Life raft: here are the models that are up to standard and when to do the review


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The life raft is one of the equipment about which it is best not to be in doubt.

Regulations governing the construction and use of life rafts for recreational vessels have been in effect since September 18, 2002. However, not all boaters are clear in their thinking. Let’s have some clarity. The standard adapts, to international safety standards defined in Iso 9650, the quality of rafts.

Life raft: standardized models and review

Much has been written about the raft, with favorable opinions about the type of construction of the life-saving craft that objectively becomes safer due to much higher standards and more comprehensive equipment. On the other hand, the opposing views are about increased price, bulk, and weight. Here is a small vademecum, meticulously following the regulations, that will help you in choosing or reviewing a life raft.


Is your life raft legally compliant?

Current regulations identify different types of liferafts based on their use and the type of boating involved. It identifies the temperatures in which it is inflated (-15° to +65°), the size of the lights, the number and type of equipment, etc. Equipment also changes depending on whether you have a raft for navigation within and beyond 12 miles.

If you buy a new raft, you will be issued an “owner’s manual” and a “user’s manual” with instructions for transporting, stowing, and using the raft. If you buy a used boat, beware of the raft that comes with it. In fact, “old” ones, that is, those built before January 18, 2003, must be accompanied by a statement from the manufacturer certifying the quality of construction.

Raft overhaul: how and when it is mandatory

In addition to being mandatory it also has a cost to the owner. This expense can vary among different manufacturers, so inquire at the time of purchase; in fact, cheaper models often hide “salty” surprises at the time of review. Also check where the nearest service center is located and, before shipping, request a detailed quote. The overhaul must take place every two years at centers authorized by the manufacturer. During this inspection, the condition of the pneumatic part, accessories and equipment is checked. The inflation cylinder, its valves and operating head are tested.

At the end of the overhaul, the results and verification of the work performed are recorded on a special overhaul certificate, which must be kept on board at all times. There are also “special” checks that are made with a longer deadline. Every 5 years you need to check the condition of the cylinders. Every six years after the first packing shown on the identification card, the raft must undergo a special inspection. This includes at least one overpressure test equal to 25 percent of the raft’s operating pressure for 30 minutes and one leak test at the operating pressure for 6 hours.

To conclude

The raft overhaul should be done every two years, usually the first one is less costly than the second one when virtually all the fires are changed (they last about 5 years). Always ask for an estimate first. The equipment, which is mandatory, is regulated by a European standard, Iso 9650, which has also been implemented in Italian law.


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