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Old 22-06-2016, 13:38   #16
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Re: Inflatable PFDs, manual vs automatic

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Originally Posted by jeremiason View Post
I did my USCG STCW Certification using an auto-inflating (Hydro-Static) PFD.

I stepped from a 14' platform and went into the pool. The diver said I went down about 7 feet, before I was neutral buoyant and then immediately took off for the surface. When I surfaced I did nothing and the vest rolled me onto my back, allowing me to breath normally. That was a true confidence test of my PFD and I swear by it now.

Like previous posts, I believe if you are conscious, you can release air from a PFD or even take it off if you need less buoyancy.

If you are unconscious, you can't do anything except hope the PFD works the way it is suppose to.

I would vote Auto-Inflating PFDs
What brand/model were you testing? Did it have an integral harness?

The harness issue is probably my biggest concern for the autoinflate. If you go over the side and the vest inflates while you're getting dragged alongside the boat it could be problematic trying to deflate the vest.
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Old 22-06-2016, 13:41   #17
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Re: Inflatable PFDs, manual vs automatic

I'm starting to think there might be justification for both manual and auto inflates.

Wear a manual inflate with harness when tethered to the boat. Wear an auto inflate otherwise.
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Old 22-06-2016, 13:52   #18
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Re: Inflatable PFDs, manual vs automatic

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Originally Posted by Tetra View Post
I've used a Mustang automatic inflatable for many years, but I'm now rethinking it. This video makes some good points.

https://vimeo.com/132245870
Saw this video when it was first published. He (Mario Vitali) is an experienced USCG Rescue Swimmer. So I respect and value his opinion. But I prefer the inflatable.

In it he mentions a part 2 video where he will explain his other points on the PFDs. I never saw part 2 published, on Vimeo. Anyone see part 2 and have the link?

What follows is NOT a criticism of his video, but a general point about any video about PFDs:

I think showing the attitude an unconscious MOB would take in the water with ANY PFD is important, and should be shown by demonstrating IN The water, with an adult human, not a mannequin. Some vest designs will NOT rotate the wearer face up. That is important, I think.
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Old 22-06-2016, 13:57   #19
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Re: Inflatable PFDs, manual vs automatic

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
The important point I think he makes in this video, the inflatables are designed to be comfortable and wear on deck. To me this is a plus and not a negative. If the jacket is awkward, uncomfortable and restrictive then no one will wear them.
This was, and continue to be, the major driving force in our choice to use inflatables. I've been around, and have used lifejackets all my life. Started with canoeing (big lake and whitewater), then kayaking and now sailing/cruising. The best lifejackets are big, hot and uncomfortable. Smaller, torso-fitting jackets often used in kayaking are better, but are still hot and kinda cumbersome.

Inflatables are possibly the worst lifejacket, but they are the most comfortable and hence easiest to wear all the time.

My attitude is the best lifejacket is the one you have when you need it. And unless you're sinking slowly, I think odds are I will need a lifejacket rather suddenly and unexpectantly; like when I've just been smacked by the boom or slip on the deck, and find myself in the water, quite likely injured and stunned. This is also why we went with the auto-inflatables with manual pull tabs. Built in harness as well. Makes sense to me.
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Old 22-06-2016, 13:58   #20
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Re: Inflatable PFDs, manual vs automatic

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
I'm starting to think there might be justification for both manual and auto inflates.

Wear a manual inflate with harness when tethered to the boat. Wear an auto inflate otherwise.
What follows is written in a friendly tone of voice and with respect:

If your reason is because you think the auto inflatable will interfere with your recovery if you are tethered andd MOB, I disagree.

Assuming the boat is moving, the auto inflate vest is supporting you and your head, while you are being dragged. How you face or how your harness drags you is another issue.

It may take a long time to recover you from the water, even if you are on a long tether. Having used up all your energy, it would be vital to have buoyancy, even if you are tied to the boat. Every video and account I have seen emphasizes how exhausted a few minutes in the water makes the MOB, to the point that simple tasks become impossible and strength is not there to allow treading water. This happens even in temperate waters. I think it has something to do with shock and adrenalin and body response and is worsened if in colder water. Even Fit people get exhausted quickly.

