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Old 06-07-2009, 08:38   #1
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Inflatable Life Jacket with Harness

I'm crewing on a boat for the Chicago/Mac race and need to get a life jacket/harness. I'd like to buy a good (best) one that is very comfortable so I'll be more likely to wear it.

I'm looking at these: Life Jackets

Any suggestions / recommendations would be appreciated.
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Old 06-07-2009, 09:24   #2
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You can find West Marine / Mustang hydrostatic PFD w/ harness for reasonable price on ebay. We got a couple last year and they were first quality, recent manufacture in original package, sealed, etc. There is a current buy it now auction for item 170354263246 on ebay.

Hope this helps
michael
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Old 06-07-2009, 09:33   #3
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I use the Spinlock pfd. It fits my body as I am a large guy. The leg straps are a pain though. I would go for comfort and fit verse's price. You should try them out to see what fits you best...if it is not comfortable then you may not end up wearing it. After a capsize in a large rapid during a Colorado river trip and getting stuck in a whirl pool, I have a new found respect for pfd's...the last thing I would skimp on.
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Old 06-07-2009, 10:18   #4
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When Practical Sailor did their last review, the Mustang units were top rated, so we bought 2 off of fleabay. Comfort is important, if you are acually going to wear them, and they are.
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Old 06-07-2009, 10:57   #5
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I looked at the Spinlock at the boat show. They've thought of just about everything to make it work and fit well. Questioned their 'Pill' inflator but the thing is very well protected from the elements and probably wouldn't go off except in real need. Price was a bit steep but what's your life worth.

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Old 06-07-2009, 12:26   #6
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Peter, I was sold on the Spinlock until you pointed out it wasn't hydrostatic. Any input on how important that feature is in the real world?
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Old 06-07-2009, 12:52   #7
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I have SOSpender units and I can speak from experience that the "pill" inflators can be a bit of a pain. In cruddy weather it has not been uncommon to have the inflators actuate. In the cabin, a day later, etc.

When time comes, I'll bite the bullet and go hydrostatic. But dang, they're expensive.

Rich
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Old 06-07-2009, 13:33   #8
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US sailors should be aware that the Spinlock is NOT USCG approved.
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Old 06-07-2009, 15:44   #9
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The hydrostatic reset kits are about twice as expensive as the 'Pill' reset kits. The problem with the 'Pills' on many of the units is they are not well protected from getting wet when splashed. Spinlock has gone to great lengths to protect their 'Pill' from the elements so an accidental inflation should be nearly accident proof. Another problem with the Hydrostatic unit is they may be degraded by exposure and not function properly after a while. Expensive to find out if they are going to work as advertised.

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Old 06-07-2009, 16:03   #10
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The MD3184 w/ integrated ORC sailing harness if you add the crotch / leg straps and tether gets you fully ORC qualified with all the recommendations. They claim 5 years maintenance free. This isn't a cheap setup but then it's not worth more than you are or they would just ask you to send the gear instead. Hydrostatic is clearly the way to go. It gives what you need when you get whacked on the head as you fly over the rail unconscious. That really is the point of the automatics. Most any dim whit can pull the string if conscious. If you go over it won't be because you got a warning or you jumped.

You can get a similar type of vest from at least 2 other vendors so it's not the only game in town. Mustang makes most all the military gear and all the USCG stuff if that means much.
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Old 06-07-2009, 16:09   #11
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If you are hit in the head with the boom or fast moving clew cringle, you will want an auto inflating one... Built in harness is very nice...
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Old 06-07-2009, 16:36   #12
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i would avoid hydrostatic LJs, I have several and now all my units are salt crystal



why not hydrostatics?
  1. difficult to determine if they are armed properly
  2. spares/rearming kits are difficult to find outside major yachting centres
  3. the leading manu of hydrostatics reccomends dealer rearming, sure thats easy to do 400 miles offshore
  4. rearming is tricky needs a special key and thers littke to show that you have done it properly
  5. you can go down under quite a bit before the hydro fires, when it happened to me i was worried
salt crystal systems are simple, have worldwide availabily and in my experience verly rarely go off in rain etc, I have a double bladder 250 newton unit that has been soaked in rain and spray and hasnt gone off (but tested fine in my annual fire off).

forget hydrostatics its a solution looking for a problem
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Old 06-07-2009, 17:02   #13
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I completely disagree with the foregoing. I have 3 Mustang MD3184 jackets. These have hydrostatic releases and a built-in harness. Have used them for several years. Very comfortable to use. My crew love 'em, too.

One of them probably saved my life last year. When I was unceremoniously dumped in the water from my dingy due to a series of unlikely events -- the jacket inflated precisely as it should. Inflation was almost instantaneous....no waiting and wondering.

There was a substantial chop and current running. No problem for the jacket; I just held onto a nearby rope and was comfortably suspended until a good samaritan managed to extract me from the water.

Only downside was that in the inflated condition you lose a lot of mobility. Can't do much but lay back and enjoy things.

I bought the recharge kit online. Easy to find. Easy to replace. The green window gives you a positive indication that the jacket is ready for use.

You can find deep discounts on the 3184. It's a winner!

Bill
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Old 06-07-2009, 17:04   #14
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Quote:
If you are hit in the head with the boom
You are dead before you hit the water. This is no joke. Jibe preventers are about getting hit in the head with the boom for a reason.
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Old 06-07-2009, 17:09   #15
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One of them probably saved my life last year. When I was unceremoniously dumped in the water from my dingy due to a series of unlikely events
Any time you go over is unlikely. There is no likely when it comes to going over. If you have experience you won't think it's going to happen when it does. All safety gear works like that.
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