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Old 05-01-2010, 11:16   #1
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Question About Life Jackets

Recently got a new life jacket from fiancee...not a huge wearer in the first place and this one came with an understrap. (strap between your legs) Is there much harm in cutting that strap off or just not wearing it? It's brilliantly uncomfortable and a huge inconvenience. It's a type I USCG approved jacket and seems to fit fine without. Thanks all!
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Old 05-01-2010, 12:09   #2
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That strap holds the life jacket onto your torso if you lift your arms in the water. I remember reading years ago about somebody who drowned in high seas after lifting his arms to grab a rope.

Don't cut it, it may save your life.
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Old 05-01-2010, 12:12   #3
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We are talking about that huge compromise between comfort and safety with a life jacket. It is real hard to design a super safe life jacket that is also comfortable. The way I look at it, if a life jacket is so uncomfortable that the user is not going to wear it, then what good is it?

You have to pretty much decide for yourself where that balance is going to be.

A nice compromise is to keep enough type ones onboard for everyone in case you ever have to abandon ship or for really nasty weather but keep some type threes around for everyday use.
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Old 05-01-2010, 12:16   #4
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Best thing to do is test it yourself. Without knowing the exact jacket, those straps are usually designed to stop the jacket pulling off your body when you jump/fall into the water, or if you are too skinny for the jacket to stay on otherwise. So try jumping in from the equivalent height you'd be jumping ship from (depends on your boat) - remembering that you might be falling and unconscious, not able to grip the jacket. Try the worst-case scenario, straight body, hands in the air, etc

You also need the lifejacket to work when you're lying unconscious in the water. Try wearing the jacket with and without the strap, lying face down in the water and let yourself go limp. You want the jacket to successfully return your head above water and face up so you can breathe.

There are sample videos of lifejacket tests on you tube.

Having said all that, even if it seems to work fine without the strap, I would tie it away rather than cut it off. If you ever get in a situation when you really truly need the jacket to survive, you can always call on the extra security of that strap for some peace of mind. Assuming you're conscious and not too injured to get to it...
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Old 05-01-2010, 12:30   #5
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I wouldn't modify a life jacket. Buy one thats more comfortable.
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Old 05-01-2010, 13:17   #6
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dont cut it up! Just tactfully take it back and get a refund and go check out a Mustang. It's far more comfortable and the optional things you can get are incredible. Get a self inflator, manual inflator, with or without a harness, I guarentee if you get one that fits you, you WILL wear it and won't even know it's there.
Set up the honey with one too, matching life savers.

LOL that's what i did, and glad I did.
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Old 05-01-2010, 14:11   #7
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If you are only doing day sailing check into a white water life vest. There are types made especially for women especially important for those of us who are "fluffy" up top. These vests are designed to use the shoulder straps to pull someone out of the water and are very comfortable. We've kept ours from our river days but have since moved to the auto inflatable harness for off shore sailing. Make sure if you go that route you get the kind with the fleece around the neck. Don't forget to buy re-arming kits as well.

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Old 05-01-2010, 14:31   #8
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Only cut it if you want to limit the jackets ability to save your life.
You pick.
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Old 05-01-2010, 14:45   #9
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Keep the strap!

I recommend that you read the report written by the British Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) about the loss of yacht Ouzo.
Marine Accident Investigation: Ouzo

The 3 men aboard were found dead in the water with their lifejackets inflated. The British medical expert estimates that 2 of them died from drowning within 3 hours of entering the water because their lifejackets were not properly fitted to them and had no crotch strap. The reason is that air escaped from the clothes and the lifejacket floated high around the body, not providing effective support to keep mouth and nose out of reach of wavelets.

If you have the time, I also suggest that you read "Essentials of Sea Survival" by Frank Golden & Michael Tipton (Human Kinetics).

On my lifejackets, there is an adjustable strap that is really not a nuisance.

Alain
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Old 22-01-2010, 12:55   #10
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Regular PFDs with integral harness?

Does anyone know if you can buy a regular PFD (not the inflatable kind) with built-in harness? I like the insulation a regular PFD provides, but would love one with a built-in harness for sailing. You'd think somebody would have thought to make one, but I've searched the web high and low and haven't found one.
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Old 22-01-2010, 13:54   #11
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Originally Posted by Bohdan View Post
Does anyone know if you can buy a regular PFD (not the inflatable kind) with built-in harness? I like the insulation a regular PFD provides, but would love one with a built-in harness for sailing. You'd think somebody would have thought to make one, but I've searched the web high and low and haven't found one.
I've never heard of one. A foam pfd is not particularly strong so would not be suitable as a safety harness - you'd need a separate (or integrated) harness of strong webbed straps. Plus the foam pfds tend to restrict mobility a bit more than is usually desirable when you're trying to work on the foredeck in heavy seas.

You'd be better to get your insulation from suitable clothing layers and wear a normal harness/inflatable pfd, or you could always buy a safety harness without pfd, and wear your foam one over the top somehow...
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Old 22-01-2010, 15:41   #12
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Originally Posted by Nemo5150 View Post
Recently got a new life jacket from fiancee...not a huge wearer in the first place and this one came with an understrap. (strap between your legs) Is there much harm in cutting that strap off or just not wearing it? It's brilliantly uncomfortable and a huge inconvenience. It's a type I USCG approved jacket and seems to fit fine without. Thanks all!
Offshore racing pdf's require crotch straps. Cutting it off will likely void the USCG approval.
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Old 22-01-2010, 16:56   #13
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Never found the crotch strap uncomfortable, but I imagine it can be for overweight sailors. Still, given the body form of an overweight person I would guess they need the strap more than a slim athletic person.

What worries me is that the strap always comes in black, as it would cost the greedy capitalist anything to offer some choice, say pink, for the start.

b.
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