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Old 10-08-2014, 07:47   #1
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Lifejackets Again

I don't want to raise all the old arguments and especially the evanangelist ones on his hoary subject but would appreciate some advice particularly relating to our new cruising grounds and operating from a USA base.

To set the background, I'm a long time sailor from the UK with 50 years of cruising my own boats in European waters in all weathers. My wife (American) has 27 years experience of the same also in Euro waters. Now we are used to only donning a safety harness if the weather gets really wild and lifejackets rarely although we used buoyancy aids when sail boarding, mostly as bruise preventers.

Now we live in the USA, lived a year on board a trawler but moved ashore after I had a stroke 2 years ago, (now fully recovered). We sold our trawler and bought our current 36 ft sailboat, a center cockpit Beneteau Oceanis 36 with in-mast reefing main and roller headsail, forays on deck at sea are rare except to raise/lower anchor.

We inherited a supply of enough legal USCG lifejackets with our boat but still have our UK Crewsaver Crewfit fully automatic (Hammar mechanism) lifejackets, with built in safety harnesses and fitted crutch straps that we shipped over with us from the UK, these are fully CE approved but NOT USCG approved and we know cannot count towards our USCG required on board inventory.

SO should we (as is my inclination) just use our UK Crewsaver 275 Newton auto jackets with integral harnesses and point to the USCG ones in a cockpit locker if/when boarded and questioned or should we spend a whole load more money on some new USCG approved stuff? (Why is safety gear so very expensive in the US??)

try and keep it sensible, no new civil war please, but I would appreciate some fresh independent thought and especially local advice from others afloat in the same cruising grounds.

Thanks. Robin

We now cruise the east coast USA/ICW and out/back to Bahamas etc so no long open ocean trips or offshore races in bad weather.
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Old 10-08-2014, 07:55   #2
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Re: lifejackets again

The only CG requirement is to have the proper number of approved lifejackets onboard. There is no requirement to use them, nor to use only approved ones. So you do not have a legal issue.

It now boils down to comfort. If you are comfortable wearing your current jackets, that is more important than not wearing an uncomfortable jacket, and definitely better than wearing an uncomfortable jacket.

I don't see the conundrum here.

Mark
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Old 10-08-2014, 08:36   #3
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Re: lifejackets again

Robin

Maybe I can shead some light on the subject of "WHY" the safty equeptment is priced so high here in the US.
Has to do with the price of testing for a piece for it purpose.

I was a partner in a company years ago that built steel doors and door frames for commerical buildings and stores. The pieces had to be "UL" (underwriters Labratories) rated for fire. So each and every piece in every size had to go throu testing at a lab where they would be subjected to intence fire damage without distorting..
Even thou the the doors and frames were the same throughout the business, We charged an additional $300 to $400 per unit if a "UL" label was required on the frame.. this was to offset the cost we spent in the fire testing of the units..
The testing, at that time, mid 80s, would cost us in the neighborhood of 10 to 12 k for certification for a unit size of 3' by 6' door.. If we built a different size as 3'6" by 6', another test would be required..

so you can see that by adding the tag for "CG" approval on a life vest in medimum size, could cost thousands in testing.. and when the size goes to large size, they might have to test it all over again..

This is WHY many parts and materials are NOT avalable in the United States as it dosent warrent building them as the cost of testing is so high for the return of final sales..
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Old 10-08-2014, 08:38   #4
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Re: lifejackets again

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
The only CG requirement is to have the proper number of approved lifejackets onboard. There is no requirement to use them, nor to use only approved ones. So you do not have a legal issue.

It now boils down to comfort. If you are comfortable wearing your current jackets, that is more important than not wearing an uncomfortable jacket, and definitely better than wearing an uncomfortable jacket.

I don't see the conundrum here.

Mark
Thanks

The reality is that we will probably not wear a jacket at or clip on a harness at sea unless going well offshore and/or at night on watch alone. We have also some very compact ifeguard mouth inflatables that can be worn iitially with just the collar inflated (enough for initial bouyancy whilst allowing inflating the rest if dunked, These are ideal for dinghy trips because they can be stowed in the RIB's underseat bag whilst we explore ashore.

I guess I'm made slightly paranoid because our UK jackets, whilst now sold by West Marine in the USA for use on 'Megayachts ' especially those used in Med or European waters are not USCG approved. Why is that, do they know something I don't?
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Old 10-08-2014, 08:39   #5
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Re: lifejackets again

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
The only CG requirement is to have the proper number of approved lifejackets onboard. There is no requirement to use them, nor to use only approved ones. So you do not have a legal issue.

