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Old 20 March 2012, 13:51   #1
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life jackets vs buoyancy aid

my son and i have buoyancy aid for our boats, but were considering upgrading to manual or auto lifejackets,what are your thoughts? is this necessary?

any suggested brands?
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Old 20 March 2012, 13:56   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xs 400 View Post
my son and i have buoyancy aid for our boats, but were considering upgrading to manual or auto lifejackets,what are your thoughts? is this necessary?

any suggested brands?
Most of the recognised brands are pretty good these days,I like Crewsaver;thumbs:
Your choice as for Auto or Manual inflation.
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Old 20 March 2012, 14:32   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xs 400
my son and i have buoyancy aid for our boats, but were considering upgrading to manual or auto lifejackets,what are your thoughts? is this necessary?

any suggested brands?
This topic has been discussed before, including quite recently. Which is most appropriate will depend on where you boat, the conditions you typically go out in, what you like to do etc. As well as things like if you can swim, if you normally go on your own, with other boats etc. If you sit around a lot (e.g, fishing or safety boat) where the warmth of a b.a. might be useful.

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Your choice as for Auto or Manual inflation.
It is your choice, but the arguments for manual are pretty weak. Modern autos rarely go off accidentally now. If you plan to actually go in the water intentionally then buoyancy aid is probably more relevant.
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Old 20 March 2012, 16:19   #4
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Checked and inflated my LJ's a couple of days ago and one of them deflated after about an hour, it had a small hole in the bladder where the gas bottle is situated. I think that it has probably happened when being taken off and dropped on the deck and the gas bottle has banged against the bladder, I guess that you don't have to worry about things like that with a pfd they can take a bit more abuse. at least with a pfd you know that you will float... with a LJ your not going to know until it opens.
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Old 20 March 2012, 16:23   #5
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Hi ,I have both,life jackets are more comfortable less bulky, b/a can be warmer, give body protection, and ok if you can swim a bit, also you know that it will work in water as it cant fail to inflate. (yes i agree if l/j in good order/serviced should not be a prob.

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Old 20 March 2012, 17:58   #6
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Checked and inflated my LJ's a couple of days ago and one of them deflated after about an hour, it had a small hole in the bladder where the gas bottle is situated. I think that it has probably happened when being taken off and dropped on the deck and the gas bottle has banged against the bladder, I guess that you don't have to worry about things like that with a pfd they can take a bit more abuse. at least with a pfd you know that you will float... with a LJ your not going to know until it opens.
Unfortunately perforation of the bladder of Lifejackets is not uncommon and that is why all Lifejackets should be checked at least once a year.

Also just to clarify that Personal Floatation Device (PFD) is a generic term used to describe both Lifejackets and Buoyancy Aids.
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Old 20 March 2012, 19:18   #7
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When you Inflate your LJ to test use a pump not your mouth...

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Old 21 March 2012, 04:22   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ribochet View Post
Unfortunately perforation of the bladder of Lifejackets is not uncommon
Mine is less than 6 months old on my more expensive LJ the gas bottle is encased in neoprene which stops the bottle from impacting the bladder if dropped, maybe all LJ should have this protective casing fitted to stop this from happening.
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Old 21 March 2012, 04:27   #9
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Other thiong is a LJ will (on paper anyway) flip you over. If you are face down and unconcious with a buoyancy aid, there you will stay. Bouyancy aid - the clue is in the name! (and yes, a BA will act as a really good insulation jacket!)

I have both. Use the BA for when I'm on rescue type stuff where jumping in is lkely. Use the LJ for cruising.

But then I also wear a wetsuit for rescue which I wouldn't deream of wearing on a cruise....
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Old 21 March 2012, 07:07   #10
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lj v ba

thanks guys .once again thats really helpfull!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 21 March 2012, 07:50   #11
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If you decide to go the LJ route, you should also bear in mind that a manual one requires a positive action on the part of the wearer to trigger it: not feasible if the wearer is unconscious. Automatic ones can be triggered manually if necessary but should trigger of their own accord. There are two types: Standard (where the element in the trigger dissolves on contact with water) and Hammar (where a hydrostatic unit activates the trigger by virtue of water pressure). Standard ones can be triggered accidentally by storage in a wet locker rain or (in theory at least) a wave over the boat or spray. Hammar ones require immersion of at least 10cm in water to produce sufficient pressure to trigger. Concerns have been expressed that they could be triggered in a car by slamming the car door or boot but I have yet to hear of this actually happening.

All types have their pros and cons but my view is that that Hammar are most suited to cruising in RIBS and all ours are of that type…….but they are unfortunately the most expensive!
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Old 21 March 2012, 09:50   #12
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I've one gas inflate LJ and the rest are permanent buoyancy aids/life jackets. I only use the gas LJ myself and usually only sailing for freedom but mainly for the safety harness built into it. I place a high value on a buoyancy aid that just works without anything to go wrong. Falling in on our coasts is always a shock and off a fast boat may also knock the wind right out of you so having to locate and pull a tiny tag is not ideal. Manual inflate is not good for someone unused to boats or unused to falling out of boats so I give my adult passengers buoyancy aids and have a couple of permanent buoyancy life jackets for smaller kids. Auto life jackets are good for convenience but there's even more to go wrong with them and any gas inflate is bad news in a confined space like a boat cabin.

