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Old 06-19-2017, 05:52 PM   #1
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Life Jackets

I'm in the market to replace 4 auto inflate life jackets. I always keep a jacket handy for everyone on the fly bridge. Since I was alone up top I had one auto inflate jacket on a seat. The next day when I went up top the jacket was inflated. And no, it did not get wet. Fast forward to yesterday. I went up top to find that another of the life jackets had inflated and actually lifted the seat it was stored under in the air!

I called Mustang Survival and they told me that when they reach 10 years old they should be replaced as the material degrades. Also said that high humidity could trigger the jacket to inflate if it is old and the bobbins had not been replaced. These are about 8-years old and the bobbins about 4-years old.

So, my question is, do I replace them with a high quality offshore jacket or with new auto inflate jackets? We cruise the ICW, make ocean passages and live aboard. What do you use?
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Old 06-19-2017, 06:08 PM   #2
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Do you wear them all the time, or just put them on when things get ...interesting ? If you wear them all the time, I'd go with the inflatables, otherwise I'd get non inflatables.
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Old 06-19-2017, 07:10 PM   #3
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We only where them when things get dicey although I wear one whenever I'm on the dinghy alone.
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Old 06-19-2017, 07:35 PM   #4
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We only where them when things get dicey although I wear one whenever I'm on the dinghy alone.
Dicey inshore or offshore?
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Old 06-19-2017, 07:40 PM   #5
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Dicey inshore or offshore?
That's an interesting question. I would say mostly offshore and I include Delaware Bay in that. I hate that body of water.
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Old 06-19-2017, 08:05 PM   #6
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Timely question as I have been thinking about this.

For Open Waters down here you need Type I or Type II, and I have 18 on board of which 11 are inflatable. But 6 are old kapok ones, and I'm thinking of replacing or supplementing those with several Type 1's. I keep 5 inflatable units stowed in the tender. I also have some 2 child jackets and some ski vests.

I seldom wear one, even on the tender if only a short trip.
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Old 06-19-2017, 08:51 PM   #7
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For off shore use when I teach CG boating classes I suggest type one jacket not inflatable. The only strong point of the inflatable is they are more comfortable and may be worn more. Inflatables are not as reliable and need maintenance. If you are not wearing it and grab it on the way in you will not be able to get it on in the water and that is why on boarding if not being worn the inflatable will not count as a PFD.
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Old 06-19-2017, 09:52 PM   #8
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We only where them when things get dicey although I wear one whenever I'm on the dinghy alone.


Is that so you can have spectators when you drown?
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Old 06-20-2017, 06:45 AM   #9
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I believe there are inflatables now certified as type II and III. They have more buoyancy than even type I offshore jackets. With the type certification I guess they don't have to be worn to count.

I also have found them to be of no maintenance on a trawler if handled and stored well. Mine get hung up in their storage bags and look better than all my other jackets.

The old style with bobbins needed them replaced every once and awhile, if kept in low humidity, mine have lasted 5 years, probably time.

My jackets have the type V certification but are approved IIs as long as the integral harness isn't being used... I explained that to the last boarding team and they accepted my explanation.

Not sure all boarding teams will understand as there is still a lot of misinformation out there, especially in the field. Can't blame them as the whole approval of inflatables for recreational, commercial, harness or not, auto or manual, which manufacturer, etc has no clear cut, simple chart. Yes the label on the jacket should be clear....but mine has the "but" clause that while an approved V, as long as used IAW the owners manual, it is an approved type II. Confusing unless you have done the research I have.
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Old 06-20-2017, 07:14 AM   #10
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I have both types on board. Mostly wear the inflatable which has a separate strobe and PLB. Have non inflatables for guests, keep USCG happy, and to have a backup in case I had an issue with the inflatable.

BTW, servicing the auto inflate is cheap in boating costs and should be done on a PM schedule, not when it fails.

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Old 06-20-2017, 07:52 AM   #11
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Correct Ted, a couple minutes of PM per or every couple years is wise.

Sorry for glossing over a small price of ownership compared to their real value.
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Old 06-20-2017, 09:26 AM   #12
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Quote:
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I always keep a jacket handy for everyone on the fly bridge.
So, only for those on the fly bridge? Those elsewhere on the boat don't count?
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Old 06-20-2017, 10:30 AM   #13
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I keep type 3 jackets (the kind the jet ski riders wear) they are comfortable, and I encourage quests to wear them when they go swimming for the first time. I also have 2 float coats for cold weather they are also type 3.
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Old 06-20-2017, 12:45 PM   #14
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Are there newer inflatables that do not have bobbins?
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Old 06-20-2017, 01:13 PM   #15
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The new inflatables require that the bobbin get replaced every three years. The inflator can go forever if it has not been damaged. The pfd should be inspected every year. The best way to do that is to orally inflate the pfd and let it sit for 24 hrs. If still inflated, then deflate and repack. If not, replace.

We have four inflatables on board and require pfds on anyone not below while docking, handling lines etc. Probably have 12 or more regular pfds in addition to the inflatables, and the inflatables are the 35lbs lift version (offshore).

The main advantage to inflatables is that people will wear them more often and longer than standard pfd's, thus they are more likely to have them on when things go wrong.
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Old 06-20-2017, 03:30 PM   #16
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Yes, bobbins are the older tech, hydrostatic inflators are relatively new.
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Old 06-20-2017, 05:51 PM   #17
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I use the manually activated SOSPenders. When sailing, they're on during small craft warnings or when I go forward. I snap in to jack line when forward. On the trawler, I use them in the dinghy, or during entry/exit in inlet where conditions are sketchy. Two are adjusted for my wife and I and have crotch straps. I have extra's for guests.

I also have a west marine bag of 4 stored under a locker, a Lifesling, and a valise coastal liferaft. Seems like a boat sinks every week in NE area.
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Old 06-20-2017, 07:52 PM   #18
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In the sixties when a teenager, I worked on the foredeck handling sail changes and spinnaker pole on my Dad's 28-foot sloop, with no railings and without a worn lifejacket.
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Old 06-20-2017, 08:13 PM   #19
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We have four Mustang hydrostatic inflatables. Model 3183. Type 2 for recreational use. Everyone wears a PFD when they are out on deck when the boat is under way, in the dinghy, in the kayaks, etc.
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Old 06-20-2017, 08:30 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eyschulman View Post
For off shore use when I teach CG boating classes I suggest type one jacket not inflatable. The only strong point of the inflatable is they are more comfortable and may be worn more. Inflatables are not as reliable and need maintenance. If you are not wearing it and grab it on the way in you will not be able to get it on in the water and that is why on boarding if not being worn the inflatable will not count as a PFD.
Eyschulman,

Yes, one can put on a non inflatable life jacket in the water. I've done it many times, but one has to learn how to "roll" into it.

I'm not a huge fan of wearing life jackets on a boat. Most of them are hot and uncomfortable. But will don one if conditions require it, and I require them outside for anyone under 18 or can't swim or some lady who is really good looking if they are on my boat.

I have inflatables and non inflatables, both have their goods and bads. But if I had to wear one all the time, I'd give up boating. Risk vs. benefit and I'll live with it.

But I do occasionally train for the unexpected and it can be an eye opener.
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