Inflatable PFDs -- Manual or Automatic? - Page 3 - SailNet Community
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post #21 of 29 Old 10-01-2011
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Gtod25

So, After a little research. It would appear that there is some conflict between what is stated on the CG Aux website..and what the CFR 33-179 states.

Thanks for bringing this up. I have one of the original type 3 inflatables in my basement, and it only states: "not for commercial carriage". I'd like to obtain more clarification from the CG..on the discrepancy.

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post #22 of 29 Old 10-01-2011
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We carry the more bulky offshore conventional PFDs, which are preferable to the inflatables if you have time to put them on when things go south. They are too uncomfortable to wear while sailing. However, we also have auto (hydrostatic) inflatable PFDs with harness, which we would wear if sailing in rough or otherwise threatening conditions. We recently switched to autoinflation when we replaced our older manual inflatable PFDs because of our concern that we might be incapacitated while going overboard. We chose the hydrostatic trigger over the pill to minimize the likelihood of an inadvertent inflation.
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post #23 of 29 Old 10-01-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Capetinho View Post
Hi, Vega,


What was your rationale in switching from manual to auto?
We originally got the manual units because we were concerned about them inflating unintentionally. When the hydrostatic triggered pfds became available at an affordable price we upgraded. We got the Mustang sold by West Marine and we are glad we did - much more comfortable.

BTW, those Spinlock items are really terrific but not approved last I checked.


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post #24 of 29 Old 10-02-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vega1860 View Post
....BTW, those Spinlock items are really terrific but not approved last I checked.
Correct, however, you only need an inexpensive approved pfd in a locker somewhere to make the count. I understand it is only a lack of willingness to comply with USCG testing and cost. Would be interested if anyone knows differently.


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post #25 of 29 Old 10-02-2011
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Originally Posted by RhythmDoctor View Post
Perhaps this is a bit harsh, but this argument about not being able to escape sounds eeriliy similar to the debunked myth about not wearing seat belts so you won't get trapped in a car.
If we're talking about working on deck I would tend to agree. Primal fears (fire, water, being trapped) can sometimes significantly bias the perception of risk.

However, if we're talking about being in the cabin during a capsize, maybe not:

Transportation Safety Board of Canada - MARINE REPORTS - 2008 - M08M0062


The report doesn't conclude that wearing buoyant vests in a RHIB doghouse = bad, but the description of the incident under "Emergency Egress" is interesting.

The people who teach aircraft ditching survival have recognized this for a long time. My instructor cured me of the habit of wearing my floater coat during seaplane flights during the pool simulation. He had me inflate my vest then try to swim out of the back of the (simulated) overturned plane and through the cockpit exit. Not fun.

Since then I use a fully manual inflatable when I'm on small fast boats with closed cabins. In summer on deck on larger vessels I use an automatic inflatable. There is a significant chance the reason I'll be in the water is because I got hit by a broken piece of rigging and if my head was involved I'd like the vest to start thinking without me.

I've used inflatables at work for over 15 years (before they were approved) and so far I've seen one inflate spontaneously. It hadn't had the salt tablet replaced for over ten years so it was a case of "well, duh".

Someone mentioned the possibility of punctures. I've removed old inflatables from service by slicing them up. I can assure you the bladders (at least on the higher end models) are tougher than they look, and the covers are tougher still. Anything that can punch through one is going to cause damage to the person underneath. While I wouldn't argue that it's not possible I think your boat would need to be designed by HR Giger for it to be a concern.

When the weather gets colder and hypothermia becomes an increasing concern I will switch to a work vest, floater coat, or skiff suit depending on what I'm doing. If we're stopped on station I might use the inflatable over rain gear but if there's any chance I might have to survive more than a couple of minutes before someone hauls my soaking butt out of the drink I want a bit of thermal protection.
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post #26 of 29 Old 10-02-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RhythmDoctor View Post
I'm not sure I understand the arguments about not being able to exit a capsized boat. It seems that's true of conventional PFDs as well as inflatables, and the answer is to take it off after the capsize if it presents an impediment to escaping. But I would think the plusses of having it on far outweigh the negatives.

