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Old 01-07-2015, 06:20   #1
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Mario Vittone talks about lifejackets

Food for thought. I promise, the link is just to the Vimeo video of MV talking about lifejackets

BoatSafe.com with Mario Vittone
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Old 18-07-2015, 09:16   #2
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Re: Mario Vittone talks about lifejackets

Well, I have made three attempts to dispute Mr. Mario's comments on this video, but after spending most of my morning on this and getting bumped off by advertisements on three occasions, I will make this short.
Mario is a personal friend of mine and I have served with him, but I do not agree with his views on inflatable life vests being useless in an offshore survival situation.


Mario is incorrect about inflatables being designed for on deck use and not for the water. Really?

He says that the pocket holding survival gear on the inflated vest is not accessible. This is incorrect. All you have to do is put your hand between the bladders and get your gear. It may be tougher than an outside pocket but it's there. What you have on you is what you will have with you.

The choking act was a little over board huh? Yeah they're tighter on persons with big necks but all you do if this happens is release a small amount of CO2. The vest is designed to fill at max capacity. "The first thing you do is choke" Not true

"You hang from an inflatable vest". Yes, and you hang from a foam vest as well. In fact, if he had done this while in the water you would see the foam vest's zipper ride up to his neck.

"Test your inflatable in the pool". Yes, wearing any floatation in water is cumbersome but the true test is offshore, not in a pool. BTW, I do recommend that you try your new vest in the pool to get an idea of how it works. Different inflatable vest companies have different designs and some may work better for you than others.

Mario throws the inflatable to the floor. As if to say, do the same with yours. My biggest beef as a life support technician is the way some people handle life support equipment. Would you use that inflatable now?

Mario says that an inflatable vest has to be inspected monthly and functional tested every two months. This is not true. I recommend a functional and leak test when you first purchase it. In the pool is okay and not a bad idea, and then a visual inspection every time you put it on (as you would do any life support equipment). Visual, functional and leak test once a year there-after. Do before your boating season starts.

Mario says that foam vests are designed for further offshore, whereas inflatables are designed for coastal calm waters. This cannot be further from the truth.
The buoyancy of a foam vest is 14-15 lbs. An inflatable vest is rated at between 22 lbs. (kayak vests), up to 35-40 lbs. buoyancy.
Because of the turbulence (often described as washing machine effect) encountered in a moderate to severe seas, the foam vest will repeatedly cause your head to submerse - causing you to drown. A foam vest does not have the buoyancy to keep you on the surface. I recommend no less than 35 lbs. buoyancy on an offshore life vest.
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Old 01-08-2015, 16:17   #3
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Re: Mario Vittone: Inflatable vs Non-inflatable PFD

I agree that Mario seems to be overstating things a bit, and the coughing is melodramatic, but he also makes some good points in favor of the non inflatable. It seems to me that swimming, climbing aboard a dinghy and self rescue would be almost impossible in an inflatable. I don't own a PFD but will be buying some soon. I wish I had both to try out in the water. There's a good thread about auto vs manual inflatable PFD, but I would like to hear more opinion about inflatable vs non inflatable.
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Old 02-08-2015, 10:59   #4
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Re: Mario Vittone: Inflatable vs Non-inflatable PFD

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Originally Posted by Jerry Woodward View Post
I agree that Mario seems to be overstating things a bit, and the coughing is melodramatic, but he also makes some good points in favor of the non inflatable. It seems to me that swimming, climbing aboard a dinghy and self rescue would be almost impossible in an inflatable. I don't own a PFD but will be buying some soon. I wish I had both to try out in the water. There's a good thread about auto vs manual inflatable PFD, but I would like to hear more opinion about inflatable vs non inflatable.
Hello Jerry,
You should make your decision based on how the PFD works in open ocean, not on how easy or hard it is to board a life raft. I have been conducting life raft training (boarding) classes using inflatable life vests for over thirty five years now and I cannot remember any students that could not enter a life raft with an inflatable on. All you have to do is yell shark!.
I teach different methods to board the life raft. The key is to not depend on the boarding ladder to act as a ladder. If you approach a life raft and put your foot on the bottom rung of the ladder, you will slip beneath the life raft while still holding onto the ladder.
I have my students approach the ladder area at a swim and then they grab a handle at the top of the ladder and push the raft under them as they rise up onto the tube. Once you have your belly on the top of the tube, you use the inside ladder or handles to pull yourself in. The key is to get your belly on the top of the tube.
Can this be done with a fully inflated inflatable? Yes for most, but yes, there are some who just can't get up there with the inflatable on. I tell them to hiss a little air out of the vest via the oral inflation valve and try it again. Remember the recommended buoyancy for an offshore inflatable vest is 35 lbs. If you let half of the air out of the bladder, you are still within the buoyancy range of a non inflatable vest. Most are able to do it once this is done.
I also teach the buddy system. The youngest and most fit board the life raft first. Then they are able to grab the back of your inflatable vest and pull you in once you have made your approach to the tube. The other method on smaller life rafts is to face each other on opposite sides of the raft tube. You count to three and both persons rise up on the tube and grab hands as if to be shaking hands. Once you both have a hand grip, or wrist to wrist you can easily pull each other into the life raft at the same time. It's not pretty, but it works.
Another option you may want to think about when you purchase your life raft is to get one with a boarding ramp. The boarding ramp allows you to get a knee up on it and is much easier to board. I highly recommend these for older and less physical ability boaters.

