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Old 18-07-2012, 12:39   #1
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Best lifejackets for offshore

Learned the hard way yesterday that life jackets are completely necessary; and not just wearing one, but wearing one that suits the conditions.

Long story short, found myself without a boat after my hobie capsized and wind took it off before I could right it, was wearing a type 3 jacket and had a hell of a swim ahead of me in 3-5 foot chop and 25 knt winds. Fortunately a patrol boat found me quick enough because I wasn't lasting long in that jacket. Wile not necessarily offshore, most of my day sailing is done in heavy (20-30 knt) winds and a lot of chop.

All this to say, what's the best life jacket for my purposes? Not looking for an inflatable, just a simple, very buoyant, comfortable life jacket, in the type 1 category.
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Old 18-07-2012, 12:55   #2
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Re: Best lifejackets for offshore

Go to a few marine stores and try some out and see which one is most comfy for you. . Any Type I will do. To me they are very uncomfortable but they are designed to keep you face up in case you are knocked unconscious. They are extremely difficult to work in though. In a larger sailboat, it's best to have several different kinds. In an emergency, the fastest easiest one to put on may be the best choice. Sometimes a type one can be a pain in the rear to don depending on the style of the ties. Hitting the water in a Type III and changing to a Type I can be all but impossible at times. However, there may be the rare occasion when you dont have time for a Type I but can get a Type III on and grab a Type I as you go over.
There is no way that I can wear a Type one on my Ketch rig or my old Catalina 30 Sloop
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Old 21-07-2012, 14:09   #3
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Re: Best lifejackets for offshore

This morning's news interviewed a man who was swept overboard off Florida and treaded water for 40 hours. He was found and was being treated for hypothermia. His vow: never again without a PFD. Keep hypothermia in mind because the better the bouyancy, the less energy you have to expend in keeping afloat. The larger the PFD, the less comfortable but also the more visible.
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Old 21-07-2012, 15:32   #4
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Re: Best lifejackets for offshore

Gregg,

You can look for a type I, but finding one that is comfortable enough to wear is going to be pretty close to impossible unless you go to an inflatable. They are really designed to keep you afloat on your back it terrible conditions, not to allow you to actually do anything while that's going on. The inflatables are better, and on a Hobie I would absolutely go hydrostatic, but even then trying to swim in them will be next to impossible.
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Old 21-07-2012, 15:48   #5
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Re: Best lifejackets for offshore

I had to tread water once for an extended period as part of dive master training. It was much harder than I thought (and I was in good shape then). While it did not quite motivate me to were a PFD at all times (the obviously safer option), I start wearing a belt-pouch type PFD while teaching sailing.

More bouyancy and non-self-inflate is going to be tough to keep nice and compact for active Hobie sailing. Water is pretty chilly off of NYC (your posted location) so maybe a bit thicker wet suit combined with a PFD would provide a adequate flotation without being bulky.
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Old 21-07-2012, 16:22   #6
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Re: Best lifejackets for offshore

Ive never sailed a Hobie cat, so its hard to say what would work ! but we have Sospenders that both Connie and I wear all the time we are at sea and on deck ! we also have for COLD weather Mustang one piece float suits the same as the Coasties wear up north in PNW, and a couple of type 1 pdfs we keep for guests. I really dont think theres a real comfortable type 1 PDF ! at least we havent found one yet !! thats why we use the sospenders they are more comfortable for us !! just our 2 cents
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Old 21-07-2012, 18:04   #7
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Re: Best lifejackets for offshore

The simpler pfds do not support the head. So if you want to not only go overboard but also become unconscious, then get a model with a head support.

Of the very simple models I like those filled with neoprene foam - they are very comfortable and do not limit swimming too much.

BTW That crotch strap is as useful as it is uncomfortable. Do get a model with a crotch strap.

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Old 21-07-2012, 18:18   #8
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I have inflatable mustang with harness., better if it had a crotch strap. Then I use a kayak type 3. Because I can wear them and am not restricted. Is better then I used before these were made. I wore zip.
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Old 21-07-2012, 20:20   #9
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Thanks for the advice. After some thought and reading I think I'm going to have to look into the mustang inflatables. Tried on a commercial type one and can't get anything done in that.
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Old 21-07-2012, 20:29   #10
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Re: Best lifejackets for offshore

Ya, there really aren't commercial type ones vs other type ones... Type ones by their USCG requirements have to be pretty bulky, and restrictive.

Inflatables are great, but for a Hobie Cat the dissolving pill ones are going to pop all the time (personal experience). Either go with a cheap manual inflate only, or a hydrostatic release. That way it won't go off when you are sailing.
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Old 21-07-2012, 20:30   #11
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Yea definitely a manually inflated one for sure.
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