If you are planning to spend some time in the water, whether on a sailboat or a cruise ship, you should make sure there is a life raft available. There are different types of life rafts, so it is essential to learn their differences before you decide which type to take.
Coastal Life Raft
The coastal life raft is designed for short-term emergency use. They typically cost less and take up less space than other types of life rafts. Because they are designed for short-term use, they should be used only near a coast. It would be dangerous to attempt returning to shore on a coastal life raft from far out in the ocean. For an additional cost, many coastal life rafts come equipped with canopies to shield occupants from the elements. Coastal life rafts commonly have single layer floors and four low-walled sides.
Offshore Life Raft
The offshore life raft, designed for sustaining life in very demanding climates, is equipped with two buoyancy tubes and a canopy shelter. Since they are designed for longer-term survival than coastal life rafts, they do not capsize easily. An offshore life raft will commonly have an inflatable floor with dual-wall air chambers. Some include ballast bags, which further protect the raft from capsizing. While an offshore raft is more expensive than the coastal life raft, it offers greater protection.
Ocean Life Raft
The ocean life raft offers the most protection; it was designed to help occupants survive a long period of time at sea. Ocean life rafts commonly come equipped with plenty of survival gear, canopies to protect you from the elements and ballast bags to prevent the rafts from capsizing. Ocean life rafts were designed for vessels that travel long distances across vast oceans, with double-layered floors to help keep occupants warm and safe.