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Old 14 July 2013, 17:38   #1
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Automatic Lifejackets

So .... Today at Whitsand bay I swapped my 7.8m ribcraft for a 2.8m Rib (a well known brand) with a 8hp Yamaha which I was using as a tender between the mother ship and the beach. The Tender /Rib has an aluminium v hull. I was out earlier in the week and this tender goes almost vertical before it flattens out on the plane. It's a brand new set up with a Tiller type throttle.

I Make a run in to the beach with three of us on board,two dogs, kill cord attached and life jackets on. I drop the passengers off and head back to the boat. I go through the vertical phase and start planing. Next thing I know the boat is in a suicidal weave, I am thrown from the boat into the water and the RIB ends up, upside down on top of me. So I am under the boat in the air pocket. The wife's automatic lifejacket inflates next to me but the one I am wearing doesn't (thankfully) Once I re orientate myself and catch my breath I swim under the tubes and onto the upturned hull where some nice chaps in a speedboat kindly assisted, righted the boat and transported me and my rib with a seized engine to the mother ship (killcord still on my leg)

Anyway two questions/thoughts: 1) is a 8hp too heavy for such a small/light RIB? 2) I may have been wearing the only jacket (out of a dozen I own) that was not auto inflate. If it did I may have struggled to have reached the air-pocket under the RIB and I would have certainly struggled to swim under the upturned tubes. I therefore question how safe wearing an auto inflate jacket is. Any thoughts?
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Old 14 July 2013, 17:47   #2
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you can always partial deflate your jacket to escape then top up ...

auto 100% time!
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Old 14 July 2013, 17:59   #3
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Few thoughts:

Keep the autos.. You were perfectly safe under the RIB and you could have easily escaped.

Get a tiller extension and move the weight forward.

Trim your engine in a bit.
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Old 15 July 2013, 02:10   #4
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Thanks I will have a look at the set up.
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Old 15 July 2013, 04:10   #5
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Out of interest, what was the sequence of events leading up to the capsize?

I know you mentioned a weave and didn't have a lot of time to correct, but I am interested in learning more so I can deal with this if I ever experience this.

What were the sea conditions etc?
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Old 15 July 2013, 06:20   #6
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I have a 2.9 with a 9.9 and it also gets near vertical. The trick is to put the passenger all the way forward and gentle on the throttle till planing. If no passenger, I just lean as far forward as I can when getting up on the plane. Lots of fun when planing. I think the 9.9 is great and never thought it would actually flip but will be even more cautious now.
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Old 15 July 2013, 07:44   #7
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All the weight of the engine & you in the back & hitting a braking wave coming off the beech & I’m not surprised you flipped it!
Get a tiller extension to get your weight forward.
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Old 15 July 2013, 08:22   #8
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I wish it was a wave. I was 50ft from the shore on a dead flat calm day. No waves. No wind. A perfect ribbing day.

The RIB is rated for a max 8HP

I got it on the plane and very quickly it started violently weaving. Because I was holding the tiller, trying to twist it to stop whilst trying to control a violently swerving boat is absolutely impossible. Then almost simultaneously I am in the water with a 2.8m RIB above me as I surface. The petrol tank is floating next to me and my wife's lifejacket (which I am taking back) goes off next to me.

I'm coughing and spluttering and I have to say I completely forgot I had a lifejacket on. As it is so completely disorienting being thrown at speed I can see the merits of Auto inflation but under a RIB I am certainly glad I picked the non auto.

Why did it happen? On Reflection I think a combination of factors but I suspect;

1. Too fast
2. A 8hp 4stroke is too heavy/powerful for such a light RIB
3. Too much weight too far to the stern.
4.Tiller handle limits seating position on the tubes of the RIB
5. No Trim.
6. No weight in the bow.

So once my engine has been cleansed (it has 1 hr on it) I will get a tiller extension to balance the weight, try to trim the engine, fix the petrol with a bungee to the internal bow cleat to act as ballast, consider other ballast in the bow if I am alone. Slow the speed of plane as low as possible once on it.
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Old 15 July 2013, 12:09   #9
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Did it flip side ways, or front to back?

Re the lj....the auto did its job why change it? Given a situation where you took a bang to the head as you flipped (for whatever reason) would you really want your wife to sink as she hadn't been able to pull the toggle?

It's as important to me to know how to deflate a jacket as make sure it inflates.

Clearly put a dampner on the day, but I'm sure and its clear you learnt a lot from it and if the only casualty was the ob (which is fairly simply sorted) I'd be a happy chap.

Glad you're both ok and credit to you posting the events. Shows even in the calmest of water things can still bite you very quickly.
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Old 15 July 2013, 13:57   #10
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"1. Too fast
2. A 8hp 4stroke is too heavy/powerful for such a light RIB
3. Too much weight too far to the stern.
4.Tiller handle limits seating position on the tubes of the RIB
5. No Trim.
6. No weight in the bow."

I would say,that about sums it up
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Old 15 July 2013, 14:15   #11
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Certainly in my experience with a 3.4m SIB and Tohatsu 9.8 (a lot lighter engine I'm guessing than your four stroke) for good balance and handling a 12" tiller extension and my weighty Pelicase with anchor and gear right up on the bow are *essential*. After some testing this weekend a 20mm raiser under the engine is essential too but that's more for fine tuning.
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Old 16 July 2013, 02:57   #12
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On about auto life jackets my lad had a surprise last Sunday,
After spending all day on the sib whilst I was packing everything into the car he says I am off back to the slip to help out recovering some of the other boats ,
you'd better take a life jacket I reminded him ,just invade you drop of the end of the slip
Take one of the spare ones ,
About 30 seconds later I heard a big cheer from the slip , then my lad comes back around the corner ,, i gather you picked up the auto one : )
Well at least it worked .
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Old 16 July 2013, 08:35   #13
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OP, thank you for relating your story. We run a 10 ft Avon and 285 Fastroller with 9.8 HP engine with two people. They become squirrels with one aboard and not really safe.

We ran the Avon for years with a 15 HP, but even with two aboard it was a handful. Several times even with two passengers it has been too close to the line for safety. Speed will get you quickly into trouble.

We kayak and use inflatable jackets at times. You want that jacket inflated when trouble arises, as a knock on the head may disable you long enough to prevent inflating the jacket. You can drown in a few inches of water.

You and the engine are heavier than the boat, so it can become unbalanced quickly from water pressure on the hull.
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Old 16 July 2013, 09:16   #14
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I recently had the dilemma of manuals over auto's. In the end I went manuals citing the risk of accidental inflation such as the above mistake....then on Sunday (one week after making this decision) I caught one of the cords under a fuel tank and set one off in the back of the truck!
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Old 16 July 2013, 10:22   #15
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Having been first on the scene when 6 persons were ejected from a capsizing boat i'm VERY glad they all had auto lifejackets on.

5 were merrily swimming round, a bit shaken, the sixth had hit his head on the way out and would not have been able to inflate his jacket. In the three minutes it took me to get there he may well have drowned, or had to rely on assistance from the other ejectees.

He'd had a big bang on the head and had no memory for two days.

That's why I have all autos in my boat.
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Old 16 July 2013, 10:24   #16
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My Zody 285 with Mariner 2T 8hp planes with 160 kg of human 50L of fuel plus anchor and a few other odds. No weaves and no flips. One boy sits in the bow and the other opp the helm.
Fuel in the middle. Trimmed in and WOT planing at 18 kts. 1 hr per litres at wot.
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