Features April 2007 Issue

Six-Man Life Raft Test

The Elliot 6-SOLAS life raft illustrates why the Safety of Life at Sea standard for life rafts serves as a good benchmark for cruising sailors concerned about survival at sea. The new International Sailing Federation standards for life rafts for cruising sailboats and yacht racing also yield some outstanding new life rafts.

How to choose a life raft? That is the question we answered in Part I of this series (“Choosing a Life raft,” March 2007). For Part II, we conducted a series of tests that mirrored those carried out by the U.S. Coast Guard and other certifying agencies. We asked manufacturers to send us six-man life rafts that they thought best suited a serious offshore sailor seeking a SOLAS life raft or its recreational equivalent. Six manufacturers responded to our request, sending a total of eight six-man life rafts: the 6-SOLAS from Elliot, the Switlik MD-3, the DSB ISAF, the Switlik SAR-6 MKII; the Viking RescYou (UKL), the Viking RescYou Pro (UKSL), the Winslow Ocean Rescue; and the Zodiac Class Ocean ISAF life raft. As it turned out, the life raft testers faced the very difficult task of distinguishing the best life rafts for cruising sailors among an outstanding field of entries.

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