Originally Posted by Popeye1
WHAT ANCHOR? AND HOW MUCH CHAIN AND ROPE?
There is no right and wrong answer. Some are better on different bottoms (mud/sand/rock) than others. On a SIB storage is probably your biggest worry. The folding grapnels aren't particulalry well thought of generally but for a small sib would probably do OK (I'm assuming you don't plan to go out in a F6+ very often!). I'd have thought something about 2.5 kg would be fine for you (I use a 2.5 kg bruce or 2.5kg fortress style on a bigger boat with no problems and its easy to lift) - you might get away with less.
3-4m of chain should be fine.
Rope 5x the maximum depth you ever expect to use it in.
WHAT LIFE JACKET AND WHAT MAKE IS BEST?
there probably is a "best" but it will depend on budget.
Lifejacket or buoyancy aid. If you plan to go in the water (e.g. wading in / out to launch and recover) then a buoyancy aid is probably more appropriate, it will also keep you warm in a cold wind. If you want something unobtrusive and don't expect to be bobbing around in wet stuff then a full life jacket might be preferable. A kayak style bouyancy aid often has a pouch on the front which is handy for carrying bits and bobs in. A buoyancy aid won't promise to keep an unconscious person face up - so you need to balance that risk
Auto or manual: Again if you plan to go in the water even very rarely then an auto may not be the best choice. If you are above your waste in water then it means something has gone wrong then an auto is probably best (no need to panic pulling cords, should still work when you are unconscious etc). A standard lifejacket may not turn you face up if you are wearing heavy clothing - but the 275 N alternative may be very difficult to move (e.g. climb back aboard in) especially if you are not wearing heavy clothes. There are two different auto firing principles, the cheapest (salt tablet dissolves) has a bit of a reputation for accidental firing - but its never happened to me.
Crotch straps are a good idea and make wearing it in the water much more comfortable. If you are planning to be out in the dark (or late in the day when a "rescue" could be after dusk) then think about a light. A spray hood could make the difference between life and death if bobbing around in nasty waves for a long time - but for a small sib being used in sensible conditions is probably overkill.
I've never heard anyone say that one make of flares was better than another.
The choices seem to be:
Red parachute: used to signal over longer distances.
Red handheld: used to signal within line of sight.
Red "mini": a compromise between the two - but also very small (you get 6 mini rockets in the space of one parachute) so popular with sea kayakers etc (and I would suggest SIB owners!).
Red flares are more effective in the dark or at dusk/dawn.
Orange handheld smoke: better in the daytime - but will require line of sight. Useful for guiding the helo to your boat amongst the dozens in the solent for example. Only last about a minute.
You do get a "personal flare" which has an orange smoke on one end and red handheld at other (carried by some/all RNLI Crew I believe) - but they are quite expensive (~ £50 each).
Buoyant orange smoke: Same idea, but bigger and lasts longer. IMHO too big to make sense for storage on your boat.
Here's the RNLI's suggestions on which combinations to carry: RNLI - Royal National Lifeboat Insitution
Personally I take the view that the mini rockets are "enough" for me (together with a vhf radio (one on me and one on the boat), and a large orange flag (with black !) for attracting attention.