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I typically sail solo most of the time and am thinking about getting an automatic PFD with built in harness. Currently use an automatic PFD most of the time but do not have a harness. Was looking at a Mustang brand but thinking I remember reading that there was a problem with them. Any recommendations?

Thanks
 

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I'm not aware of a problem with Mustang PFDs. That's what I have (the hydrostatic one) and it has served me well, comfortable to wear, etc.


Mandolin, Bayfield 36 out of Rock Creek, Chesapeake Bay.

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Go to shop put different ones on and wear them as long as sales people let you. Like shoes it will be on you for awhile. Had one with the salt pellet trigger go off once. Surprised me as I was still on the boat. Buy the ones with hydrostatic triggers. Worth the extra money.
 

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H & E-

Yes, an inflatable PFD with integrated harness is the way to go.

I strongly urge you to make or purchase a crotch or thigh straps to wear with it. My research of late, indicates that inflatables can rise off of the wearer's head, and do not maintain the wearer in the proper position without a crotch strap.

See this recent video: MOB in the Pacific

Also, I believe that crew members of Low Speed Chase from last year's Farallones race were found separated from their PFD's. The conclusion was a lack of crotch straps allowed the PFDs to slip off of unconscious wearers.

As a fellow singlehander, I advise you to also develop a jackline and tether solution for your boat (thus, the purpose of the harness).

Sorry to go all "nanny-state" on you, shipmate. Just tryina' keep you on da boat. :D
 

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We have five Mustang PFDs. Two with harnesses, two we wear 90% of the time and one guest one.

We trust our lives to Mustang.

(And, I love their corporate "tag line"

We save lives for a living.


Rik
 

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Interesting point about crotch strap. Sounds right. How does the belt slip over the shoulders? I can see it not holding the unconscious cob in a bad position.


Mandolin, Bayfield 36 out of Rock Creek, Chesapeake Bay.

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As pointed out, a crotch strap is mandatory on an inflatable, in part to prevent the bladder from riding over your head. This is a controversial issue at the moment, but I do believe that crotch straps are mandatory.

As an integrated harness (such as the Spinlock that we use), it wouldn't be a harness at all without the crotch straps in place, would it. It would just be a life jacket with a D ring.
 

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Problem is we blew the money on crotch straps but can't get anyone to wear them day to day. Too much a pia putting on/ off watch by watch. Most don't like harness on when down below for head break, fix a snack etc. most don't like strap on when moving about.
This is something that needs a serious redesign. Harness should have netting on back. Spread force of a fall and be more comfy. Should have leads to separate thigh straps so jewels not pinched moving about. Tender should come off back near neck so don't drown if dragged. Double( long/ short) harness should clip to that short webbing about a foot down so you can disengage without reaching behind neck.
This is a peeve of mine Sorry
People die because they don't have harnesses. People die because they do . WTF
 

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I don't find the spinlock crotch straps to be very difficult, nor unusually uncomfortable. Sure, a pair of shorts and t-shirt are more comfy. The thigh straps each have a quick release buckle, which I've already set to my size, so on/off is pretty easy.

There is a lot more to deck safety than just the harness. The tether and jackline are equally critical. There should be little to no risk that you could get far enough overboard to be dragged.
 

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I don't even have thigh straps. I have a single crotch strap with a buckle. Even that, is better than nothing. I don't find it to be very uncomfortable, and it has a buckle to disconnect it quickly. There's no excuse not to wear it.

As far as jacklines go, when working near the pulpit of some smaller, older boats, there is simply no tether short enough to keep you from going over the side.

My boat is narrow, so my tethers will already be shorter than normal. My sails are hank-on, so I will be required to go all the way forward at some point. The bow is narrow, and even a 1 foot tether would allow me to slip over the bow. I can only do so much.

However, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The trick is to be very proactive about reefing and gearing down to smaller headsails BEFORE things get ugly on the foredeck.
 

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...As far as jacklines go, when working near the pulpit of some smaller, older boats, there is simply no tether short enough to keep you from going over the side.

My boat is narrow, so my tethers will already be shorter than normal. My sails are hank-on, so I will be required to go all the way forward at some point. The bow is narrow, and even a 1 foot tether would allow me to slip over the bow. I can only do so much...
I hate to start a tether debate, but I can't resist this one.

In addition to your tether, what about clipping on a spare halyard (if you have one)? If you fell near the bow, the halyard would prevent you from falling below deck level, even if the primary tether had too much slack. FWIW, I haven't actually done this, but I have attached a shackle that releases under tension to my spare halyard just in case I feel a sudden need to try this.
 

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I suppose I could do that. I have a spare halyard.

Typically though, the spare halyard would be used for the headsail change. You are roller furling, so I don't think you're thinking about that.

