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Old 11 November 2002, 08:22   #1
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Automat/manual lifeckets?

Hello

During the course of my three years ribbing experience I have switched from a manual gas lifejacket to a fully automatic jacket.

I was wondering what types of LJ people wore and why
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Old 11 November 2002, 08:38   #2
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Obviously both manual & automatic lifejackets only become lifejackets the moment they inflate. Therefore the fact that if I (or anyone onboard) hits the water unconcious (or very disorientated) they in effect have no lifejacket on makes it a straightforward decision for me.

In spite of the downsides of automatic lifejackets (they have a tendancy to go off after a while if you don't replace the salt capsule) I think the extra costs associated with accidental inflation (which generally are highly ammusing anyway) are a small price to pay. (as a result I always carry spares kits and lifejackets on board.

Paul
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Old 11 November 2002, 08:50   #3
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What I use isn't exactly a life jacket as such, it's my scuba BCD. I wear it partially inflated when on the boat, and with the emergency cylinder I can, if I need to, quickly fully inflate it by just opening the valve. The partially inflated BCD along with the drysuit however provide enough bouyancy to keep me afloat.

Eventually, when money allows, I'll be buying a proper boating drysuit and lifejacket, as dive gear isn't the most comfortable alternative. When I do upgrade, I'll probably go with an automatic.

Matt
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Old 11 November 2002, 08:56   #4
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I've moved from a dinghy style bouyency aid to an auto-gas jacket this season, mainly because i have started going out at night, in the rough and think that the higher risk of falling out in these conditions justifies this.

Oh, and the RNLI sea-check guy suggested it too!

Once i had confirmed that an auto-jacket would not go off from spray i could not see any reason to go for manual gas type - the RNLI use auto ones.

How often is the auto-trigger supposed to be replaced then?

Daniel
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Old 11 November 2002, 12:33   #5
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Auto inflate are great for passages and night work, but if you find yourself on dinghy support ie leaning out of boat working on said dinghy watch out they have a habit of going off!!
Also don't leave them in a wet sail bag always worth a giggle
unless you can afford a hydrostatic release!
Jelly
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Old 11 November 2002, 12:55   #6
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Once i had confirmed that an auto-jacket would not go off from spray i could not see

The problem with auto's is not if they go off in spray (unlikely) but when a green wave says hello while you are driving. Jacket goes off, while you are still trying to hold the wheel, which is should we say "inconvienant" at 20+ knots.

The RNLI as I understand it, spent a LARGE amount of money testing automatics for just that reason, and I guess they found it was possible. Whether you auto off the shelf can do that also is another matter.

You are better off with an auto, and you can detatch the auto mechanism to make them manual only on some models.

As a further not, I know of a commercial user that tested a variety of auto's before bulk ordering.

For vertical jumping (feet first) they all passed, but many failed if there was any side angle (ripped the material).
Result = Buy a crewsaver model!

Tiger
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Old 11 November 2002, 12:59   #7
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My only concern with an automatic is the possibility of, during a capsize, ending up under the boat and having difficulty getting out with the LJ inflated. Im not sure if this is more or less likely than getting KO'd. Though in a RIB theres a few less hard bits to bounce off than most boats.

I currently use a bouyancy aid rather than a life jacket but have intentions to change, although the bouyancy aid does offer good heat insulation (even with a drysuit) and is also a bit of good padding if you get thrown against the helm seat or A frame. When I do get some LJ's auto or manual I may be tempted to wear the BA most of the time and if things start getting hairy swap.

Mike
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Old 11 November 2002, 13:20   #8
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Question are you intending to use the LJ in a cabin craft?
The reason is that a few years ago a seismic company had a work boat with a cabin which capsized, result was the two opperators in the cabin died and the two on deck survived.
The reason was the same as aircraft and helicopters LJ's are not auto's. The jacket went off trapping the opperators in the cabin.

I also know some one thrown out of an open RIB and found himself under water, as he was reaching for the manual firing tab, he looked up and saw the props go over head

There are times when you need the bouyancy and times you don't.
I think its another one of those individual users judgement calls depending on what exactly they are doing.
Jelly
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Old 11 November 2002, 13:41   #9
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Only seen a auto go off once, and that was caused by washing the boat down with the hose pipe! As ppl say, quite amusing at first but a pain having to replace the cartridge afterwards.

15 years ago the sports diving world had a war between those who used Adjustable Bouyancy Lifejackets which floats an unconcious diver face up and the modern stab jacket which provides lots of bouyancy but won't guarrantee a face up attitude in the water. Nowadays everyone wears stab jackets without a thought to the hot debates in every club thoughout the land.

Manual for me please, and I will take a chance that I am concious enough to pull the toggle.

Pete
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Old 11 November 2002, 14:01   #10
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Automatic for me please. I want it to inflate whether or not I manage to pull the toggle.

For more thoughts you can also search the foums for previous threads like this one, or read the article in the features section.

My view is that the inonvenience of a prematurely inflated lifejacket is outweighed by the inconvenience of one that doesn't inflate!

It is a personal judgement though, but make sure you think it through carefully -- especially with regard to less experienced crew and passengers. Don't underestimate the debilitating effect of thermal shock in cold water either.

Whatever you chose, make sure you use it!

By the way, unless they have changed recently, lifeboat crews only use fully inflatable life jackets on "all weather" boats. RIB crews either have permanently bouyant life jackets or the Crewsaver combination life jacket with both.

John
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