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post #1 of 24 Old 12-08-2012 Thread Starter
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Immersion Suits

During the special on the Bounty (Weather Channel) there was a scene where one of the crew had just come out of the chopper and was walking on the tarmac, still in an immersion suit, with two people helping him (or her) walk. It's kind of hard to see in the picture below, but the feet of the suit were blown up like balloons, filled with water. Then you hear a crew member say they had to cut the feet off his suit to let all the water out.

I can only imagine how debilitating it had to be for anyone wearing their immersion suit with it filled with water. Everyone who survived had to jump from the life raft into the water then, with the help of the rescue swimmer, swim over to the basket to be lifted to the chopper. (Only one survivor never made it to a life raft.) How could you move with gallons of water in the feet of your immersion suit? It seems the suit would be more apt to drown you than save your life.

I've never worn an immersion suit but after seeing that I think I'd rather be in a wet suit if I know the ship is going down.

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post #2 of 24 Old 12-08-2012
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Re: Immersion Suits

I keep a heavy 1/4" wetsuit in my ditch bag as well as a dry suit top and fleece or wool clothes.

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post #3 of 24 Old 12-08-2012
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Re: Immersion Suits

Julie,
interesting point - they don't look easy to swim in, that's for sure.
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post #4 of 24 Old 12-08-2012
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Re: Immersion Suits

They're not easy to swim in, however, they are essentially nothing more than a heavy-duty wet suit that is a one-size-fits-all design. Standard wet suits are form fitting, thereby allowing very little water to enter the suit. The person's body heat warms the water within the suit, and the insulating quality of the foam neoprene rubber maintains the inside water temperature. Eventually, the inside temperature will slowly begin to fall, thus limiting the overall survival time. This, of course, depends upon the outside water temperature.

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post #5 of 24 Old 12-08-2012
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Re: Immersion Suits

They are indeed hard to swim in. When used correctly, very little water makes it past the head covering/neck seal, even in disturbed seas. I've had one on (in training), gone under the water several times and swam around to a liferaft and not that much water was in the suit later - but if one were to open the top and not wear the hood quite a bit of water could collect.
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post #6 of 24 Old 12-08-2012
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Re: Immersion Suits

I've worn them before. One things for sure, once you put the suit on, your not going to be doing anything else. The hand are thick mitten style so picking anything up and using it is impossible ( like a hand held VHF). I doubt you could even activate an EPIRB.
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post #7 of 24 Old 12-08-2012
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Re: Immersion Suits

Water gets in when you bob to the top after a dive.
I have found that wearing a belt prevents that.
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post #8 of 24 Old 12-08-2012
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Re: Immersion Suits

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Originally Posted by JulieMor View Post
I can only imagine how debilitating it had to be for anyone wearing their immersion suit with it filled with water.
I've never worn an immersion suit but after seeing that I think I'd rather be in a wet suit if I know the ship is going down.

I have used this type of survival suit (immersion suit), in training only.

The suit will never drag you down even filled with water as the suit is made of closed cell foam so it will also be flotation device.
You can get water inside if you get hole in it or the suit is the wrong size.

I don't think that water inside the suit would be so debilitating in the water, but on dry land yes.

If worn properly (and correct size) it is watertight and far better in cold water than any wet suit.

During my training we had to let out air from suit to reduce the buoyancy of the suit. You do this to make it easier to move and be able to get under water if you are trapped inside the boat or wreckage.

The procedure used to let out air is to stand (float) vertically and open up a little bit at the neck to let the water press the air out.

The best way to swim in this type of suit is on the back.
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post #9 of 24 Old 12-08-2012
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Re: Immersion Suits

I saw an immersion suit in the sailors exchange the other day for $200 I thought it looked huge and no way would it be easy to swim or get into a life raft.

Also working inside the liferaft would be difficult. Eg if it tips and you need to invert it, get the water out etc.

I have a wet suit in the grab bad, only a shorty as I am in the tropics.

It also depends on where you are. Cold water sailing maybe an immersion suit is important. In the tropics not. And a full wetsuit may be too hot in the tropics.

One of the good things about a wetsuit is they will perfected wet skin from bumps, cuts etc.

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post #10 of 24 Old 12-08-2012
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Re: Immersion Suits

They are not speedos for sure but I would much rather be in one than in my 1/4" wetsuit. We have two on the boat. I am not sure how that sorts out if there are a couple of passengers along.

When I was an instructor at the Marine Trades Center in Eastport, Maine we trained our fisheries students in their use. Jumping into the Gulf of Maine in February is almost fun in training at least. You do float high and maneuverability is not good. Getting to and into a life raft is a challenge without help. They do require practice if you are going to rely on them. Donned properly there will be very little water.

Our introduction to them was done in street clothes, with a stopwatch at the end of the pier at the MTC. There were times when I didn't need to change into dry clothes after jumping in and making it to the life raft.

We do not have a life raft on our boat. Our cruising is coastal and I feel we can expect help well within the time they can protect us from the cold.

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