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Old 09-09-2013, 09:16   #16
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Re: 4 out of 5 Spinlock Deck Vests failed in fatal accident

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Originally Posted by pbiJim View Post
I've never had an inflatable come off, but I did tear one going over the bow rail once. I now wear my inflatable under my foul weather jacket to give it an added layer of protection. In really bad weather, I opt for old fashion flotation when on deck.
I hope your FWG jacket is loose! I can easily imagine you being suffocated when the PFD inflates under your jacket, crushing your ribs and preventing you from breathing. I suggest you test-inflate, or at least orally inflate your PFD fully, and see how it fits under the zipped-up jacket.

A sweater or flexible fleece garment should be OK over the PFD, but a non-stretch jacket is generally considered a no-no.
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Old 09-09-2013, 10:30   #17
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I hope your FWG jacket is loose! I can easily imagine you being suffocated when the PFD inflates under your jacket, crushing your ribs and preventing you from breathing. I suggest you test-inflate, or at least orally inflate your PFD fully, and see how it fits under the zipped-up jacket.

A sweater or flexible fleece garment should be OK over the PFD, but a non-stretch jacket is generally considered a no-no.
There's a story online somewhere about a crew member seemingly stabbing himself multiple times when his PFD inflated under his jacket. Not a good idea.
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Old 09-09-2013, 11:54   #18
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Re: 4 out of 5 Spinlock Deck Vests failed in fatal accident

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Originally Posted by s/v Moondancer View Post

I could not find whether or not the sailors in the USSailing report had their crotch/thigh straps tightened.
Referring to the report, Appendix 12 on page 104 shows that one Spinlock Deck Vest user was using the crotch straps (which I always wear) and he still experienced the failure: James Gilmore. (His Deck Vest was less than two years old.) Although there was only one other PFD being worn from another manufacturer (hardly a scientific sampling), it did not fail.

Of course, it's impossible to know how tightly those straps were snugged down. But if they are too tight, you can't extend your back, or in extreme, you can't stand upright. There's a practical limit.

I inquired with Spinlock over the weekend and, to their credit, they responded this morning. Summarizing the reply, they said the failure occurred because the surf was breaking over their heads from behind.

I am generally impressed by the fit, comfort, and design of the Spinlock Deck Vest, but this does have me concerned because the hydrodynamics of surf breaking over the wearer (from behind) are very similar to being in the water in heavy breaking seas, which I consider the be the most probable condition under which I may find myself the water. I don't like the thought that I may have to turn to face those oncoming waves to prevent the vest bladder from being pulled over my head.

I usually wear static flotation under the Deck Vest in the form of a thin foam vest intended for water skiing, because it provides significant warmth even when wet (it's usually cold here), some padding to protect against rib injuries (one of the most common injuries at sea), and immediate flotation during the interval before the Deck Vest would inflate and during the cold-water-immersion gasping reflex (the water's cold here). I'll continue that practice, but I don't like the idea at all of having to cope with asymmetric flotation produced by a flotation bladder being forced to one side.
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Old 09-09-2013, 12:35   #19
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Re: 4 out of 5 Spinlock Deck Vests failed in fatal accident

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I hope your FWG jacket is loose! I can easily imagine you being suffocated when the PFD inflates under your jacket, crushing your ribs and preventing you from breathing. I suggest you test-inflate, or at least orally inflate your PFD fully, and see how it fits under the zipped-up jacket.

A sweater or flexible fleece garment should be OK over the PFD, but a non-stretch jacket is generally considered a no-no.
Thank you for your concern. My jacket does fit over the inflated vest. I understand the risks involved in my choice of layering, including the added difficulty in getting to the rip cord.
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Old 09-09-2013, 17:31   #20
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I inquired with Spinlock over the weekend and, to their credit, they responded this morning. Summarizing the reply, they said the failure occurred because the surf was breaking over their heads from behind.

.
This is bull. When I was into long distance kayaking, I twice had the "pleasure" of spending some time hanging off my PFD until I was able to self-rescue. I can tell you from experience that it is impossible to avoid having your back to waves. And these were 6 foot and less, nothing like what one sees sailing off the coast.

I am starting to understand why they are not USCG approved devices.
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Old 09-09-2013, 19:13   #21
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Re: 4 out of 5 Spinlock Deck Vests failed in fatal accident

That was a long read.

I see that the one guy who was wearing a Stearns SOSpender didn't have a failure.

I had already been thinking of switching back to a Stearns vest based on good previous experiences. This occurrence may cement that decision for me.
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Old 09-09-2013, 19:25   #22
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This thread has rapidly deteriorated to bash Spinlock which was not the cause of the accident or the unfortunate death. The Spinlock bladder is attached to the backstrap which should be in turn attached to the crotch straps. It is difficult to see how the bladder could slip over your head if it is correctly fitted. This is true of any PFD including non inflatable kinds. As for kayaking PFD's, they will do the same and you will find the best will rise up until your armpits will prevent it going any further

The true cause of the accident lies in the comprehensive accident report and it wasn't because of PFD's
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Old 09-09-2013, 19:41   #23
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This thread has rapidly deteriorated to bash Spinlock which was not the cause of the accident or the unfortunate death. The Spinlock bladder is attached to the backstrap which should be in turn attached to the crotch straps. It is difficult to see how the bladder could slip over your head if it is correctly fitted. This is true of any PFD including non inflatable kinds. As for kayaking PFD's, they will do the same and you will find the best will rise up until your armpits will prevent it going any further

The true cause of the accident lies in the comprehensive accident report and it wasn't because of PFD's
Not true and not true.

