Why isn’t this a picture from the coolest camp ever? (Instead, it’s a photo from a life raft review) I am tempted forgo the whole sinking boat trauma and just cast off in a life raft in the first place. Though I’ve never dealt with life rafts in real life, they seem like potentially terrific pleasure boats for lazy river floating or perhaps anchoring out for a night. Sure, a posh eight person raft will set you back about US$9000, but imagine resting your head on this giant floating pillow in the shade of the deployable canopy. Maybe you go for a swim and climb back in using the attached ladder. Grab your camera and a snack from a built-in waterproof pocket. It seems like the ultimate ultra-light (90lb. boat holds a dozen people) deployable gadgety leisure-craft.
I took at close look at one from Winslow
Unfortunately, further inspection [pdf] reveals too clearly this raft’s true purpose, noble and frightening. For example, the canopy features “a cool blue interior which has been shown to reduce anxiety and provide a desirable calming effect on survivors.” Upon reading the reasoning for this color choice, my raft fantasy is transported from an afternoon on a sunny lake to days afloat in a deadly ocean. Anybody really using this craft is in deep trouble. Many features speak to this reality: 1 mile range emergency beacon, dye to color the ocean, flares, food and water rations. What brings it home is the inclusion of a Bible in the “Basic Offshore Survival Equipment Package.” It’s as if after all the other supplies have run out, they leave you with the makings of a funeral. Ug. I think I would also request the optional deck of cards to pass the time, and make that a double order of sea-sickness pills please. Maybe it’s time to go re-read Adrift and wash my brain with the incredible tale of a survivor who didn’t require a burial at sea!
I think the solution to my imaginary need is to find a boat that’s a true high-quality leisure inflatable with all the features of a life raft, and cup holders too. I’d rather just not tempt fate and insult such a heroic vessel with weekend gallivanting. On the hand, what about a retired raft that’s too old for life saving and wants to live out its years floating lazily on quiet water. Where do I find one of those?