REPAIRS AT SEA
Generally, the areas of greatest strain will be the first to show signs of wear and will require greater attention. These areas include:
• The points where any lines or shackles, towing fixtures, etc. are attached to the raft
• The area where the floor and the flotation tubes are joined
• Areas where any abrasion or chafing occurs
• Areas around valves and seams
The “monitoring” of any leaks or repaired areas should be included in your watch routine. Remember that while a tiny leak must be viewed as serious, it’s no cause for panic. Be sure to maintain adequate pressure in the buoyancy chambers by regulating the air when necessary. This will minimize strain on the seams of the raft.
Repairing a Major Leak
Take the following steps to repair a major leak in one of the chambers:
• Partially deflate the chamber.
• Use a proper patching kit and follow the directions sup plied by the manufacturer. If you don’t have a kit you will have to improvise with what ever materials and ingenuity you have available.
• Use a beveled wooden or plastic plug to patch major leaks. These plugs should be covered with some type of material before being inserted into the hole, and then bound with line to secure a better fitting (see Fig. 1-10 below).
• Dry and then patch interior leaks. Exterior leaks (and areas of the floor) are more difficult to repair since the material will usually be wet.
Fig. 1-10: A plug (of wood or other available materials) can be improvised to patch a life raft in case of a puncture.