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Old 21-03-2016, 16:54   #1
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Using breathing aparatus instead of escape hatches?

I was discussing on another thread how to free-up corroded escape hatches that had become stuck. On my cat, even though I maintain the escape hatches, the handles are notoriously difficult to open. I suspect that if faced with the unfortunate situation where my life depended upon it, I would find the strength but the possibility got me thinking about these;

'Spare Air' is a small portable all-in-one breathing scuba tank available in many places for around $200. A couple of these placed strategically low in the boat as a back-up to the escape hatches would allow peace of mind and possibly allow me to climb in and out of an upturned hull. (As well as being useful for other stuff).

I know that the mono owners will have a giggle at the thought of owning an upturned boat but any thoughts?

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Old 21-03-2016, 17:07   #2
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Re: Using breathing aparatus instead of escape hatches?

I think anything that makes a guy more comfortable aboard, feel safer and more confident is worth twice whatever the cost was.

oh ya, I drive a mono, don't hold it against me? LOL
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Old 21-03-2016, 17:17   #3
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Re: Using breathing aparatus instead of escape hatches?

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Originally Posted by Privilege View Post
I know that the mono owners will have a giggle at the thought of owning an upturned boat
Mono's can turtle too ...

I never even knew these things existed. Might come in handy, regardless of right side up or not.

*off to google the tanks a bit more*
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Old 21-03-2016, 17:55   #4
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Using breathing aparatus instead of escape hatches?

Spare Air has been around for a long time, and they work.
When flying over water in a helicopter we wore one on our vest, we called them HEEDS bottles for helicopter emergency something or another. Depending on depth of course they give you about 5 min of air, much less if your scared of course.
Takes a while to get used to breathing without holding your nose as water gets in your nose / sinus but during training we weren't allowed to pinch off our nose so we had both hands to get out of the helicopter.


Found it
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heli...eathing_Device


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Old 21-03-2016, 18:02   #5
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Re: Using breathing aparatus instead of escape hatches?

There also good for untangling fishing line that gets around the prop, and rudders
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Old 21-03-2016, 19:03   #6
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Re: Using breathing aparatus instead of escape hatches?

Having a Plan B may be wise, but... it also may complicate things for some people. Especially if it has multiple steps. Here's why:

Regardless of who they are, & what their training is/was. When people are trapped underwater, or just under duress in the water. And, or, they're disoriented. A large percentage of them simply cannot perform simple, let alone complex tasks. Including using Spare Air bottles, or other tools.
Let alone stopping, & thinking clearly enough to go & find such items.

This happens in warm, clear water, with good lighting. In environments where people "know" that they are "safe". And that there are rescue divers only feet away.

It's a biological reflex, which in some people simply cannot be unwired. And I saw it plenty, both in Navy Dive School, & during Pilot/Air Crew Escape Training. Which is given to all those who were candidates to work in over water aircraft.
Though I cannot recall the percentages of those who consistently freak out in such situations. However, it isn't low, by any means.

When it hits people, they can't think or function, regardless of how you try to help them. Even when you forcibly try to give them an air source in such a situation. Nor sometimes will they share/relinquish it, if you can get them to take it.

So I don't know if giving people several things to try & think their way through in such an emergency would be especially helpful.


Another option would be to put both; a Crowbar, & a 3lb Shorty Sledge Hammer, near each hatch. After painting both with neon paint, plus putting some SOLAS reflective tape on them. And attaching lanyards to both.

That way, people have a definitive, KISS way to get out, via the hatch. As opposed to having to stop, chill out, & shift into Frogman mode, if the hatch is jammed.


If you do go the Spare Air route. I'd suggest fitting the Spare Air Bottles with a semi-flexible, webbing grip strap. One that's aligned along the bottle's primary gripping axis.
That way the units are Much easier to hold onto, without dropping them. And, also add a lanyard with a carabiner on them too. So that once you're outside, the bottles don't get lost. In case you need go go back inside for something, or someone.

Plus, make sure that next to each Air Bottle you have;
- a powerful, Waterproof Flashlight with a wrist lanyard, plus a Chem Light or three.
- a Sharp, Serrated, folding Rigging Knife (two's better) with a lanyard, & sheath.
- a Dive Mask.
Especially considering that there Will be Oil (& other caustic agents) in the water. And it really burns your eyes, thus wrecking your vision.
Plus, the ship's batteries may be producing (chlorine) gas, & leaking it into the air pockets inside of the boat. Again, screwing up your vision, amongst other things.
And, of course, there will be debris & lines to navigate one's way though (BTDT). So the mask will definitely help with that.

Also, put all of the tools onto a wide, easy to adjust, webbing belt. Stiffened for a good portion of it's circumference with Scuba webbing. And include pouches on it for the mask, & the Spare Air bottle too.

