Inflatable lifejackets

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Inflatable lifejackets

Postby robf » Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:59 pm

I'm wondering if anyone has had first-hand experience of the manual inflatable lifejackets. I've just purchased a couple and intend wearing one from now on whenever offshore or when the wind blows hard. When not inflated they are comfortable and don't seem to get in the way.

About a month ago, when on the helm a few miles off the Central Coast I watched my brother-in-law get catapulted off the bow of his Cavalier 37 that he had bought a few weeks earlier. He had a harness and an inflatable lifejacket and we had gone through a safety briefing before setting off - but he wasn't wearing it at the time and acted on impulse to go forward to fix a tangle. Just as I was about to call him back he did a neat back-flip into the drink.

The doubt I have with the manual jackets is that if you get knocked out they are no use. The Marine Rescue crews all wear them as the automatic ones get set off by getting wet - which in wet weather or spray is all it takes. Any thoughts?

Cheers

Rob
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Re: Inflatable lifejackets

Postby Tales » Mon Jun 28, 2010 1:30 pm

Hi Rob,
I guess we all do a bit of soul searching with this one. If not for ourselves, then for those for whom we take responsibility.
We have the manual inflatable type with harness attach and crotch strap. We have also practiced the man overboard drill many times using a fender etc.
However the big thing to me is that no matter how good we are at handling our boat to get back to the MOB it is always going to be a big job getting them on board.
For us, it is clip on if it's going to be rough.
There are many angles I know. Being dragged along in the water and still not being able to get on board but I feel we are minimizing the risk.
Read about jack lines on the cabin top recently which might be an improvement on the deck ones I have.
For me the PFD is pretty much the last resort - won't last long in 8 degrees anyway!
Cheers (?)
Tom
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Re: Inflatable lifejackets

Postby Dolphin » Mon Jun 28, 2010 8:32 pm

G'Day for my money I reckon a jacket is the best thing going. When you consider the problems of being knocked unconscious and falling into the water a manually activated jacket is not going to do you much good.

I prefer a jacket because they don't need to be serviced, it protects you from bumps and bruises, in cold weather it keeps you warm in and out of the water.
The bad points are that if you wear one in the cabin and the boat sinks it is very hard to get out of the boat, they are uncomfortable in hot weather and as such they are not usually worn until needed. I've ben told that you either wear a life jacket OR a harness, not both.
Greg.
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Re: Inflatable lifejackets

Postby Swift » Tue Jun 29, 2010 12:46 am

Hi all

I have a manual PFD with inbuilt harness. When sailing solo, which is a lot of the time, the PFD is almost pointless but if for some reason I had to cut the tether, just maybe I could make it to shore, probably while my boat sails on without me and crashes into the racing fleet (who give way to nothing, not even a ghost boat). My jack lines are on the centreline, one each side of the mast and I have two tethers on the harness, one 6 Ft for the cockpit and and one 3 Ft for the deck.

Having worn compact foam PDF's way back when I used to do water ski racing I have to agree with Greg that permanent floatation provides great protection. Also you don't have to think what to pull if your stunned by the fall. But I don't understand the comment that you should only wear a jacket or a harness, but not both. You only have to look at the 98 Sydney To Hobart. "I had just unclipped when we were hit by this rogue wave" From memory the guy who said that was not wearing a life jacket. "I tried to raise my arms but I kept slipping under the water" It was only the quick thinking by the crew that got him on board before he drowned. I know that anyone with a harness should be clipped on at all times (which is why I have 2 tethers) but it happens again and again. Also, harnesses break not that infrequently.

As for wearing a PDF (or not) and not wearing a harness, a case can be made that it tends to make one focus on staying safe and you can react more quickly. This was the view of Eric Tarby who was one of the most celebrated and athletic sailors of all time. He died after falling overboard in 1998. If this can happen to this immensely experienced sailor the odds are against the rest of us when offshore in anything but dead flat conditions.

I almost laughed when I bought my PDF from Whitworths and I was shown the optional crouch strap. If that pathetic little plastic buckle does not break I cringe at the thought of falling overboard and taking my body weight on this strap - right between the legs ...... Ouch! I suppose a kick in the b.... is better than death so I bought the strap. Thigh straps are much better but they are not that easy to find.

Cheers
Keith
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Re: Inflatable lifejackets

Postby Phillip » Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:12 am

Morning All,

We should all be taking note of the changes in the lifejacket rules in NSW [wished I was a manufacturer :D ].

Seems that we get off the hook of having to wear them 24/7, but it we will now be wearing them on more occasions.

Go to http://www.waterways.nsw.gov.au/ for the pfd info.

Phillip
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Re: Inflatable lifejackets

Postby Dolphin » Tue Aug 10, 2010 1:06 pm

G'Day Keith,
What you say makes a lot of sense, to wear a life jacket and harness. I'll retract my earlier statement that it is either one or the other.
I've seen somewhere lately that there is a new idea for the lanyard that has 3 clips on it. The centre one is offset so you get a short lanyard and a long one.
Most of the times i've come close to going over the side is in calm conditions or at the mooring, when you get that odd wave you're not expecting.
Greg.
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