Inflatable lifejackets

Discussion in 'Sailing Talk' started by sbenest, Nov 29, 2009.

  1. sbenest

    sbenest New Member

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    Hi,
    I am based in Jersey in the United Kingdom and have noticed that inflatable lifejackets don't seem to be used a great deal in the States. Does this mean that most people only have buoyancy aids ( what we would use for dinghy sailing):)
    Cheers
    Simon
     
  2. AQBill

    AQBill Member

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    The hot shots use the "buoyancy aids," but they are not US Coast Guard approved so technically anyone using one might be subject to having a second approved vest onboard. I have - and use - an approved inflatable but most folks use the (usually) less expensive foam vests. Peace:)
     
  3. wessel

    wessel Member

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    Scary thought... get hit in the head with the boom, black out, fall in the water and your vest is not inflated.

    PFD or Buoyancy vest for me.
     
  4. sbenest

    sbenest New Member

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    It is interesting. I was browsing through West Marine and found their inflatable PFD,s.
    For some reason their prices seem very high so I did a bit more research and every where I looked it seemed the same thing. I base my info on the sort of pricing that we have in England which is massively cheaper even after allowing for delivery costs. I am wondering if there is a market place to advertise this fact
     
  5. Merrily

    Merrily Administrator Staff Member

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    The high price is one reason why I haven't done it. Plus, do you have to get a new CO2 cartridge every time it inflates? If so, that is expensive, too. especially for those of us on gusty shifty inland lakes. ;)
     
  6. sbenest

    sbenest New Member

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    I understand, however a maual version would overcome that problem as the vest would only inflate when you pull the cord. I was thinking more about sailors on cruisers and larger boats that have to be aware of falling overboard, unlike you nimble dinghy sailors:)
     
  7. wessel

    wessel Member

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    I sail in strong winds and I expect to fall in more than once. I can't imagine sailing with an automatic one that had gone off -- that would end my day of sailing!
     
  8. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

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    US perspective:

    Very few dinghy sailors use inflatable vests for the reasons mentioned in earlier posts. But I do see them worn by bigger boat sailors
    (and stinkpotters :)).
     
  9. Zeppo

    Zeppo Member

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    The advantages to inflatable PFD's are that they are very comfortable to wear and do not interfere with crew duties, particularly on keel boats where physical exertion can be substantial. The down sides are that you can never be certain that the C02 cartridge will function when needed. If you are worried about going overboard while unconscious you could buy an auto inflating model but you still don't know if it will inflate. The manual model obviously has the same issues inaddtion to being useless if your knocked out. I think with dinghies the only option is to use a vest style PFD. Lastly, every time that inflatable PFD is used you will need to replace the C02 cylinder and the re-arming device. Any PFD that is worn is a helluva lot better than the one in the storage locker.
     
  10. rmcgill11

    rmcgill11 VTSailor

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    I agree with Zeppo's comments. I use a West Marine auto-inflatable with built in harness ($300) whenever I crew offshore or at night, and whenever I am singlehanding my own boat. I have an extra non-automatic version ($150) for one crewmember, and I would like to replace that with one with a harness. When checking the auto-inflator for a recent delivery, I discovered that the bobbin had deteriorated (moisture?) and released the firing pin, but the jacket had not inflated. I have no idea when it happened, or why the jacket did not inflate. This vest is at least ten years old and I am sure the design has been updated.
     
  11. Zeppo

    Zeppo Member

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    mcgill, your vest probably inflated for the reasons you mentioned, then over time the air leaked out. The old style "bobbins" were ill designed and tended to dissolve hence allowing the vest to inflate not from being immersed but from water thrown onboard from wind/waves. The new "bobbins" are less sensitive. Apparently it is good practice to inspect the C02 cylinder at least annually, look for signs of corrosion and or loosness. Replace if corroded, and tighten if loose, it's also prudent to either sacrifice your old cylinder by activating it to see if it inflates the vest, or at least manually blow up the vest to ensure it will hold air for a few hours. Gotta love the PFD with the built in harness, tether onto something solid and you likely won't have to worry about whether your vest inflates or not.
     

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