Let's just say that if you've read KILLING KITCHENER, you'll be aware of the critical part that the Carley life raft plays in the novel. With that in mind, it's worth taking a brief look at this float that has saved so many lives at sea over the past century. The Carley was named after Horace S. Carley, an American inventor from Massachusetts, who first applied for a patent for his design in 1899.
According to the Naval and Military Museum in Vancouver, Canada, as youngster Horace Carley worked aboard a whaling boat off Hawaii and later fought in the U.S. civil war. He was in his 60s when a number of disastrous collisions between ships at sea in the late 19th century led to the loss of hundreds of lives. Horace's invention was light and inexpensive, easy to store, and able to survive being smashed against the hull of a sinking ship.
The Carley life raft was in widespread use during both World Wars. Undoubtedly it saved a great many lives of shipwrecked sailors. But the float's lack of shelter from the elements in extreme conditions meant that occupants could die from exposure if not rescued quickly.