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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All, which inflatable PFDs do you like?

I read that the kind that auto-inflate when you go over don't count toward the life jacket requirement, I think unless it's being worn. The kind you have to manually inflate do count. Go figure.

Generally, these will only be worn in heavy weather, so I am thinking the kind that blow up when they hot the water are best, but I would appreciate your thoughts.

Thanks!
 

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jarcher,
I like our Mustang with the hydrostatic trigger. I like it because it's comfortable. We tried all of them at the big box and it seems to be the one that sat the best. This was a real issue for the admiral. The strap going across the top of her girls wasn't going to work.

I think ALL inflatable PFDs must be worn to count as inventory. That seems to be what Mustang is saying. Best to check.
 

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j...
My only comment about these PFDs is to be very careful about the way the part that goes around the back of your neck is finished.
We bought an auto inflate for my Wife a couple of years ago at West Marine and the finish was so coarse it would have rubbed her neck raw in a VERY short time.
We exchanged it for a Mustang which has been very satisfactory.
Paul
PS I think you're correct in that the vest must be worn to count.
 

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I own a few Mustangs and one old SOSpenders. I like 'em all. The Mustangs are definitely nicer and have a softer collar, but I've never had comfort problems with the SOSpenders.

The Mustangs have a weird tear-away zipper that seems like it would eventually break, but I haven't had any problems to-date. The SOSpenders have a velcro closure that has frayed a little over the years.

I've sent my SOSpenders to Stearns for inspections and they were real good and sent the unit back to me ASAP because I was heading out on a trip, so customer service is real good from them. I'll send the Mustangs off at the end of this season for their first service, so I don't know what their service is like.

I can't speak to USCG evaluation of the inflatables. I keep the required bulky orange ones on board to comply, regardless.
 

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We have two standard PFDs on board and we have four Mustangs. Two hydrostatic and two manual with harnesses.

We really like our Mustang hydrostatics. They are light weight, comfortable and so get worn all the time. And the Commodore's Mustang is even pink!

I love Mustang's tag line "We save lives for a living"

The PFD you wear is the best one!
 

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Spouse has the bright PINK Mustang too! I think I have 7? or there abouts Mustangs, and one WM version, the WM version as mentioned, does not fit as well, and will rub ones necK.

I have 5 of the new mustangs, and two with the pills. I bought the pill ones before the newest models.

Marty
 

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The old rule for inflatables is that they must be worn to count. However the CG website does not say that anymore. I know most people carry a number of regular PFDs so they meet the safety regs.
 

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My understanding that a type V inflatable may or may not have to be worn to count. It has something to do with the inflator type. There's a newer inflator (1F?) that doesn't have to be worn to count, but others do.

I just bought a pair of West Marine's "Offshore Series" for my wife and myself, and the paperwork with them says they have to be worn to count. They have what I believe to be a 6F inflator. I got the offshore series not because we go offshore, but because it had a finished neck pad while the "comfort series" (go figure) did not.
 

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What counts and required on your vessels are the type I life jackets. So you should have enough of those for the Maximum number of people that can be carried on your vessel.
Now most people (especially the little ones) find that the type I & some II PFDs are generally too bulky and uncomfortable to wear during routine movements on board the vessel. Thus you have the type III and the V for wearing under routine movements on board the vessel.
The inflatables and other types are either II, III or V, Pending on how they are made. So they (me too) wear one of these on deck while working. But they are not subsitutes for the type I PFDs.
Now if you are sailing in the colder waters (any place above 35N/S I recomend that you have Immersion Suits on board for every one. And pray that you have time to put one on before the boat sinks.
Note: Type IVs are throwables...
One thing: My license is 1600 ton Master and I tend to think along commercial Laws in this case.
 

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i have manuals on board, plus the cheapy orange ones. i dont want the autos due to a story i read about a guy who went over board and when it inflated he could not swim back to his boat and it got away due its size.

also i read another story about a guy on a cat that went over, he got stuck inside due to his auto, he had to deflate to get out

if it gets bad enough to worry about the auto inflate i will put on a cheapy orange one.
 

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I would guess that for every incident of someone being more than inconvenienced by an accidental inflation on an automatic inflatable, there are dozens of cases of someone being injured going overboard where they would have trouble pulling the cord on a manual inflatable. Again, just a guess.

But you are right, course, that a cheapie orange one has neither problem. The only problem with those is getting people to wear them in the first place.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for the replies and advice everyone.

I did some more reading regarding when these can count toward the PFD requirement and when they can not, and get conflicting information. However, I'll take the USCG web site as authorative:

Personal Flotation Devices (PFD)

There is no mention here that they have to be worn to count. However, for me it really is a moot point. I have plenty of the cheap giant blocky orange ones on board to meet that requirement and, of course, for use should they be needed. These inflatables are intended for the racing crew, and each crew member will get their own and probably take it home.

It seems that people are most happy with the Mustang ones, so I'll look at those. I suspect we'll get the kind that can be inflated by blowing, by manually pulling the cord or by falling into the water. It's unlikely these will be worn unless the race committee mandates it, and that means heavy weather, which means that if someone flies overboard they could be injured.

Now I just have to convince people to get the bright ones, as opposed to the dark blue ones. I want the race committee and other competitors to see them, and of course I want the crew to see them floating in the water ;)
 

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As noted above, the inflatables have the advantage of not being so hot and uncomfortable as to discourage boaters from wearing them. Another important but little discussed advantage is their additonal buoyancy. They do a better job of keeping your head and neck out of the water which is particulary important to reduce heat loss when immersed.

I have swum in an inflated inflatable PFD. Contrary to some assertions, I found that I could swim quite effectively using a sidestroke. My attempts at the breast stroke and freestyle weren't effective.
 

