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Old 14-03-2018, 10:09   #16
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Re: A cautionary tale

Quote:
Originally Posted by thinwater View Post
Also this:

From EN 12277: Mountaineering Equipment - Harnesses - Safety requirements and test methods

3.1.4, chest harness (type D). Harness which fits around the upper part of the body around the chest and under the armpits.

NOTE 1. This type of harness alone cannot support a person in the hanging position without permanent injury in less than one minute.
Indeed. And as a user of climbing harnesses, I wonder if it doesn't make sense to have proper leg straps rather than crotch straps?

My PFD's have wide padded crotch straps which I guess would be ok, but I think I would prefer to be supported by the legs like in a climbing harness, if I were getting hauled out of the water by a halyard or getting winched back on board like in the awful story which Gord posted. Truly awful story; God forbid.
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Old 14-03-2018, 10:21   #17
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Re: A cautionary tale

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Originally Posted by Steadman Uhlich View Post
I consider PFD crotch straps to be essential.
There have been numerous reports of sailors who have slipped out of their inflatable (or foam) PFDs, especially if they are in cold water and begin to suffer from loss of consciousness or use of their hands....
No sarcasm, I swear. Just collecting information.

  • Have you hung from them? Was it comfortable? For how long?
  • Have you taken a drop on them, say with 2 feet of slack in the tether? I think this is realistic, since the woman in the article and Speirs both fell farther than that. I'm not actually suggesting this, since a ruptured testicle is a medical emergency. But it should be safe up to the tether rating, which is a 6-foot drop.
Yes, I test mine in that manner, 6 times in succession.
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Old 14-03-2018, 11:18   #18
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Re: A cautionary tale

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Originally Posted by thinwater View Post
No sarcasm, I swear. Just collecting information.

  • Have you hung from them? Was it comfortable? For how long?
  • Have you taken a drop on them, say with 2 feet of slack in the tether? I think this is realistic, since the woman in the article and Speirs both fell farther than that. I'm not actually suggesting this, since a ruptured testicle is a medical emergency. But it should be safe up to the tether rating, which is a 6-foot drop.
Yes, I test mine in that manner, 6 times in succession.
No sarcasm? OK. Since you want information, I will answer, sincerely.

I respect that you test gear, as do others. And I like to learn gear testing results. So, keep up the good work!

_____________

I have not jumped off a boat wearing a tether to test it. Why would I? There are "Crash Test Dummies" doing that for the manufacturers.

As for comfort of straps when on the boat or wearing a PFD while on a boat: my mention of it was because some sailors object to crotch or leg straps thinking they are uncomfortable to wear. I don't find that so.

As for comfort of the straps when in the water? I don't think that will be my main concern at that time.

And, as I see it, the primary need for the leg or crotch straps is to keep an unconscious (or incapacitated) wearer of a PFD from slipping out of the PFD when they are in the water.

The MOB is not hanging from a rope (as a mountain climber would be doing). While there may be some similarities, I think there is a big difference too.

When in the water the body is mostly buoyant and the straps are there to prevent slipping out of the chest harness/PFD.

So, I don't know if one must have a "six foot drop" test on these leg or crotch straps, as a mountain climber may want for a climbing harness. But perhaps. Is that a big concern? Do the sailing autthorities suspect a leg strap broke and that was the primary cause of sailors slipping out of their PFDs? I don't think it is. If you know something about that, share that info on CF.

When climbing , the body is suspended with full weight of the body on it, and possiby shock loads.

When in the water in a PFD, the body is floating.

The need for the chest harness and tether webbing to pass that "6 foot drop" test is understandable, as I see it the most severe shock loads are placed on the chest harness in most cases.

IF the MOB is unconscious then another issue may be the need to lift the MOB and then full weight be supported by some straps (chest or leg or crotch). What is best then? Does that require a "six foot drop test" strength webbing? I suspect not.

I hope the manufacturers are testing each of these things and will adopt materials and designs to reflect the need. As is easy to see, the adoption of what is "best" can be slow and at some cost to the consumer.

