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Old 19 May 2015, 18:01   #1
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Auto lifejackets?

What are operators thoughts on having auto inflate lifejackets?

The code doesn't specifically require them but I always strongly advise my customers to have them when I'm inspecting a boat.

I overheard a safety briefing at the weekend where the operator was telling the customers that if they found themselves in the water that they would need to pull the cord to inflate their lifejackets. What happens if you hit something on the way out?
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Old 19 May 2015, 18:16   #2
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Originally Posted by Searider View Post
What are operators thoughts on having auto inflate lifejackets?

The code doesn't specifically require them but I always strongly advise my customers to have them when I'm inspecting a boat.

I overheard a safety briefing at the weekend where the operator was telling the customers that if they found themselves in the water that they would need to pull the cord to inflate their lifejackets. What happens if you hit something on the way out?
You have touched on a number of issues in your post.

1. UK Coding. It is what it is - LJs not required to be worn but must be onboard, pointless IMO. Debate all you like but from a safety point of view, I think that it's very slack. I don't intend to debate it though - it's the code.

2. Should Auto be worn? IMO, yes. That said, advice to pull the toggle is good anyway (as Auto jackets may not fire for various reasons) and should be given in all cases.

3. Are manuals acceptable? If you merely follow the code, sure.

4. How bad can officialdom get? See Republic of Ireland. Every PAX must have a SOLAS rated Lifejacket on board. They MUST wear a lifejacket underway. They are permitted to wear a 150N ISO auto LJ (EN396) but the SOLAS jacket must be to hand as well. Nuts.
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Old 19 May 2015, 18:16   #3
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In my opinion manual jackets are useless
I work in the oil industry & part of the training is to set off the manual jacket once your out of the simulator done it several times now & every time I struggle to find the cord & that's in a swimming pool and you know what's coming
Obviously can't wear auto in an aircraft but any other applications it's got to be auto in my opinion
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Old 19 May 2015, 18:20   #4
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In my opinion manual jackets are useless
I'd rate them as potentially useless. For a sudden immersion, probably totally useless. For people aware of potential immersion (boarding a liferaft, etc) then maybe acceptable. Personally, I wouldn't complicate my life with them.
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Old 20 May 2015, 04:02   #5
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I agree manual life jackets are not as good.

An example, I was going across swanage bay last year and spotted a smart small rib about 3M with two on board at speed racing across the bay, the passenger a women in her late 30's was kind of half sitting on a tube, something just didnt look right so I watched them, about a minute later they hit a small wave and the women flew off the back of the small rib, the auto inflate did work but I could see she was in a right state. Probably due to the shock of the cold water, I did think at the time it was lucky she had an auto inflate jacket because I did think if she had a manual she may not have been able to operate it properly she was in such a flap.

So perhaps also the cold water is also a factor, shock of falling out and the cold can be extra factors to consider even if you dont hit anything on the way out.

The additional cost of auto isnt a huge gap. Auto every time for me, check gas canister screwed in before every trip out and always replace parts before end of use date.
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Old 20 May 2015, 04:17   #6
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The body's natural reaction when hitting cold water is to inhale &once you've involuntarily ingested water the last thing on your mind is looking for a tiny little toggle to pull then if your hands are cold as they often are in a boat you find it hard to grip & pull it
Personally I'd rather have permanent bouyancy jackets than manual
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Old 20 May 2015, 05:47   #7
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I use the manual inflating ones and slightly inflate them via the mouth piece. My experience with the auto ones have been that two inflated in the cab of my last boat when the humidity got high and another two went off when heavy spray kept hitting us.

Ive covered several accidents (fatalities) where the auto inflation jackets have gone off after boats have capsized trapping the people wearing them inside boat cabins. We have extremely dangerous bar crossings in my area, its compulsory for everyone to wear some sort of pfd class 1 while crossing these bars.

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Old 20 May 2015, 08:59   #8
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Auto lifejackets?

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I use the manual inflating ones and slightly inflate them via the mouth piece.
Manufacturers' instructions tend to advise against that as you run the risk of bursting the bladder if you then inflate them by pulling the toggle. Have you tested how much pre-inflation you can get away with?



Quote:
Ive covered several accidents (fatalities) where the auto inflation jackets have gone off after boats have capsized trapping the people wearing them inside boat cabins.
The risk assessment for cabin boats is different. As you are much less likely to end up in the water suddenly and unexpectedly, a manual may be more suitable in this situation.
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Old 20 May 2015, 22:07   #9
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Manufacturers' instructions tend to advise against that as you run the risk of bursting the bladder if you then inflate them by pulling the toggle. Have you tested how much pre-inflation you can get away with?




