Sometimes you need a bit of help

Sometimes it takes more than manpower to get a life raft in to its cradle. Here the crew of the Steamer Virginia V are installing their two 100 person IBA’s in to their cradles. Each unit weighs 720 pounds but the Grove made quick work of the project. To top everything, the sun was out in Seattle!

If you are not sure how to hook everything up once you have placed the raft in to the cradle, please do not hesitate to contact us. We can send instructions for many common installations or just talk you through what needs to be done. Proper installation is the key to having your raft work.



Do you need new lashings for your life raft? Our Straps to Go division can build what ever you need. The lashing in the picture above is constructed using 2″ black polyester webbing and high quality stainless steel hardware. The split ring on the snap shackle is welded so it can’t come apart when you pull hard on the orange web. Stitching is of a contrasting color so it is easy for the vessel operator to check its soundness. This lashing is fully adjustable so it can be fitted onboard without the need of tools or a sewing machine.  If you need a new lashing give Rollie a call at (253) 627-6000.

EPIRB Battery Replacement


Ocean Signal Replacement Battery For EPIRBs

I get calls all the time from customers who need to get the battery in their EPIRB replaced. When they learn the price the general reaction is shock, how can a battery cost so much? Can’t I run down to the battery store and get the cells to make my own? Why can’t I replace my own? Here are the answers.

Why do they cost so much?
First you are not buying a single battery cell but a battery pack consisting of a number of cells. They are connected in a way to prevent short circuits and often the battery pack contains additional electronic components. Part of the EPIRB’s approval is the battery pack, a third party can not decide to produce a battery pack for a beacon without going through the approval process. Needless to say that is not practical so the only source of battery packs is directly from the original manufacturer. There is not a large market for replacement batteries so production runs are small so that the end user gets a fresh battery. Finally lithium cells are expensive to begin with and there are not many suppliers that the beacon manufacturers can choose from.

Can I make my own battery pack?
I guess so, but will it work?

Why can’t I replace my own?
It depends on the model beacon you own. Ocean Signal and some Kannad models have user replaceable batteries (SOLAS class vessels are required to have an approved facility replace batteries in any model) so if you own one of these you can buy the proper battery pack and do your own installation. What you don’t get is testing the unit  for power output, signal and water-tightness. You would also be responsible for proper disposal of the old lithium battery, you can’t just throw it away since it is hazardous material. Disposal protocols vary from state to state and sometimes even within specific cities within a state.


Ferry Disasters- is there anything we can do?

Reading the Tacoma newspaper this morning there was an article titled “Why do so many die in ferry accidents?”.  Yesterday I received a link from a trade association I belong to for a USA Today article about out of water survival craft. The gist of the USA Today article is that our government had passed a law requiring that passenger carrying vessels provide survival craft that will allow victims to get out of the water, thus increasing their chance of survival.

Like everything else the government implements, there is a cost to industry for this added level of safety and industry has pushed back. Their argument is that there are not the statistics showing that the cost would really save any lives.

Many passenger carrying vessels have “life floats” like the image above. They allow one to hang on to something but don’t get you out of the water. Inflatable Buoyant Apparatuses, IBA’s, currently provide the best combination of capacity, weight and cost.

Victims can get out of the water and stay together for easier rescue. IBA’s work well with evacuation systems so everyone can get off the vessel in a hurry. In the overall scheme of things they are not overly expensive but not working for a company with passenger carrying vessels I can not comment on how the added expense would impact their bottom line.

The U.S. Coast Guard 17th District in Alaska created a voluntary program that allows a vessel operator to advertise that they carry additional safety equipment, above and beyond what is required. The vessel can obtain a rating of 1 to 5 stars, thus it is called the 5-Star Safety Program, where 1 star is granted just for complying with the existing regulations. With the 5-Star Program a vessel owner has an incentive to carry more and better safety equipment since they can use the rating as a sales tool. Granted this program only works because of competition between vessels for passengers. If you were operating a vessel in an area with no competition you might decide there are better ways to get additional business (passengers) and as a business person you have to look at the effectiveness of your investments.

So, what can we do? Voting with ones wallet always works especially if there are options and one carries better safety equipment. Write to Congress if that is your thing. Most importantly be aware of what equipment the vessel has to offer. Take a minute, look around and figure out what you (and your family) would do if there was an accident. They ask us to do just that every time we board a commercial aircraft and while many don’t listen after the hundredth time they have heard the announcement, most of what is said has become ingrained in our memory and hopefully would pop to the front if needed.

Plan for a disaster, that is something we teach and it is a good, free start.

The value of the commercial marine industry

Recently there have been several articles in local publications highlighting the value of the commercial marine industry to the Puget Sound region. The most recent one was in the Seattle Times and it brought up an interesting point, there is no united voice speaking for shipbuilders, commercial fishermen, towboats, steamship companies and the service businesses that support them. The Northwest Marine Trades Association in the early 1980’s decided to focus strictly on the recreational marine industry and nobody stepped in to fill the void.

You might be asking, why should I care? If you are looking for safety equipment (and I assume if you are reading this you came from our web site which sells safety gear) the main profit center is with commercial vessels. Without them you would not find life raft service facilities or non-chain stores that offer the best pricing on this type of equipment. For those with larger boats having commercial shows like Pacific Marine Expo allows you to see electronics which is never shown at recreational shows like the Seattle Boat Show. Need to repower? All of the engine dealers are at Pacific Marine Expo. Having a commercial marine industry allows you options that would not exist otherwise.

As the article says, good paying jobs are also an important component that this industry brings to the region to say nothing about the taxes we all pay. The Puget Sound region has a wonderful history of supporting the commercial marine industry and it is not something we should give up easily.

Parachute Cord


Browsing around on the web I have run in to several articles regarding parachute cord. You can make bracelets with it or use it as a survival item.  Just in case you are in need of some cord, or the components to make a bracelet, we have them.


1/2″ Side Release Buckles

We only sell commercial grade parachute cord which is not designed for use in parachutes. Parachute cord is often referred to as 550 cord, denoting its theoretical breaking strength. That is for the mil-spec version which is really designed for parachute use.

Parachute cord gets its strength from the parallel strands of nylon in the center of the cord.


They are covered by  tightly woven nylon which protects them from chafe. Being made from nylon, parachute cord is very stretchy (good for adsorbing shock when the parachute opens) and offers pretty good UV resistance. Nylon does adsorb water and it tends to shrink after being wet which will make it a bit stiffer.

Oh, the first picture? Joe took that during a training jump in Europe. From what he has told me being a paratrooper was not a pleasant experience. Something about having someone shooting at you while being airsick. We have to thank Joe and others from the “greatest generation” for having the courage to do what they had to do.