Rearming an inflatable PFD

The friendliest place on the web for anyone who enjoys boating.
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.

Cargile

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2022
Messages
191
Vessel Name
Quasimodo
Vessel Make
Cargile Cutter
I have maybe 1/2 dozen clunky/gumby West Marine life vests on board. We do not wear them underway. I am considering inflatable vests. If I remember correctly neither the Admiral nor I has accidentally gone overboard in 30 years of boating. As age advances I think wearing an inflatable would be comfortable and prudent. Question: level of difficulty and cost to rearm an inflatable vest Thanks.
 
Rearming an inflatable life jacket is easy and a kit is about $49. I suggest buying the appropriate kit at the same time as the life jackets have the right kits on hand. We wear ours any time the weather is getting frisky, while docking and when in the dinghy. Annual maintenance is prudent. Ours get inflated by mouth and left for a day to insure no leaks. After 30 years of using inflatable life jackets I have only had them go off twice. Both times were while not being worn.
 
Re-arming is not difficult. There is some difference in the comfort of various models, so you might try a few on. Also, some have a D-ring for attaching either a safety line when aboard or a MOB line to the vessel if a person is in the water. If you can't (or your spouse can't) get another out of the water, a safety line keeping the person near the vessel until assistance arrives is something to consider. Some have a strong enough D-ring (and vest design) to allow the use of the D-ring with a lifting strap. Fewer designs have a tag line that floats free to make it easier to catch that line with the boat hook if the person is incapacitated or having difficulty getting close to the vessel.

The little "Alka-Seltzer" tablets are effected by humidity. They may last several years on your boat, but when they pop off you will need to replace the Co2 cartridge, the indicator tab, and the tablet. It is much cheaper to routinely change out the tablet after examining it every season. Spare tablets aboard need to be in a sealed container like a little jar, preferably with a moisture absorber (the little sachet that says "Don't Eat This" that we usually throw away).

Another thing that you might consider is actually testing the vest. Not only to see if it works, but to acquaint yourself with its actual use. Watching a YouTube video goes only so far. For the waist belt versions, you need to thread your head through the horse collar. They tend to pop open in an alarming way. If it doesn't, you need to understand the manual inflate tube. All something that can be worth playing in the pool and spending $25 to rearm. Don't have your own pool? Every lifeguard I've ever spoken with about testing has been very receptive to using their pool to learn about PFDs. You will likely draw a crowd.
 
I would think carefully before getting re-arm kits at the time of purchase of the vest because the re-arm kits have an expiration date, just like the one that comes as part of the vest. I suppose having a re-arm kit on-hand would be useful if the lifejacket gets deployed and you want to return it to service right away, but just be aware of the expiration dates. Alternately you can just have one or more spare jackets.

Another thing to check carefully is whether the vest is Type II or Type V. A Type II fulfills carriage requirements for a recreational boat as long as it's onboard. Type V only count towards your carriage requriments if they are actually worn. If sitting next to you, it doesn't count. Marco mentioned the D-ring which is very attractive, but it also seems to force the jacket to be Type V rather than Type II. Mustang, for example, has two identical models save for the D-ring, and the D-ring version in Type V where the non D-ring version is Type II.
 
We carry an adequate number of non-inflatables to cover carriage requirements and use in the dinghy. And then a few inflatables for when conditions warrant wearing a PFD on the big boat. I do keep a couple of re-arm kits on hand so we don't lose use of one of the inflatables if it gets deployed.
 
We just wear our inflatable PFDs when we are boating. Then the type doesn’t matter.
 
In addition to previous posts, a strap from the back to front (crotch) keeps the vest to pop up.
Not all jackets have them

In a sailboat the ring is more important than a power boat ,if I need to leave the protection of cabin/nav station,a ring option is highly recommended as provides an attachment for a tether

in my opinion, the ring is a desirable option to attach and provide a point to secure a line to retrieve a body or keep it attached with a line until rescue is completed.

The self inflated vs manual operation is a personal choice,I sail offshore and prefer manual.

Some jackets have pockets/Velcro to carry a light beam, and personal locators, another choice to consider depending on your area of boating.
I do not like them
Afraid trying to free them from the pocket with cold numb fingers will drop them, have them in a line around my neck.