Finally, if I was testing all the possibilities of application and gear materials on this issue, I would probably write an article for Practical Sailor or some mag, after testing it six times too.

Hope that helps.
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Old 14-03-2018, 11:54   #19
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Re: A cautionary tale

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steadman Uhlich View Post
No sarcasm? OK. Since you want information, I will answer, sincerely.

I respect that you test gear, as do others. And I like to learn gear testing results. So, keep up the good work!

_____________

I have not jumped off a boat wearing a tether to test it. Why would I? There are "Crash Test Dummies" doing that for the manufacturers.

As for comfort of straps when on the boat or wearing a PFD while on a boat: my mention of it was because some sailors object to crotch or leg straps thinking they are uncomfortable to wear. I don't find that so.

As for comfort of the straps when in the water? I don't think that will be my main concern at that time.

And, as I see it, the primary need for the leg or crotch straps is to keep an unconscious (or incapacitated) wearer of a PFD from slipping out of the PFD when they are in the water.

The MOB is not hanging from a rope (as a mountain climber would be doing). While there may be some similarities, I think there is a big difference too.

When in the water the body is mostly buoyant and the straps are there to prevent slipping out of the chest harness/PFD.

So, I don't know if one must have a "six foot drop" test on these leg or crotch straps, as a mountain climber may want for a climbing harness. But perhaps. Is that a big concern? Do the sailing autthorities suspect a leg strap broke and that was the primary cause of sailors slipping out of their PFDs? I don't think it is. If you know something about that, share that info on CF.

When climbing , the body is suspended with full weight of the body on it, and possiby shock loads.

When in the water in a PFD, the body is floating.

The need for the chest harness and tether webbing to pass that "6 foot drop" test is understandable, as I see it the most severe shock loads are placed on the chest harness in most cases.

IF the MOB is unconscious then another issue may be the need to lift the MOB and then full weight be supported by some straps (chest or leg or crotch). What is best then? Does that require a "six foot drop test" strength webbing? I suspect not.

I hope the manufacturers are testing each of these things and will adopt materials and designs to reflect the need. As is easy to see, the adoption of what is "best" can be slow and at some cost to the consumer.

Finally, if I was testing all the possibilities of application and gear materials on this issue, I would probably write an article for Practical Sailor or some mag, after testing it six times too.

Hope that helps.
I think there is a lot of good sense in this. I would add to the purpose of leg/crotch straps -- not just to keep the person in the water in the device, but most especially to allow the person to be lifted out of the water using the device by a, for example, halyard. The third thing would be to hold the person in in case the person is caught up short by the tether.

I think the case of being caught up short by the tether with full force -- like a climber falling in his harness -- would be relatively rare, since that would require you to go over the rail but not hit the water, where you will be buoyed up. But I also agree with Thinwater that the system needs to be designed to function in that mode, as it is not at all inconceivable. Whether the standard should be a six foot drop, I don't know -- I don't actually know any cruising boats where it is at all possible to fall six feet from the deck before hitting the water. Even the Swan 60 I spent some time on, with ridiculous freeboard, did not have nearly that much.

Like you, I do not find my jackets with crotch straps to be uncomfortable at all. But even if they were uncomfortable, I would wear them (or find a different one which is more comfortable). Because, at the risk of belaboring the point -- LIFE JACKETS ARE USELESS WITHOUT CROTCH OR LEG STRAPS.
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Old 14-03-2018, 11:55   #20
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Re: A cautionary tale

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steadman Uhlich View Post
No sarcasm? OK. Since you want information, I will answer, sincerely.

I respect that you test gear, as do others. And I like to learn gear testing results. So, keep up the good work!

_____________

I have not jumped off a boat wearing a tether to test it. Why would I? There are "Crash Test Dummies" doing that for the manufacturers.

No, I seriously doubt that. They use a wooden dummy, which is no test of anatomy. Human test subjects are not used, since that would be illegal (chest harness are prohibited in industry).

