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With all the debate over inflatables vs foam, I'm not sure anyone has really stated the obvious, different situations call for different safety gear.  If you are solo on a dingy and falling in means you may be there awhile needs one kind of vest.  If you are out cruising in 5 knots of breeze and 95 degree day with friends who could easily pick you up, an inflatable even if might fail is probably better than nothing.   I some times even use a kayaking foam vest which has a lot of mesh and is much cooler on hot days.   As a kid, I often used a foam ski belt, which often fit the bill, but is not coast guard legal.  I don't think there is any one solution for all situations.   

ski-belt-3.jpg

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1 hour ago, HookEm said:

With all the debate over inflatables vs foam, I'm not sure anyone has really stated the obvious, different situations call for different safety gear.  If you are solo on a dingy and falling in means you may be there awhile needs one kind of vest.  If you are out cruising in 5 knots of breeze and 95 degree day with friends who could easily pick you up, an inflatable even if might fail is probably better than nothing.   I some times even use a kayaking foam vest which has a lot of mesh and is much cooler on hot days.   As a kid, I often used a foam ski belt, which often fit the bill, but is not coast guard legal.  I don't think there is any one solution for all situations.   

ski-belt-3.jpg

Precisely.

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Some talk about Deckvests....another data point:

I was at a Safety At Sea Class in last February in Wisconsin.  A number of sailors there are Chicago Mac sailors.  My Deckvest Hammar Hydrostatic did not inflate when I jumped in to the pool.  A few other Deckvests did not inflate either.  The response from the Deckvest rep said I needed to be lower in the water for it to go off.  They are designed for a maintenance guy falling off an oil rig with a tool belt. when they are below the water they will activate.  The issue is...with my foulies and boots, I was bouyant and did not drop below the waterline.  This, to me, is a major design flaw or rather wrong application of technology to the situation of a sailor in the water.  All the aspirin tab type auto inflators worked, including my 12 year old vintage PFD/Harness.  

I highly suggest the Safety at Sea course and jumping in with your typical gear.  Do you float or not?  You will be suprised.  I was surprised how bouyant my Dubarry Offshore boots were.  I'm keeping them on.  

Baci

 

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Most Hammar inflators I've tested go off about 3 feet underwater, but that has been on the way down. I'm not sure just in static water how deep they would go off, they are rated at 10cm maybe? I don't know that it's a problem, because pill type will go off after just being in damp conditions. We had the only two pill types on the boat go off this race. I've seen probably a dozen go off on deck over the years. Better bring a lot of rearms if you go this route.

 

Hammar does state if you are wearing foulies and boots or anything that makes you float, you should manually pull cord.

 

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Interesting topic; I also wanted to make the inflatable vs foam PFD. so after hours of research and some personal feelings the foam  PFD won .

Here's my 2 cents, first I put spreadsheet together showing survivability going off a boat, crewed and uncrewed (just me with/without the wife) , tethered and untethered, and going off unconscious and conscious.

Going off a boat unconscious yields a pretty low  survivability factor regardless of the vest, certainly uncrewed and even crewed it's very low depending on the crew 1) knowing you went off, 2) keeping you located, 3) stopping and spinning the boat around, 4) rescuing/recovering an unconscious body. The longer time span between 1 and 4 the more likely it is a  body recovery, and we're talking minutes here.

Going off conscious; Uncrewed, you better be short tethered or close to shore, period. Crewed, where you can use the whistle, strobe, voice whatever to alert the crew, a foam vest floats you higher, affords more maneuverability in the water (including keeping your head above) and makes it easier for you  to assist in you own rescue. Personally the fact that I know the foam vest will keep me above water and requires no maintenance made it an easy choice. I didn't even consider that the inflatable might not even go off,, when needed the most.

It's unfortunate the some of the local race rules require a USCG class I floatation which for a foam vest means very bulky and currently no inflatables meet,, go figure.

I wear a mustang commercial mesh vest with a mirror and whistle in attached and in the pockets. I hope I never have to use either.

John

 

 

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A friend dropped his Auto inflator into his boat, between races, as he departed for the club house. ... Bang... it worked.. a small puddle in the bottom of the boat..

In the winter I wear a flotation suit, both halves have bouyancy, much more than any PFD. It's very warm, and would greatly enhance your survival in cold waters... https://www.amazon.co.uk/FLADEN-RESCUE-SYSTEM-Flotation-Protection/dp/B01C2WQSB8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1534167008&sr=8-2&keywords=flotation+suit

Most of the time in the summer inland sailing, I use a foam bouyancy aid, that of course means it won't turn me up the right way should I fall in. But we have rescue boats in sight at all times.

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1 minute ago, SailBlueH2O said:

Curious ...in the ocean racing hay days of the 60's~70's~80's....along with huge J Boat fleets and IOR Level racing 1/4~1/2~1 Ton  and the many participants... PFD's were only worn in extreme conditions...it is not like there was a huge decrease in drownings when the mandate came into play...just an observation no conclusions drawn

Sadly the blame culture has reached the extent, clubs have to protect themselves by insisting on lifejackets. We sail in shallow waters if your boat sinks just stand on the deck and you'll get wet up to your knees normally, waist if unlucky. But the club went over to insisting on PFDs just in case..

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30 minutes ago, The Q said:

Sadly the blame culture has reached the extent, clubs have to protect themselves by insisting on lifejackets. We sail in shallow waters if your boat sinks just stand on the deck and you'll get wet up to your knees normally, waist if unlucky. But the club went over to insisting on PFDs just in case..

