Kynntana (Freedom 38)
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: San Francisco
Thanked 39 Times in 39 Posts
Rep Power: 8
Re: Spinlock PFDs
This is the reply I got from Spinlock about some of the problems with the PFDs riding over the wearer's head...
The s/y Uncontrollable Urge incident involved the crew using the lifejackets in large breaking surf on a Pacific Coast lee shore. This is always going to be a very challenging environment for inflatable lifejackets given the forces on the large inflated bladder created by the waves which try and pull the jacket off, as you are fighting to prevent inversion. The bladder attachment of the Spinlock Deckvest is not fundamentally different to the majority of inflatable lifejackets available and so we would expect all lifejackets to have behaved similarly. All lifejackets already go through a number of rigorous approval tests that include a 10 feet jump test with an inflated bladder to ensures the lifejacket stays in position. Given the unique circumstances of this incident the lifejacket approval bodies - ISO 12402 committee and the USCG must take the opportunity to review the performance testing requirements for lifejackets and we will make any changes to the Deckvest design if ISO confirm this is required, which will be applicable to all lifejacket manufacturers.
In our own testing we found that the correct, secure fitting of the chest belt and leg or crutch straps have the largest impact on the performance of all lifejackets. The Deckvest has always been designed to be easy to adjust, to ensure that it is worn securely and is supplied with leg straps as standard which we are sure would have helped in this situation. We will continue to improve our communication and training for the fitting and maintenance to ensure customers understand how to get the best performance from their Deckvest Lifejacket.
There is an important balance in developing and testing lifejackets to be wearable, usable products and not over specifying them to cover unique situations that could in turn reduce their use in more common situations. Lifejackets are designed for a purpose -to provide buoyancy, stability and to buy the user some time when in the water. We have to accept given the challenges of the marine environment, that there may be scenarios where this might not be all a user needs, or possibly is not the most suitable product to be worn.
I hope this helps reassure you that your Deckvest Lifejackets both inshore and offshore are still the right choice for your personal protection.
With regards the recent USCG Approval of the Deckvest LITE lifejacket, this approval was sought as it is more applicable for the inshore Deckvest LITE. The Deckvest is our coastal and offshore lifejacket approved to the latest International ISO12402 Standard for lifejackets which the rest of the world uses for Lifejacket Approval. Whilst the USCG recognises the ISO12402 standard, the US currently chooses to sit outside the international community. Unfortunately the USCG standard is a little behind the ISO1202 for offshore coastal design and we would have downgrade the design of the product to meet the USCG standard and the result would not be the Deckvest that has all the great features and comfort that you enjoy.