As for comfort of straps when on the boat or wearing a PFD while on a boat: my mention of it was because some sailors object to crotch or leg straps thinking they are uncomfortable to wear. I don't find that so.

As for comfort of the straps when in the water? I don't think that will be my main concern at that time.

Hanging along the rail, getting firehosed in the bow wave, with full body weight on something tender, adolescent kidding aside, I doubt you could function.

And, as I see it, the primary need for the leg or crotch straps is to keep an unconscious (or incapacitated) wearer of a PFD from slipping out of the PFD when they are in the water.

This thread started with a discussion of harnesses. With a PFD I agree with you completely, without reservation.

The MOB is not hanging from a rope (as a mountain climber would be doing). While there may be some similarities, I think there is a big difference too.

Spiers (Clipper fatality) experienced an impact load of about 1000 pounds, based on forensic examination of the failed clip. In fact, this is much more than typical climbing falls. The hanging force, being pulled by the water, was also greater, or they could have pulled him aboard. So yes, the situation is different--it is, provably, more severe.

When in the water the body is mostly buoyant and the straps are there to prevent slipping out of the chest harness/PFD.

So, I don't know if one must have a "six foot drop" test on these leg or crotch straps, as a mountain climber may want for a climbing harness. But perhaps. Is that a big concern? Do the sailing autthorities suspect a leg strap broke and that was the primary cause of sailors slipping out of their PFDs? I don't think it is. If you know something about that, share that info on CF.

When climbing , the body is suspended with full weight of the body on it, and possiby shock loads.

As I pointed out, harness falls with sailors are provably severe, some documented over one ton. This was documented in investigation dating back to the Sydney Hobart disaster. That sailing falls are less is a common misconception.

When in the water in a PFD, the body is floating.

The need for the chest harness and tether webbing to pass that "6 foot drop" test is understandable, as I see it the most severe shock loads are placed on the chest harness in most cases.

IF the MOB is unconscious then another issue may be the need to lift the MOB and then full weight be supported by some straps (chest or leg or crotch). What is best then? Does that require a "six foot drop test" strength webbing? I suspect not.

I hope the manufacturers are testing each of these things and will adopt materials and designs to reflect the need. As is easy to see, the adoption of what is "best" can be slow and at some cost to the consumer.

Finally, if I was testing all the possibilities of application and gear materials on this issue, I would probably write an article for Practical Sailor or some mag, after testing it six times too.

Hope that helps.
Please see above.

PFDs are a different matter. Crotch straps date back to WWII and have proven quite effective.

Harnesses for MOB retention are a completely different matter. In fact, the fall force is typically much greater than mountaineering falls, as witnessed by broken tethers and clips.

These clips were pulled at increasing force (bottom to top), beginning at 300 pounds and finishing at 1200 pounds, as required to match the actual damage. As you can see, forces can be high and strength does matter. In this case, the sailor did not slip out of the harness (crotch straps), the tether failed. Was he injured by the harness? Hard to say, since he died. I think it is likely he sustained soft injuries and muscle spasms which contributed and prevented him from helping himself, rather like having the wind knocked out of you.


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Old 14-03-2018, 12:20   #21
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Re: A cautionary tale

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Read the Fastnet '79 report! A bunch of sailors died from slipping out of their legstrap-less harnesses. That was almost 40 years ago!
And yet it also happened again just a few years ago in the Low Speed Chase accident at the Farallon Islands. So sad when these things happen. This is another reason why I like to race because they require safety stuff that might seem tedious or over-bearing to many (such as life jackets, which are not required by Coast Guard to be worn....only within easy reach) and as a new sailor, I like to know what my risks and legal requirements are - both at the minimum thresholds and at the highest level so I can be fully informed about the choices I make or ask others on my boat to do.
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Old 14-03-2018, 12:36   #22
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Re: A cautionary tale

What a painful story. I canít imagine how this fellow is coping.

