Life jackets

Medway Matt

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Hi All

I'm looking for a bit of advice on lifejackets.

It seems fairly obvious to me that the best type to use is automatic inflation with an integral harness, however i'm a little concerned about the risk of accidental inflation. Should I be?

All advice is welcome.

TIA
Matt
 

gordmac

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I suspect they will only inflate if you go in the water. There is a thought you shouldn't wear an auto in a cabin as if the cabin floods and it goes off you may not get out. If you fall in are you confident with the cold shock etc you will be able to pull the cord?
 

prv

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The only time I've ever seen an accidental inflation was where someone got the toggle caught in the mainsail while reefing. That "risk" will apply to anything except foam.

If you do have a jacket go off by mistake due to rain or spray, the only loss is the cost of a re-arm kit at maybe £15 or so (double that if you choose Hammar, so don't). Minor hazard, low likelihood = not a very important risk.

Pete
 

johnalison

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I think it was about our second time out in the Cirrus, in 1972, when I decided to poke my head out of the forehatch. Catching my toggle in the latch produced the inevitable result and I was completely jammed in the hatch, much to the amusement of my family, one of whom was deputed to free me.

If you are going offshore, a jacket with a hood is supposed to be essential if you wish to survive.
 

bbg

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You have to make your own personal assessment. What are the consequences of unwanted inflation vs the consequences of no automatic inflation when you want it?

Your call. I have automatic inflation.
 

BabaYaga

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It seems fairly obvious to me that the best type to use is automatic inflation with an integral harness, however i'm a little concerned about the risk of accidental inflation. Should I be?

You could also consider this type:
http://www.crew-safe.co.uk/acatalog/Baltic-Offshore-Buoyancy-Aid.html
Pro: Might leave you more agile and able to help yourself (swimming, climbing etc). Against: You must keep your head up.
I have both types, use them a bit randomly...

Edit: forgot to mention I had one autoinflate laying unused under the sprayhood while at anchor on a dry and sunny day
 
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dunedin

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A ex dinghy sailors we have worn lifejackets at all times underway for years (decades) and never had an automatic one go off accidentally due to water.
The risk of accidental triggering is typically the manual inflation toggle. Only happens very rarely, but this year when trying to step down onto a very short and low French finger pontoon ships mate managed to catch the toggle on the lifeline and set it off with a bang! Other than a surprise it soon became a matter for laughter - and easily fixed by a re-arming kit (worth carrying or, like us, spare lifejackets)

So definitely go for automatic with integral harness - and hood plus crutch straps. Good modern ones are lighter and less cumbersome to wear than many oilskins
 

Robin

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We chose fully automatic with Hammar hydrostatic type inflation mechanisms that only go off at a certain water depth, rather than the type that uses a dissolvable tablet to fire and can, albeit rarely, be activated by heavy water hitting (on the foredeck maybe). We have built in harnesses and double ended tether lines with Gibb double lock gate hooks each end. Septics as in USCG have only just approved autos with a built in harness as they are paranoid about the possible need to release quickly under load in some circumstances, The Canadians just over the border have no such qualms however. As a sop to the paranoia release problem we have credit card type cutters clipped to the harnesses that can cut the tether in extremis (or even in the Gulf Stream for that matter;)) Personally I rate the abilty to remain on board as number one priority on the occasions when I wear mine, for it's harness primarily. I wear a different jacket in the RIB tender, same auto type but an older model and not actually USCG type approved ( they don't accept CE), has a harness which keeps it adjusted for me but no tether because that is now on my main jacket.
 

Halo

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When I fell out of the tender last year I was very glad to be wearing an auto inflated life jacket.
I have 2 sets. 1 light and comfy for normal duties and one with hood and automatic light for bad weather and night sailing. The latter is spin lock (no connection) which seem really good kit
 

Momac

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Mine are automatic - which seems best for me.
I have spare lifejackets - usually its just the two of us but we have 4 lifejackets aboard.
A friend fell in this year, in a harbour. He just had the one lifejacket per person and luckily able to buy a rearming kit immediately. But if the chandlery had been shut and he needed to depart with the tide he might have had to go without. So carry a re-arming kit or at least one more jacket than is usually necessary
 

fisherman

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twenty years, only one ever went off was the soluble tablet type, left in the boat during a layup. I have tested them by oral inflation to make sure I can wear my jacket on top.
I picked up a mob, fell off his boat, there was very little time to get hold of him as he was nearly done. Had he been wearing a jacket there would have been a lot less adrenalin in my boots.
 

Stemar

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The best lifejacket is the one you wear.

That may sound facetious, but if your LJ isn't comfortable, you won't wear it unless "conditions warrant it", which is a bit like only wearing your seat belt on the motorway. My boat lives on a swinging mooring and I reckon the most dangerous bit of a sailing weekend (M25 apart) is going from the club pontoon to the dinghy. Get something comfortable that you're willing to treat like the seatbelt in your car and the chances are you'll be wearing it when you need it!

Someone on here said that part of his safety briefing is "This is a lifeline. It will help keep you from going over the side. This is a lifejacket. It will help with the retrieval of your body if you do go over the side." There's a lot of truth in that, which is why I have LJs with built-in harness and a safety line attached pretty much all the time. On a small boat, I almost always (that almost will get me one day) clip on if under way and out of the cockpit, 'cos the wake from a big or fast boat can get her leaping around without notice and long after the wake maker's gone by.

As for the debate on manual v auto, the waters around the UK are cold enough to mean cold shock is an issue with an unexpected dunking for enough of the year that I'll take my chances with the small risk of an auto inflation causing problems against the much higher one of not being in a position to pull the string when I really really need to.
 
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niccapotamus

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lifejacket review in this months sailing mag - either ym or pbo can't remember. good timing as this winter we are going to buy some comfortable expensive ones as I wear one pretty much all the time these days as I'm starting to feel mortal
 

ghostlymoron

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I bought a new crewsaver 190N one at the boat show after discussion with the knowledgeable RNLI man. It has a built in sprayhood, light and leg straps which are essential in my view when sailing off shore. The aftermarket sprayhood in a pouch are far to fiddly to attach when you're in the water.
Only downside is that the 190N is a lot heavier than my previous 150 but I'm prepared to put up with that.
 

bbg

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I bought a new crewsaver 190N one at the boat show after discussion with the knowledgeable RNLI man. It has a built in sprayhood, light and leg straps which are essential in my view when sailing off shore. The aftermarket sprayhood in a pouch are far to fiddly to attach when you're in the water.
Only downside is that the 190N is a lot heavier than my previous 150 but I'm prepared to put up with that.
I don't understand this approach - "more flotation is better".

I did a Sea Survival course and one of the guys had a 225N LJ - precisely because he though more was better. In fact it was so big when it fired that it was unmanageable. It did not keep his head any farther out of the water, just created more bulk. I understand that the larger LJs are for people who may have tools on them or some other unusual circumstance. In my full foulies I was quite happy (in the pool) with my 150 N jacket.

IMHO 150 N is adequate. I might go to 175 because I do often carry a few things on me. Knife, PLB, remote control for autopilot, sometimes a HH VHF. With a face cover and crotch straps 150 really should be enough.
 
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