 

Similar local club here.  The waters are usually less that 4 feet deep, but their policy is life jackets worn, even in August.  I will have to buy an inflatable unit, if I am going to run their mark boats, I reckon.

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Re the 60/70s my guess is the problem was more frequent; just no internet and means of broad communication.  For sure I would guess that most who do any serious racing inshore or offshore have heard of or can think of at least one or two cases where folks were recovered because gear was worn and working as well as one or two cases where sadly people were lost because gear was not worn or not working.  Wanting to be around to drink rum with my friends and see grandkids one day (in future) I will gladly wear the gear and try to learn and use any and all recent advances!

So in that regard... great threat.  Thanks!

And a question:

  * Am currently a Spinlock user.  But have seen too many failures of same as others have noted in thread.  Mustang seems better technology to me but...  Can the Mustangs auto-inflate mechanism be disarmed without impacting the ability to manually inflate via either method (pull lanyard to trigger cartridge, or breathing tube)?

No, before anyone asks, I am not nuts.  I wear foam when in dinghies and use normal auto-inflate on monohull and large multis with escape hatches (in most all conditions), but I also own and sail a Farrier which I love and these are somewhat unique in that there are specific situations with that boat where I do not want to be tethered or have an auto-inflate (or foam) and just want the manual inflate function.  Don't want that to derail the thread with debate about that choice... but would like to hear from Mustang users if they know if the auto-inflate can be deactivated without impacting ability manually inflate or damaging the auto-inflate mechanism/trigger.  Been getting conflicting answers from company... 

EDIT - Sorry for the repost.  Hid the old one due to stupid typo I could not edit, and reposted this.

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Don't think this has been brought up yet. I head today that Spinlock is phasing out the Hammar sensors. A friend was looking for a particular 5D model and his vendor of choice did not have it available. The vendor called spinlock/distro and was told that story. Not confirmed of course but an interesting tidbit. 

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57 minutes ago, Jackdaw said:

Don't think this has been brought up yet. I head today that Spinlock is phasing out the Hammar sensors. A friend was looking for a particular 5D model and his vendor of choice did not have it available. The vendor called spinlock/distro and was told that story. Not confirmed of course but an interesting tidbit. 

They are discontinued on the 5D vests. There is a big redesign coming to the Deckvest from the latest Volvo input.

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Does anyone else feel betrayed by Spinlock?

I paid for the most expensive, fully-featured vest out there and all I hear are tales of failure.

airbag_fail.gif

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8 minutes ago, Somebody Else said:

Does anyone else feel betrayed by Spinlock?

I paid for the most expensive, fully-featured vest out there and all I hear are tales of failure.

airbag_fail.gif

I'm with ya.  A re-engineered arming kit would make me feel better, I'd feel even better if it were free or discounted.

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Interesting thread.  I'm also in the camp of primarily wearing foam kayaking vests or a buoyancy aid, but when offshore sailing I also don't see a good option that has a harness...

I prefer a manual inflation vest.  I feel more safe knowing that the vest will never automatically inflate at the wrong time.  Im typically one of the wettest on the boat...  I can see some scenarios where the vest inflating would actually be a detriment to safety, for example a broken keel while you are inside the boat.  Would be terrifying having to swim underwater to safety with an inflated vest.  At the SAS classes I have done, they specifically say not to rely on auto inflate and reach for your pull right away even if you do have an auto... 

I use the Crewsaver "Crewfit 40 PRO"  in manual.  I liked the comfort and well thought out design.  Much less bulky than anything I have seen so I dont mind wearing it more often.  It is USCG approved.  

With that being said I will be spending some time playing in the pool with all my gear.  Way overdue to have that experience...  

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16 hours ago, jfdubu said:

Interesting topic; I also wanted to make the inflatable vs foam PFD. so after hours of research and some personal feelings the foam  PFD won .

Here's my 2 cents, first I put spreadsheet together showing survivability going off a boat, crewed and uncrewed (just me with/without the wife) , tethered and untethered, and going off unconscious and conscious.

Going off a boat unconscious yields a pretty low  survivability factor regardless of the vest, certainly uncrewed and even crewed it's very low depending on the crew 1) knowing you went off, 2) keeping you located, 3) stopping and spinning the boat around, 4) rescuing/recovering an unconscious body. The longer time span between 1 and 4 the more likely it is a  body recovery, and we're talking minutes here.  Well that certainly depends on a lot of factors such as water temps, sea state, crew training and abilities.

Going off conscious; Uncrewed, you better be short tethered or close to shore, period. Crewed, where you can use the whistle, strobe, voice whatever to alert the crew, a foam vest floats you higher, affords more maneuverability in the water (including keeping your head above) and makes it easier for you  to assist in you own rescue. Personally the fact that I know the foam vest will keep me above water and requires no maintenance made it an easy choice. I didn't even consider that the inflatable might not even go off,, when needed the most. WRONG - inflatable PFDs give you much higher buoyancy than foam vests.  Typical foam vests (excluding the very bulky offshore ones, which would be close to impossible to sail/race with) have a 50 N of buoyancy while inflatable ones come in 150, 275 and even some more exotic ones in 320N  of buoyancy 

It's unfortunate the some of the local race rules require a USCG class I floatation which for a foam vest means very bulky and currently no inflatables meet,, go figure.  Can you show me an example of a NOR/SI requiring Class 1 PFDs?  I don't even think there are any uscg class 1 PFDs available for retail.

I wear a mustang commercial mesh vest with a mirror and whistle in attached and in the pockets. I hope I never have to use either.

