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  #1  
Old 08-12-2009
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Category I lifejackets for offshore

I recently had a survey for offshore insurance and the surveyor is recommending that we have Cat I lifejackets onboard for every person on offshore passages. Is this the norm? It would make more sense to me to have good quality inflatable life jackets with built-in harnesses that would be worn rather than bulky jackets stored somewhere. I asked him about this and his feeling was that you wear the inflatables until such time that you were thinking about using your liferaft and then you put on the Cat I jackets. Your thoughts ...
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Old 08-12-2009
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i can think of a few reasons why you would want catI jackets...

the inflatables can fail....
if you encounter enough weather to sink you the likelyhood of the inflatable snagginf some rigging and tearing is much higher.. then you are SOL... sorry outta lifejackets,...LOL
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Old 08-12-2009
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I agree with the surveyor. Inflatables are covenant, and cooler to wear. But If I knew I was going to in the water for any length of time a class 1 vest is what I would pick.

Stearns Merchant Mate II Commercial Lifevest Same as I600 except without pocket, fall protection, and whistle. Non-reversible vest style Type I PFD designed for comfort and performance. Aquafoam?


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Old 08-12-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bubb2 View Post
I agree with the surveyor. Inflatables are covenant, and cooler to wear. But If I knew I was going to in the water for any length of time a class 1 vest is what I would pick.
If I knew I was going to spend a length of time in the water I wouldn't go on the trip. Period.

The conventional wisdom is that if you fall overboard offshore you're dead. If you're not dead, I seriously doubt it will be because you had a cat I jacket instead of a good inflatable or another type.

I would invest in grab handles, jacklines, harnesses (yes you are right you are better off wearing a harness/jacket than a cat I and no harness) lifelines etc.

Then I would spend your money and precious space on things like a liferaft, (portlandpudgy.com) supplies for the raft, EPIRB, survival suits if you're in cold water etc. Don't waste your space and money on a cat I jacket as you'll likely never wear it and a jacket you wear (such as a comfortable inflatable with harness) is better than the best jacket down below in the locker.

My 2c

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Old 08-13-2009
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Tend to agree with Medsailor. I have gone for inflatable lifejackets (rated cat 1 here in Oz) with built in harnesses and good quality tethers for all persons on board. I would look at spending $ on other items; ie liferafts, personal epirbs, jacklines, more tether points, etc.

Ilenart
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Old 08-13-2009
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Interestingly enough, at 22 lbs of floatation, that Stearns offshore life vest doesn't qualify in the ISAF Offshore Special Regulations (you need 33lbs of floatation). Not only you need floatation, but you also need one with an intergral harness and now you need it equiped with a crotch or thigh straps! I have had two accidental inflations while racing so I now switch mine to manual. I think you will run a much greater risk of falling overboard in one of the "normal" ways rather than having rigging, explosions, fire, gunfire, etc. ripping your vest. But most important - If you are wearing it, it is survival gear, if it is down in the cabin it is merely cargo.

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Old 08-13-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MedSailor View Post
If I knew I was going to spend a length of time in the water I wouldn't go on the trip. Period.

What I was talking about is abandoning ship as opposed to falling overboard. Inflatables are good if a quick rescue can be anticipated such as the boat coming back to get you, just like any MOB drill. But inflatables have draw backs, easy to puncture and they leak down. Thats why they have a oral inflation tube. Inflate one and check it in 24 hours and again in 48 hours, you will see what I talking about. I don't think that is such a reassuring feature if I am bobbing around out in open water for 24 hours or more.

Type 1 vest, low maintenance, Idiot proof. Put it on, click it and forget it. Low maintenance is good thing!

I find it odd that you mentioned Immersion suits (gumby suits) unless they are worn they are ineffective also. And who is going to put one on unless you already know the boat is going down. But in your case you wouldn't be on the trip anyway, because your Crystal ball forecast would warn you of the sinking in advance.
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Last edited by bubb2; 08-13-2009 at 07:03 AM.
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Old 08-13-2009
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An alternative is a float jacket.

For my own part, while I enjoy the weight and convenience of the manual or autoinflate PFDs (and have yet to experience an accidental inflation), when in the tender or sailing something small I use a full-size kayak vest (floatation category unknown, but it keeps me up well enough). I have to have a different set of assumptions solo sailing or in tippy tenders than on a full-sized boat, and that includes something that will keep me above water if I'm "boomed" or otherwise (temporarily, one hopes) incapacitated.

Stories of people pulling the tab and nothing happening are uncommon, true, but it's the last thing I want to think about in rough weather.
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Old 08-13-2009
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Another nice thing about the inflatable with the built in harness is that you can sleep with it on.
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Old 08-13-2009
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We keep cat I, but wear the harness/inflateable. THose jackets are horribly uncomfortable for me and we personally would be less likely to wear them.

That is just me and Kris. The kids(kid at that time) wear Mustangs.

I agree with what Bubb said too. Perhaps the best solution is to wear the inflateable, but put the Cat I's on the ditch bag?

- CD

PS Buy a Catalina and you won't need them. HEHE!
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