The risk assessment for cabin boats is different. As you are much less likely to end up in the water suddenly and unexpectedly, a manual may be more suitable in this situation.
I only put a small amount in probably amounts to about 1 ltr, I feel this is enough to assist in knowing which way to swim to the surface in broken bar conditions of white water. Im in the water catching lobsters several times per week in rough wash among rocks so regularly do the the rough crossings with hooded wetsuits as well as manual inflating vests. If I take new comers I give them the fully supported foam filled jackets. Leaving a little air in mine also gives me a little more confidence it doesn't have a puncture. Haven't seen any waring about partly inflating ours and even saw it recommended on a fishing show.


With exposer conditions in the UK do any of you use the floatation suits popular among the anglers over there, these help retain warmth both in and out of the water?

cheers Jon
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Old 02 June 2015, 15:18   #10
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Manual Ljs

Quote:
Originally Posted by beamishken View Post
In my opinion manual jackets are useless
Quote:
Originally Posted by willk View Post
I'd rate them as potentially useless.
Quote:
Originally Posted by boristhebold View Post
I agree manual life jackets are not as good.
Quote:
Originally Posted by beamishken View Post
Personally I'd rather have permanent bouyancy jackets than manual
Some strong opinions here!

Clearly if you were unconscious when you fell over board then an auto LJ would be preferable to manual. However if i risk assess based on facts from my own experience

Number of MOBs i have seen first hand in 2 decades of professional yachting and power boating=3
Number of MOBs who were also unconscious in same period=0
Number of people unconscious on board in same time period=0
Number of times i have seen an auto LJ accidentally inflate on board= LOADS

Number of times I have accidentally inflated the LJ i have been wearing=3

Reasons for my own accidental inflations
1/. Accidentally caught pull cord
2/. Took a wave over the bow of the RIB when driving in heavy weather
3/. Took a wave over the ow of the RIB when passenger in heavy weather

Clearly in two of my three own accidental inflations and in countless other accidental inflations I have witnessed, a manual LJ would have remained packed as it was intended to be. We could discuss how the hammer action would solve this however it does bring with it three distinct disadvantages

1/. You need to effectively drown to set it of (i.e. your mouth needs to be below the surface)
2/. The bottle is far harder to inspect
3/. The bottle can become loose without the wearer realising

All three designs (auto, manual and hammer) have their pros and cons. To state however that manuals are useless etc is IMHO a bit strong.

When you purchase a LJ, it is important you understand the pros and cons of each.

To take a non-RIB example the owner of Hooligan V, had to remove his auto inflation LJ in order to swim clear of the vessel. He was then supported for 50 minutes in the water by another crew member in February in the English Channel. He is very lucky to have survived and he can see the value of a manual LJ in that particular scenario.

I'm not saying manuals are better, however i believe they have several advantages over autos, just as auto have their own advantages.
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Old 02 June 2015, 16:06   #11
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What you haven't covered is the most likely MOB scenario on a RIB - sudden, unexpected, relatively high speed.

In those circumstances I reckon the chances of locating and pulling a small toggle in a timely fashion are greatly reduced. For my risk assessment the benefits of an automatic vastly outweigh any potential disadvantages.
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Old 02 June 2015, 16:16   #12
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Originally Posted by John Kennett View Post
What you haven't covered is the most likely MOB scenario on a RIB - sudden, unexpected, relatively high speed.

In those circumstances I reckon the chances of locating and pulling a small toggle in a timely fashion are greatly reduced. For my risk assessment the benefits of an automatic vastly outweigh any potential disadvantages.

Ijohn i think you have subtly covered why ribbers should be fully automatic.


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Old 02 June 2015, 16:21   #13
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On a rib I would say auto. A manual might be ok for a professional .
But like me I had a 1 st time ribber on board even though I went through the workings of the LJ if they had been dumped out last week I don't think they would have been in a fit state to pull cords.
Guess each type of LJ has its place
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Old 02 June 2015, 16:28   #14
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If you are out in company and not offshore a good P.F.D. is another option and you don't have to worry about being able to pull the cord or the auto malfunctioning.

