Boat Safety: Dinghy or Life Raft?

Boat safety is critical. You not only need to prevent emergencies, you need to be prepared for any situation. On very rare occasions, boaters need to leave their craft and enter an emergency safety vessel. 

There are many options for life boats, including dinghies and life rafts. Choosing the right one for your specific needs will shape how you use the boat and how your group gets through the emergency. 

What is a Dinghy?

A dinghy is a small boat that is usually towed behind a larger vessel, such as a yacht or offshore boat. They usually have an outboard motor, although some may have mounted oars or sails. 

The main use of a dinghy is for transporting people and supplies from one large boat to another or from the main boat to shore. However, they can be an important safety item, as they can be used as a lifeboat in an emergency. If there is a dangerous situation and passengers on a large vessel need to get off the craft, the dinghy can provide access to safety. 

What is a Life Raft?

While dinghies can be used for multiple purposes, a life raft is an item made exclusively for providing safety. This item gets used in emergency situations when a vessel is sinking, there is a fire on board, or any other reason why people may need to leave a boat. 

They are usually collapsible, and can go from their collapsed and un-inflated state to complete readiness in about a minute. Life rafts often have a key feature: shelter. Many life rafts are almost like tents, with a cover over the top that protects people from sun, rain, and wind. This makes them a popular safety item, but it limits their usefulness in other regards. 

Advantages of a Dinghy

The main advantage of a dinghy is that is can be used for a variety of purposes. Not only will you have an important piece of emergency equipment, you’ll also have a small boat that you can use for getting to a beach, going to your friend’s boat, or enjoying a shoreside restaurant that can’t fit your larger vessel. 

Dinghies also move a little faster than life rafts, although this may not always be the case and will depend on the design of each craft.

Advantages of a Life Raft

A life raft has an advantage in safety. If the worst situation occurs and you are stuck on the emergency vessel for a long time, having the shelter and comfort provided by the life raft could, quite literally, be a life saver. 

With a roof over your head, even if it’s a small roof, you are less likely to suffer sunburns or bone-chilling cold from the water and wind. 

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