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  #1  
Old 05-23-2007
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Automatic lifevest

I would like to purchase life vests. Is it better to go with an automatic life vests with the harness as one unit or is some other combination better? Does anyone have an opinion or experience with a particular brand?
I also want to purchase jacklines, etc to go with these. Any input on this would be appreciated. Thanks
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In Europe you have to have Navy approved (we don't have Coast Guard as a separate body) life vests, equal to the number of declared boat human capacity. Plus a raft for equal numner of people, raft type depends on boats authorized sailing type. (coastal, off shore trans oceaninc etc.).

The use of life vest and decision of its use is the responsability of each person in particular, and the captain. Its use is not mandatory, and depends on each individual.

I use one when I am sailing alone or with my son. He uses one all the time, except its really quiet and calm out there.

However, if I am sailing with people that know how to pick me up, I do not use one.

I went to the West Marine to buy those slim ones with the little pressure bottle, they were on sale for $69, but the airline said I could not fly with the pressurized bottle in my luggage. So...didn't buy it.
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Old 05-23-2007
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I like the inflatable ones with the integrated harnesses. By the time you put on foul weather gear, a life jacket and a separate harness you can barely move. The integrated units are good. There are two primary methods of auto inflation today. The old way is by water submersion - a chemical in the vest breaks down upon sustained (a few seconds) submersion and triggers inflation. On offshore passages or other heavy weather these may accidentally trigger. The newer ones use pressure sensitivity to ensure you are actually in the water before they inflate. I think practical sailor may have done a write up on these recently.
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Old 05-23-2007
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I think autoinflate is the way to go. The thought being if you were knocked out on the way over at least you would be floating. Proponents site that if you were in an overturned cabin filled with water and the jacket inflated you may not get out or have considerable trouble getting out.
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Old 05-23-2007
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I like the automatic inflatables, since they're very comfortable to wear and will hopefully inflate if you go in the drink and aren't able to trigger it yourself. The newer Hammar Hydrostatic triggers are really nice, but a bit expensive. They do not go off as easily due to spray or rain, since they need to be immersed 4" before they will trigger.

The one I use most isn't USCG approved, so i have a bunch of foam Type I and Type III PFDs on board to make sure I am covered. It is a Spinlock Deckware Pro Harness with PFD... which is very easy to adjust. It also comes with a strobe, whistle and spray hood.

Labatt- the older designs use a salt tablet as the trigger mechanism, and can be set off by rain, heavy spray, or as the repeated exposure of the salt tablet to water over the course of time. The newer ones are hydrostatic... all use the Hammar mechanism from what I've seen.
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Old 05-23-2007
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"but the airline said I could not fly with the pressurized bottle in my luggage. " Was that Continental?
I can't find the exact quote or regulation, but apparently gas cannisters of a certain (small) size are actually exempted from hazardous materials requirements on airlines, something like "UN Category 2, section 1190 exempt*" because there are international air travel conventions, and these devices specifically are exempted because (duh!) they are present in the life vests under every seat in every aircraft that is certified for over-water use.

If an airline won't let you take one on board, explain to them that there are already several hunderd of the same device IN THE CABIN OF THE AIRCRAFT and respectfully suggest that they shut down the airport if that's going to be a problem for them.

If they--or their national government--have agreed to the UN travel regulations, again, the CO2 cartridges are specifically sanctioned to be ON BOARD and IN THE CABIN.

*That's the spec I have noted on my PFD, can't say what it refers to or whether it is correct.
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Hi,

For the reasons outlined above, the autoinflaters with built-in harnesses are my favoured option. If you get clonked on the head either as a result of going overboard, or sending you over, you want the lifejacket to do the job for you and turn you right-way-up. All of them, btw, should have a little manual arming toggle so you can set them off before getting into the water when transferring to a liferaft or similar situation, and a filling tube you can operate by mouth while wearing the jacket.

It is still possible to buy Hammar (pressure triggered) or non-hammar (dissolving disc) options - the latter are a little more expensive (10-20%), but shouldn't go off if you get a green one down your neck. At the end of the day it's emergency equipment and not worth skimping on.

In terms of brands: go for the big name stuff: Plastimo, Crewsaver... and you'll be good. Get the top line stuff too. Cheaper jackets have less chafe protection on the inflatable bladders, meaning that with wearing these may start to leak.

Jacklines: any heavy-duty 1" nylon webbing will do. sew or have sewn very heavy-duty loops in the ends, and tie in place with 3-4 turns of 3mm nylon rope. If you're tying them onto things with sharp edges (eg: aluminium toe rail) either file the edges of the holes smooth with a round file, or use a mild steel or good quality stainless bow shackle.

just my 2 cents..
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The choice isn't just Hammar or "aspirin" disc. Crewsaver still uses a different design, with a compressed coil spring wrapped in paper-mache. The idea is that humidity won't soften it the way a tablet would go soft, but immersion melts the paper-mache releasing the puncture spring. (Mustang? also sells replacements in the US but AFAIK they didn't use the same devices.) 20 years ago I chose Crewsaver over the tablets (Hammar wasn't on the market) because I thought it would be more resistant to false inflation. The original trigger apparently released last year during the winter, after 18+ years, so I'm happy with that choice.

The new arming replacements are available with and without the fancy green indicator, etc., to make it eaier to see if they've tripped or if they are armed. The only downside to Crewfit (who took a solid #1 in the last PS tests) is that they are not USCG approved and they are damned hard to find in the US, other than Landfall Navigation.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Eagle
It is still possible to buy Hammar (pressure triggered) or non-hammar (dissolving disc) options - the latter are a little more expensive (10-20%), but shouldn't go off if you get a green one down your neck. At the end of the day it's emergency equipment and not worth skimping on.
Don't you mean former???
Quote:
Jacklines: any heavy-duty 1" nylon webbing will do. sew or have sewn very heavy-duty loops in the ends, and tie in place with 3-4 turns of 3mm nylon rope. If you're tying them onto things with sharp edges (eg: aluminium toe rail) either file the edges of the holes smooth with a round file, or use a mild steel or good quality stainless bow shackle.
Don't recommend nylon for Jacklines... as it tends to stretch quite a bit... and that can leave you enough slack to get hurt pretty badly or end up overboard. Jacklines should be fairly low stretch—spectra cord run through polyester tubular webbing would be my first choice... Don't use mild steel anything for the jackline system, since it can rust and can fail unexpectedly. A quality stainless shackle is probably best. The breaking load on the jacklines should be at least 6,000 lbs from everything I've seen and read. Most of the tethers are rated around there as well.

HS-

BTW, the airlines are allowed to set their policies individually, at least in the USA, so you really have to check with whomever you are flying with about what their policy on CO2 cartridges is.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

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Nylon stretches when wet, the best way to install it for anything like jacklines is to soak it for fifteen minutes, then install it tight. That way it won't loosen up much in use.

Airlines, yeah, I remember them. I don't think there are any "airlines" left though, there's only "the aviation business" where the difference between chattel goods and cattle gets thinner every year. They REALLY need to be taken to task and reformed, even if that means re-regulating them. the endemic customer abuse that has become the hallmark of the 21st century simply needs to end.
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