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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Inflatable PFDs in the south: Manual or Automatic?
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Topic Review (Newest First)
05-20-2012 04:34 AM
Capt Len
Re: Inflatable PFDs in the south: Manual or Automatic?

The auto inflates simply make it so much easier to find the body. More likely to be wearing it because it's comfortable and the harness is a must for retrieval by helicopter If it didn't inflate automatic it's not bright yellow and it's a big ocean.Compare the buoyancy of foam vest to the inflated vest for trade off. I have 8 Mustang harness self inflating on board and peace of mind far outweighs the expense .It's the 20 adult and 5 child lifejackets that take up at lot a cupboard space.
05-20-2012 03:56 AM
MedSailor
Re: Inflatable PFDs in the south: Manual or Automatic?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MITBeta View Post
I wonder how much of this has to do with proper fit (tensioning of straps) and use of crotch straps. From what I understand, most PFDs, of any type, won't keep you from drowning indefinitely without proper fit and crotch strap. I paid the extra money for the option crotch strap on my Mustang auto inflate.
Proper fit appears to be extremely important. In the book I referenced above they cited a Coast Guard investigation into a drowinging of a man who was a good swimmer, wearing a vest in calm water. Apparently he was a rather large fellow and used a chain to lengthen an attaching strap and because of that the lifejacket boyancy was in the wrong place and he likely drowened fighting the jacket's tendancy to turn him face down into the water.

Inflatabels (automatic or manual) are all the rage, but I've found that for much of the sailing season here in the PNW, the foam vests offer some much needed (and very effective insulation). I do llike my inflatable because it has a built-in harness, and it's easier to wear in the summer but for many months of the year the foam vest is the more useful one for me.

Foam jacket type vests (type I or III) also have the advantate of providing physical protection against blunt trauma. I often hear of broken ribs while sailing, especially crossing oceans while racing. I suspect this is from harnesses that have no shock absorption (credit here to pdqaltair our member who is active in researching this area) but they could also be from falling onto a deckhouse or winch. The foam jacket provides some armor against those brusies, and would also protect the ribs from the impact of the harness itself if you were to take a fall.

Having said that I prefer my manual inflatable and my good quality foam vest types, I will also put in a pitch for cases where the auto inflate could be useful. I think they could be a very handy item to hand out to guests that sail aboard your boat. A non-boater might not be able to find the toggle to pull to inflate when they go overboard, and they might not want to wear a bulky jacket as an alternative. Of course buying an auto-inflate PFD "just" for the guests is an expensive proposition....

MedSailor
05-19-2012 10:46 PM
Frogwatch
Re: Inflatable PFDs in the south: Manual or Automatic?

I invite Smnurphy from NY to wear his type 1 jacket during a summer here on the upper Gulf coast when it is 100 degrees and 99% humidity with no wind and predict he'd become a convert to inflatables. Either that or we'd finally open his jacket to find him melted.
05-19-2012 08:34 PM
trantor12020
Re: Inflatable PFDs in the south: Manual or Automatic?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PCP View Post
You can go to automatic plus manual with hydrostaic system and you will not have a problem with inflating PDFs. I bet your's use salt tablets. Even if you change for ones with cellulose pills and change them each 2 years I think you will not have that problem (those pills are inexpensive).

Regards

Paulo
Yes, you're right. Mine uses tablets. Really a nuisance this tablet. Risk of breaking it while loading it into its slot. Thanks for heads up on cellulose pill.
05-19-2012 12:47 PM
PCP
Re: Inflatable PFDs in the south: Manual or Automatic?

Quote:
Originally Posted by smurphny View Post
...

Maybe someone should invent a little motorized life preserver/surfboard for us single-handers.
Somene had invented a system that pull you back to the boat I had saw a video about that somewhere

Regards

Paulo
05-19-2012 10:37 AM
smurphny
Re: Inflatable PFDs in the south: Manual or Automatic?

My concerns with inflatables are not so much in the premature activation category as in the premature puncture category. I just have a problem with trusting ability to stay afloat to a balloon. There are just too many situations whereby one of these gets punctured or leaks from being punctured before or after deployment. I still wear a standard life jacket which is really not all that more uncomfortable than an inflatable. I have inflatables for guests but would give them regular jackets if time permitted in any abandon-ship situation.

Of course, being knocked overboard while single-handing is an entirely different situation than when there is someone else to steer the boat back. If offshore, I rely on being tethered 100% of the time, thus making a life jacket unnecessary. I mean what would be the point of floating and watching the boat disappear over the horizon? It would only prolong the inevitable.

Maybe someone should invent a little motorized life preserver/surfboard for us single-handers.
05-19-2012 10:32 AM
PCP
Re: Inflatable PFDs in the south: Manual or Automatic?

Quote:
Originally Posted by trantor12020 View Post
I hung my auto PFD in my boat. Had them inflat several times. Now I remove the gas bottle each time I store them onboard. If I were to buy another I go for manual.
You can go to automatic plus manual with hydrostaic system and you will not have a problem with inflating PDFs. I bet your's use salt tablets. Even if you change for ones with cellulose pills and change them each 2 years I think you will not have that problem (those pills are inexpensive).

Regards

Paulo
05-19-2012 09:53 AM
trantor12020
Re: Inflatable PFDs in the south: Manual or Automatic?

I hung my auto PFD in my boat. Had them inflat several times. Now I remove the gas bottle each time I store them onboard. If I were to buy another I go for manual.
05-18-2012 11:07 PM
hellosailor
Re: Inflatable PFDs in the south: Manual or Automatic?

itsa-
The most popular vests all use an "aspirin" tablet that dissolves on immersion, alloing a spring-loaded firing pin to puncture the cartridge. Yes, under long exposure to high humidity those are infmaous for getting soggy and letting go, the same way that a real aspirin tablet degrades in a damp place.

The alternatives are the paper-mache wound bobbins used by only a few makers (like Crewfit) and the so-called hydrostatic release vests, which use a spring-loaded flapper valve to seal off the activator. This means the activator should not be exposed to ANY ambient moisture, until the vest is actually submerged, and the flapper valve opens, admits water, and inflates the vest.

In a USCG approved vest I think you'd only find the "hydrostatic" vests, Crewfit are in the UK and seem to have ignored the US market.
05-18-2012 03:38 PM
MITBeta
Re: Inflatable PFDs in the south: Manual or Automatic?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MedSailor View Post
Type III, and V PFDs will NOT hold an unconscious person's head above water. All inflatables (that I know of) are USCG certified as Type V PFDs.
I wonder how much of this has to do with proper fit (tensioning of straps) and use of crotch straps. From what I understand, most PFDs, of any type, won't keep you from drowning indefinitely without proper fit and crotch strap. I paid the extra money for the option crotch strap on my Mustang auto inflate.
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