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Old 09-05-2006, 10:26   #1
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Looking at Offshore Inflatable Vests

I'm looking at the Mustang inflatable with harness. Supposedly its got a hydrostatic opening not just a disolvable wet pill trigger. Has anyone see, tested one of these. Are they comfortable? Do they fit well over weather gear">foul weather gear? At ~$250 a pop they are kinda pricey, but hey, it's only my life I'm thinking about here...

Thoughts? Comments?

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Old 09-05-2006, 12:11   #2
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I recently purchased another brand and support you in requiring a built in harness. I made the mistake of having a separate harness and it is uncomfortable to wear both. PS did an evaluation recently and ranked comfort in the water higher than comfort when on deck. That is backwards in my opinion since my main goal is to never have it open. Finally even deflated they interfere with your hat if the brim is very big (this is Texas after all.)
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Old 09-05-2006, 14:02   #3
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I have the manual inflatable Mustang with the harness. Mustang makes a lot of military gear and all the USGC gear. I find it comfortable . Built in harness is clearly the way to go. Adding one gets awkward as it gets tangled up in the PFD.

I also have a float coat by Mustang too. You would want a plain harness with the coat. Since my wife lost weight I also now have the shorter length jacket as well as the longer coat.

Sospenders also makes a comparable product and you might just want to try one on to see if one fits you better than the other. They are sometimes like that but otherwise very comparable.

Add a whistle and a strobe.
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Old 12-05-2006, 09:57   #4

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Mustang has very kindly reprinted a 2004 Practical Sailor review of them all, on the Mustang web site. Needless to say their products rated tops for USCG-approved.
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Old 12-05-2006, 10:16   #5
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Send a message via Skype™ to Pblais I have a float coat by them and all their stuff is built very solid. West Marine is a dealer. They make all the gear for the USGC. I have 2 coats by them too and they are very strong and can take a lot of punishment.

If you need something that will last, the coats and bibs are top notch. The dry suits are the standard to measure by. Very serious money.
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Old 15-11-2007, 06:31   #6
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This is the Inflatable PFD that we both wear....with built in harness. I can attest to them working very well....long story, maybe I'll post it in the other area about my "big stupid mistake one night in reallllllly bad seas". Anyway...I was a "bad boy" twice... forgot to change the "apsirin" according to schedule...and when I went overboard... the thought that ran through my head was "will it fire"? It did, and I didn't have to fumble with the manual release. I was rather impressed with the SOSpenders units.

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Old 15-11-2007, 08:43   #7
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We've got the sospenders too. They work great, and my fiancee's fired off once when she went in the drink. It's certainly a lot of air. I had an earlier model (sospenders) that after a few days of wearing it, the velcro would start to seperate. We traded them into WM for the newer models, and haven't had the problem since.

I've also had some issues with the previous models, where the rough nylon sits on the back of your neck. Again, for an afternoon sailing it's no biggie, but keep it there for a few days and you'll have a nasty rash on your already sun-warmed back of the neck.

Just make sure they fit properly, and you don't feel any of the material on exposed skin in your normal (not foulies) sailing clothes.

** In fact, you can see me in my current pair on my picture to the left there. Another thing that I like about those is that the spare cartridge can be removed, and I've got a handheld flare, a whistle, mirror, and some other stuff to make me feel better in my jacket.
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Old 15-11-2007, 08:51   #8

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Not changing the tablet won't cause the PFD to fail to inflate, but the opposite. The tablets crumble apart from moisture in the air--so it may inflate in a locker or on deck, leaving you with an unexpected inflation and out about $30 to replace the gas cart AND tablet. The gas carts last about forever, although you still should weigh them (on a postal scale) to check for leaks. Weights are stamped on them, usually.

On my antique Crewfit, that collar rub only bothers me in shortsleeve weather, but I finally decided that was enough. Stuck on two strips of velcro and ran a bit of silk scrap over the back, so there's no more chafe on my neck. (Something I should have figured out long long ago, duh![g])
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Old 15-11-2007, 12:41   #9
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Improper storage (dampness or high humidity), vibration, and age can all contribute to the breakdown of the water-soluble “tablet” mechanism in an automatic inflatable PFD.
It is imperative that these devices be stored in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight. All inflatables should be inspected and tested at least once a year. Your owner's manual will provide information on how to perform this inspection.

