Hello Steve. I know your boat well as I sold it to the owner you bought it from and knew the original owner well and met him in La Rochelle. Your boat has a fairly unique life raft bracket/lift/launch mechanism. Amel designed and built it as the owner was a legacy client and he insisted. He was also a Dutchman two meters tall so nobody argued with him. This is why your boat has modifications to the interior which Amel took on to see how adaptive the workers could be after essentially building pretty much the same thing 379 times before. Your life raft launch system works perfectly. As almost everyone on this site will tell you, and some more fervently than others, DON’T CHANGE ANY AMEL DESIGNED SYSTEM UNTIL YOU HAVE OWNED, AND ACTUALLY USED YOUR BOAT, FOR AT LEAST ONE YEAR. I hope some other experienced Amel owners will chime in with support of this dictum. This next sentence sounds pompous but it is true…you have a lot to learn and experience, after time you will deeply appreciate this. I have sold well more than 200 Super Maramu’s( some three and four times ), owned two personally, and I have seen this learning curve in every instance. Take it easy, take it slow.
Here are some things to consider. Captain Amel knew that most cruisers spend about 15-18% of their time actually under sail passage making. The rest of the time is spent exploring and enjoying new harbors after arrival or fixing stuff. Hook down, not sailing for days. He made a special locker for the life raft to keep it out of the sun and weather the 80% of the time the raft would not have to be deployed. The sun thermally cycles the raft inside of a canister every day as it goes up and down. Canister containments leak more often than they do not, also encouraged by thermal cycling which expands and contracts all the materials involved with the thermal radiation of the sun and the cool of the evening. Add some moisture and things deteriorate faster when stored outside. He also put it under cover as life rafts get stolen only less frequently than dinghies, outboards and anchors. Safe inside the locker, it is out of the sun and weather and concealed from sight. It will last much longer this way and not find its way to ‘new ownership’.
The standard Super Maramu launch system for the life raft involves using the mizzen staysail halyard and the main sheet winch. When I questioned Captain Amel about this being a bit slow and clumsy, he retorted something like this. “Mr. Potter, you don’t know who your parents are. This boat has four watertight bulkheads and a double bottom. If you are ever in danger of sinking, you are having a really bad day. You will grab the life raft with one hand and hoist it on deck easily with the adrenalin you will be gifted.” That said, all Amel owners should practice life raft extraction on a nice sunny day and do it several times so you could do it if it is dark and you are scared.
The life rails were not designed to hold the weight of and more so the surface area the hard canister presents to big waves. When I was selling new Super Maramu’s, if a client insisted on a rail mount liferaft, Amel would not install it as they did not want to be responsible. The outboard is mounted on a stronger section of the life rail and presents a smaller impact profile and is supposed to be in the aft lazarette when offshore. It will last longer this way. The life raft locker does not lend itself well to a sail locker. Besides, you hve a dedicated space for the ballooner lines and the big ballooner needs to be forward for easier setting/retrieval and the mizzen staysail is best kept in the cockpit lockers. You’ll see…
Most importantly, did the previous owner spend some days on board with you showing you all the systems, teaching you how to maintain the boat and showing you any peculiarities? I recall that your boat had its electronics updated and a lot of the old stuff was just abandoned without being removed, both devices and wiring. This can cause trouble…
Good Luck and enjoy your Amel! Joel
Joel F. Potter/Cruising Yacht Specialist LLC
THE EXPERIENCED AMEL GUY
954 462 5869 office
954 812 2485 cell
Thanks Ben. The rail mounted Viking Rescyou Pro 6 is what I am leaning towards as well. Unfortunately it appears to be 2" or so too wide for the lift mechanism in my Amel compartment, so I will likely repurpose that compartment possibly as a dedicated sail locker for both ballooner sand lines.
I had an 8 man bombard that came with boat stored in port lazerate. It weighed well over 100 pounds and I needed to winch it out with halyard. It's now gone and I'm replacing with a rail mounted unit. Several companies - e.g., Platissmo, Viking -.make good units with rail mounting options, which are much easier to deploy. And no drilling holes in deck for a cradle! Viking self righting six man is what I will buy..
I am back with my new SM 380 in Ft. Lauderdale this week ticking off some new owner boxes and am wondering what others are doing for their life raft. At present I have a zodiac 6 person that lives in the life raft well (deck hatch) and shows an inspection sticker of Dec, 2011. It is my understanding that newer life rafts can go three years between inspection rather than what I believe is every year for older versions such as mine. Are there newer 3-year 6-person offshore rafts that fit in the Amel liferaft compartment? Have some of you moved your raft to a different location because you have purchased one that does not fit in Amel's space?
Thanks for your time,
SM # 380