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Best PFD for keel boat racing


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#1 Fluffy

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 04:41 AM

For a variety of reasons I'm thinking about going from never wearing a life jacket for racing to always wearing one.

 

I'm kind of an all or nothing type of guy so I mean always which means I need a PFD that is the epitome of safety and comfort.  What would you reccomend?

 

For the amount I would be using it cost isn't an issue.  If I'm going to wear it when it is 30 degrees and blowing 2 knots it better be comfortable. 

 

Maybe I'm wrong but from my experience I think I would prefer a PFD to an inflateable.

 

Open to all suggestions.



#2 allen

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 05:13 AM

A fixed PDF offers warmth so if you are sailing where it is cold, I would recommend it.  More and more serious racers around here are switching from inflatables.  I have both but the inflatable is home in a box.  If it is hot and humid, that might be another story.  Also, I like knowing that the thing is working.  You never really know with an inflatable.



#3 Christian

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 05:45 AM

That is all good.  Sure a foam PFD is guaranteed to not fail to inflate.  However there is an issue you need to consider as well:  all the foam PFD's will almost certainly fail to turn you face up if you are knocked silly and end up face down.  You can be lucky that a wave turns you over and once you float face up they are prone to keep you in that position.  This is where an inflatable actually works better they are more asymmetric in their distribution of the flotation so it turns you over better and is better at keeping you face up.  To get the same in a fixed foam PFD you have to go to the type 1 PFD's and they are not the most comfortable thingies to wear - I have seen very few of those on race boats.  There is no single silver bullet..............



#4 allen

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 06:20 AM

That is all good.  Sure a foam PFD is guaranteed to not fail to inflate.  However there is an issue you need to consider as well:  all the foam PFD's will almost certainly fail to turn you face up if you are knocked silly and end up face down.  You can be lucky that a wave turns you over and once you float face up they are prone to keep you in that position.  This is where an inflatable actually works better they are more asymmetric in their distribution of the flotation so it turns you over better and is better at keeping you face up.  To get the same in a fixed foam PFD you have to go to the type 1 PFD's and they are not the most comfortable thingies to wear - I have seen very few of those on race boats.  There is no single silver bullet..............

Good points.  I tried all the PFDs at West Marine, all type 1 I guess, and there is not one I would wear if I owned it.  Mine has only one layer front and back where the type 1s have two layers on the front, which makes them uncomfortable.

 

The issue here is what if you get hit in the head and knocked out, but not killed.  With the life vest I have that would be bad if I ended up face down.  If I was killed by the blow to the head, doesn't matter.  Compare that to either not wearing a vest (clearly the wrong choice) or having one not inflate.  You make your choices and you live (or not) with the results.

 

I wonder if anyone has taken statistics on this issue.  It would be interesting to see data.



#5 Peccadillo

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 07:56 AM

Crewsaver Ergofit range. I have their Offshore model. Very comfortable, you hardly notice you're wearing it, plus excellent design when inflated and your in the water. Keep it serviced and it will work fine, like all good quality modern inflatables. The Spinlock Deckvest is very similar, slightly more expensive (at least here in Oz) but reputed to be just as good, maybe even slightly better than the Crewwsaver - but I don't have personal experience of it.



#6 Corley_

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 08:45 AM

I have a crewsaver offshore as above would recommend from a comfort perspective I liked the fact that the buckle could be used for rescue by helicopter probably redundant but reassuring when you are putting your tether on the same lifejacket.  The spinlocks look good too I went for the manual inflation version of the crewsaver lifejacket I think I'm more worried about the thing deploying when I'm under the boat than saving me if I'm knocked unconscious.  Take your pick what your more about I suppose.



#7 lydia

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 11:03 AM

Had one of these for years now

Go the vest model (I got a strobe put in the shoulder)

http://www.stormylif...reational-pfds/

It is just about worn out now. Has been deployed in anger a few times when boats broke.

You can order different lining as well

Spinlock and Crewsavers are actually really crap if ever deployed in anger.

I will let a few idiots argue this one before telling why.

Also the vest is far easier to put on them the others

#8 Merit 25

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 05:29 PM

How about spilling the beans on the crappy ones in hopes that you may save someone's life. 



