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-   -   Automatic or Manual life vest? (https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f122/automatic-or-manual-life-vest-237865.html)

Mike OReilly 02-08-2020 12:16

Re: Automatic or Manual life vest?
 
Another vote for auto. I figure one of the main reasons I might fall in is due to a head injury (moving boom, slapping lines, slip and fall). In those cases I may be incapacitated, so auto makes sense.

I've never had it go off in weather or big green seas coming over the side. I did have an accidental inflation once, that that was when I was stepping off a friend's boat, and my manual pull-tab got grabbed by the stanchion. Nice to see how quickly it inflated :redface:.

IslandInfedel 02-08-2020 12:53

Re: Automatic or Manual life vest?
 
Get one where you can select auto or manual.

If Iím below decks itís manual, if Iím docking itís manual, a inflated life jacket in the wrong situation can kill you just as dead as no life jacket.

copaco 02-08-2020 13:58

Re: Automatic or Manual life vest?
 
I don't want to mention the name since the compagny examined and sent me the jacket with an extra inflator.I fell overboard and the vest inflated about 30 minutes later on the dock.The first time you fall in, you don't think of pulling on the manual handel.I will still use but remember this.Some will not wear auto from experience.

IslandInfedel 02-08-2020 14:00

Re: Automatic or Manual life vest?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by copaco (Post 3200079)
I don't want to mention the name since the compagny examined and sent me the jacket with an extra inflator.I fell overboard and the vest inflated about 30 minutes later on the dock.The first time you fall in, you don't think of pulling on the manual handel.I will still use but remember this.Some will not wear auto from experience.

Same with HUET training

jmschmidt 02-08-2020 14:58

Re: Automatic or Manual life vest?
 
You can buy models which are convertible between auto and manual inflate. I have two of them. I talked to a guy who had just finished the Transpac race who told me his auto inflated three or four time when tank slapper waves broke over the boat. He was down to his last cartridge.

We got hit by a fast moving cold front squall once crossing the Gulf of Mexico (72knots of wind indicated) with waves breaking over the boat every couple of minutes. I had to go forward to the mast to lower a broken mainsail when boom vang broke. Took me about a half hour. Glad I had my manual inflate vest on.

Nicholson58 02-08-2020 15:03

Re: Automatic or Manual life vest?
 
Auto but only with hydrostatic trigger. I’ve had three accidental inflations with water activated units. The last one was in severe conditions when the tight horse collar made things difficult. Each accidental inflation costs a lot to re-arm. Cartridges are not available in many countries. I’ve never had any issues with a hydrostatic unit.

Check on the cost and availability of cartridges before you buy. Carry spares.

IslandInfedel 02-08-2020 15:09

Re: Automatic or Manual life vest?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Nicholson58 (Post 3200134)
Auto but only with hydrostatic trigger. Iíve had three accidental inflations with water activated units. The last one was in severe conditions when the tight horse collar made things difficult. Each accidental inflation costs a lot to re-arm. Cartridges are not available in many countries. Iíve never had any issues with a hydrostatic unit.

Check on the cost and availability of cartridges before you buy. Carry spares.


Also a great reason to ALWAYS have a knife on you

https://www.boyeknives.com/

CarinaPDX 02-08-2020 15:23

Re: Automatic or Manual life vest?
 
I think the consensus is clear: buy an automatic inflating vest. But make sure it is using a hydrostatic trigger, not one that works by dissolving salt (or whatever it is). I have had unwanted inflations with the salt type, mostly just scary when they pop open in the middle of a quiet night's sleep (I pretty much had to scrape one crew off the overhead after one such experience). Maintenance requires replacing the salt bobbins regularly, which few people do, but if the bobbins aren't stored in a dry place (on a cruising boat?) then the replacement may not be much better. Of course inflating at the wrong time can cause difficulties and even be dangerous. Currently I have mine converted to manual inflate until I decide to buy proper hydrostatic vests.

Whatever you buy you need to carry spares of both the disposable inflation mechanism and the gas cartridges. Do not assume that you will be able to buy replacement cartridges everywhere. I bought my vests in the US and the cartridges have Imperial threads - which are simply not available in Europe. So I ended up buying complete metric replacements for the inflators and cartridges while in Europe. And for reasons that are beyond my ken the airlines do not want you carrying these cartridges around, although I think they are being a bit more flexible lately.