The cause of the accident is one aspect of the event. And that can probably be reduced to human error or material fatigue. But safety equipment should never fail. When it does fail, a prudent person understands why it fails. Was it misused or mis-designed?

Your analysis that there was bashing, is simply not correct.

Having logged more miles in a kayak than most people, I can assure you that if you have a waistline, a kayaking vest will not slip over your head. The cinch straps along the ribs and the waist band on a quality kayaking PFD will cinch like a saddle and hold you up. Like I said, I've screwed up and twice a vest has saved my butt. After reading these reports, my old Lotus vest may get some use again.
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Old 09-09-2013, 19:42   #24
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Re: 4 out of 5 Spinlock Deck Vests failed in fatal accident

Please don't take my post as bashing spinlock. That wasn't my intention. I just have always liked Stearns & plan to switch back to them soon. I've never tried Spinlock.
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Old 10-09-2013, 18:24   #25
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Re: 4 out of 5 Spinlock Deck Vests failed in fatal accident

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Originally Posted by bazzer View Post
This thread has rapidly deteriorated to bash Spinlock which was not the cause of the accident or the unfortunate death. The Spinlock bladder is attached to the backstrap which should be in turn attached to the crotch straps. It is difficult to see how the bladder could slip over your head if it is correctly fitted. ...
I don't get the impression that anyone here believes the accident was caused by the PFDs (of any manufacture). It was caused by loss of steerage and other factors that followed.

But the consistent failures of the Spinlock Deck Vests is certainly a worrisome observation. Shouldn't a PFD function correctly in all survivable sea state conditions? Isn't it an unacceptable failure when the bladder is adversely affected - to such an extent that it causes the wearer to float face down - by waves approaching from behind?

Having the bladder shift all the way to one side (consistently the left side in this accident) could be worse than having no PFD at all. Users need to be confident that their PFDs will function correctly in conditions more severe than floating in a swimming pool.

One person was wearing the crotch straps on his Spinlock Deck Vest, and the bladder still went over his head. See Appendix 12 on page 104 of the report.

I have a Spinlock Deck Vest manufactured in February of this year, and I reviewed all of the instruction material. I can't find anything that says in effect: "Warning. The bladder position of this PFD may be displaced by waves approaching the wearer from some angles."

I believe one poster here got it just right: if you need to abandon ship, take off your inflatable PFD... and put on a Cat 1 PFD.
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Old 10-09-2013, 18:40   #26
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I don't get the impression that anyone here believes the accident was caused by the PFDs (of any manufacture). But the consistent failures of the Spinlock Deck Vests is certainly a worrisome observation. Shouldn't a PFD function correctly in otherwise survivable sea state conditions?

One person was wearing the crotch straps on his Spinlock Deck Vest, and the bladder still went over his head. See Appendix 12 on page 104 of the report.
I have both kinds of PFD's. if the Spinlock has correctly adjusted crotch straps the only way it could go over you head is if the backstrap tore from the bladder which would result in immediate deflation. Under the circumstances of this accident it's easy to see that PFD's could be put on and adjusted incorrectly. After all they screwed up launching the life raft. And that was after a series of other errors. The report does not identify a single cause of the accident. But rather points a lot of things out as dangers.
Lets all learn from this and hope it never happens again.
If you are not comfortable with your choice of PDF then go and get one that you are happy with and wear the crotch straps correctly adjusted as I'm sure you do already.
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Old 11-09-2013, 12:30   #27
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Re: 4 out of 5 Spinlock Deck Vests failed in fatal accident

We have never used inflatable vests while sailing, but do wear harnesses in rough weather and at night and always clip in. There have only been two times in the last 24 years that we have donned our offshore kapok vests: once when caught by an unavoidable waterspout and the other at anchor during a tornado that ran along the coast. Fortunately, we never hit the water. I have always considered inflatable life vests in the same category as a liferaft. It's a gamble, when they're needed, that they open. We are very safety conscious when sailing, but there is a point when the absurd trumps the practical and a sailboat and its crew start looking like astronauts in a space pod rather than sailors aboard a well found vessel. Crotch straps? No crotch straps? This is beginning to sound like a chapter in "The Delta of Venus." Good luck and safe sailing.
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Old 11-09-2013, 12:37   #28
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Here is a link highlighting the potential problem with the Spinlock Deckvest. Please read it and form your own conclusions.
Please don't let this detract from the original thread. Maybe we should start a new thread about the correct use of PFD's ?

Link. http://www.practical-sailor.com/blog...874a:&st=email
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Old 11-09-2013, 14:50   #29
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Re: 4 out of 5 Spinlock Deck Vests Failed in Fatal Accident

Bazzer, thanks for that, very good read. I feel the biggest thing I come away with this thread is to try the vest or harness out. Jump in water, if its the harness type lift yourself off the deck a few inches with your halyard and see what happens. I'm a harness user, no flotation. But I'm now more in favor of a non inflation PFD when i need to wear flotation, not just because of this situation, but I like the extra padding in case of falls and rocky shores.

I couldn't quite understand how the spinlock could pop over the head till practical sailor described how the inflation bladder is separate from the outer vest, having three attachment points.



Spinlock deckvest on right


They say that if the straps are properly tight, chest and legs, this gap in the flotation where your head can be lodged, can not happen. It is even implied that you can retighten straps while in the water. But I wonder if being tossed in the surf, these straps can slip, become loose, and could potentially cause this failure.
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Old 11-09-2013, 16:17   #30
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Don't know what the issue is with crotch straps , most inflatables are poor without them.

Kapok lifejackets went down with the titanic

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