Those are a portable radio, a personal EPIRB and an a portable AIS

As when to wear them is a personal choice, however the only effective life jacket is the one you wear.
 
an afterthought on life vests.

We boaters think life vest as in open waters, however many fatalities/accidents occur right at our slips.

I felt overboard from my boat in my slip and have to swim to a kayak ramp because I could not lift my weight to the slip.

A neighbor boater slip on ice last winter, went in and nobody was aware, fortunately the marina installed stairs every so often and he could haul himself out with early signs of hypothermia.

And no, I do not wear life jackets while in the marina, there is so much I can do for safety
 
Back in my SAR days we were made aware that life jackets in our waters is purely for insurance purposes. In other words do not expect it to save your life. It is a tool to keep you afloat while you get out of the water FAST.
 
I hate to admit it but I have had three of them to go off. Due to my illness, I have lost all balance and seem to be prone to falling off the boat slip. I have been able to rearm them each time and then they are ready for the next swim. I do wear them at all times when on the boat and the slip.
 
I hate to admit it but I have had three of them to go off. Due to my illness, I have lost all balance and seem to be prone to falling off the boat slip. I have been able to rearm them each time and then they are ready for the next swim. I do wear them at all times when on the boat and the slip.


you are describing exactly the same symptoms. Every time going in, hope will not hit the dock with my head!

The other end of the high risk age group is children.

cheers

They will be our grand children.
 
A neighbor boater slip on ice last winter, went in and nobody was aware, fortunately the marina installed stairs every so often and he could haul himself out with early signs of hypothermia.
That's a good point. The conditions where I wear a PFD are certainly more early and late in the season when the water is cold. In cold water, it's all the time in the dinghy, for example, rather than having it within reach and putting it on if conditions are a bit sporty.

For the children point, when my sister and I were kids, PFDs were kept in the car. They went on before we set foot on the docks and came off when we got back to the car at the end of the day. On the boat, they only came off if we were inside the cabin. This slowly relaxed as we got older.
 
As to crotch straps, most recreational PFDs don't have them. I came up with a simple project to add what I think is a better idea. Inflatable PFDs have a waist strap. A simple sewing project is to add two drop-down straps with side-release buckles. These go around your belt. If not wearing a belt, through the belt loops on the sides of your pants. Much more comfortable than crotch straps even when tightened down, although one will likely get the wedgy effect if the jacket is really tugged on, otherwise it isn't noticeable.

Even if not adding to the effectiveness of lifting a person with a D-ring on the PFD, the side straps are beneficial. People floating with a PFD tend to have it ride up around their ears. If the floatation is kept a couple inches lower because of the side straps (or crotch strap), that means that your mouth and nose are a couple inches higher. Since keeping your mouth and nose above water is the purpose of the PFD, it seems like a good addition.

Probably will be seen as too restrictive for people who boat barefoot in a bathing suit. I don't let anybody onboard do that. Maybe when at anchor, but proper shoes and clothing are safety gear in my boating area (shoes are in all boating areas.)
 
I have maybe 1/2 dozen clunky/gumby West Marine life vests on board. We do not wear them underway. I am considering inflatable vests. If I remember correctly neither the Admiral nor I has accidentally gone overboard in 30 years of boating. As age advances I think wearing an inflatable would be comfortable and prudent. Question: level of difficulty and cost to rearm an inflatable vest Thanks.
This thread is timely because it reminds me that I need to get the kit to rearm my inflatable life jacket. Last trip last summer I was getting off the dinghy when I caught the pull ring on something and was quite startled when my life jacket got very big very fast. It takes a minute to figure out what is happening when it happens unexpectedly.
 
This thread reminded me and I hope a little humor is acceptable.
In a crowded anchorage for an onshore event a police vessel came along side my dingy as I was rowing ashore. After pleasantries I was asked where our life jackets were, and without hestitation I said back on the mother ship to keep them dry. I was then told with tongue in cheek that it is the law. Just then a swimmer went by. I said officer I do not want to break the law so if you think it necessary we can swim to shore as swimmers are not required to wear life jackets. Chuckles all around.
 
Back
Top Bottom