Chase Leavitt & Co. is one of the few companies in Maine certified to service lifeboats, and they complete about 650 services a year. Jon Leavitt has been on the job since 1986 and knows the business as well as anyone. He says in one year, 90 percent of the rafts Chase Leavitt & Co. service come from commercial vessels (fishing boats, tankers, etc.) with stringent raft regulations that private yachts do not have.
Rafts vary in size. Leavitt will service three or four 100-person rafts per year and 25 50-person rafts, but most of them — 75 percent — are smaller four-person rafts.
The 10 percent of rafts coming from yachts are the hardest to service and repack. As Leavitt struggled to repack an eight-man yacht raft, he pointed out that the commercial four-person raft nearby had a case almost twice as large as the one he was working on.
Depending on the amount of maintenance required and the type of raft, servicing costs range from $700 to $1,500 a year, and annual servicing is required.