#9 bloodshot

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 05:36 PM

I wear a Gill sidezip and love it.  not as sleek as a buoyancy aid, but pretty sleek for a full PFD



#10 RockBox Chris

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 05:50 PM

I went with one of these for my newest PFD: http://www.mustangsu...onal&country=25 ,wanted something bulletproof.

It is a little bulky though, fine for keelboats, but makes it tough to duck under the boom on small boats.

I like places to clip a light and whistle for night racing too.

 

On the inflatables, look at the area behind the neck and find one that won't snag. The ones I've worn would catch on the the upper lifeline when hiking over the lower and coming back through.

 

Also, you meant 30C, 86F, right?



#11 fidd

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 06:16 PM

I've had a Spinlock Deckvest for about 1.5 years now and have spent a good amount of time wearing it

 

 

Pros:

Comfortable

Harness leg straps

has a strobe, whistle, knife and spray hood (if in the drink in serious rough sea's "dry drowning" can be a serious concern)

Doubles as a tether harness

 

Cons:

can be a bit bulky (mine definitely catches on the lifelines when I'm hiking out)

 

 

Also, if you are trimming the kite, you can adjust it to support your head like a little pillow while staring up for hours.

 

Having owned a Mustang inflatable while also using a gill PFD, I really like it and would highly recommend the Spinlock. A bit more expensive--but I think it's worth it. 



#12 Presuming Ed

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 07:31 PM

Inflatables must have a crotch strap - and use it.

If the water's warm enough for a 50 Newton buoyancy aid, I like my Spinlock Zero. But I'm not sure it's a great idea with lots of layers, oilskins and boots.

#13 lydia

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 09:33 PM

How about spilling the beans on the crappy ones in hopes that you may save someone's life.

As you work in the trade.
The yoke type pfds (with a few notable exceptions including the Stormy Seas yoke) all have an inflation chamber that inflates around the neck of the wearer so while they hold the head up they don't lift the head and hence your mouth very far up out of the water. (Spinlock is a prime example)
Also remember in any sort of breeze and sea your body will cock to the wind. Hence introduction of spray hoods on pfds to stop you swallowing water and secondary drowning susposedly.
PFDs that are made often for industrial application (such as Stormy Seas) tend to have more buoyancy on the wearer's chest so that they lift the whole body up clear of the water and your mouth tends to be a whole lot higher up out of the water.
Next time you do a Sea Survival Course just get everyone in the pool and inflate the pfds to do the comparison.

Lastly experience shows that many trendy prds with soft loops for harness attachment are very difficult to use when deployed particularly if you are in the water. The flotation chamber inflates over the harness loop and someone trying to hook you up in the water cannot find the loop especially if it is dark.

#14 Peccadillo

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 12:11 PM

Much as I would love to recommend a Tasmanian product, my experience with the Stormy Seas jackets has not been good. I had their top model of yoke jacket and would never buy another - it was difficult to put on and some of its Velcro closures tended to catch and open up, leaving it operable but bits of it flapping around rather than snug on the body. Used to drive me nuts when needing to get on deck in a hurry. I did compare it in operation to others during my Sea Survival Course and noted no significant difference in the water. It did not have a hood - I don't know if they do now. My current Crewsaver has a hood as standard. The Crewsaver harness attachment is metal btw.

 

I also inherited the Stormy Seas vest model when I bought my boat. Used it so little that I sold it on eBay a while ago. Seemed a good concept but was only comfortable to wear in conditions where you needed a jacket (so not good for warm weather), the jacket was ok but not up to offshore standard, so you really needed another proper jacket anyway, and it did not have a crotch strap.



#15 MarkJames

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 04:41 PM

depends on what you want to do, where you plan sailing

 

if there is a risk you are going to get tw***ted by the boom or similar, or you could enter the water unconcious, or get so cold in the water that you loose concious / motor control go inflatable, and auto inflatable at that

if there is a risk you will be getting wet on the boat (say on foredeck) then go foam permamnent bouyancy, as heavy spray has been know to trigger auto inflate lifejackets

if there is a risk that your life jacket may be compromised by sharps or sparks then consider a foam jacket. 

