Doug Ritter, of the Equipped to Survive foundation, helped YM conduct the ISO 9650 liferaft test

 Doug Ritter, of the Equipped to Survive foundation, gives his views on ISO 9650:

‘After a day and a half with the six life rafts, it is clear that this is truly a case of caveat emptor, let the buyer beware. The case is undoubtedly made for the need for some manner of independent certification. Some of the so-called ISO rafts simply could not be considered to fully meet the standard, in my opinion, unless one viewed them with one eye closed and the other half shut. Some issues could be addressed easily, others were more fundamental. However, certification is only half the solution, because just as clearly, the vagueness of certain aspects of the ISO standard leaves a lot to be desired.

‘It’s quite possible that one certifying authority would certify a raft that another would not. Moreover, even among the rafts we reviewed that appeared to more or less meet the standard, there were marked differences in quality and features that in my experience and opinion could affect survivability in real world use.

‘The premium rafts in the test evidenced better performance, better human interface and superior features. At the low end, the performance and features just barely met the standard, interpreting them fairly laxly. Their real world performance would likely suffer as well.

‘The consumer who is betting their life and the lives of their loved ones on these ISO rafts must look beyond the claims of meeting the ISO standard, or even certification of same. My concern is that ISO not be treated as the be all, end all. It needs to be well understood that it represents only a minimum standard, and a somewhat flawed one at that. With certification, it will represent a step forward, but it is not yet a gold standard and I’d caution life raft purchasers to look beyond it when they buy.’

Watch Yachting Monthly’s liferaft test video here