Most manufacturers recommend replacing water-soluble tablets during your one-year maintenance check, and more often in humid climates, or when exposed to damp conditions.

Guidance on the use and periodic inspection of Inflatable PFD/Life jackets

Corps tests self-inflative life jackets ~ U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Aug 2004 Engineer Update
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Old 15-11-2007, 14:02   #10
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My wife and I both have the Mustang auto-inflate with the built in harness. Mine is older with the dissolving tablet. Hers is the newer hydrostatic. Both are comfortable, hers maybe a bit better in that regard. I think they redesigned slightly with the new vests to good effect. Both fit well over foul weather gear.
Hydrostatic is also better in that the maintenance interval is greater.
The built in harness is great for hairy chested offshore work. But I find we do much of our sailing in Long Island Sound or the Block Island Sound where we do not even rig jacklines. The harness adds a lot of weight and bulk to the vests. We also have a West Marine vest without the harness. Its a lot lighter and easier to wear for inshore work.
I guess what I'm saying is that realistically for as little time as we need a harness we would have been better off to buy the vests and harnesses separately. For those who spend most of their time clipped on the single unit makes sense. If I had been more realistic about our needs we would be sailing more comfortably more of the time.
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Old 15-11-2007, 16:25   #11

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Gord, remember they don't all use tablets.<G> One reason long ago that I chose the Crewfit, is that they use a paper-mache-wrapped spring instead, rather than a tablet which is being poked by a sharp spring loaded plunger all the time.

Being an honorary Scotsman...I'll tell you it took near 20 years before that paper mache popped sometime in winter storage. (My bad, should have disarmed it over the winter.)

Mustang also has/had some using the bobbin.

The hydrostatic release is a somewhat deceptive name--it uses the regular "aspirin" tablet, but puts that mechanism in a compartment sealed by a simple flap valve, which is opened and flooded by the water pressure from light immersion. Ingenious, but not a hydrostatic release at all--just hydrostatic "protection" on the normal release.
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Old 18-01-2010, 15:43   #12
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We always carry ours back and forth to the Caribbean when we go down each winter. Last fall I inadvertently pulled the manual inflate lanyard setting off the CO2. I thought, no big deal leave the vest on the boat until we return in January and I'll bring a recharge kit. My bad! American Airlines recently (after Dec. 24th) added self inflating life vests and co2 cartridges to their restricted items list and will not allow them on the aircraft even in checked baggage. When I called American and explained that this item was exactly what they carried under each seat they just told me their was no exception. I finally got my local post office to understand what it was I needed to mail and a fiend in the BVI willing to receive it and pay the import duty for me. 10 bucks later had my recharge kit on it's way. It’s been two weeks now and It's still not there. Still keeping my fingers crossed that some postal person didn’t pull it and toss it into those black hole bins they use at security screening in the airports. So far it’s been a $40 mistake! Anyway, if you need to move your equipment with you i.e. delivery crew etc. the benefits of the vests are quickly disappearing.
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Old 18-01-2010, 16:22   #13
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I just replaced my ancient manual Mustang vest w harness with a hydrostatic harness. It is much more comfortable. Not only does it fit over my foulies, it does not rub my neck as the old one did.

RHoodJr - thanks for the info on AA's policy. I am going down to the BVI's next month. I guess I will use the boats pfd's
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Old 18-01-2010, 17:58   #14

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" It’s been two weeks now and It's still not there." If it gets intercepted, you may have a problem. I think gas cartridges are supposed to ship as HazMat which means ground shipping--which doesn't go into aircraft with overseas mail. Catch-22. The airlines are SUPPOSED to allow this stuff, the FAA expressly makes an exemption for "life saving equipment" including gas carts under a certain reasonable size, and UN treaties also require allowing it on board.

Ironically, the only way you may be able to get a simple life vest on board, is to break past the TSA agent and hijack the aircraft. OK, if that's what they require...(sigh)

The Mustang products are a bit misleading. The only "hydrostatic" part of them is a spring-loaded cover that prevents water from reaching the old-fashioned tablet until it has been submerged to a small depth. In theory this prevents humidity and spray from reaching the tablet, but it is nothing like a true hydrostatic "release", i.e. where water pressure itself would physically trigger activation.
Apparently they've made good progress is rounding off the damned neck, though. I give them credit for that.
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