 

Dinghy type vests are fine if you don't think there is risk of loosing concious or getting so cold that you cannot maintain the right way up. There are foam vests that will support you but they are bulky and restrictive on movement... ideal for children and or others who cannot be trusted to use / operate inflatables correctly

 

As presuming Ed and others have said an inflatable lifejacket should be used with a crotch strap (as Spinlock and other high end makes supply)

 

if you think you will be doing offshore racing under ISAF OSR regs then it needs to have certain requirements.

a croitch strap is neccesary on an inflatable but not on a foam vest as in a vest the arms hold the bouyancy down around the chest

gain depending on what you do in an ideal world it should also have an integral harness in case you need to be lifted from the boat, or as a hardpoint to attach a lifeline to.

 you are doing OSR races you will probably also need a strobe light (if racing overnight / in darkness), and some OSR classifications require a spray hood to cover the head/face and strop / reduce 

 

there may be legal requirmements in your area (some places mandate specific types or makes or only approved devices).

 

if you do buy an inflatable make certain

you also buy a re arming kit (if the jacket goes off at sea then you should be bale to reset it at sea. 

ts periodically examined to make certain that its still ready to work (gas cylinder full and properly fitted, autoinflate (if fitted) armed and ready and correctly fitted) no signs puncture or wear and tear. if using an internal fitting such as a Hammar periodically take out the cylinder and check for corrosion on the cylinder as this can be a wear / abrasion hazard, for this reason some people do not use HAMMAR

 

after all that, examine the market palce, see whats out there. however Ive used Inflatabvles for many years, there is absolutely no way I'd trust my life to a foam 'dinghy' vest, I find foam vests with collars to bulky so its (autoinflate) infaltables for me. as such I use a Spinlock deckvest. in the past I've had similar from Crewsaver and Paramaris, although with out doubt the Deckvest was the best when I last looked at the market place, purely because it came with everything built in. Thesedays Crewsaver do a variant called 'ergofit'

 

the Spinlock and CrewsaverErgofit jackets are comfortable (enough) to wear in all heat/wind conditions, granted it won't be as effective as wearing a foam vest as an insulation layer in low temperatures but equally you are not going to overheat in one either

 

The only negatives I have against the Spinlock are

price.. its kin expensive, but perhaps not so expensive when you consider it also has the crotch strap, hood and strobe included

bulk around the neck, sometimes it does interfere getting on or off the rail if its crowded, but may well be down to my bulk.



#16 Presuming Ed

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 04:51 PM

if you think you will be doing offshore racing under ISAF OSR regs then it needs to have certain requirements.

 

I see that Special Regs - at all categories - call for 150 Newton jackets to ISO 12402 – 3 (Level 150) or equivalent. AFAIAA, nobody makes a 150 Newton foam jacket - probably because it would be far too bulky. 



#17 MarkJames

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 05:08 PM

As you work in the trade.
The yoke type pfds (with a few notable exceptions including the Stormy Seas yoke) all have an inflation chamber that inflates around the neck of the wearer so while they hold the head up they don't lift the head and hence your mouth very far up out of the water. (Spinlock is a prime example)
Also remember in any sort of breeze and sea your body will cock to the wind. Hence introduction of spray hoods on pfds to stop you swallowing water and secondary drowning susposedly.
PFDs that are made often for industrial application (such as Stormy Seas) tend to have more buoyancy on the wearer's chest so that they lift the whole body up clear of the water and your mouth tends to be a whole lot higher up out of the water.
Next time you do a Sea Survival Course just get everyone in the pool and inflate the pfds to do the comparison.

Lastly experience shows that many trendy prds with soft loops for harness attachment are very difficult to use when deployed particularly if you are in the water. The flotation chamber inflates over the harness loop and someone trying to hook you up in the water cannot find the loop especially if it is dark.

odd that
granted I've never had to use a lifejacket for real but I have on an ISAF/RYA sea survival and re accreditation after 5 years.
having used a Paramaris and Spinlock on those courses there was plenty of bouyancy, kept my head up clear enough of the water on both occasions. Now that may be because Im a fat )(*&)(*&( and therefore am carrying more bouyancy than some/many, but I didn't see others with similar devices struggling.
 
The integral spray hood is designed to stop the ingestion of sea water (assuming you are concious enough or non-iditotic enough to use it). Nor did we have any problems hooking onto the harness hardpoint, but then again that may have something to do with the fact that we practiced doing a MoB recovery both on the boat and in the wave machine tank at Fleetwood. the foam vests failed to provide adequate bouyancy, failed to rotate the body face up.
 