It now boils down to comfort. If you are comfortable wearing your current jackets, that is more important than not wearing an uncomfortable jacket, and definitely better than wearing an uncomfortable jacket.

I don't see the conundrum here.

Mark
If and when ya get inspected, there will be no issues with nice new USCG PFD's stored out of weather/use... You need to make sure that they are "readily available" though... i.e. Not in the cabin sole cushioning your wine ...
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Old 10-08-2014, 08:43   #6
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Re: lifejackets again

Quote:
Originally Posted by Randyonr3 View Post
Robin

Maybe I can shead some light on the subject of "WHY" the safty equeptment is priced so high here in the US.
Has to do with the price of testing for a piece for it purpose.

I was a partner in a company years ago that built steel doors and door frames for commerical buildings and stores. The pieces had to be "UL" (underwriters Labratories) rated for fire. So each and every piece in every size had to go throu testing at a lab where they would be subjected to intence fire damage without distorting..
Even thou the the doors and frames were the same throughout the business, We charged an additional $300 to $400 per unit if a "UL" label was required on the frame.. this was to offset the cost we spent in the fire testing of the units..
The testing, at that time, mid 80s, would cost us in the neighborhood of 10 to 12 k for certification for a unit size of 3' by 6' door.. If we built a different size as 3'6" by 6', another test would be required..

so you can see that by adding the tag for "CG" approval on a life vest in medimum size, could cost thousands in testing.. and when the size goes to large size, they might have to test it all over again..

This is WHY many parts and materials are NOT avalable in the United States as it dosent warrent building them as the cost of testing is so high for the return of final sales..
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin3 View Post
Thanks

The reality is that we will probably not wear a jacket at or clip on a harness at sea unless going well offshore and/or at night on watch alone. We have also some very compact ifeguard mouth inflatables that can be worn iitially with just the collar inflated (enough for initial bouyancy whilst allowing inflating the rest if dunked, These are ideal for dinghy trips because they can be stowed in the RIB's underseat bag whilst we explore ashore.

I guess I'm made slightly paranoid because our UK jackets, whilst now sold by West Marine in the USA for use on 'Megayachts ' especially those used in Med or European waters are not USCG approved. Why is that, do they know something I don't?
The above quote answers the question exactly as to "why"

PS: I own a test lab...
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Old 10-08-2014, 09:00   #7
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Re: lifejackets again

Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyMdRSailor View Post
The above quote answers the question exactly as to "why"

PS: I own a test lab...
I understand that especially here in ambulance chasing lawsuit land, but why not simply accept a CE mark as being good enough for USCG approval?, there are plenty of European boats cruising in US waters having crossed the ocean with Euro stuff on board and presumably going unchallenged here too. I don't see why I had to buy a different USCG approved air operated foghorn just because mine CE/SOLAS didn't have USCG approved printed on it

BUt as I said not wanting to get confrontational or into us/them just not wanting to miss something in how we go about our cruising sensibly and safely.

PS I do not believe that you can BUY safety, because it is a state of mind and commonsense plus experience counts more than mere dollars and cents.
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Old 10-08-2014, 09:20   #8
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Re: lifejackets again

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin3 View Post
I don't see why I had to buy a different USCG approved air operated foghorn just because mine CE/SOLAS didn't have USCG approved printed on it
.
Many people have the same feelings as you, including myself, No argument there, but sometimes we just have to set back and accept it and say to ourselfs, "Thats Just The Way It Is".. Sorry.

Could be when business crosses the line into political grounds when I own a business making a product and I want exclusive rights to produce and sell that product, I make it to the point where its hard for anyone else to start making the product or cost prohibitive, and then spend the money to have it lobbied and made into an inforcement that all like products have the same qualities that I have built into MY product. To be sold in the US. bingo, I have Monopoly...
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Old 10-08-2014, 09:49   #9
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Re: lifejackets again

We have a simple rule regarding personal safety equipment. If the boat is moving you wear it. No exceptions.

UK and European PFDs are generally good quality, proven and dependable. USCG approval isn't superior to euro certs. In reality you have a choice. Whether a coast guard inspector would agree is more a matter of bueracracy than degrees of safety.

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Old 10-08-2014, 10:23   #10
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Re: Lifejackets Again

No issue. Just make sure they have a certification from an internationally recognized body....which you do.