I typically un-hank the bottom 2-3 hanks, and bend on the new jib in the gap. I attach the spare halyard. Next, I drop, un-hank and secure the old jib, and the new jib goes right up.

I mean, I guess I could shuffle halyards between the sails and my harness. I'm not really sure of the benefit when weighed against the added spaghetti and distraction.
 

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Kynntana (Freedom 38)
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I have both the Mustang and Spinlock, hydrostatic inflate with integrated harnesses and crotch straps. They are both comfortable, though the Spinlock is a bit better fitting and doesn't weigh on your neck, and it also has a pop-up spray hood with an integrated strobe. I have attached a strobe to the Mustang's waist strap, which also has a small pocket where I've stuck the whistle and mirror. I asked Spinlock about their thoughts on the report from the San Diego race in which one sailor died last year. They said large breaking surf is always going to be a challenge for inflatable life jackets given the forces on the large inflated bladder created by the waves, which try and pull the jacket off, as you're fighting to prevent inversion. The same thing happened in the Farallones race, but they had a mix of PFD types. There was a 1999 study on the efficacy of PFD tethers and harnesses that didn't make me feel all warm and fuzzy about any of them, but this is old information. This study needs updating. One thing everyone should do is inflate their PFDs in a controlled environment and see how it feels. I haven't done it yet (yea, do as I say, not as I do), but have been told they tend to squeeze around your head making it hard to breath (this is probably more pronounced without the crotch straps), and the position of the bladders make it hard to swim unless you're on your back. Some of my friends will only use inherently buoyant PFDs because of the rib protection they afford and the assurance that the inflation is going to be there when they need it, but unless these are Type I life jackets, which the ones my friends are using are not, they don't have the buoyancy that the inflatables have, and that you'll likely need in offshore conditions. If anyone wants to shoot me a PM, I've been thinking about this a lot and gathering ideas on a mo betta' PFD. I've noted Outbound's suggestions...
 

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gamayun-

Yes, they definitely try to pinch your head off at the neck. That's one reason why I advocate crotch straps to pull them down a bit.

I practiced a MOB recovery at the dock, by punting my daughter into the water with an auto-inflatable on, and observed that it really was squeezing around her head. Not only should you use a crotch strap, but the waist strap needs to be snug as well.

Once the water is warmer here, I will definitely be jumping in with my PFD inflated, to test my strap positions and adjustments to make sure the thing stays in the proper position, and keeps ME in the proper attitude in the water.
 

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I have a Mustang HIT with harness that replaced an older Mustang manual with harness. The "zippers" are much more user friendly than Velcro. I have to replace the cartridge this year $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

I added a Mustang crotch strap after the 2012 Southern Straits race in which a crew member of a capsized boat came out of his pfd when he was being lifted in to another boat. Crotch straps are required for some categories of races but not for recreational boating.

A few of my crew were wearing Spinlocks on the Maui - Vic 2012 delivery; they quite liked them. I am not a big fan of the cow-hitched tether; I prefer a quick release.

Have Spinlock been approved in the US? They are not approved in Canada; the company apparently has not sought approval. Any inflatable in Canada also has to be backed up with a foamy pdf and the inflatable must be worn on deck to be counted.

Final note - people are more willing to wear and inflatable than a foamy.
 

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Spinlocks were recently approved in the US.
Agree on the quick release tether.

You're saying in Canada, that you must have duplicates of all inflatables, in non-inflatable form? Damn, that's expensive if you race with a big crew.
 

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Kynntana (Freedom 38)
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The Spinlock Deckvest Lite is USCG approved. The other Spinlocks are not. The Lite is for inshore use, does not have an integrated sprayhood, and some other differences. It is half the price as the one for offshore.

For the ones that are not USCG compliant, you must have a compliant PFD on board that is not an inflatable, or Type V, and it has to be accessible. However, it is possible you could have a liability issue if someone on your boat is wearing a non-USCG compliant PFD and something happens...
 

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Spinlocks were recently approved in the US.
Agree on the quick release tether..
I wonder if older model Spinlocks are not retro-actively approved. Ours are several years old. It doesn't really matter, as we have plenty of foamies to count.

The quick release issue is akin to anchor preferences. I was taught, while quick release failures are small, their can't be a cowhitch failure. You get an S-cutter on your breast pocket to cut away as necessary. However, your first job is to be sure you're tethered in such a manner than being dragged is not an issue. Let the arguments begin. :)
 

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Kynntana (Freedom 38)
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I also have both types of tethers (to be compliant in race requirements), but go back and forth in my mind on which would work better. From my time climbing, a carabiner failure is not appropriate. There's nothing like a real-life testing situation to see whether you can find that little blade tucked under (umm, was it the left arm?), and cut the tether off before you drown, but who really wants to be that guinea pig?
 
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