Here's an article from U.S. Boat that discusses the inflatable vest. This article is dated, but buoyancy ratings are buoyancy ratings. I like that they did this review in a wave pool because it gives you a little better perspective of how the vest will operate in open seas. Keep in mind that a controlled wave pool is nothing in comparison to a stormy sea. Pay particular attention to the part where it says that the tester's heads were submersed even in a 3-4 foot sea state while wearing non inflatables.
d
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Old 05-08-2015, 09:09   #5
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Re: Mario Vittone talks about lifejackets

Thanks ASTBoone, useful information. Are there any inflatables that you would particularly recommend? I would like to get one with an integrated harness. I don't think I want leg loops. It seems as though a properly fitted inflatable will not slip off over your head, although some might dispute that. The auto-inflate vs manual inflate debate has been discussed at length, so I know those issues. I'm more concerned with comfort, reliability, and performance in the water.
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Old 06-08-2015, 12:38   #6
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Re: Mario Vittone talks about lifejackets

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Originally Posted by Jerry Woodward View Post
Thanks ASTBoone, useful information. Are there any inflatables that you would particularly recommend? I would like to get one with an integrated harness. I don't think I want leg loops. It seems as though a properly fitted inflatable will not slip off over your head, although some might dispute that. The auto-inflate vs manual inflate debate has been discussed at length, so I know those issues. I'm more concerned with comfort, reliability, and performance in the water.
I have never owned a sailboat and can say that Ive only been on a couple of them. You may be better suited if you posed this question to a new tread on here.
A harness is good but it can only be used to lift you into a boat. The CG will use their own harness to lift you to a helo.
I attended a seminar a couple of years ago and went out on the dock to see what people had on their boats. I saw a lot of life-slings on the boats, but no way to get you up and out of the water. (no davit).. Have you ever tried to climb back into a boat without a ladder?

Personally I am a hands-on person. I like to have my life raft in my hand vs. in a canister, and I like to pull my own lanyard to inflate my manual vest. Automatics came out for in case you are unconscious when you go in. How many times does that happen? Not trying to discourage anyone from buying an automatic, it's just my own preference.
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Old 06-08-2015, 13:53   #7
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Re: Mario Vittone talks about lifejackets

I thought what he was saying made sense.

ASTBoone, as you know a lot of people completely freak out when something is tight around their necks. I personally find inflatables very objectionable. Add a waterboarding treatment and it's enough to drive any person crazy in less than a minute. So, I can see a foam unit being a good fit for many people. Personally, we choose the inflatable because it's cooler to wear than the foam devices, so if it's cooler to wear we are more likely to actually wear it. A life jacket does you no good if you are not wearing it.

Also, I agree with his perspective on front pockets. Sometimes you need to be able to access someone else's pocket, maybe even someone that is fighting you in a panic. Having a pocket right in front and easily accessible is a really nice feature IMO. Sometimes you just want to be able to access that pocket just like you would access any other pocket when going about your day.

He does say you should have a crotch strap for both types of vests.
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Old 06-08-2015, 18:17   #8
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Re: Mario Vittone talks about lifejackets

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Originally Posted by zboss View Post
I thought what he was saying made sense.

ASTBoone, as you know a lot of people completely freak out when something is tight around their necks. I personally find inflatables very objectionable. Add a waterboarding treatment and it's enough to drive any person crazy in less than a minute. So, I can see a foam unit being a good fit for many people. Personally, we choose the inflatable because it's cooler to wear than the foam devices, so if it's cooler to wear we are more likely to actually wear it. A life jacket does you no good if you are not wearing it.

Also, I agree with his perspective on front pockets. Sometimes you need to be able to access someone else's pocket, maybe even someone that is fighting you in a panic. Having a pocket right in front and easily accessible is a really nice feature IMO. Sometimes you just want to be able to access that pocket just like you would access any other pocket when going about your day.

He does say you should have a crotch strap for both types of vests.
Hello Zboss,
Yes, the inflatable is a bit intrusive around the neck area, but it can be adjusted by slight air release via the oral inflation tube.
You are correct about the lighter and cooler inflatable being more likely to be worn. Sometimes we have to give a little to get a little. The trade off in this case is that you either have floatation when you go in, or you don't.
But it's much more than just comfort. CG helo crews wear a heavy nomex flight suit, nomex gloves, a heavy helmet, and a 15+ lb. inflatable life vest loaded with equipment. Even in 100 degree weather! It's uncomfortable, but they wear it because they know these items can save their lives,,,, (and because it's required)..
I agree about the pockets. It is harder to get to them, but I know it can be done with a little effort. My experience tells me this with all of the training I've done with the CG and with my present company where I train General & Corporate Aviation Pilots.
Again, the foam jacket WILL NOT provide adequate buoyancy in a sea state higher than three or four feet.
In case you didn't read the link that I added to Jerry's post, I will paste the section where this is discussed.
Boat U.S. Foundation Findings of 1998 testing of inflatable and inherently buoyant (foam) life jackets:
"In seas up to four feet, all inflatables proved more than adequate to keep the test subjects' heads above even cresting waves. Everyone was able to maintain a heads-up position with little difficulty.
Our three test subjects reported feeling as safe wearing any of the inflatables in the waves as they did wearing the bulkier Type I inherently buoyant life jacket.
In fact, the type III inherently buoyant vest-style life jacket proved the real eye-opener for our test crew who had to work hard treading water to keep their faces clear of the waves when using this device. When another test was conducted simulating an unconscious victim, those wearing the Type III inherently buoyant devices repeatedly sank well beneath the surface as the waves rolled over them".
This was in four foot seas! Imagine how much trouble you would be in with typical 10- 20 foot seas from a squall or storm.
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