In last week’s Just Cruising I reflected on how many sea miles I have sailed without wearing a life jacket. And, I noted that lately, in the age of inflatable PFD/harnesses, we are much more likely to wear the devices than the old kapok stuffed vests of the old days. I asked for your experiences and here are several good answers and a unique video. Enjoy. GD
Hello Cruising Compass,
We sail the Med and our rules are exactly the same as yours !
I like your piece because it describes many of us who have come to respect and appreciate the development and use of inflatables, tethers and electronic MOB devices. Several recent accidents and fatalities dictate adding additional advice to articles like that. Proper maintenance and familiarity with personal equipment is mandatory. If auto inflation fails the person in the water (PIW) needs to know how to manually and orally inflate his or her PFD. Electronic locators don’t work automatically so the PIW also needs to know how to manually operate and deploy their antenna if their device doesn’t start radiating upon PFD inflation. I also like the recommendation that every person should fit and adjust their PFD, including the leg straps, then keep their own gear for the duration of each cruise or passage.
Cruising Club of America
Thought I’d check in with you on the PFD issue. I usually have everyone tethered at night, but not during the day, unless it’s wild. Tethered of course also means wearing an inflatable PFD. Generally, if anyone is on deck alone, I try to keep them tethered. The problem is that you are most likely to fall overboard on a calm day, doing something careless, than you are when it’s rough and you’re holding on for dear life! Haven’t figured that one out yet, but I do tell my entire crew that they should consider it as though they are climbing a mountain, and if they fall, they will most likely die. Scare tactics.
In response to your question about wearing a life vest, I once capsized a small boat in the lake without a lifejacket. I became exhausted and swore that I would always wear one after that. I was wearing a (manually inflatable) lifejacket with harness rings clipped on the day I was washed overboard in Monterey (Jan. 2018). Fortunately, the safety lanyard snapped or I would’ve been dragged along like a water skier. I was underwater for a time but lucky I wasn’t unconscious to inflate the life vest when I finally came to the surface.
I documented the event to prevent other boaters from making the same mistakes. Please see YouTube video ‘Shipwrecked in Monterey” below.