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Old 20-09-2009, 17:19   #1
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What Makes a Good PFD ?

I have searched and read and not come up with a solid answer.
I read about lbs of boyancy, infatable vs non inflatable vs auto inflatable.
I have to be realistic, I likely wont wear it all the time, when the weather is foul or the water rough then I would wear it. What would be adavantageous of a inflatable vs something like this?

West Marine: "Merchant Mate II" Flotation Vest Product Display 710 1823&Ne=1822&Ntt=pfd&Ntk=Primary Search&Ntx=mode matchallpartial&Nao=0&Ns=0&keyword=pfd&isLTokenURL =true&storeNum=8&subdeptNum=106&classNum=158

inflatable life vest seems scary, hit the water and pull a cord and nothing happens.............
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Old 20-09-2009, 17:41   #2
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how to choose a pfd - Google Search

How to choose a PFD. 43,500 hits in English on Google.
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Old 20-09-2009, 18:20   #3
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Comfort with reliability and an integral harness...

I wore the same self-inflating PFD with integral harness for 8 years and 20,000 sea miles. I knew it worked because every year or so the capsule would disintegrate and the thing would inflate in places like the local pub...always wear one in the dinghy in the UK when returning from the pub. It finally disintegrated and since then I have not found one as comfortable.

It needs to be one that becomes part of you...and not an uncomfortable inconvenience like my newest high tech Spinlock.
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Old 20-09-2009, 18:26   #4
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Presuming that you mean open water sailing and are of average build...

All vests must be worn to be useful. It seems obvious, but everything is a tradeoff. Getting someone to wear a Type I PFD during light winds and 85 degree temperature is going to be hard. We all know we should, we know anything could happen but most people will take them off. Inflatables became popular because they are comfortable and people tend to wear them (or at least have less of an excuse not to do so). As you said, you are unlikely to wear one in anything but bad weather. Think of a PFD like a seat belt, if you only put it on in bad weather, you would reduce deaths but not nearly as much as when you do it all the time.

If you only wear it in bad weather, then a Type I is going to be your best bet. Nothing to fail and once on, you are going to float. Floating is different than not drowning. Not drowning requires that if you get knocked out while going overboard, your PFD brings you face up. Not all Type I will do that, but many Inflatables will. However, a lot of factors (beyond weight) make a big difference in whether you will be face up and floating. If you are not of average build - then a test run is going to be your only certainty.

Here is the USCG FAQ on this topic: USCG: PFD Selection, Use, Wear & Care of PFDs
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Old 21-09-2009, 21:01   #5
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Think the type 1 is gonna work for me for now. Thanks
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Old 21-09-2009, 22:41   #6
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I... I likely wont wear it all the time, ...
I think that's part of your answer right there. Something that is more comfortable and interferes less with movement will likely be worn more often. Certainly anything inflatable has a bit more risk of failure, but given that it only takes a few seconds to inflate by mouth, that risk seems minimal to me.
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Old 22-09-2009, 00:59   #7
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When I singlehand I wear a self-inflating vest with harness whenever I leave the cockpit. I also wear a belt-mounted inflatable vest at all times. It's better than nothing and I keep a few flares and a portable VHF in a pouch on the belt. If I go in while alone, I want to have a chance at surviving.

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Old 22-09-2009, 14:55   #8
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Relliability,
Comfort,
Serviceability,
Harness, unless you wear an independent one.

I have auto but considering converting it to manual (or getting my next one a manual) - because I fear the moment I go overboard or I have to go overboard and it puffs up making any swimming impossible. I know the risk is I go overboard AND unconscious, but I prefer this to becoming incapacitated by the otherwise most useful device.

b.
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Old 25-09-2009, 04:01   #9
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There are certain things that they MUST do:
1. Inflate
2. Hold the wearer's head out of the water
3. Turn an unconsious wearer from a face down position to lying on their back

When my local yacht club runs its annual SOLAS courses, its surprising to see how many don't actually pass these three basic tests. Either through lack of maintenance, poor fit, poor design etc.

Hoods and leg straps are good to haves (legstraps are requirements for most offshore races these days)

and of course, that ring in the front - use that and you won't need the lifejacket
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Old 25-09-2009, 05:17   #10
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After trying on a regular type one (and wearing it around west marine for about 15 minutes,) then doing the same with a offshore inflatable I think I may be sold on the inflatable. I like the idea of having a harness bulit in to the jacket as well. Still scary what if it doesnt inflate? Any body ever caught the manual pull and had a accidental deployment?
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Old 25-09-2009, 07:35   #11
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I will never ever ever wear a self inflating jacket - got a couple of manual inflaters and like them, and got a vest style PFD1 and like it as well, but never ever ever will wear a self inflater.
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Old 25-09-2009, 11:43   #12
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I will never ever ever wear a self inflating jacket - got a couple of manual inflaters and like them, and got a vest style PFD1 and like it as well, but never ever ever will wear a self inflater.
Why is that? If you have had trouble with accidental inflation, the newer hydrostatic designs are quite bulletproof. If it is some other reason, please share!
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Old 25-09-2009, 12:11   #13
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Any body ever caught the manual pull and had a accidental deployment?

Uh, yes But first, let me explain. We bought comfortable vests, and try to make it a rule to wear them anytime underway or in the dinghy. So, we are used to wearing them.

Not realizing I had the vest on, I stuck my head between the lifelines to help secure a visiting dinghy, and snagged the cord. Yep, inflated right there, trapping me between the lifelines. Much to the amusement of my wife and arriving guests.
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Old 25-09-2009, 13:32   #14
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I think it comes down to a compromise between safety and comfort. On the research boat I do not count the inflatables as work vests or life jackets because there is not a 100% certainty that they will float when needed.
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Old 25-09-2009, 17:27   #15
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Yes, the manual pull string on a jacket can foul on something and accidentally inflate the jacket. As sailors we learn that ANYTHING that has strings or dangles on it does not belong on a boat, for just that reason. Scarves, dangly earrings, long hair...I've got nothing against "pretty" but I'd rather not deal with amputations. Enjoy what you wear, just be aware that when you are ON a sailboat you are IN a machine full of moving parts.

So the manual inflation cord on my PFD, like the one on my diving BC, is tucked way up behind the pocket and there's a bit of velcro to make sure the pocket stays flat and the string can't get out unless I'm trying to reach it.

Converting an automatic inflator to manual is easy: Just pull the string, trip it, and deflate it again, leaving the spent cartridge in place to seal the system. You can always seal it or cap it other ways, but that will always work. (I'd put some grease on the needle first, so it does't corrode in case you ever want to use it again.)

Do I trust my automatic to inflate all the time? Hell no. If I'm concious when I go overboard, I can deal with finding a way to float. But if I've been kissed by the boom and go unconcious ?! That unreliable automatic inflation and PFD might, just might, keep me from drowning. to me that's sweetening the odds "enough", because a Type1 is just not going to be worn all the time, and a type3 isn't going to get my face out of the water.

If you work on the water, odds are your employer follows a USCG/OSHA requirement for one of the Type1 vests and you have to wear the damn thing anyhow. For those of us who are allowed a bit more freedom...Might as well enjoy it.
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