John

 

 

 

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11 hours ago, Wess said:

Re the 60/70s my guess is the problem was more frequent; just no internet and means of broad communication.  For sure I would guess that most who do any serious racing inshore or offshore have heard of or can think of at least one or two cases where folks were recovered because gear was worn and working as well as one or two cases where sadly people were lost because gear was not worn or not working.  Wanting to be around to drink rum with my friends and see grandkids one day (in future) I will gladly wear the gear and try to learn and use any and all recent advances!

So in that regard... great threat.  Thanks!

And a question:

  * Am currently a Spinlock user.  But have seen too many failures of same as others have noted in thread.  Mustang seems better technology to me but...  Can the Mustangs auto-inflate mechanism be disarmed without impacting the ability to manually inflate via either method (pull lanyard to trigger cartridge, or breathing tube)?

No, before anyone asks, I am not nuts.  I wear foam when in dinghies and use normal auto-inflate on monohull and large multis with escape hatches (in most all conditions), but I also own and sail a Farrier which I love and these are somewhat unique in that there are specific situations with that boat where I do not want to be tethered or have an auto-inflate (or foam) and just want the manual inflate function.  Don't want that to derail the thread with debate about that choice... but would like to hear from Mustang users if they know if the auto-inflate can be deactivated without impacting ability manually inflate or damaging the auto-inflate mechanism/trigger.  Been getting conflicting answers from company... 

EDIT - Sorry for the repost.  Hid the old one due to stupid typo I could not edit, and reposted this.

You do realize that there are really only 3 brands of inflators available right?  Halkey Roberts, UML and Hammar.  Spinlock uses all 3 in their various vests and so do most other brands.  Hence - you are very unlikely to see any big differences between PFD brands in terms of reliability

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9 hours ago, doghouse said:

They are discontinued on the 5D vests. There is a big redesign coming to the Deckvest from the latest Volvo input.

I think that is only for the 170N version - the 275N version is (only) available with the Hammar inflator.  A while back I did chat with Chris (Spinlock CEO) and he told me they were working hard to make a "civilian" version of the latest VOR design - part of the challenge is to get in to a reasonable price range.

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5 hours ago, Christian said:

You do realize that there are really only 3 brands of inflators available right?  Halkey Roberts, UML and Hammar.  Spinlock uses all 3 in their various vests and so do most other brands.  Hence - you are very unlikely to see any big differences between PFD brands in terms of reliability

 

I thought to mention that earlier, but I figure it would be a waste.

 

5 hours ago, Christian said:

I think that is only for the 170N version - the 275N version is (only) available with the Hammar inflator.  A while back I did chat with Chris (Spinlock CEO) and he told me they were working hard to make a "civilian" version of the latest VOR design - part of the challenge is to get in to a reasonable price range.

You may be right, we only inquired about the 170N version. I'm interested to see the new model though, supposedly quite good if they can get it to market

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6 hours ago, Christian said:

You do realize that there are really only 3 brands of inflators available right?  Halkey Roberts, UML and Hammar.  Spinlock uses all 3 in their various vests and so do most other brands.  Hence - you are very unlikely to see any big differences between PFD brands in terms of reliability

Actually I was only aware of 2  (UML and Hammar) and while I am aware the top of the line Spinlock now comes with either, my recollection (welcome correction) was that when I last purchased, Spinlock did not have the Hammar type inflators; only Mustang did.  If the difference we keep hearing about is in fact true (that Spinlock fail more often) it would most likely be related to those older vests.  But my point was not to defend or trash any brand.  I was asking a question...

I would like to be able to use a Hammar inflator vest in manual inflate mode only at times (and be able to switch back to auto-inflate).  In theory that is doable with a conversion kit.  I am being told however that the reality is different and that is what I am asking about if anyone has experience with same.

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7 hours ago, Christian said:

I think that is only for the 170N version - the 275N version is (only) available with the Hammar inflator.  A while back I did chat with Chris (Spinlock CEO) and he told me they were working hard to make a "civilian" version of the latest VOR design - part of the challenge is to get in to a reasonable price range.

 

Nice clarification; thanks.

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1 hour ago, Wess said:

Actually I was only aware of 2  (UML and Hammar) and while I am aware the top of the line Spinlock now comes with either, my recollection (welcome correction) was that when I last purchased, Spinlock did not have the Hammar type inflators; only Mustang did.  If the difference we keep hearing about is in fact true (that Spinlock fail more often) it would most likely be related to those older vests.  But my point was not to defend or trash any brand.  I was asking a question...

I would like to be able to use a Hammar inflator vest in manual inflate mode only at times (and be able to switch back to auto-inflate).  In theory that is doable with a conversion kit.  I am being told however that the reality is different and that is what I am asking about if anyone has experience with same.

 

I'm not sure how old your vest is, but Spinlock has offered the Hammar for quite some time.

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11 hours ago, doghouse said:

 

I thought to mention that earlier, but I figure it would be a waste.

 

You may be right, we only inquired about the 170N version. I'm interested to see the new model though, supposedly quite good if they can get it to market

That had some mock-ups and one of the VOR models in their booth at last years Naptown boat show - maybe they will have the civilian version at the show this year.  Shoot them an email and ask.  PM me if you need an email addy

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10 hours ago, Wess said:

Actually I was only aware of 2  (UML and Hammar) and while I am aware the top of the line Spinlock now comes with either, my recollection (welcome correction) was that when I last purchased, Spinlock did not have the Hammar type inflators; only Mustang did.  If the difference we keep hearing about is in fact true (that Spinlock fail more often) it would most likely be related to those older vests.  But my point was not to defend or trash any brand.  I was asking a question...

