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Old 01 November 2003, 14:15   #1
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Never to late to learn...

What i am about to admit is quite embarrassing really but since i think it might kinda help someone one day and remind us all, no matter how experienced we are, we can get things wrong and the consequences are catastrophic.

I was out in the new boat earlier and managed to throw myself out of it but it gets worse...

...i was on my own, but it gets worse...

...my lifejacket failed to inflate automaticaly.

Of course i was wearing the kill-cord but that does not help much when you are on your own!

Luckly (very, very luckily in fact) it was a head sea and i was able to swim in such a direction that the boat drifted towards me and climb back in over the transom. I was doing 42knts when i left the boat so it was a good 100ft away, i'd never have caught it up should it have been drifting away from me.

I was glad to be wearing a drysuit and even more happy to have had my Geko helmet on. No damage, just my pride.

Now i'm not by any means a particulary experienced seafarer but i think i know what i am doing and do it in a safe way - how did i get this so wrong and what have i learnt?

I was, at the time, performing a V-MAX test, hence i know the speed i left the boat at. 5000RPM, 25% trim out, 42knts. I was looking at the instruments, not the sea, and as i took-off from the top of a wave i looked up - it was too late, a bad angled landing and.. out i went!

Lesson 1 - the most important one) Boating alone is dangerous. If it must be done, have another boat with you, if that can't happen be especially careful.

Lesson 2) The kill-cord is essential, without one, and if i was lucky i'd have come home on the lifeboat, and the boat more-than likely wrecked.

Lesson 3) Personal flares in ones pocket are a sensiable idea. I did not have these, i'll be getting some. A VHF in the pocket is ideal, but impractical. Maybe a mobile? That was in the boat with the handheld VHF!

Lesson 4) Helmets are a sensable peice of gear in moderate or higher conditions.

Lesson 5) Dry-suits this time of year are essential.

Lesson 6) [something i've thought about since] treat an inexperienced crew as if boating alone - how much use would a newcomer to boating have been in this situation? I always show people how to drive within a few minutes of stepping onto the boat.
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Old 01 November 2003, 14:25   #2
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Country: Ireland
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Daniel

Well done it takes balls to admit to this,I am impressed by your new boat speed as I was following all the pics, yeah ive been almost knocked out more than once all speed releated as has Tim on one occasion in particular.Id be worried about the lifejacket bit the RNLI carry personal flares, a good idea but lets be honest we have all taken our eye off the road and had hard landings when we should have eased off, you have got yourself serious horsepower there the main thing is your killchord worked and your dry suit saved you.These experiences teach us all something, you got out of it yourself, no body hurt no costly service to the RNLI and one of your three safety items failed, but the others didnt fair play for posting about the event we all get to relaize how vital drysuits and killchords are cheers gavin
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Old 01 November 2003, 15:02   #3
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Hi Daniel,

Never to late to learn...

Firstly I am glad that you are ok and it is only pride that has been dented. "Lady Luck" was definately smiling.

Have you any ideas as to why you jacket did not auto inflate?
Very worrying since a lot of us put our lives and faith into these types of life jacket.

Best wishes
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Old 01 November 2003, 15:22   #4
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Cheers guys. I've just finished investigating the lifejackt thing - by putting it into the bath. Here is a pic of said lifejacket taken out of my boat a few minutes ago.
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Old 01 November 2003, 15:26   #5
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I filled the bath and it just sat there for a few minutes. I then aimed the shower straight 'up' the cover aiming roughly at the salt crystal - nothing.

I then opened the velcro part to reveal the mechenasm and it was showing 'green', i took it off completly, had a look at it and put it back, then a few seconds later the thing fired.

I'm non the wiser. I've never taken this part of this jacket apart before so it's not like i could have misaligned it. Here is the 'after' pic. Yes i have a pink bath - it's on the "to change about new house" list
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Old 01 November 2003, 16:03   #6
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Engine: Honda 130
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Glad you are still with us

Been there, done that - doesn't the engine make a great sound just before the Rev limiter cuts in. beep beep beep!

Engines that powerful, on a smallish rib will generate a lot of power and in particular a rotating (torsional?)effect on the hull.

Your boat probably weighs about 800kg and maybe carries 30 gallons of fuel. if this is correct then when you are fully laden you have about 1 hp for every 6 kg of boat weight. as your fuel load reduces your COG is affected considerably and the boats Power to weight Ratio increses to about 1 HP to every 5 Kg. this produces much more torsional effect as the boat comes out of the water and the boat rotates as it gets airborne. It then lands more on it's side than you can handle, although the boat doesn't have a problem with it, you get chucked out!