You do not have to pay a fortune for these cartridges through the vest manufacturer and marine outlets. They are available at very reasonable prices from online sources at least. It used to be that at least some manufacturers sold the replacement parts separately from the cartridges, and there are limits to the price of a tiny plastic part, but it seems common now to bundle them together at a very high price. So as part of shopping for a new vest take a look at the parts cost, and in fact buy at least one or two recharge kits at the same time.

Greg

clarkey 02-08-2020 16:19

Re: Automatic or Manual life vest?
 
Good subject, in saying that does anyone suggest a better unit over another?
Clarkey

Sailor279 02-08-2020 17:03

Re: Automatic or Manual life vest?
 
Iíve never considered anything other than an Auto. If you select a hydrostatic you should not have problems with accidental inflation as they are designed to inflate at a depth 3 feet or more. Look for one thatís streamlined to limit snags with a comfortable collar.

Definitely add a crotch strap as your vest will rise up above your head when inflated. Without a strap, your head is below water while the vest floats safely above...not good.

If you expect to be in weather, always carry a rearming kit and spare CO2 cartridge(s). I frequently (well, before Covid) fly to the East coast to race and each airline has its own rules for CO2 cartridge, so check with your carrier. AA allows only in checked bags, not carryon.

Highly recommend: TEST IT OUT and get familiar with how it operates. Inflate it yourself and better yet, try it in water. At the 2-day Safety at Sea seminars I attended (again, pre-Covid), you jump in with full foulies, boots and vest. I didnít want to waste a cartridge, so I manually inflated the vestó this took just a few puffs to get to maxó but I am healthy and was prepared. I was surprised how buoyant I was with just foulies, floating on back.

My next vest will def include a spray hood, too! Amazon has a good selection including Mustang and Spinlock. Make sure you get the right size!

Mike OReilly 02-08-2020 17:09

Re: Automatic or Manual life vest?
 
I too would be interested in any specific recommendations people have for new auto-inflates. We're still using an early generation of the Mustang. They must be over 15 years old now. They've been fine, but the newer ones look even more comfortable.

My requirement would be

- 3-way inflate (hydrostatic, manual pull, manual inflate),
- comfortable fit,
- crotch strap,

nice would be included whistle and strobe, but those can be added.

Statistical 02-08-2020 17:31

Re: Automatic or Manual life vest?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Mike OReilly (Post 3200209)
I too would be interested in any specific recommendations people have for new auto-inflates. We're still using an early generation of the Mustang. They must be over 15 years old now. They've been fine, but the newer ones look even more comfortable.

My requirement would be

- 3-way inflate (hydrostatic, manual pull, manual inflate),
- comfortable fit,
- crotch strap,

nice would be included whistle and strobe, but those can be added.

I like my Crewsaver Ergofit. It has 3 way inflation, is comfortable at least for me and has a crotch strap, light, and spray hood. It also was on sale for <$200 (Ergofit 190N OS Hammar). Still I think any modern model with hydrostatic release by any major OEM is probably fine. The HRUs are all made by Hamarr regardless of the vest brand. Hamarr also makes most of the HRUs for lifeboats and EPIRBs too.

Tillsbury 02-08-2020 17:53

Re: Automatic or Manual life vest?
 
I'm happy with the ones I have at the moment (small and comfortable Lalizas 190N with harness), but when they get replaced I'll be getting one of the modern ones with a quick-release that means you get dragged through the sea backwards rather than forwards. Look for those.

Jammer 02-08-2020 18:04

Re: Automatic or Manual life vest?
 
I'm going against the consensus here. I have a manual-inflate vest. I like it. I would not have an auto. Which one is right depends on the waters you are in and your swimming ability.


I have ended up in the water on two occasions with the vest on, both while canoeing. The vest didn't inflate and I swam to shore. No need to purchase a rearming kit and no balloons to interfere with what I was doing. Yet the vest was there if I needed it.

contrail 02-08-2020 18:36

Re: Automatic or Manual life vest?
 
Can't imagine anything but an auto inflating model. However, check them out on a regular basis. I had a top of the line one (brand mentioned in this thread) that was so comfortable that I could sleep in it. Handy, because I was almost always singlehanding. The one time I might really have needed it (winds over 60 for three hours, with waves to match), but didn't, I rinsed it off afterward and inflated it and, one whole seam had rotted away. If I had needed it, I would have been a goner. I took very good care of this top of the line vest (would definitely buy another), but it eventually gave way. Check them frequently.


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