How much is that life raft worth?
This is one of the most common questions I am asked and there is no simple answer. Unlike many products, new life rafts have actually been coming down in price over the last several years. Life rafts also get to a point where they are no longer serviceable and require periodic maintenance to ensure that they function properly. Their life span is dependent on how and where they were stored and a raft that has spent its life in the Northwest has a longer expected life span than one that was on a vessel in the Gulf of Mexico.
Here is and example of the way I go about figuring what a raft is worth:
Raft make/model: Switlik MD-2 in a hard container
Raft date of manufacture: 6/2001
Date raft was last serviced: 8/2003
Today's date for this exercise: 10/2011
Raft's original purchase price: $4000.00
From this information I know that the raft needs servicing and after calling myself I know that the service cost will be in the neighborhood of $750.00. For this exercise I will assume the raft has been in the Northwest for all of its life and I found (once again by calling myself) that it has an expected life of 25 years.
Taking the $4000.00 purchase price and dividing by 25 years you find that the raft is depreciating by $160.00 per year. Since it is 10 years old there has been $1600.00 in total depreciation leaving a value of $2400.00.
The $2400.00 value is what it should be worth if it had just been serviced like if you were going to purchase a new raft. Subtracting the $750.00 service cost from $2400.00 yields a pre-service value of $1650.00.
So would this be a good deal? Today you would purchase a new SeaSafe 6 person offshore raft for around $2500.00. This raft has a three (3) year recommended service interval as compared to the MD-2 having an annual recommended service interval. The SeaSafe has an expected life of around 15 years which is comparable to what life is left on the MD-2. As I stated before there is no simple answer but hopefully this will help with your deliberations.