I would like to be able to use a Hammar inflator vest in manual inflate mode only at times (and be able to switch back to auto-inflate).  In theory that is doable with a conversion kit.  I am being told however that the reality is different and that is what I am asking about if anyone has experience with same.

You cannot convert the Hammar inflator to manual - at least officially.  I am sure you could put a cap over the pressure sensor and thus render the auto function to not work.  There is naturally the pull handle so voila - it is now a manual.  This advice is naturally not to be trusted and you are on your own if you go down that route - at your own peril

 

Hammar does have a manual inflator head (M1) that might fit the bladder o-ring connection instead of the auto inflator (kinda looks like it) - you will have to ask Hammar about it

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22 hours ago, Christian said:
22 hours ago, Christian said:

Going off a boat unconscious yields a pretty low  survivability factor regardless of the vest, certainly uncrewed and even crewed it's very low depending on the crew 1) knowing you went off, 2) keeping you located, 3) stopping and spinning the boat around, 4) rescuing/recovering an unconscious body. The longer time span between 1 and 4 the more likely it is a  body recovery, and we're talking minutes here.  Well that certainly depends on a lot of factors such as water temps, sea state, crew training and abilities.

Going off conscious; Uncrewed, you better be short tethered or close to shore, period. Crewed, where you can use the whistle, strobe, voice whatever to alert the crew, a foam vest floats you higher, affords more maneuverability in the water (including keeping your head above) and makes it easier for you  to assist in you own rescue. Personally the fact that I know the foam vest will keep me above water and requires no maintenance made it an easy choice. I didn't even consider that the inflatable might not even go off,, when needed the most. WRONG - inflatable PFDs give you much higher buoyancy than foam vests.  Typical foam vests (excluding the very bulky offshore ones, which would be close to impossible to sail/race with) have a 50 N of buoyancy while inflatable ones come in 150, 275 and even some more exotic ones in 320N  of buoyancy 

It's unfortunate the some of the local race rules require a USCG class I floatation which for a foam vest means very bulky and currently no inflatables meet,, go figure.  Can you show me an example of a NOR/SI requiring Class 1 PFDs?  I don't even think there are any uscg class 1 PFDs available for retail.

 

Christian,

Yes rescue/recovery depends on a lot of factors. but we're not talking about the Wednesday night round the buoys stuff. My comments apply more to coastal cruise/racing where one is 2-20 miles offshore and other boats may be insight but can only be hailed by radio. I sail in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island sound area. water is cold, and normally 2-4 ft waves. Remember the Volvo race. professional crew, MOB, never found. It also depends on the gear you can reach in your pockets.

Yes inflatables have more buoyance but if the COB is at neck level most of your body is underwater. If you COB is at chest level you float higher. That's not opinion. There are a number of videos by Mario Vittio that demonstrate this. I also watch a video of a crewed boat practicing MOB recovery with a dummy that was down right scary. I can't find the link now.

I could only find one SI/NOR that stated class I. the Newport YC solo/twin distance race. I'm sure that if pointed out to the RC it would have been waived for class III minimum.

22 hours ago, Christian said:

 

 

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43 minutes ago, jfdubu said:

Christian,

Yes rescue/recovery depends on a lot of factors. but we're not talking about the Wednesday night round the buoys stuff. My comments apply more to coastal cruise/racing where one is 2-20 miles offshore and other boats may be insight but can only be hailed by radio. I sail in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island sound area. water is cold, and normally 2-4 ft waves. Remember the Volvo race. professional crew, MOB, never found. It also depends on the gear you can reach in your pockets.

Yes inflatables have more buoyance but if the COB is at neck level most of your body is underwater. If you COB is at chest level you float higher. That's not opinion. There are a number of videos by Mario Vittio that demonstrate this. I also watch a video of a crewed boat practicing MOB recovery with a dummy that was down right scary. I can't find the link now.

I could only find one SI/NOR that stated class I. the Newport YC solo/twin distance race. I'm sure that if pointed out to the RC it would have been waived for class III minimum.

 

Even Narraganset bay in the winter is more than mere minutes before you die from hypothermia - summertime it is hours or even more - not nitpicking but it is longer than you think.

It is not the fu....g Southern Ocean.....................

 

You believe that a foam jacket (which is rarely equipped with leg or thigh straps) with half the buoyancy makes you float higher - Pssst I've got this bridge to sell you

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On 8/8/2018 at 9:52 PM, Christian said:

Im sorry but I do not buy that one.  It must have been an assembly of incredibly lazy asses who do not maintain their equipment.  There is simply NO WAY you are going to make me believe that 50% of properly maintained PFDs failed

 

Or your math skills are fucked

Modern politics and denial.  Even if you see it with your own eyes someone can deny you saw it loudly enough with a personal put down and eventually bend the truth to what they want to believe.  Believe what you want, the visible facts do not change.

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Never mind: I found them.  

Can you buy the UML pills for Spinlock vests without also buying a new CO2 cartridge?

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2 hours ago, Ballard Sailor said:

Modern politics and denial.  Even if you see it with your own eyes someone can deny you saw it loudly enough with a personal put down and eventually bend the truth to what they want to believe.  Believe what you want, the visible facts do not change.

This has nothing to do with denial - and certainly even less to do with politics.  Did you inspect the 50% of PFDs that failed?  Were they all properly maintained?

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16 minutes ago, Christian said:

This has nothing to do with denial - and certainly even less to do with politics.  Did you inspect the 50% of PFDs that failed?  Were they all properly maintained?

As you say - go back and re-read your post.  Clearly you didn't know what you wrote.