My spouse and were sailing close to those waters this past July, at the same time as this event. We sail as a couple, and our systems are not dissimilar to this fellowís.

Weíll be upgrading our lifejackets/harnesses for the coming Newfoundland season for sure...
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Old 14-03-2018, 12:37   #23
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Re: A cautionary tale

PFD with Harness.

Excerpt from the article that started this discussion:

"Truax got her lifeline to one of the winches and was able to get her head and shoulders over the toe rail when she began sliding out of her PFD harness.

"She was just barely conscious at that point Ö and the water was 10 degrees."

Truax got another rope, put it around her waist and tried again. Barbara's hands were so cold, she couldn't help him.

"She lost consciousness and she just slid out of the harness and the rope and disappeared behind the boat."

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We should hope that our safety gear is "bullet proof."
But, I also think that having some crotch straps, even if they are NOT "6 foot drop" tested, is a good idea in general use by sailors in most sailing conditions.

Just like wearing a PFD is a good idea, though many sailors don't do it.
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Old 14-03-2018, 12:40   #24
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Re: A cautionary tale

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And yet it also happened again just a few years ago in the Low Speed Chase accident at the Farallon Islands. So sad when these things happen. This is another reason why I like to race because they require safety stuff that might seem tedious or over-bearing to many (such as life jackets, which are not required by Coast Guard to be worn....only within easy reach) and as a new sailor, I like to know what my risks and legal requirements are - both at the minimum thresholds and at the highest level so I can be fully informed about the choices I make or ask others on my boat to do.
Good points!

I thought of that incident too, and some others I recall reading about.

Slipping out of a PFD in cold water is not something unheard of, and something one could avoid (straps).
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Old 14-03-2018, 12:44   #25
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Re: A cautionary tale

To DOCKHEAD,

Thanks for your comments.
I agree on your points..
Especially that need to lift the MOB out of the water.

As this article or incident shows, it can be "impossible" to lift a dead weight out of the water, in a timely and safe way, even if a winch is used, even if the MOB is wearing some PFD or harness.

Newer PFDs by several manufacurers now have "lifting eyes" built in for the purpose of lifting the MOB. I have seen this on a few high end (expensive) models.

My PFD has a built in harness (with soft loops for attaching a tether hook).
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Old 14-03-2018, 12:51   #26
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Re: A cautionary tale

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What a painful story. I canít imagine how this fellow is coping.

My spouse and were sailing close to those waters this past July, at the same time as this event. We sail as a couple, and our systems are not dissimilar to this fellowís.

Weíll be upgrading our lifejackets/harnesses for the coming Newfoundland season for sure...
Yes, I was sailing off Newfoundland last July too, and hope to go back too. And that water was chilly (down to 42 degrees). BRRR.

It made me think (again) about getting a dry suit to wear if I go back. THINWATER has tested dry suits (and posted about them) and reported being comfortably floating in 34 degree water for several minutes, which is compelling.

The boat I was on had neoprene gumby suits (exposure suits) for the crew, just in case of abandon ship, but it is the everyday wear issue with those cumbersome suits. I had a very nice Gill OS1 Foul Weather Jacket (like Goretex) and Bib, so I was warm and dry, but in the water, that would not help.

Newfoundland weather is changeable, with possibly warm days, sunny, foggy, or cold rain, or storms. I think having a dry suit that breathes would be ideal for offshore there or possibly coastal too (in some arms the weather was warm).

Anyway, sorry to everyone for getting off topic.
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Old 14-03-2018, 12:56   #27
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Re: A cautionary tale

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Originally Posted by Steadman Uhlich View Post
(snip)

And, as I see it, the primary need for the leg or crotch straps is to keep an unconscious (or incapacitated) wearer of a PFD from slipping out of the PFD when they are in the water.