If you are going to use a Lifesling to recover, you could deflate the inflatable, if needed.
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Old 22-06-2016, 14:04   #21
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Re: Inflatable PFDs, manual vs automatic

Quote:
Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
If you go over the side and the vest inflates while you're getting dragged alongside the boat it could be problematic trying to deflate the vest.
I was once a water test dummy in San Francisco Bay, testing various MOB Techniques for the Sailing School I worked for.

One of the test was seeing if the crew could get me on-board while being dragged on a tether... The simple answer was NO.

I will tell you from experience, if your boat is traveling at any speed you will NOT be able to do anything, but try and get air. It is amazing how fast your body looses its strength being dragged through the water.

In my opinion, your only option if you go overboard on a tether is hoping the boat will stop on its own or that someone on-board stops the boat and pulls you back aboard. Either way you would want your vest inflated. If you want to be released from the boat, use the quick disconnect on the tether.

So with that said, what am I missing? Why would you want less buoyancy when being dragged through the water???



In answer to your other question, my Vests were purchased in 2010 and were made by Mustang.
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Old 22-06-2016, 14:49   #22
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Re: Inflatable PFDs, manual vs automatic

Buy automatic, remove the tablet, what do you have now?

No reason to buy manual if every auto pdf is a manual one too, huh?

My vote: MANUAL. Because you cannot swim in the automatic one!

b.
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Old 22-06-2016, 14:55   #23
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Re: Inflatable PFDs, manual vs automatic

We opted for Mustang hydrostatic auto-inflatables after seeing that all the water-cops around here used them. Mine has harness rings; my wife is too sensible to go out in 'tether' conditions.

I try to test them by manually inflating every year or two. (Inflate, leave overnight, still firm in the morning) I inflate CAREFULLY via the mouth tube using a small compressor; the reason i do this is because I heard that using your breath leaves moisture inside the air chamber which can foster mildew, mold and such.

Ours are about 7 years old now; I re-armed them last year.
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Old 22-06-2016, 16:03   #24
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Re: Inflatable PFDs, manual vs automatic

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Originally Posted by Lake-Effect View Post
I try to test them by manually inflating every year or two. (Inflate, leave overnight, still firm in the morning) I inflate CAREFULLY via the mouth tube using a small compressor; the reason i do this is because I heard that using your breath leaves moisture inside the air chamber which can foster mildew, mold and such.
Mine too are older Mustangs (same vintage as your LE). I've pulled the tab on them a few times over the years whenever I think it's time to replace the mechanism. They've always inflated properly, and have never lost any air.

We each make our own choices. My risk assessment is that I'd rather have something rather than nothing if I go over. Inflatables are not great lifejackets, but they are better than nothing, which is what I'd most likely be wearing if not for the ease and comfort of my inflatable.

BTW, I learned that inflatable lifejackets are only considered a legal lifejacket if they are worn. An inflatable sitting on deck does not count as a lifejacket as far as Canadian (and I believe American) law is concerned. It must be worn to count. I learned this during the only time I've been subjected to a "safety check" by some water cops .
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Old 22-06-2016, 16:28   #25
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Re: Inflatable PFDs, manual vs automatic

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Adding combo PFD/harness to the boat and am debating whether I should go with a manual or auto inflate model.
AUTO - anything else is just about the money
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Old 23-06-2016, 07:47   #26
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Re: Inflatable PFDs, manual vs automatic

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BTW, I learned that inflatable lifejackets are only considered a legal lifejacket if they are worn. An inflatable sitting on deck does not count as a lifejacket as far as Canadian (and I believe American) law is concerned. It must be worn to count. I learned this during the only time I've been subjected to a "safety check" by some water cops .
Exactly right. We carry a 4-pack of conventional lifejackets as well; for guests, and to meet the legal requirements in the few times we might not be wearing our inflatables.
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Old 23-06-2016, 08:04   #27
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Re: Inflatable PFDs, manual vs automatic

