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  #1  
Old 06-09-2008
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PFD's

I just heard this morning about Mr. Stone and while reading the thread became interested in the question about PFD's being worn down below.

I not sure if this is correct or not but did not feel that was the thread for this discussion.

My question is with limited blue water experiance (2 trips) what is he issue with wearing a auto inflatable PFD down below? Most I have seen are able to fit through the companion way to exit when inflated so having one on to me seems beneficial.

I think it might be a bigger problem to put one on that has already inflated when in a hurry which appears to be the case with that crew.

Again i am a novice in this area but feel it is an important discussion. Some insight from the experianced here greatly appreciated
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Old 06-09-2008
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We don't know what the actual issues were for Mr Stone.

However, the issue with a autoinflate PFD below is simply one of buoyancy. If the boat turns turtle you cannot swim out of the inverted hull with the PFD on. If you remove it to swim out then you don't have any flotation once you are outside.
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  #3  
Old 06-09-2008
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Someone can correct me if my interpretation of the facts are incorrect, but it appears that the boat turtled while he was down below. His jacket inflated. He was stuck in the boat as with the cockpit below water, you cannot swim through it.

That was my interpretation of the facts, which may be incorrect.

For a rule, we ALWAYS have a inflateable on when offshore or in foul weather. I do not take mine off when going below to make nav markings or do something relatively quickly, but generally do if I am going to be down there for a while just for the relief of having it off.

This is my opinion:

Holing a boat and it sinking very quickly is fairly unlikely. Losing the keel and turtling seems even more unlikely to very rare (on most cruising boats... I am excluding offshore performance). I feel terrible about what happened to Mr Stone and he really is a hero. However, I do not believe I would change what I would do. The odds of forgeting to put it on or holing your boat and not being able to find it in a panic seem more likely to me than the off chance that your keel falls off, you turtle, and get trapped. My opinion. I guess other may feel differently.

- CD
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Old 06-09-2008
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I used to do a lot of whitewater rafting and kayaking. Some of the most popular kayak PFDs were smallish for a couple of reasons - one is so it wasn't bulky (inflatables were out of the question; it had to be foam filled) but the other was because there were situations where the safest thing to do was go under where you were in order to clear some obstruction and then surface again downstream. In other words you wanted bouancy like ice, not like a cork. OTOH, it was asssumed that shore was nearby and that help was at hand.
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Old 06-09-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruisingdad View Post

Holing a boat and it sinking very quickly is fairly unlikely. Losing the keel and turtling seems even more unlikely to very rare (on most cruising boats... I am excluding offshore performance). I feel terrible about what happened to Mr Stone and he really is a hero. However, I do not believe I would change what I would do. The odds of forgeting to put it on or holing your boat and not being able to find it in a panic seem more likely to me than the off chance that your keel falls off, you turtle, and get trapped. My opinion. I guess other may feel differently.

- CD
My opinion here is pretty worthless as I've done no bluewater passages, but I've got to agree with you. Taking all reasonable precautions seems like a great approach to passage making as it does with all of life, but at some point in time you have to take off the bubble wrap of safety and enjoy the ride.

It is a terrible thing that happened to Mr. Stone and my condolences to his family and friends. I'm sure we was an experienced and able mariner that took no unnecessary risk. I've gotta believe that 999 times out of a 1,000, a sailor is better off leaving the thing on.
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Old 06-09-2008
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I don't have any bluewater passages but it seems like keeping the PFD but also keeping a knife on your person at all times may be a good combination. I try and always keep a knife in my pocket. You might be able to cut your inflatable in a worse-case-scenario. You'd be without flotation but at least you'd get out of the boat.
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Old 06-09-2008
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We (wife and I) keep on our pfd:

1) Automatic, water activated beacon/strobe light. I think this is the best safety item we have on the PFD.

2) Waterproof flashlight (little ones for PFD).

3) A rigging knife. The theory on the rigging knife is to cut yourself free from the tether if neccessary.

4) Personal Whistle.

Heaven forbid... but that is what we have on ours. The bad thing about all that junk is that it is cumbersome. The worst is actually that little SS knife, which always "CRACK'S" against the fiberglass everytime you turn or sit down. Really annoying at night. The little strobe light is awesome. It is orange and made by ACR I think. Kinda pricey though, in my opinion.
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Old 06-09-2008
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I never wear a pfd, but always wear a harness when offshore. I know my boat will come back upright if rolled as the keel is integral rather than bolt on and I'd rather have the freedom the harness allows me.
I do think pfd's are a lot like seatbelts...on balance they save WAY more lives than they cost...but it is indeed tragic when a safety item costs a life...more so when such heroism is exhibited.
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  #9  
Old 06-09-2008
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For the most part, automatic inflatable PFDs are perfectly safe to wear down below. There is a very small set of circumstances in which they become a danger, just like there are a small set of circumstances where wearing a seat belt in a car is more dangerous than not wearing one.

I agree with CD and think that every PFD should have a flashlight, strobe, whistle and rigging knife attached. I like the C-Strobe units, even though they're not water activated. With lithium AA batteries, they'll run for about eight hours IIRC and meet SOLAS requirements.
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Old 06-09-2008
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Just to be clear on what happened, three survivors were interviewed on the Today show this morning. You can probably see their interview at nbc.com . One of the survivors said that his inflatable PFD had inflated down below and Mr. Stone was the one who pushed him out from down below; otherwise he would not have made it. It was not clear to me whether Mr. Stone had the same problem.
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