A few points to consider....At $22 a recharge cylender from Whitworths...It is all-round easier to just use the by-mouth inflator on all of those jackets when doing a course.
point two...Most jackets are sold with the inflator cylender not all the way screwed in, to avoid accidental triggereing or damage to the little plastic protector n storage and handling pre-sale. A good store will tell you to give the bottle a clockwise turn or two until it is properly seated (or do it at the counter). For lack of this...there are thousands of people out there who's PFD's are set up for NOT going off in the wharehouse and shop.
This is not a fault of the PFD.
Finally, I have found that the majority of Sea Safety and Survival course providers prefer you to use the vest or even SOLAS type life jacket and not the inflating PFD's while on course.
Having had to do the course twice (Once in Yachtmaster and then needing to repeat it for Coast Guard because they did not recognise the yachtmaster quals) I wore the full vest first time around and then insisted on my Burke Offshore manual PFD with ibuilt harness...Because that is what I would most likely be wearing if it ever came to the crunch!
I inflated using the mouth valve (only takes about four lungfulls) jumped off the jetty and found that my head went straight through the neck hole and I was under water, looking up at the ring of my inflated lifevest floating overhead...attached to me only by the lower chest strap/harness....Not Good.
It was no problem to poke my head back through the hole and resume normal operations...but it was a thought to ponder.
now Roaring Forties and Stormy Seas PFD's both have a little upper chest strap and fastener to prevent exactly this...At three times the price, the Stormy Seas ought to offer an onboard coffee maker as well. I have since simply sewn a similar arrangement into the edge lining of my Burke, have retested and found it no longer tries to drown me. yay.
My Wife's PFD (as well as the "guest" ones on board our boat) are a Plastimo manual activated "sandwitch yoke" style that is frankly way nicer then the Burke. Instead of needing to unfold itself as it inflates, it just has velcro running all along the seams between inside and outside and the thing just expands. This means you can wear it under clothing and still have it activate cleanly...It also offers better protection to the inflated bladder by continuing to shield it with the tough exterior fabric....A thought that might need thinking if youconsider that a dismasted, sinking reef-crashed sailboat is not the most rounded-corners and no sharp surfaces kind of places.
On that note. One of the guys in the last group was using his Hutchwilco PFD...I have always liked them and not just because their sexy blue colour matches my boat's topsides paint...Unfortunately, up close and when inflated I got to see that the very yellow bladder is actually made of the same unsupported vinyl fabric as really cheap pool toys! even the Burke has the fabric reinfoced canvassy type material for the bladder. This is likely why it is considerably heavier and bulkier then the sleek Hutchwilco...But I think the bulk is worth it in this case!
Last edited by Sasha_V; 12-14-2007 at 08:29 AM.