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Old 12-04-2009
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The downside to inflateables is that they use CO2 for auto inflatation. This can flash freeze the cloth adjacent to the inlet port of the inflatable bladder. I used to inspect liferafts and we had many customers that would autoinflate their rafts prior to bringing them in for a repack and new cylinder. The freezing causes the impermeable backing on the cloth to begin delaminating.[why accounts of time spent in the rafts include so many stories of them leaking] I would not want to spend any amount of time depending on this method of floatation. I wear the West sport vest that several others have mentioned after having spent only 16 hours adrift in the aftermath of flipping a 32' catamaran off the coast of Florida. I was glad to have the positive, long-term floatation of closed cell foam then. There are also several good vests manufactured for the whitewater industry that are comfortable and suitable for use on a sailboat as well.
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