My wife and I are planning a trip to the Bahamas in May. We have a C182S. I am researching life rafts and would welcome input from the group. Obvious concerns are balancing weight and ability to exit the aircraft with utility and safety if needed. Your thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks, Tim.
I don’t have any piston single water experience so this is just my opinion.
Your best bet would be strapping it into the back seat with the seat belt. That way the seatbelt will keep in from moving if you ditch and remain relatively accessible after the fact. It would probably be wise to have a seatbelt cutting tool easily accessible too.
Go to Aviation Consumer, they have several good reports on water equipment
A couple of thoughts come to mind. Last time I went to Nassau, I rented safety equipment for the trip from a company at Ft. Lauderdale airport. Also, AOPA had a "visiting the Bahama's" trip kit available. Contact them and see what they have. :) Have fun, send photos.
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If you are traveling the relatively short distance from Florida to the Bahamas infrequently, and/or for relatively brief stays, then rent a raft and life jackets from one of several Florida FBOs or companies.
I purchased a Superior HALO from Liferaft Professionals, a coastal model that basically gets you out of the water while awaiting a quick rescue. It fits behind the front seats - vertically if no rear seat pax or flat on the floor if your rear pax rests feet on top. (It needs to be readily accessible.)
Review and practice ditching procedures with your right seater, so you can fly the plane while they prep and help look for a boat to land near.
A personal rescue beacon, clipped to a life jacket, can aid in a faster rescue as the plane and beacon will likely sink.
I flew the 421 twice to Bahamas the last 2 years. I stopped in Fort Pierce, KFPR and rented life vests. Life rafts if I recall correctly are suggested but not required. My first trip I rented a life raft, the second I went with life vests for everyone. Heading east from KFPR land is visible after a short flight. Further south I believe land is closer something like 50+ miles off Florida coast but don't quote me on that.
I fretted flying it the first time but there are several aircraft flying back and forth and your always in contact with Maimi center until your handed off to Nassau. I filed IFR each time and its a breeze, just like any other flight. Be sure and get your aircraft radio license which you will never need again. Register for eApis and make checklist of forms your going to need to fill out for arrival. I would start asap to get the decal from the US Customs and Border protection (easier than you think).
You have a few hoops to jump through but its worth it.
Customs at KFPR was very professional and easy to deal with the first time. The second time we didn't even have to unload the aircraft.
I flew to North Eleuthera the first time, super simple flight and seems like good support there is you need something. We flew to Andros last April and it is REMOTE, seems like I flew close to 200 miles over water and there are zero services there. Not sure I would do the same as the Renovation Island owners do in his 172 (think that's what he has).
Sorry for the babble, especially if you already knew a lot of this. If I can answer any questions feel free to reach out to me. 970-756-1495
Just a carbureted guy in fuel injected world!