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4 minutes ago, Ballard Sailor said:

As you say - go back and re-read your post.  Clearly you didn't know what you wrote.

Maybe I am reeeeeaaaaly slow but educate me

 

My point is that to have a failure rate of 50%, the PFDs in question  must have been maintained rather poorly.  You, yourself, reported that several of the co2 cannisters fell to the bottom of the pool.  This obviously is an example of being extremely poorly maintained as cannisters do not fall out if they are securely screwed into the inflator.  My questions to you: did you examine any/all of the failing PFDs?  What did you find?  Did you (since you were "teaching a class") use this example to teach peeps to maintain their PFDs?

 

What is it I don't get?

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5 hours ago, Alex W said:

 

Never mind: I found them.  

Can you buy the UML pills for Spinlock vests without also buying a new CO2 cartridge?

You certainly can in the UK. Though the UML type is a screw in cartridge with the release tab buried in it.  If you have a "pill", it may be a Halkey Roberts, not UML.

 UML:

https://rt-supplies.co.uk/product/uml-mk5i-cartridge-uma-5000/

 H-K:

https://rt-supplies.co.uk/product/halkey-roberts-super-bobbin/

Cheers,

               W.

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13 hours ago, Christian said:

This has nothing to do with denial - and certainly even less to do with politics.  Did you inspect the 50% of PFDs that failed?  Were they all properly maintained?

50% failed.

Who cares why?

50% failed.

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7 hours ago, Somebody Else said:

 

Who cares why?

 

People that don't want to drown.

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22 hours ago, Christian said:

Maybe I am reeeeeaaaaly slow but educate me

 

My point is that to have a failure rate of 50%, the PFDs in question  must have been maintained rather poorly.  You, yourself, reported that several of the co2 cannisters fell to the bottom of the pool.  This obviously is an example of being extremely poorly maintained as cannisters do not fall out if they are securely screwed into the inflator.  My questions to you: did you examine any/all of the failing PFDs?  What did you find?  Did you (since you were "teaching a class") use this example to teach peeps to maintain their PFDs?

 

What is it I don't get?

You accused me of not knowing how to do math and told me because of that you don't believe that 50% of them failed, even though that was the case, the visual fact.  Now if your question was about their maintenance - I've no frigging idea.  I don't like inflatables because they are a false sense of security if not properly inspected and maintained, I don't use them and therefore wouldn't know how to properly inspect them, nor would I waist my time properly inspecting someone else's blow up pfd that didn't work because obviously it was either defective or wasn't maintained and it really doesn't matter to me which one as it didn't work when needed and if that was one of my crew members I would be responsible - easier for me to require a static pfd for the racing I do as they are more than adequate for their buoyancy.

So if you are trying to tell me that if all those units had been properly  maintained they all would have worked - Great.  Yet real life use and real life average joe sailors are proving they do not maintain or do not know how to maintain them which in my mind makes them unsafe - if maintenance was why they didn't work...

But again, my math skills matched the visual facts - no amount of bullying changes that.  Why they failed to work is immaterial - they didn't work.

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8 minutes ago, Ballard Sailor said:

You accused me of not knowing how to do math and told me because of that you don't believe that 50% of them failed, even though that was the case, the visual fact.  Now if your question was about their maintenance - I've no frigging idea.  I don't like inflatables because they are a false sense of security if not properly inspected and maintained, I don't use them and therefore wouldn't know how to properly inspect them, nor would I waist my time properly inspecting someone else's blow up pfd that didn't work because obviously it was either defective or wasn't maintained and it really doesn't matter to me which one as it didn't work when needed and if that was one of my crew members I would be responsible - easier for me to require a static pfd for the racing I do as they are more than adequate for their buoyancy.

So if you are trying to tell me that if all those units had been properly  maintained they all would have worked - Great.  Yet real life use and real life average joe sailors are proving they do not maintain or do not know how to maintain them which in my mind makes them unsafe - if maintenance was why they didn't work...

But again, my math skills matched the visual facts - no amount of bullying changes that.  Why they failed to work is immaterial - they didn't work.

You do have a comprehension problem.  What I wrote is that I refuse to believe that 50% of PROPERLY MAINTAINED PFDs failed to work.  And since you don't know the level of poor maintenance that made a large number of PFDs fail I cannot see how that statement of mine is incorrect, or claims you cannot do simple math - my point was/is that the PFDs in question must have been very poorly maintained.

 

For someone with a viking avatar and having been around here for a decade you for sure have some really thin skin.

 

The reason for failure is NOT irrelevant to those of us who want to survive.  Expecting inflatable PFDs to work without proper maintenance for years is pretty idiotic.

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My friend you make an incorrect assumption that I am upset - I'm actually amused and having fun and I don't think the thickness of my skin layer has anything to do with that amusement.

I never stated that 50% of the properly maintained inflatable lifejackets failed.  Maybe you would be correct in saying the ones that worked were maintained properly and that is why they worked, or maybe they were just new - who knows. what I said was 50% of em failed and later you will notice that I don't really care if they were maintained or not and I also have no expectation that people should maintain their personal safety equipment - not my problem.  Do I think they should - of course I do, do I expect them to - No. 

What I observe is that by normal use by normal sailors they don't work every time they are needed to work. 1%, 10%, 20% failure doesn't matter -   Why doesn't matter to me .

So in true Scandinavian fashion I am confused why someone would put on something they want to save their life without the knowledge they need to have that equipment work and I don't look into it any deeper. Maintained or not that failure is inexcusable and pointing a finger at why it failed, saying it could have been avoided if X was done doesn't change the fact that it didn't work when needed. That's just an excuse for the failure

You stated my math skills are fucked - I attest they are not - half of em didn't work - observed fact - black and white.

