By Mike Jastrzebski
When I buy new equipment for the boat I like to do a little research online. I particularly like to search out reviews. This has proven to be a challenge with liferafts because so few boaters actually deploy their liferafts. Instead, most opinions on rafts seem to be based on what the writer of the review purchased.
Let me say that I was working on a budget. I wanted an offshore liferaft and wanted to keep the price around $2000.00. This restricted me to a 4 person raft, but since Mary and I mostly sail alone and we do not plan to sail offshore with a crew, I did not see this as a problem.
From my reading I was leaning towards a Revere Offshore Commander liferaft, mostly because most of the comments I found online were from people who had purchased Revere rafts and were happy with their purchase. Whether they’ll feel the same way if they ever have to deploy their raft is anybody’s guess.
With this limited information in hand Mary and I set off yesterday to the Palm Beach Boat Show in search of a raft.
The first liferaft we came upon was a Revere Elite offshore raft. This raft was displayed on top of several inflatable dinghies so that we could neither inspect the raft’s construction or the interior of the raft. When we approached the salesman and told him we were interested in the Offshore Commander he looked up the show price ($1795.00 plus $100.00 plus dollars for shipping) and offered us no other information. Disappointed, we continued on with our search.
The next raft we encountered was a Winslow, but it was out of our price range. Finally we stopped at the Viking booth.
The Viking reps were extremely helpful, even explaining the difference between the Revere and Viking construction. (I know, they were selling their raft, but the Revere salesman had his chance). To be honest we were impressed by the rubberized construction of the Viking raft. The Viking raft also had a couple of extra flares, fishing gear, and a water catcher. The cost, $2100.00 plus free shipping.
We were almost sold, then they sealed the deal with the additional show offerings. 10% down guaranteed the show price and allowed us to take delivery anytime within the next year. This was good for us because Mary may need surgery on her knee before we can take off again, and since the raft has to be serviced every three years, we can take delivery just before we leave. Also, we have the option to upgrade to the self righting RescYou Pro (additional $750.00) up until we take delivery. The final kicker? If something happens during that year before we take delivery (remember Mary’s surgery) they will refund our 10% deposit. It really was a no brainer for us.Share on Facebook