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Old 27-08-2009, 13:18   #1
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Integrated Harness with PFD

I am getting a new auto/manual PFD and trying to decide if I should go for the one with the integrated harness. I like that they are always available and more likely to be used - versus - they are always on you.

I saw an example at West Marine yesterday while "browsing" . I will sail 90% on the Chesapeake Bay - blue water 10% but I am of the belief you either wear one or don't bother. So, I always wear one. (The 8 year-old will ensure this.)

So...
1. Integrated or not ?
2. Any experience Good/Bad with this vest? (WM Model #: 9412677)
3. Thoughts on an extra $100 to go hydrostatic? I found a Hydrostatic Mustang for $225 with integrated harness.
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Old 27-08-2009, 15:53   #2
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Yes, No and Yes.

The integrated harness is the greatest thing. Hydrostatic activation too, because it is a big chance you are unconscious when going overboard (knocked out by boom etc.)

We use the German SecuMar vests for almost 10 years now and it's great. I would prefer those above any other brand by the way.

Also: fit them before buying or ask if you can return for different size.

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 27-08-2009, 16:10   #3
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Mine is hydrostatic with harness. Issues:

- I need another harness for the times when it is too safe / hot to use the pfd,
- I wonder what happens if I go overboard and it blows up and I have to swim a couple of yards to reach the rail ???

b.
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Old 27-08-2009, 16:48   #4
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Get the hydrostatic with the harness.
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Old 27-08-2009, 17:20   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
Mine is hydrostatic with harness. Issues:

- I need another harness for the times when it is too safe / hot to use the pfd,
- I wonder what happens if I go overboard and it blows up and I have to swim a couple of yards to reach the rail ???

b.
When it is safe, I don't use a harness either, but we have some simple ones around. The back and neck-piece of my vest is lined with fleece, which is very comfortable even when it is hot and on bare skin.

When it blows up... you swim the backstroke!

ciao!
Nick.
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Old 27-08-2009, 17:52   #6
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There are two types of auto-inflatable PFDs, the ones with the dissolving bobbin actuator, and the "hydrostatic" type which use some sort of pressure sensor to actuate. Both types use a CO2 cylinder (plus a backup "jerk to inflate" cord and a manual inflation tube).

The bobbin-type PFDs are somewhat prone to accidental inflation, caused by a good dousing from an errant wave, or as the bobbin gradually softens due to humidity and age. The hydrostatic ones require a few inches of submersion, and are triggered by the water pressure. These are supposed to be just as reliable, but not as prone to accidental activation.

I currently have the Mustang hydrostatic type with built-in harness, and am very happy with them. I previously used the bobbin-type (with harness) sold by West Marine and had no problems with accidental activation, but we have a pretty dry boat and I replaced the bobbins annually. The Mustang design is more comfortable than the older West Marine unit, especially around the neck, but I believe that the WM design has been improved in this regard.

Either of these do give you interesting tan-lines.

Spinlock has what I am told is a very nice auto-inflate PFD. It may not have U.S. Coast Guard certification, but when I last checked it had the appropriate European certs.

Having the built-in harness is a great feature, and other than a slight extra cost I can think of no downside.
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