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The trouble with inherently  buoyant vests is physics - buoyancy requires volume. Type III vests can strike a reasonable tradeoff, but for any Type I PFD to provide the required 22lb/100N of buoyancy it has to be bulky. Usually too bulky to be practical for sailboat racing.

So for offshore, I'd rather have an inflatable that I can move around in, that I believe to be reasonably reliable and that I know to be properly maintained.

Most of my maintenance regime has been mentioned but there's one item that has not. CO2 cartridges generally have a minimum weight stamped on them (what it should weigh if it has a full charge of CO2 inside). It's a good idea to periodically put the cartridge on a food scale or postal scale and verify it's full. Visual inspection of the seal is good but not sufficient.

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12 hours ago, Somebody Else said:

50% failed.

Who cares why?

50% failed.

 

5 hours ago, doghouse said:

People that don't want to drown.

Then don't buy the products that fail.

You're overthinking this. Who cares why those products fail; just don't buy them; buy a PFD that doesn't fail.

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12 minutes ago, Somebody Else said:

 

Then don't buy the products that fail.

You're overthinking this. Who cares why those products fail; just don't buy them; buy a PFD that doesn't fail.

Spinlock doesn't fail at any abnormal rate.

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1 hour ago, Somebody Else said:

 

Then don't buy the products that fail.

You're overthinking this. Who cares why those products fail; just don't buy them; buy a PFD that doesn't fail.

Try to transcribe that sentiment to boats, cars, planes, liferafts, etc, etc.  and tell me if you think the same applies - i.e. expect the brakes to function without maintenance for the life of the vehicle, the boats to not fail in any way without maintenance - ever.

Fact is that all the inflatable PFDs come with a manual where maintenance is outlined and with the advice to have a certified repair/test facility do the annual check if you cannot be arsed to do it yourself.

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22 minutes ago, Christian said:

Try to transcribe that sentiment to boats, cars, planes, liferafts, etc, etc.  and tell me if you think the same applies - i.e. expect the brakes to function without maintenance for the life of the vehicle, the boats to not fail in any way without maintenance - ever.

Fact is that all the inflatable PFDs come with a manual where maintenance is outlined and with the advice to have a certified repair/test facility do the annual check if you cannot be arsed to do it yourself.

Foam.

I own 2 inflatables. I own 2 foam.

I wear and trust the foam.

I won't pay a professional to inspect and maintain my inflatable PFDs and I don't inspect and maintain my car's brakes myself; I pay a pro for that. I'm not saying what you're doing is wrong; I'm just saying I do not want to do it that way. That's not how I want to spend my time nor money.

 

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16 hours ago, TJSoCal said:

The trouble with inherently  buoyant vests is physics - buoyancy requires volume. Type III vests can strike a reasonable tradeoff, but for any Type I PFD to provide the required 22lb/100N of buoyancy it has to be bulky. Usually too bulky to be practical for sailboat racing.

So for offshore, I'd rather have an inflatable that I can move around in, that I believe to be reasonably reliable and that I know to be properly maintained.

Most of my maintenance regime has been mentioned but there's one item that has not. CO2 cartridges generally have a minimum weight stamped on them (what it should weigh if it has a full charge of CO2 inside). It's a good idea to periodically put the cartridge on a food scale or postal scale and verify it's full. Visual inspection of the seal is good but not sufficient.

TJ, you are correct, It's too bad many people don't understand physics.   In salt water most humans are have almost neutral buoyancy. Having 22 lbs of added buoyancy will float you higher, depending on were the COB is. Around you neck and chest you'll only use a few lb's to keep you head out of the water. If you put the inflatable between your legs you will certainly float higher, if you keep you COG above your COB. I've worn my class III vest in the water many times. (Sometimes just for the fun of it). How many people with inflatables do that. The foam is centered around my chest and back. I do float higher than any one I've seen or pictures I've seen with an inflatable. I'm using just about all of the 15.5 lbs of floatation and my COG is below my COB. So far my vest has worked every time I've done this. Hell I've even put it on in the water. No maintenance required ( short of an occasional rinse off.)

I'm a foam guy!

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That's a very good point about the professional maintenance.  I don't think my initials on the liferaft from me inspecting it myself is sufficient. And very good point on where a life jacket is worn.  Hadn't considered that 

This may happen already, but how about blow up pfd suppliers offering free safety inspections, similar to the coast guard auxiliary inspection?

Won't change what I do personally but could save/help just one fellow boater.

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This thread has been helpful to me because it made me more aware that the automatic firing cap expires on UML vests.  They should have a large expiry date printed on them which can be seen through an inspection window on the vest.  I'll be replacing the caps on our vests in the next few weeks (and testing the old ones to get an idea of if they would have worked).

Almost all of our crew are using Spinlock Deckvests with UML sensors.

 

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6 minutes ago, Alex W said:

This thread has been helpful to me because it made me more aware that the automatic firing cap expires on UML vests.  They should have a large expiry date printed on them which can be seen through an inspection window on the vest.  I'll be replacing the caps on our vests in the next few weeks (and testing the old ones to get an idea of if they would have worked).

Almost all of our crew are using Spinlock Deckvests with UML sensors.

 

Y'know, you  could do this yourself.  I'm going to do it on all of mine this weekend.

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20 hours ago, Somebody Else said:

Foam.

I own 2 inflatables. I own 2 foam.

I wear and trust the foam.

