off the whole family went to dress in full gear, jump into the pool and try all this out. Was it worth it – YES!!!!!, and it was a lot of fun.
In thirty years of cruising we have never fallen over board, need a life raft, even had to use a flare gun but you really don’t want the first time you use these to be in a real emergency when the stress is high and a wrong decision could cost a life. I recommend this for all sailors whether your going offshore or not. What were the big lessons?
1. Mustang lifejackets were great but you need a bum strap. Without this the jacket tends to ride up and you could slip out if your being tossed around in chop.
2. Know your life raft. Every manufacturer has different features and the position of the gear in the raft is different. Spend the time to study your particular raft. Our is a Givens and are happy to know its design features are great. We had trouble getting in the DBC because there was no ladder and with an inflated life jacket this is no easy feat!