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Thanks for the replies and advice everyone.

I did some more reading regarding when these can count toward the PFD requirement and when they can not, and get conflicting information. However, I'll take the USCG web site as authorative:

Personal Flotation Devices (PFD)

There is no mention here that they have to be worn to count. However, for me it really is a moot point. I have plenty of the cheap giant blocky orange ones on board to meet that requirement and, of course, for use should they be needed. These inflatables are intended for the racing crew, and each crew member will get their own and probably take it home.

It seems that people are most happy with the Mustang ones, so I'll look at those. I suspect we'll get the kind that can be inflated by blowing, by manually pulling the cord or by falling into the water. It's unlikely these will be worn unless the race committee mandates it, and that means heavy weather, which means that if someone flies overboard they could be injured.

Now I just have to convince people to get the bright ones, as opposed to the dark blue ones. I want the race committee and other competitors to see them, and of course I want the crew to see them floating in the water ;)
I'm not sure if the cover color on the inflatables is really an issue. The bladders are all bright yellow and have reflective tape. When inflated, the covers are not visible, the inflated bladder is. So feel free to color coordinate with your ensemble for the day. :)
 

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i have manuals on board, plus the cheapy orange ones. i dont want the autos due to a story i read about a guy who went over board and when it inflated he could not swim back to his boat and it got away due its size.

also i read another story about a guy on a cat that went over, he got stuck inside due to his auto, he had to deflate to get out
Wouldn't that problem apply to pretty much any PFD that is worn at the time of the accident? The problem in those scenarios is unwanted buoyancy, whether it's provided by a foam PFD or an inflated inflatable.
 

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I recently purchased 2 of the Revere auto-inflatables with built in harness and am very happy. I'm 6' and 220+- and my wife is 5'2" and 115 and the "one size fits all" actually do fit both of us. I was really worried since "one size fits all" stuff tends to either not fit her or be uncomfortable. The Revere PFD fits her fine and the neck crossing is low on the shoulders and doesn't chafe.

A point I haven't seen made yet is that there are two types of auto inflators. The less expensive type uses a dissolving tablet to activate and is therefore susceptable to being activated by prolonged exposure to rain, splashing by waves or even just humidity for a long, long time. This is the type I have and I plan to replace the tablet annually since the cost is pretty reasonable. For my type of sailing I see that as a reasonable soulution to prevent accidental inflation. I agree with the sentiment that the less cumbersome the PFD the more likely you are to put it on.

The other type is activated by water pressure and must be submerged to activate. This type would be more suited to offshore sailing where the PFD might be exposed to rain/waves for days at a time. There is a very signficant cost difference between the two methods of auto inflation with the hydrostatic being the more expensive. The activator on the hydrostatic units is recommended to be replaced at 5 year intervals and the replacement units are about $75 as I remember, so if you are not sailing offshore using the less expensive activator and replacing the tablet regularly is a good compromise for safety and convenience.

In additon to the 2 Revere PFD's with harness, I have 2 nice non inflatables sized for the wife and I, a bag of 4 of the orange cheapies and one child sized for our good friends daughter.
 

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What counts and required on your vessels are the type I life jackets. So you should have enough of those for the Maximum number of people that can be carried on your vessel.
QUOTE]

Boats...
Please clarify - are you saying we must have PFDs for the maximum number of people that can be carried or is it the maximum number of people that are being carried?
Thanks,
Paul
 

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I bought the Spinlock Deck Vest and wore it on my passage from CT to Key West (~10 days). It has the built in harness, leg straps and a spray hood. I wore it over foulies with fleece underneath and also with a t-shirt and it takes a few seconds to re-size it. Replacement cartridges are 30 bucks. The vest is not cheap, but it does cover the harness AND vest in one device. The best vest is one that you wear and it was so comfortable, I forgot I was wearing it.
 

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Inflatables

Our boat has boat the USCG approved cheap orange PFD and Inflatables. Most of ours are WM Comfort Series (all automatics with the pill), but the admiral and I have Mustangs Hydrostatics (w/o harness). We make all of our guest wear the inflatables when off the hook. They are comfortable enough to wear that no one minds. We live in cold water and the automatics insure that the inflate if the person falls over and is unconscious or hurt to a point that the can't pull the tab.

When I race, I do not use an inflatable, but a low profile kayak PFD vest. (Lotus straitjacket) It's very comfortable and on the back I have a strobe and in the pocket I have a small Handheld VHF. I can easily swim in it. I can activate the strobe to help them find me if I go over at night or dusk and the radio I can use to help someone locate me. None of my inflatables have pockets to put stuff.

DrB
 

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midlife,
Just offering another viewpoint here.

As mentioned in my first post, I have a hydrostatic vest. When the arming device date expires, I will replace it with the spare that costs about $55 plus shipping. That will probably be in about four or five years. In the meantime, I have a vest that will be likely to go off in only one circumstance -- me falling into the water.

The other side of the coin is the pill-type. It looks like, outside of Stearns, you have to get the pill and the CO2 cylinder for about $20 plus shipping. If you are replacing this annually, You're spending quite a bit more money on an annual basis. Add to that the likely hood of spray, humidity, a leaky boat or a kid spilling a soda on the thing and I would never know when the thing is going to go off. Probably just me being paranoid.

But with the money difference, I can carry a spare arming kit to rearm if a vest is ever submersed. Granted, that re-arm kit will expire the same time as the ones in the vests but I would bet my life it would still work until I could get a new one ordered. Who know what a spare rearm kit for the pill type is going to look like being carried on the boat for a few years? The packages don't look too weather proof to me.

Just another way to look at it. Then again, if we wanted inexpensive, would any of us be sailing? I'd say pick the one YOU are most comfortable with and wear the thing.
 
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