I won't pay a professional to inspect and maintain my inflatable PFDs and I don't inspect and maintain my car's brakes myself; I pay a pro for that. I'm not saying what you're doing is wrong; I'm just saying I do not want to do it that way. That's not how I want to spend my time nor money.

 

Each to his own - it's your life - until you lend a PFD to someone else.

 

I do, myself, maintain my (and my family's) PFDs - cost is a minor issue but I do like to make 100% sure they have the best chance of being operational if need be.  I consider it just a normal part of sailing like maintaining my boats.

For big offshore races we always go through each and every one of the PFDs to make sure they all are up to snuff - I like the peeps I sail with and don't want to loose any of them.

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On 8/15/2018 at 2:33 PM, Christian said:

Maybe I am reeeeeaaaaly slow but educate me

My point is that to have a failure rate of 50%, the PFDs in question must have been maintained rather poorly.... My questions to you: did you examine any/all of the failing PFDs?  What did you find?

Ballard Sailor related what he has personally observed. Anecdotal evidence is by definition unscientific, and you are free to argue that his sample size is too small to prove anything. But demanding that he perform investigations or spend time educating you makes no sense, when you have clearly already reached a firm conclusion (“There is simply NO WAY you are going to make me believe that 50% of properly maintained PFDs failed”).

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A lady on the boat asked the pro we had on board a week or so ago (circumstantial, she could have asked the question of anyone) about his opinion on the difference between foam and inflatable.

His answer was, and I agree with it, that with an inflatable the chances of surviving an unconscious forced ejection from the boat (i.e. head shot during a gybe) are better than with current foam jackets.

Those of us long enough in the tooth will remember when foam jackets used to have an enormous collar at the back - this was to keep you from going face down in the water.  None of the modern ones have this. Inflatables by design will keep you face up provided they inflate.

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4 hours ago, SteveC said:

A lady on the boat asked the pro we had on board a week or so ago (circumstantial, she could have asked the question of anyone) about his opinion on the difference between foam and inflatable.

His answer was, and I agree with it, that with an inflatable the chances of surviving an unconscious forced ejection from the boat (i.e. head shot during a gybe) are better than with current foam jackets.

Those of us long enough in the tooth will remember when foam jackets used to have an enormous collar at the back - this was to keep you from going face down in the water.  None of the modern ones have this. Inflatables by design will keep you face up provided they inflate.

Most of the regular foam PFDs (but not the 50N buoyancy aids - aka dinghy vests) in Northern Europe actually do have the collar but you are right - not here in the US

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17 hours ago, Svanen said:

Ballard Sailor related what he has personally observed. Anecdotal evidence is by definition unscientific, and you are free to argue that his sample size is too small to prove anything. But demanding that he perform investigations or spend time educating you makes no sense, when you have clearly already reached a firm conclusion (“There is simply NO WAY you are going to make me believe that 50% of properly maintained PFDs failed”).

You also seem to have a bit of a reading/comprehension problem - I was asking if any of the malfunctioning PFDs had been examined - I cannot demand anything.

I would say that IF I had been teaching the "class" I would most certainly have examined those PFDs failing and used it for a teaching moment of proper PFD maintenance and the importance of checking them on a routine basis.  What is the point in having a "class" if such glaring failures are not addressed?

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re: Deckvests - I don't remember the exact details so maybe someone can fill in the blanks, but at a safety forum I attended they were talking about one of the west coast drownings from a few years ago where people wearing Deckvests ended up with both inflated sections on the same side of thier head, which had the the effect of pinning their head to one side and restricting use of one arm.

They did not know whether this happened during or after inflation given the deadness of those involved.

If memory serves the response from Spinlock was that a person swimming in big breaking seas was outside their design scope, which may be fair enough, but the presenter suggested that the ability for this to happen at all was something inherent in that design, and that this could not easily happen in more traditional designs.

I had been thinking of buying a spinlock vest at that time but hearing about this gave me pause.

I will see if I can dig up my notes from the class, but does anyone have more information on this? Yet another reason that a foam vest with built-in harness maybe the answer.

 

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14 hours ago, Christian said:

Most of the regular foam PFDs (but not the 50N buoyancy aids - aka dinghy vests) in Northern Europe actually do have the collar but you are right - not here in the US

I'm actually in Europe, not US. It's the same here.

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1 hour ago, SteveC said:

I'm actually in Europe, not US. It's the same here.

Look at these brands:

Helly Hansen

Regatta

Baltic

Marinepool

Lalizas 

 

They all have foam PFDs with floatation collars and 100N+ buoyancy

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4 hours ago, tanzer1645 said:

re: Deckvests - I don't remember the exact details so maybe someone can fill in the blanks, but at a safety forum I attended they were talking about one of the west coast drownings from a few years ago where people wearing Deckvests ended up with both inflated sections on the same side of thier head, which had the the effect of pinning their head to one side and restricting use of one arm.

They did not know whether this happened during or after inflation given the deadness of those involved.

If memory serves the response from Spinlock was that a person swimming in big breaking seas was outside their design scope, which may be fair enough, but the presenter suggested that the ability for this to happen at all was something inherent in that design, and that this could not easily happen in more traditional designs.

I had been thinking of buying a spinlock vest at that time but hearing about this gave me pause.

I will see if I can dig up my notes from the class, but does anyone have more information on this? Yet another reason that a foam vest with built-in harness maybe the answer.

 

Perhaps you're thinking of Uncontrollable Urge, in the 2013 Island Race?

 

US Sailing accident report.

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6 hours ago, tanzer1645 said:

re: Deckvests - I don't remember the exact details so maybe someone can fill in the blanks, but at a safety forum I attended they were talking about one of the west coast drownings from a few years ago where people wearing Deckvests ended up with both inflated sections on the same side of thier head, which had the the effect of pinning their head to one side and restricting use of one arm.