So, I don't know if one must have a "six foot drop" test on these leg or crotch straps, as a mountain climber may want for a climbing harness. But perhaps. Is that a big concern? Do the sailing autthorities suspect a leg strap broke and that was the primary cause of sailors slipping out of their PFDs? I don't think it is. If you know something about that, share that info on CF.
Steadman, to these 2 points...I have seen people go under water and their PFDs fly right up over their head. This is also a primary reason the have crotch straps. Also, as someone mentioned earlier, PFDs and tethers are often worn loosly. I'm constantly taking layers of clothes off and on because of the weather here in San Francisco Bay and I don't always cinch up the straps to keep things snug. In a test in a pool, I had to tighten the leg straps after I went in because the PFD was riding up over my head making it hard to breathe. If you've never jumped into the water with your PFD, you should. It's an eye opener.

As to the second point, check out the Wncinda Race accident from a few years ago. Forgot the name of the vessel but I think they had loss steerage and came ashore in surf conditions. IIRC someone slipped out of their PFD and they had crotch straps. Basically the manufacturer said (similar to car seat belts) not all safety equipment is going to protect you under every scenario. Everything has risks no matter how safe one tries....
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Old 14-03-2018, 12:58   #28
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Re: A cautionary tale

Quote:
"She was just barely conscious at that point Ö and the water was 10 degrees."
This is a key part of the equation as well. Itís not just the lack of crotch strap. Clearly hypothermia was another proximate cause of this disaster.

Cold water sailing comes with far greater risks, and if youíve not had the experience, you may be ill equipped to manage appropriately. Going overboard in anything other than a full immersion suit means you have few minutes of functional time before your body starts shutting down.

Itís impossible to know in this case, but reading the story, I suspect the crotch strap or leg harness may not have saved this woman in this case. Without the ability to get out fast, hypothermia will kill anyone pretty quickly.

This boat was ill-equipped to get a person out of the water quickly in an emergency ó which is not dissimilar to many small-crew boats. I know I would struggle to do the same should my partner go over the side, even though we have thought about this, and have a readily-accessible block and tackle system that can be rigged to do the job.

This is why everything on our boat is done to rigged to ensure we donít fall off. Thatís the only rule on our boat: DONíT FALL OFF!
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Old 14-03-2018, 13:03   #29
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Re: A cautionary tale

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Yes, I was sailing off Newfoundland last July too, and hope to go back too. And that water was chilly (down to 42 degrees). BRRR.

It made me think (again) about getting a dry suit to wear if I go back. THINWATER has tested dry suits (and posted about them) and reported being comfortably floating in 34 degree water for several minutes, which is compelling.

The boat I was on had neoprene gumby suits (exposure suits) for the crew, just in case of abandon ship, but it is the everyday wear issue with those cumbersome suits. I had a very nice Gill OS1 Foul Weather Jacket (like Goretex) and Bib, so I was warm and dry, but in the water, that would not help.

Newfoundland weather is changeable, with possibly warm days, sunny, foggy, or cold rain, or storms. I think having a dry suit that breathes would be ideal for offshore there or possibly coastal too (in some arms the weather was warm).

Anyway, sorry to everyone for getting off topic.
Yes, I was thinking you were in the similar waters as well. Makes the tragedy even more real .

Iíve never even worn a drysuit, but itís certainly something Iím thinking about. My concern would be how functional they are to live in all the time. I suspect not very. So then they become something you only put on when you think you need to, which can be problematic. I dunno...
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Old 14-03-2018, 13:03   #30
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Re: A cautionary tale

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steadman Uhlich View Post
To DOCKHEAD,

Thanks for your comments.
I agree on your points..
Especially that need to lift the MOB out of the water.

As this article or incident shows, it can be "impossible" to lift a dead weight out of the water, in a timely and safe way, even if a winch is used, even if the MOB is wearing some PFD or harness.

Newer PFDs by several manufacurers now have "lifting eyes" built in for the purpose of lifting the MOB. I have seen this on a few high end (expensive) models.

My PFD has a built in harness (with soft loops for attaching a tether hook).
Sure, but the victim's husband did GREAT - if the linked account is accurate, he very nearly pulled it off.

What makes all this even much more tragic.
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