Plus, it would make sense to have these tools next to each hatch, regardless of whether or not you decide to install the Spare Air bottles in the boat.
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Old 21-03-2016, 19:34   #7
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Re: Using breathing aparatus instead of escape hatches?

Thanks, some good points I hadn't considered. A wealth of information as always.
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Old 22-03-2016, 01:50   #8
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Re: Using breathing aparatus instead of escape hatches?

Put in some LED emergency lights with mercury switches so they turn on when your cat goes upside down.


If your locking dogs keep seizing up you may be better off using eyelets and lashings which can be cut with a knife to hold the hatches closed.
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Old 22-03-2016, 03:55   #9
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Re: Using breathing aparatus instead of escape hatches?

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Spare Air has been around for a long time, and they work.
When flying over water in a helicopter we wore one on our vest, we called them HEEDS bottles for helicopter emergency something or another. Depending on depth of course they give you about 5 min of air, much less if your scared of course.
Takes a while to get used to breathing without holding your nose as water gets in your nose / sinus but during training we weren't allowed to pinch off our nose so we had both hands to get out of the helicopter.


Found it
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heli...eathing_Device


Sent from my iPad Pro using Cruisers Sailing Forum
I would have to say I am surprised at your estimate of 5 mins. I have used both the small and the large Spare Airs for 17 years, diving, freediving (as a "reserve chute" type escape option if tangled or entering a cavern) and also keep a larger one by the companionway for vessel egress, casualty evac in a vapour/smoke type situation or other general emegency. I do think they are useful, but I really don't think we should give a false impression that they will be able to facilitate self rescue to just anyone. I don't know what the OP's skills and experience are, but being suddenly inverted in a floating solid object soup, likely in the dark, I would have recommended a pony bottle rather than something as small as a spare air. I think, as you do hint, that a panicked person with average snorkelling skills and not a freediver would likely breathe it all out far too quickly for successful egress, let alone rescue anyone else…

Buy one for sure, but test it again and again. Try crawling from the extemities of your boat to the deck and back again, to simulate. Swim a corner to corner to corner circuit of your vessel using only the unit. Breathe it out with repeated, deep breaths and count how many and how long. Then consider… A small pony bottle may well be far superior and there is also the Mini B range of systems.
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Old 22-03-2016, 05:28   #10
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Re: Using breathing aparatus instead of escape hatches?

The 5 min was the number we were given, based I assume maybe on being able to hold your breath for two.
But I think the idea was you have 5 min to live, course in 5 min aircraft would probably be at 300 ' descending fast, who knows. 5 min is a heck of a long time, and that was 15 yrs or so ago, maybe they said 3 min.
It was enough to get you out of a helicopter. I did egress training a couple of times, the one in NAS Jax was a utility helicopter sized thing with several seats so they put several of us in it, being very comfortable in the water, I would sit back and watch the charades as several people would try to fit though the door, reminded me of the three stooges.

I don't know squat about Cats, but seeing as how they do seem to float for long times, one assumes there is a lot of trapped air, if so then if your in that air pocket, you have or should have quite a long time to come up with a plan?
It's not like a sinking helicopter where you best get out in a hurry.


Scuba wise, spare air is a joke, waste of money in my opinion, but they sure do sell a lot of them
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Old 22-03-2016, 11:00   #11
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Re: Using breathing aparatus instead of escape hatches?

Don't be below in weather conditions where you might turtle. I should think there would be enough captive air to get enough gulps to swim out? JMHO is escape hatches are a marketing thing?
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Old 22-03-2016, 11:09   #12
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Re: Using breathing aparatus instead of escape hatches?

This might also be useful in a fire to avoid inhaling the smoke and toxic fumes...
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Old 22-03-2016, 11:12   #13
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Re: Using breathing aparatus instead of escape hatches?

How frequently would you have to change the air in a pony bottle or spare air bottle kept for these purposes?
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Old 22-03-2016, 11:30   #14
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Re: Using breathing aparatus instead of escape hatches?

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How frequently would you have to change the air in a pony bottle or spare air bottle kept for these purposes?

Air or compressed gas will escape from a tank, but I believe it takes years to get low enough to matter, the "spare air" tanks can be re-charged from a Scuba tank if you have the hose.
I've got fifteen to twenty Scuba tanks, some like my Daughter's aluminum 60's that haven't been used for a couple of years and are still I believe at 3,000 PSI.
I use one for airing up the tires in my little airplane and it hasn't lost any appreciable pressure in a couple of years.
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Old 22-03-2016, 11:33   #15
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Re: Using breathing aparatus instead of escape hatches?

For a fire the Air Force gave us I swear what looked like turkey baster bags to wear over our heads to escape the smoke and fumes while evacuating. like this
PROVITA SMOKE HOOD from Aircraft Spruce

kinda funny huh?
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