They did not know whether this happened during or after inflation given the deadness of those involved.

If memory serves the response from Spinlock was that a person swimming in big breaking seas was outside their design scope, which may be fair enough, but the presenter suggested that the ability for this to happen at all was something inherent in that design, and that this could not easily happen in more traditional designs.

I had been thinking of buying a spinlock vest at that time but hearing about this gave me pause.

I will see if I can dig up my notes from the class, but does anyone have more information on this? Yet another reason that a foam vest with built-in harness maybe the answer.

 

As you say - don't remember the exact details.  I know Spinlock offered to meet with the UU crew to figure out exactly what happened but that it AFAIK never happened.  Your recollection sounds like it may be based on a lot of third hand info

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Thanks, yes, that's the one.

Four of five Spinlock deck vests failed to work properly, allowing the flotation chamber to pull over the 
wearer’s head to one side of the body. The deceased was found floating face down with the flotation 
chamber pulled over his head. Given that the crew had to swim through large surf to reach the shore 
this was a life threatening failure.

For me another big reason to dispense with inflatables altogether.

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When I did the pool at Safety at Sea our first assignment was to jump in the pool with all our foul weather gear on and try to swim.  I cheated and brought an old Plastimo jacket that had about 15 lbs of bouyancy foam just under the armpits.  It was very easy to swim in, and floated me very high.  I would have gone into the water with that jacket on with no worries at all.

Next we jumped in with our inflatables on.  My older Mustang inflated just fine, but I discovered that it over-inflated to the point where it placed so much pressure on my neck it was difficult to breathe.  I had to deflate it somewhat to be able to breathe properly.  I learned that when I loan an inflatable to a noob sailor on a beer can race, it is important to show them how to deflate it a bit should they go in the water.

Swimming in the inflatable was very difficult.  We did all the exercises with the liferaft in the pool just fine, but if in a real incident the raft was more than about 20 feet away and the waves were large it would be a struggle or impossible to get there.

I still wear the inflatable when it is windy, with no illusions about its ability to save my ass in a real situation.  It will help me stay afloat if I'm incapacitated in the water due to cold or injury.  Swimming anywhere isn't going to happen.

 

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Back to the topic of foam bouyance aids...

Has any of y'all tried the Zhik P2. I like the idea of insertable impact padding. Also, being a cheap bastard, feedback on cheaper alternatives like the Spinlock Wing, or Musto or Gill offerings would be appreciated.  

Cheers,

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While the thread is focused on what life jacket will save your life, maybe someone can comment on something a Yachtmaster instructor in Scotland insisted was true.  He said that if you fall into cold enough water you will die of a heart attack before you die of drowning.  I think it may have been his way of not requiring us to rescue an actual person during the course and to instead rescue dummies.  Any thoughts?

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33 minutes ago, HookEm said:

While the thread is focused on what life jacket will save your life, maybe someone can comment on something a Yachtmaster instructor in Scotland insisted was true.  He said that if you fall into cold enough water you will die of a heart attack before you die of drowning.  I think it may have been his way of not requiring us to rescue an actual person during the course and to instead rescue dummies.  Any thoughts?

He's exaggerating if he says a heart attack is a direct result  but the current teaching is certainly focussed on "Cold Shock": if you unexpectedly fall into cold water (and we're talking chilly, not freezing) then your reflex is to gasp and thrash, the gasping increases the risk of choking and drowning, the shock increases the risk of a heart attack.

http://completeguide.rnli.org/cold-water-shock.html

 There are posters on noticeboards warning you to "float to live", give yourself time to overcome the shock of immersion by floating in your lifejacket. for a minute or two before talking any action.

 Hospitalisation is generally advised after immersion,to avoid delayed onset of shock becoming fatal...if you survive long enough to die of hypothermia, you've done well...

Cheers,

                W.

Edited by WGWarburton
typo

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3 hours ago, Varan said:

Back to the topic of foam bouyance aids...

Has any of y'all tried the Zhik P2. I like the idea of insertable impact padding. Also, being a cheap bastard, feedback on cheaper alternatives like the Spinlock Wing, or Musto or Gill offerings would be appreciated.  

Cheers,

We use Gill pro-racers (standard 50N BA for dinghy sailing). if they fit you they are good buoyancy aids (not lifejackets, obviously): comfortable, unobtrusive.effective at letting you focus on sorting the boat instead of staying afloat. Low profile zip pocket has room for  a couple of odd bits of rope, whistle, snacks, shackles etc without snagging lines.

Cheers,

               W.

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It's tough to say exactly what the Scots motivation was in that. In cold enough water, shock can kill. He could have been emphasizing getting a person out who is unconscious, don't really know.

 

I've pulled a hypothermic guy out,  a weighted dummy is actually good practice. We like to reinforce the fact the guy you are pulling out may not be able to assist in his own rescue and it's a lot harder than most people imagine. 

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I think the dummy also allowed him to surprise us by dropping it overboard at random times when we weren't expecting it, to see how fast we would react.  Part of the drill is yelling crew overboard and throwing the predesignated buoy, pole, life ring, etc. to the victim.  As this thread points out, this could be critical if their PFD does not inflate.  Also designating a crew as a spotter is critical as you will lose sight of the crew overboard on all but the calmest of days.  Most probably already know this, but if you don't rehearse periodically, you will most likely be sloppy, forget things and put the crew at risk.  There are, of course, other considerations, but I'll assume everyone can look it up for themselves. 

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