Perhaps this is a bit harsh, but this argument about not being able to escape sounds eeriliy similar to the debunked myth about not wearing seat belts so you won't get trapped in a car.
Unfortunately there are plenty of cases of keels falling off yachts and people being drowned in the cabins. "S/ V Rising Farrster" is an example:

The cause of the capsize was established to be that the fin keel separated from the hull unexpectedly. Within 15 to 20 seconds the yacht had capsized. The Coroner established that the yacht did not founder on a reef. Two of the crew died when they were unable to make their way out of the yacht’s cabin.

Updated - Implications for Yacht Owners Arising from the NSW Coronial Inquest into the Deaths Aboard the Yacht Rising Farrster

Also note the example of "S/V Business Post Naiad" during the 1998 Sydney to Hobart when one of the crew drowned when the yacht inverted for 4-5 minutes and he was trapped by his safety harness. Not sure if he was wearing an inflatable life vest, however in those circumstances an auto inflatable vest would be more of a hinderence than a help.

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Last edited by Ilenart; 10-02-2011 at 06:40 AM.
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post #27 of 29 Old 10-02-2011 Thread Starter
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Thanks, everyone, for the input. Lots of good information here. I guess the answer basically is you pays yer money and you takes yer chances. Am I more likely to be knocked unconscious and go overboard (go auto) or be trapped below when the boat turns turtle (go manual).

For me, it looks like the Mustang hyrdostatic is the way to go. I found an MD3184 online for $200. The issue then becomes will I be able to find a rearming kit in five years when I'm 1,000 km west of the Cannibal Island Marina. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
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post #28 of 29 Old 10-02-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RhythmDoctor View Post
I'm not sure I understand the arguments about not being able to exit a capsized boat. It seems that's true of conventional PFDs as well as inflatables, and the answer is to take it off after the capsize if it presents an impediment to escaping. But I would think the plusses of having it on far outweigh the negatives.

Perhaps this is a bit harsh, but this argument about not being able to escape sounds eeriliy similar to the debunked myth about not wearing seat belts so you won't get trapped in a car.
Please reread the post. I didn't say not to wear the PFD. I said I want to be able to delay inflation until I have exited the boat. Just like on an airplane.

Can you imagine being tangled in the lines of an inverted boat, being able to remove your vest to get out, and then relocate it and put it on? I can't.

This is nothing like the seat belt myth. A man in our company is now a quad after being thrown from a truck, which then rolled over him.

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post #29 of 29 Old 10-02-2011
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Bold and broad statments are fun on the internet...

Quote:
Originally Posted by gtod25 View Post
Not true. Don't confuse the different types of Inflatable life-jackets.
Boat US - Online Boating Safety Study Guide
Some can be counted even when "not being worn". It can be confusing.

My opinion is as as follows;
1. Life-jackets only work if you wear them.
2. You never plan to end up in the water, generally you are propelled by an external force and you bang off something on the way over.
3. In the first 3 seconds in the water you are thinking "what the fu$& happened", the next 3 "mommy!!!!!!". Its really nice if the jacket is inflating during that time.

My experience is; Had a fishing vessel (not mine) sink under me in the North Atlantic. 4 of us ended up in the water for 20mins. We all had life-jackets on.

Most Navies use automatic inflatable life-jackets when carrying out small boat ops. Don't try and invent the wheel. Buy the best automatic (prefer hydrostatic) life-jacket you can afford, with a harness if you are a blow-boater. Service/check in annually. Dump it when it starts to look past its sell by date.

Or then again, its your boat, you can tape a rubber duck to your head if that works for you.

Gerry
... but that doesn't make them true.

I've been sailing large and small boats for 30 years, have seen dozens people go in the water (including me a few times) and none of them was propelled by a large object or was injured. Your experiences have been different perhaps, but on smaller boats it is either capsize or sudden motion.

I'm sure the real answer is that there are several right answers. I can accept that.
* I don't like inflatables in sailing dinghies, beach cats and tenders. They banged around and stepped on too much.
* Big boat with big gear that can hurt you. Auto inflate seems like a fair idea.
* Single-handing (or lone on deck) or at night, wear a harness on a jackline. No PFD will help much if the water's cold.
* Unfortunatly, the inflatable/harness combinations I've seen fit poorly; the correct strap locations for a PFD and a harness are different. IF you fall hard on PFD harness with the chest strap towards the bottom of the ribs, you will break a rib. The strap should be up in the armpits, which is all wrong for a PFD. The fall testing in this regard has been pitiful.

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