Underwriters Laboratory does not test every item that comes off the assembly line. For one reason this is because some testing requires a destructive test...meaning the item tested is unusable after the test. (ballistics testing, fire testing, collision testing, drop testing, crush testing etc.)

U/L typically tests a prototype. If the item passes then the manufacturer starts production of copies of the prototype that passed.
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Old 10-08-2014, 11:04   #11
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Re: Lifejackets Again

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin3 View Post
I understand that especially here in ambulance chasing lawsuit land, but why not simply accept a CE mark as being good enough for USCG approval?, there are plenty of European boats cruising in US waters having crossed the ocean with Euro stuff on board and presumably going unchallenged here too. I don't see why I had to buy a different USCG approved air operated foghorn just because mine CE/SOLAS didn't have USCG approved printed on it

BUt as I said not wanting to get confrontational or into us/them just not wanting to miss something in how we go about our cruising sensibly and safely.

PS I do not believe that you can BUY safety, because it is a state of mind and commonsense plus experience counts more than mere dollars and cents.
Robin...

It is crap that more certifications aren't recognized... Problem being =
"The test standards are different"

CE is probably better or at least equivalent to USCG requirements...

I'll see if I can look these up...

It's a combo between bureaucracy... Laziness... and most importantly... Ass covering... The first guy to say CE PFD's are good for USCG, then watch somebody manipulate drowning statistics will be out of a CUSHY career ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by David M View Post
No issue. Just make sure they have a certification from an internationally recognized body....which you do.

Underwriters Laboratory does not test every item that comes off the assembly line. For one reason this is because some testing requires a destructive test...meaning the item tested is unusable after the test. (ballistics testing, fire testing, collision testing, drop testing, crush testing etc.)

U/L typically tests a prototype. If the item passes then the manufacturer starts production of copies of the prototype that passed.
And the quarterly sampling audits, associated costs... Annual listing fees... etc... blah... blah... = "safety for the people propaganda turned into goldmine profits"
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Old 10-08-2014, 11:04   #12
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Re: Lifejackets Again

THanks to all.

To confuse more, I just checked over our existing UK ones which, although they have never been dunked, and are like new with no leaks the Hammar units fitted to them are over their replace by dates now, so adding another dimension to our decision making. I don't have anyone due to visit from the UK that could bring replacement service parts over for me so may need to reconsider a local new set of jackets purchase anyway. I wish I could win the lottery.

So if we buy new again, which ones, with inbuilt harness preferably ?? Automatic/manual or automatic? We can at least retain our existing expensive elasticated tether lines fitted with double action Gibb ends
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Old 10-08-2014, 11:09   #13
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Re: Lifejackets Again

Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyMdRSailor View Post
Robin...

It is crap that more certifications aren't recognized... Problem being =
"The test standards are different"

CE is probably better or at least equivalent to USCG requirements...

I'll see if I can look these up...

It's a combo between bureaucracy... Laziness... and most importantly... Ass covering... The first guy to say CE PFD's are good for USCG, then watch somebody manipulate drowning statistics will be out of a CUSHY career ...

And the quarterly sampling audits, associated costs... Annual listing fees... etc... blah... blah... = "safety for the people propaganda turned into goldmine profits"
I'm okay with the additional costs of U/L testing to help keep my family and I safe.
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Old 10-08-2014, 11:33   #14
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Re: Lifejackets Again

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin3 View Post
THanks to all.

To confuse more, I just checked over our existing UK ones which, although they have never been dunked, and are like new with no leaks the Hammar units fitted to them are over their replace by dates now, so adding another dimension to our decision making. I don't have anyone due to visit from the UK that could bring replacement service parts over for me so may need to reconsider a local new set of jackets purchase anyway. I wish I could win the lottery.

So if we buy new again, which ones, with inbuilt harness preferably ?? Automatic/manual or automatic? We can at least retain our existing expensive elasticated tether lines fitted with double action Gibb ends
If going new, I'm a "manual" pfd and SEPARATE harness guy...

Quote:
Originally Posted by David M View Post
I'm okay with the additional costs of U/L testing to help keep my family and I safe.
Without testing and standards, the world would be a far less safe place...
Without testing and standards, I'd be out of a job...
BUT...
UL and other certifying/listing agencies are like the "jail square" on the Monopoly board of life.... No way to avoid one agency getting the biggest pie slice...
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Old 10-08-2014, 11:38   #15
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Re: Lifejackets Again

I'm personally not a fan of Hammar hydrostatic units. Difficult to correctly replace the unit and spares harder to give

Dave
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