Best life jackets?

Thread starter #1
My wife and I are getting ready to take out our recently purchased - “new to us” - 1977 Sunfish in the next week or so. I have a self-inflating life jacket that I use on our Catalina 22 - not a good choice for the Sunny given that we expect to go swimming a time or two the first few times out. And, we have the 4-pack of West Marine blue-and-yellow “budget” life jackets - they’re great, they’ve lasted years and have held up well when used on our Catalina. But, they’re kind of bulky, and they tend to “ride up” when you’re in the water.

Any suggestions on good life jackets for the Sunfish? Feels to me like we’ll want something that isn’t bulky, can’t ride-up, and that allows for good flexibility - ducking under the boom, hiking, etc. I plan on racing the Sunfish in our local club “Portsmouth” fleet this fall ... so I definitely want something that “doesn’t get in the way”. Note - here in Arizona we race from fall to spring, then take the summer off - it’s too hot to sail!

Any thoughts / recommendations on preferred life jackets? Thanks.

- Bob
 

mixmkr

Active Member
#2
Go to a marine outlet ...or where ever...and try some on. I bought a cheapie SeaDoo brand for $40 and it's fine. I have an older Omega brand that I like too. Not sure those are still made. But I tried on a few before purchase...like buying clothes...and didn't order blind off the internet.
 
Thread starter #3
Thanks Mixmkr. Probably makes sense ... although marine outlets are hard to come by here in Arizona. I think I’ll visit a few next time we’re doing a weekend in San Diego. Our local West Marine is about 2-miles from my house; but, its a small store and I’ve already checked out their stock of life jackets.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#4
Checking Google, I found an $18 life jacket (PFD) with leg straps at Wal-Mart. :)

Leg straps keep one's life jacket from "riding-up" interference upon "re-entry". :rolleyes:

I'd written of my own modification to an existing PFD, which I've since lost. :confused:
Only for the young

.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#7
Who needs to be certified it keeps you from drowning?
Personally leg straps sounds a bit intrusive though.
I thought so, too, so I'd added a single "crotch-strap". :cool:

The idea being, that the strap could be tightened before getting back into the boat—to increase one's "floating-height" in the water—to further extend one's reach. (Which especially helps a Senior boater).

:confused: Alas, I never had a chance to experience an enhanced "floating height", as it must have been swept off the rear deck while launching—when I wasn't looking. :(

.
 
#8
I agree with the first post. Go to a good boating store and try some on. It should be snug so it does not ride up when you are in the water but should not overly restrict movement when you are in the boat. Then wear it. If all those duck boat passengers in Branson, MO had been wearing the PFDs in the boat, the death toll would have been much smaller or even zero. I am a decent swimmer but I wear a PFD in all but very, very light wind. I found a water ski PFD with 4 click-on straps that I like, see my Forum photo.

Alan Glos
Cazenovia, NY
 

Webfoot1

Active Member
#9
First defense is being able to swim in deep water and keep yourself afloat for
30 minutes. Check local community for swim lessons, your life is always worth
more than the cost of lessons. Then always wear a life jacket.

One of the main problems with the Duck Boat, and it's not limited to previous
accident but happened many other accidents, is that the covered structure traps people inside.
They get pushed around by the Maytag effect of the water rapidly entering the boat. Life Jackets
in a closed structure make it worse as the jacket pins you against the top of the structure. The
NTSB said they are looking into the added structure as one of the factors. I'm hoping the regs get changed but
not counting on it as it would cut into profits do to shortened operating hours. On a side note
the boats do not perform as originally designed as they have been lengthened, add superstructure
and missing extendable bow plate. If there was no superstructure and everyone was
wearing life jackets the deaths would have been much lower although probably not
zero as some would get trapped under the boat as it capsized. Speculation on my
part.
.
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#10
We like our Extrasport Eagle and Astral Camino. You can check their websites to find their current models. The latest thing are little foam ridges inside that help keep the PFD away from the body just a bit, improve air circulation. Also look for mesh for air flow.

Do you have a sports and outdoors store? They might have kayak/canoe PFDS.

PFD Tips

IMG_4875 2.jpg
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#11
First defense is being able to swim in deep water and keep yourself afloat for
30 minutes. Check local community for swim lessons, your life is always worth
more than the cost of lessons. Then always wear a life jacket.

One of the main problems with the Duck Boat, and it's not limited to previous
accident but happened many other accidents, is that the covered structure traps people inside.
They get pushed around by the Maytag effect of the water rapidly entering the boat. Life Jackets
in a closed structure make it worse as the jacket pins you against the top of the structure. The
NTSB said they are looking into the added structure as one of the factors. I'm hoping the regs get changed but
not counting on it as it would cut into profits do to shortened operating hours. On a side note
the boats do not perform as originally designed as they have been lengthened, add superstructure
and missing extendable bow plate. If there was no superstructure and everyone was
wearing life jackets the deaths would have been much lower although probably not
zero as some would get trapped under the boat as it capsized. Speculation on my
part.
Duck (DUKC) boats have a long history of tragedy, starting with their first day used as military "assault boats".

At least 26 people have been killed in incidents involving duck boats over the last 20 years in the United States, including Thursday's deadly sinking in Missouri...

.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#12
Yknow, it wouldn't hurt to have a second PFD on board. After sitting for hours becalmed, it could become a seat cushion, and should you capsize, it'll be there to straddle as a welcome lift back into the Sunfish.
 
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