Personally I'm happy in the supposedly idiot camp, I'd rather be there and alive than relying on macho BS hoping that I was concious when I hit the water.
 
And yes we have fished a MoB back on board for real wearing a Spinlock Deckvest by clipping on to the harness point and winching him up on a spare halyard. And that is probably the best thing that anybody wearing a lifejacket should practice, irrespective of what they wear is how woudl they get soemone else back on board, and also have they got sufficient people on board the boat knowledgeable enough to get you back on board. there is feck all point wearing a lifejacket if it doesn't preserve your life, and that means making certain you can get back on board. you cannot relay on low freeboard or nearby RIBS. there i a reason that the solo or short handed racers do not wear lifejackets

#18 EaglesDare

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 03:40 PM

Disturbing how many Uncontrollable Urge crewmembers had DeckVests riding up over their heads.  3 weren't wearing thigh straps, but even one who did had issues.  Anyone experienced that?  How about with CrewSaver?  



#19 MarkJames

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 10:34 PM

I wondered how the feck they got into trouble. but if out of those 4, 3 weren't wearing crotch straps, that would go a long way to explaining the problems they experienced. it then makes me wonder if the 4th hadn't tensioned the crotch straps correctly.

 

However I didnt' see that in the Coastguard report, which said "4 out of 5 lifejackets failed to work properly" but don't indicate why they came to that conclusion, beyond indicating that the bladder lifted on the left hand side. 

 

I can only say that on the sole example of a true MoB I've witnessed the MoB was wearing a Spinlock Deckvest and experienced no problems. granted it was daylight, in a moderate sea but perfomred as expected, no signs of lifting. the Deckvest performed as expected



#20 Hadlock

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 01:37 AM

Does the Spinlock Deckvest LITE have a harness loop? I noticed that the Deck Pro Harness and the DeckVest both are about $180. I was looking for something more comfortable than my rather sturdy (but uncomfortable) 3" webbing harness for the there and back Harvest Moon regatta next month.  It seems that you can have a harness or a PFD for $180 but not both.

 

Is the Deck Pro really worth $80 more than the next best model? Safety is worth any cost but if I'm going to live in it for 7 days straight, it ought to be pretty comfortable for $200 shipped...



#21 Christian

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 07:20 PM

Nope and no light either

Does the Spinlock Deckvest LITE have a harness loop? I noticed that the Deck Pro Harness and the DeckVest both are about $180. I was looking for something more comfortable than my rather sturdy (but uncomfortable) 3" webbing harness for the there and back Harvest Moon regatta next month.  It seems that you can have a harness or a PFD for $180 but not both.

 

Is the Deck Pro really worth $80 more than the next best model? Safety is worth any cost but if I'm going to live in it for 7 days straight, it ought to be pretty comfortable for $200 shipped...



#22 harrygee

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 03:32 AM

If comfort is the priority, it's hard to go past an inflatable.

 

But the thing has to inflate.

 

I recently did a delivery which involved sleeping on a bunch of rope on the cockpit deck, with a few inches of water washing over me.

Long story.

My Stormy Seas yoke didn't inflate, which was a blessing at the time but it worried me.

I took it in to Stormy Seas here in Tasmania and they explained that it was an old unit, which would never self-inflate.

 

That's why they've upgraded.

 

It inflated okay when I pulled the cord, even though the bottle was corroded.

I bought the upgraded auto-inflater and a new bottle but I'm not too impressed.

I've wiped vaseline around the bottle, which looks just as corrosion-prone as the original.

I think the regulations here are that inflatables have to be inspected every two years and PFD's are compulsory in most situations.

 

I'm looking for a good combined yoke / harness with manual inflation.

 

I deliver a variety of boats, some with crew, mostly alone so staying attached is the priority, though getting back on deck on a big boat at speed is a whole new problem.

 

Good luck with getting the right gear.

 

Harry



#23 Christian

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 03:32 PM

Harry:  Inspection every two years is not often enough.  At least once a year - I do mine at least a couple of times a year and before every offshore event.



#24 harrygee

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 07:55 AM

Hi Christian

 

Thanks for that.

 

I check my gear frequently.  I was referring to the legal requirement in Tasmania, to wear an approved jacket at (almost) all times, the jacket to be regularly tested / inspected by the manufacturer or agent.

 

Sorry for the off-topic.






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