The reason you got chucked out is because you only have the throttle and steering wheel to hold on to keep you in the boat. I therefore think you need to fit footsraps to stop this happening as
it is blatantly obvious that your arsecheeks gripping together simply weren't up to the job of keeping you in the boat !

5000 revs is about 5/6 ths of redline so you'd have been pushing out a good 120 hp when you hit the Wave, they come up quick at
40 knots +

Now you know why my Scorpion/Opti is called ' Wake Up Call' cos that experience certainly is one

Re lifejacket did it not have a manual overide?. It's a bummer that it didn't work, but if you were a helmet I'd switch to a manual jacket as you are unlikely to be unconcious next time it happens and therefore can operate the jacket.

They have started doing a new flare which is about the size of tube of kids bubble liquid. Its double ended and handheld with green and red flares at either end, very easy to carry about 15 quid from Ocean Safety

I am presuming you were using the Opti engine if not reduce my figures by 10%

I suspect there will be a few people disagreeing with my foot strap idea, but i'd personally take the risk of a broken ankle over the risk of drowning
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Old 01 November 2003, 16:11   #7
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Stuart i forgot to add "must fit footstraps" to my previous list of lessons learnt.

Grayswish had footstraps and that had a similar power-to-lenght / weight ratio and i never fell out. The seating was also less adequate. I'm a fan, always have been, and this just strengthens that argument.

I would have fitted them before but you need to drive the boat to decide where to put them. I liked Richard B's boat which had two sets per person, giving a standing and sitting set.

I did not pull the manual lifejactet toggle because i was shi***ng myself about swiming towards the boat and an inflated lifejactet would have slowed me down. I don't alwars wear a helmet, hence choice of auto. I'll wear it more often now
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Old 01 November 2003, 16:43   #8
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I am not having a go at you!

So if your lifejacket had autoinflated, it would have compromised your ability to reach the vessel?

If so then it's gotta be a manual jobee.


now this is a secret so don't tell anybody

when I got chucked out of the Scorpion I'd been hammering round the Solent all day and the GPS had shaken itself of it's bracket (it was a big flash Garmin chartplotter) and dangling by the connectors. So i disconnected it and stuffed into my lifejacket for a safe passage home.

An hour later I came out of the boat and the GPS came out of my lifejacket under the water and I lost it. The Killcord was also ripped of my leg whilt entering the boat. Fortunately I carry a spare in the tub.
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Old 01 November 2003, 18:41   #9
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Wow!! What a story, Daniel - I'm pleased to know that you're safe home now, telling this tale, and presumably warm and dry with a drink or two...

Good analysis of the facts - do you mind if I add a few observations? after pulling another three of my friends out of the sea recently, I feel as if I'm getting very close to these "dunking" experiences!

Well, I've always thought that it would be safer to go RIBing with people on board than alone... on the assumption that if the helmsman went over, then the others might stay on board. Wrong. The driver usually has both hands attached to the boat and can see what's about to happen - but the passengers might not! In my friends' recent experience, it was a case of "one out, all out". And having some compannions in the water is not much good. Add to this the fact that a loose boat will circle around it's former skipper and crew like a shark makes for an even more sobering experience. Well done for being rigororous and having the kill-cord attached. It's probably the most important piece of equipment we use.

There's all sort of pedantics we could talk about with regard to life jackets (and i think that the manual v auto debate is a very valid one) but my best input is that when the going gets tough - wear a VHF around your neck.

And when you see me put mine (VHF!) around my neck - check out where youre clean underpants are stowed!
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Old 01 November 2003, 18:48   #10
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Re: I am not having a go at you!

Quote:
Originally posted by thewavehumper
now this is a secret so don't tell anybody
Just between you and me wave

Still not convinced about non-auto lifejackets though. I'd have deflated mine if it had gone off i think, but would rather have the security of it going off it i am knocked unconcious as i leave the boat (even though that failed this time). Well file that debate somewhere with 4s vs Dfi and footstraps vs broken ankles i think.

I did think to recover the kill-cord from my leg before swimming off so that survived.

Richard - thanks for the constructive input, i do feel a VHF round the neck might not still be attached after an impact with the water. I'm going to be looking for the smallest one i can find that might fit in a pocket under the drysuit although i fear that might not exsist. Mobile 'fone and personal flares on my person from now on though.
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