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Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
BTW, I learned that inflatable lifejackets are only considered a legal lifejacket if they are worn. An inflatable sitting on deck does not count as a lifejacket as far as Canadian (and I believe American) law is concerned. It must be worn to count. I learned this during the only time I've been subjected to a "safety check" by some water cops .
Interesting fact to learn. Thanks for posting that. Probably not an issue on my saailboat since I keep a good stock of standard life jackets on board but I might have taken inflatables on the dinghy in a bag and considered myself legal.
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Old 23-06-2016, 08:30   #28
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Re: Inflatable PFDs, manual vs automatic

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Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post

BTW, I learned that inflatable lifejackets are only considered a legal lifejacket if they are worn. An inflatable sitting on deck does not count as a lifejacket as far as Canadian (and I believe American) law is concerned. It must be worn to count. I learned this during the only time I've been subjected to a "safety check" by some water cops .
I know that was the rule the last I looked. But, I think I read that they were going to change this in the US but I don't know if they have.
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Old 23-06-2016, 08:32   #29
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Re: Inflatable PFDs, manual vs automatic

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Originally Posted by jeremiason View Post
I was once a water test dummy in San Francisco Bay, testing various MOB Techniques for the Sailing School I worked for.

One of the test was seeing if the crew could get me on-board while being dragged on a tether... The simple answer was NO.

I will tell you from experience, if your boat is traveling at any speed you will NOT be able to do anything, but try and get air. It is amazing how fast your body looses its strength being dragged through the water.

In my opinion, your only option if you go overboard on a tether is hoping the boat will stop on its own or that someone on-board stops the boat and pulls you back aboard. Either way you would want your vest inflated. If you want to be released from the boat, use the quick disconnect on the tether.

So with that said, what am I missing? Why would you want less buoyancy when being dragged through the water???



In answer to your other question, my Vests were purchased in 2010 and were made by Mustang.
Hi Tom,

Thanks for the input. Real in the water experience is good information to have. One thought I have on the buoyancy issue when overboard. I recall reading a test of harnesses and tethers several years ago. Been a while and at this point I cannot recall where, maybe Practical Sailor or Cruising World. One thing they looked at that was critical was how the person was towed by the tether. Some would tow the person that kept the head well out of the water but others would keep the head dunked and almost certainly result in drowning of a unconscious person or someone towed so long they became exhausted and could no longer maintain an attitude that kept the head out of water.

As I recall, the towing attitude depended less on buoyancy that the attachment point and configuration of the harness.

Confess I have not tried on an inflatable so no personal experience but the videos I've viewed the inflatables all seem to be pretty restrictive of movement when inflated.

I don't doubt your experience with the difficulty of recovering someone on a tether with the boat underway. Again something I haven't tried personally but have tried something similar. My first sailing trip the captain suggested it would be fun to tow behind the boat on a long line on a hot calm day while we were motoring. I jumped right in and had no problem pulling myself back to the boat on the line we were trailing. Now the ocean was almost flat calm but we were motoring at a reasonable cruising speed, probably at least 5-6 kts. Maybe the difference was the total lack of waves?

By the way, after we did this a couple of times I started thinking it was too much like trolling for sharks and decided maybe that wasn't such a great idea for fun.
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Old 23-06-2016, 08:48   #30
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Re: Inflatable PFDs, manual vs automatic

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I know that was the rule the last I looked. But, I think I read that they were going to change this in the US but I don't know if they have.
That would be good. It's pretty irrational.

When I learned about this need-to-wear fact, I too was carrying spare non-inflatables. The cop was ready to write the citation until he learned about these others. They were buried in a sail locker and pretty useless in an emergency, whereas my inflatable was sitting there in the cockpit ready to be tossed. But it didn't matter. The useless non-inflatables made me legal so we were all good, whereas the easily tossed jacket which would have inflated when I grabbed it in the water, was legally useless .

... I lost a little respect for the law, and sadly the cops, that day.
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