Also gives you extra insulation in colder weather.
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Old 02 June 2015, 16:41   #15
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Doug Stormforce - you have quoted an isolated part of my (2) posts and in doing so have lost the essence of what I was saying. You'll note that the OP was referring to a commercial environment - I was assuming a RIB as that is what he runs. Do I think manual LJs have a use, sure I do - for safety boat drivers, pilots, kayakers - whatever. Do they have a role in the referred environment - IMO, no way. The user in this situation will not have bought the lifejacket as per your scenario, they will have been handed it and it needs to work if they enter the water. They might be a kid, or old, or disabled. They may just be plain scared. An auto will almost always work but a manual requires presence of mind and ability to react (I'm not a huge fan of Hammars any more for the reasons you state and use UM units)

On a more important note, I fail (entirely) to understand how unexpected deployments can be factored into your risk analysis? I'd rather have a wave induced deployment every now and then than have a client fail to deploy a manual in the water even once in my career.
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Old 02 June 2015, 17:27   #16
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Quote:
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On a rib I would say auto. A manual might be ok for a professional .
But like me I had a 1 st time ribber on board even though I went through the workings of the LJ if they had been dumped out last week I don't think they would have been in a fit state to pull cords.
Guess each type of LJ has its place
I agree with you and the Wilk ...Auto when all considered is best on a RIB.
Must get the missus an Auto sometime!
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Old 02 June 2015, 18:26   #17
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Doug Stormforce - you have quoted an isolated part of my (2) posts and in doing so have lost the essence of what I was saying.
No I did not. I quoted part of your post and i commented on that bit, just as I am doing here.

And I don't think i suggested manuals were better.


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When you purchase a LJ, it is important you understand the pros and cons of each.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Stormforce View Post
I'm not saying manuals are better, however i believe they have several advantages over autos, just as auto have their own advantages.
Quote:
Originally Posted by willk View Post
On a more important note, I fail (entirely) to understand how unexpected deployments can be factored into your risk analysis? I'd rather have a wave induced deployment every now and then than have a client fail to deploy a manual in the water even once in my career.
If you don't see unexpected deployment as a problem, why don't you simply pre inflate the LJ before you go out? Some of the downsides are
  • They are bulky, cumbersome and restrict movement around the boat
  • Each gas inflation causes wear to the LJ
  • Once a LJ is inflated it is not easy to re arm onboard a RIB at sea
  • It is far harder to climb into a RIB wearing an inflated LJ
  • As a driver wearing a kill cord, it is far harder to swim after a RIB if you are wearing an inflated LJ having been ejected

I totally agree an auto is good if a customer falls overboard. Again I am not saying manuals are better, simply adding some balance to the discussion. They are in my opinion far from "useless." It should be noted however that all inflating LJs have a fail rate, if you really want to guarantee floatation then consider a foam filled LJ
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Old 02 June 2015, 18:58   #18
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[*]It is far harder to climb into a RIB wearing an inflated LJ[*]As a driver wearing a kill cord, it is far harder to swim after a RIB if you are wearing an inflated LJ having been ejected
I think you've got your risk assessment back to front!

A conscious, competent and able person who is hindered by their life jacket can choose to deflate it (and reinflate by mouth if required). [Although actually it might be better to look at single manning and re-boarding issues!]

Unless its flat calm, or you are wearing wetsuit and fins or a professional swimmer chances of catching a rib after an exit at speed are pretty low anyway. A mentality that encourages you to put off pulling the cord because it will impede swimming or reboarding sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Kennett
What you haven't covered is the most likely MOB scenario on a RIB - sudden, unexpected, relatively high speed.
I reckon JK's wrong! The only time I've gone MOB or seen anyone else MOB from a "RIB" has been at very low speed, and quite predictable: boarding, disembarking, transfers between boats, mooring etc.

But he is right:
Quote:
In those circumstances I reckon the chances of locating and pulling a small toggle in a timely fashion are greatly reduced.
Even in that situation my auto had triggered before I've even worked out what happened.

I also think the point above applies - it "feels" safe to be in the harbour or right next to the mooring so you save the 15 quid on rearming or try to reduce the embarrassment, but the person in the water probably isn't best placed to assess their risk/situation.

The only time a manual (might) make sense is if it going off (e.g. in an upturned cabin) would make matters worse, or if you are intentionally getting in the water.
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Old 03 June 2015, 02:31   #19
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Auto lifejackets?

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I reckon JK's wrong! The only time I've gone MOB or seen anyone else MOB from a "RIB" has been at very low speed, and quite predictable: boarding, disembarking, transfers between boats, mooring etc.
Fair point. I was thinking more of victims of gArf's ribflikka masheen!

High speed or low, it's still likely to be unexpected which is different from a more considered "abandon ship" situation which you might get with a bigger boat.
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Old 03 June 2015, 03:08   #20
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Has anyone actually tried to set off a manual jacket after a dunking? I have, several times & find it difficult to find & actually pull the toggle this is after doing helicopter escape training in a pool with a drysuit & rebreather on
And seeing as this is a rib forum it's fair to assume your unlikely to get stuck in a cabin
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