The life jacket I use is one of those foam filled thingys @150n rating. I chose this because a) it was reasonably priced (okay, it was cheap, but that makes me sound mean) b) I considered it was fool proof in that there was nothing to go wrong with it and that I would most probably fiddle with a 'gas' one and break it!
Also the dealer said to me that if I needed to go over the side of the boat (OH YES!!) to do something like untangle the prop, I would have to take off one of the self inflatable jackets. At the time it sounded like good advice so I got the foam filled ones.
I have since found that the only life jackets that are GUARANTEED to right an unconsious person wearing heavy gear are the 270n rating jackets. I have only seen these as the gas inflating models. Now I like to feel safe. Sure I can swim, but not if I am unconsious, and most probably not if weighed down by all my boating gear. And I have decided that in no way am I ever getting out of the boat to go into the water! It's damned cold in the North Sea and there might be things in the water that BITE.
As I am on the BIG
side of normal - 6 feet 2 inches tall and 18 stone (252 pounds) stark naked (lord knows what I weigh when fully kitted out) I read the specifications and decided that I needed a heftier life jacket.
I know there are two types - one operated by a tablet that disolves in water and a slightly more expensive one that operates on pressure.
I was reading about 'Hot Lemon' in Rib Lines when Mike Deacon fell in the drink after topping up the engine oil
(great to see that even the experts can get caught out). It appears that his life jacket only inflated after he had been out of the water for about 2 minutes. Of course that's plenty enough time to drown.
Was his life jacket one of the 'disolving tablet' ones? I assume that a professional crew such as those on 'Hot Lemon' would have the best kit. So, just how reliable are these inflating life jackets?
I know that I will never go further out than about 1 mile and in good weather at that, but just like Mike Deacon, you never quite know what will happen.