I'm also against gas inflate on small boats as it's not so easy to carry, and maintain in good condition, re-arm kits.

There was a misfortunate chap lost his life a few miles from me with a well known upmarket gas inflate LJ. He fell overboard while mooring, the jacket was quickly inflated and immediately deflated. He drowned within 30 meters of the shore and his watching wife. A defective one way valve was blamed but it seemed to me it wouldn't be hard to introduce a defect yourself just testing your jacket, e.g. get a hair or grit in the manual inflate valve. No amount of manual inflation is going to keep you afloat with a damaged valve or holed bladder.

Another risk is the cylinder coming partially unscrewed when it obviously won't inflate the jacket because it won't go off or it'll leak.

They can also be quite uncomfortable if you're not wearing more than a Tshirt and a buoyancy aid also has the advantage of helping keep the wind off and adding a little insulation.

I like the face up LJ advantage for an unconscious person but overall for my RIB use I'm a firm believer in permanent buoyancy jackets.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kerny View Post
Mine is less than 6 months old on my more expensive LJ the gas bottle is encased in neoprene which stops the bottle from impacting the bladder if dropped, maybe all LJ should have this protective casing fitted to stop this from happening.
Or simply retro fit something yourself - an old sock would be a cheap start
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Old 21 March 2012, 14:03   #13
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Apparently Dell boy got a few left,
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Old 21 March 2012, 14:40   #14
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All types have their pros and cons but my view is that that Hammar are most suited to cruising in RIBS and all ours are of that type…….but they are unfortunately the most expensive!
Not casting my vote here - but a couple of points to consider:

I have seen a Halkey Roberts (dissolving pill) type LJ fire when exposed to repeated splashing on a rib. I've also read reports of Hammar units not firing when the casualty was in the water but holding onto a supporting object, i.e. bouy or line. One in particular haunts me, a man who fell off his yacht on a safety line. His line held him on the surface, not deep enough for the LJ to fire. The boat sailed on, with his frantic wife unable to get him aboard...
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Old 21 March 2012, 17:07   #15
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One in particular haunts me, a man who fell off his yacht on a safety line. His line held him on the surface, not deep enough for the LJ to fire. The boat sailed on, with his frantic wife unable to get him aboard...
Recent maib report describes a situation where a tethered mob's lj did inflate but still drowned.
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Old 21 March 2012, 17:34   #16
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Recent maib report describes a situation where a tethered mob's lj did inflate but still drowned.
IIRC that was the skipper of the racing yacht Lion? His leg straps were loose when they recovered him, so who knows. He was getting towed at silly speeds, so he never stood a chance...

The guy I'm thinking of was unwilling to move/let go as he wasn't sure if the LJ was working - one of those things.

I'm used to jumping out of perfectly good boats but I know (from experience) that a lot of people have a freak attack under these circumstances - I really don't have a great deal of faith in manual deployment of LJs. A failed Auto isn't any better, maybe worse.
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Old 22 March 2012, 05:20   #17
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Bottom line is that it's a balance of chance. For every "X type device with all these reasons it's the best" there will be an example of "why Y type would have been the better option in a given scenario" no flotation device is going to be the best in all situations. For example being punted overboard by the swinging 10 foot ally pole that also rendered you unconcious is unlikely in a rib. Being knocked unconcious when hitting the water at 30+ knots is maybe more likely. I could go on. Bottom line is the thing that will kill you o na rib is the one scenario you didn't expect.

Maintenace also plays a part - Hammers not releasing, moisture packs being left to absorb moisture etc. Bouyancy aids eventually become hydroscopic (I've seen some really old ones that sank when thrown in the water!) So kep an eye on your kit is good advice.


How often do you cross the road? Statistically that's what's actuially going to kill you.
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Old 22 March 2012, 12:33   #18
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Bouyancy aids eventually become hydroscopic (I've seen some really old ones that sank when thrown in the water!) So kep an eye on your kit is good advice.


Just as a matter of intrest i was trying to source a sample of kapock for an RNLI presentation that i am doing for the lifejacket replacement campaign
of how lifejackets have evolved over the years from the cork ones to the present day ,
just remembered i had my old early 1960,s quadrand bouyancy aid that i had when i was a child up in the loft ,,,thinking it would be kapock from that era i cut it open to discover that the bouyancy foam is just normal open cell manmade sponge the type that you clean your car or dishes with ,
not only that the plastic bags they were in were not even sealed up but just folded over allowing any water to be just soaked up .
just goes to show how things have changed over the years .
bottom pic shows the same foam as used in the wifes pan ,,scrubber ,,the foam that is not the wife
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Old 23 March 2012, 04:50   #19
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You won't be surprised to hear it was one of them in a delightful shade of Orange.....
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