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    After some of the mishaps in the news, there has been some discussion of lifejackets. I taught this for the auxiliary for a long time, and there is a big difference in function, and comfort.

    They go by 5 types.

    Lets start with the basic, the type IV throwable. Be it a cushion, rings, horseshore or anyother flotation device, their function is to be thrown to someone in the water, whether or not they have a wareable on. 50' of floating line? Well, not in practible use. Law (in the US) does not require one. In many practice sessions for the auxiliary, I have found, most of the time the PIW (person in the water) is far enough behind the boat that the retreival line wont reach. And throwing it with the line in the water does usually winds up in the prop (literally) of the boat rescuing him. I, personally, do not have lines on my type IVs and have 2 cushions and a ring aboard. Technical: 15+ # of flotation

    Type III. The vest. Made for swimmers, or someone training in staying in a vertical position, to keep the head above the water. Has a benefit of providing a measure of insulation for the chest area, where 50% of the heat loss from the body occurs. I have 5 aboard. Note: the sterns is more confortable than the Mustang. The sterns has a mesh inside and lets some air breathe thru. The mustang is soliid inside and hotter. Take this from someone who had to wear one 8 hrs a day while on patrol in the Florida sun. The official design is called "in-shore". However, this is what the CG personnel wore on deck. Technical 15+# of flotation

    Type II. The horse collar. The least expensive. Designed to turn some of the people face up. They work well, but are uncomfortable to wear. Technical: 15# of flotation

    The type I. This had the most flotation, designed to turn mostly all face up, and required for commercial vessels. Comes in large size horse collar, and jacket style. The jackets style is better for hypothermia protection. They ain't cheap either, because a good one has the commercial certification from the CG. That takes a lot of te$ting...... I hav e 2 aboard although most of our cruising is inland or ICW. The official name for the typeI is "offshore" Technical 21+# of flotation

    Now, I have saved the inflatables for last. I have mixed feelings about them. Let me explain.

    Being in the auxiliary and seeing things go wrong with boaters, and we got called, maintenance of the boat/engines and stuff made uop the vast majority of called for us. Famous last words " Tune up? I had one last year..." The inflatables are great in comfort and performance and WILL save lives, however, provided the owners maintain them. I have seen them inflated in the boat because some kid was screwing with them and owners saying it happened last year. Being a bladder, a punchure renderes it useless, and you will not know it untill you are in the water with it on, and NEED it...

    Like a lot of oither things they are not fool-proof, and there are more powerful fools born every day.

    The foam filled wearables and thowables are more fool-proof.

    Now, lets address a MOB situation. First person seeing it, yells man overboard, XXX side of boat (either starboard or right will work), and points to the MOB. A throwable or which floats (ice chest, fender, etc) is thrown best as you can. The person pointing continues to do so until the MOB is alongside. The skipper turns the boats, sounds 5 or more horn blasts (danger signal warns others) , and proceeds to a spot just upwind of the MOB so the wind wil bring the boat to the MPOB, while the skipper and everone else gets him in. Engine is off and in gear to not have a spinning prop. ALWAYS with the MOB facing the boat as not to break his back. Better if he can climb the ladder.

    If offshore, add: "mayday" on the radio. That was additional help is on te way incase you have a problem.

    Be sure to cancel the mayday after recovering the MOB

    One time, while 5 miles offshore we came across a very obese guy in the water who had falled off a large sport fish boat, and they did not know he was MOB. No PFD, but he had built-in flotation, if you get my drift. I called it in, but getting this 325# guy into the boat when both of us did not weigh that together, was quite a chore. He was exausted and could not climb the ladder. We tied a line around him, and with we pulling, he made it in. The CG go-fast on patrol arrived, and they took him away. I imagine the capt of the sport fish got in trouble. We went on fishing.
    Captharv 2001 2452
    "When the draft of your boat exceeds the depth of water, you are aground"

    Thanks for the info!


      Thank you very much for posting this important information.
      Jim McNeely
      New Hope a 2004 Bayliner 305 Sunbridge Express Cruiser
      Twin 5.7s with Bravo2 drives
      Brighton, Michigan USA
      MMSI # 367393410


        very good read, thanks!


          Good info now take it one step further and picture it with only you and the Admiral on board: You the MOB at 250lbs and she the skipper at 125lbs. From a previous thread the MOB is not wearing a PFD.

          She the skipper has to keep an eye on you, call for help, throw a floating object to aid in visual, turn the boat around approach upwind power down, put in gear, lower the ladder and oh yeah you have a dinghy sitting on your swim platform. I forgot to mention the 2' seas and 55F water temp. Also add in the PNW a 3kt or more current.

          If you think your ready the next time out with someone other than you the skipper at the helm and while at trawler speed do the following:

          Throw a fender overboard Yell this is a drill MOB retrieve the fender I just threw overboard and the do or say nothing else. Time them.

          I know I am not prepared!! I'll let you know how it goes because I plan to do exactly this next time out. My admiral has boated longer than me has PS training is Radio certified.

          The next time out look around and see how many boaters match the above.

          The Blaine Wa. PS held a "Suddenly In Command" training course. Our PS plans to do the same
          John McLellan White Rock BC
          "Halifax Jack"
          1999 2855 383 stroker BII
          MMSI 316004337


            great write up CaptHarv.

            I've always debated the infatable vests or the automatic ones.

            We keep 4 Life Jackets on board along with a fitted PFD for each passenger onboard.

            I like John's comment. Very true for us and a great idea that we'll try this summer.


              good stuff for sure

              Thanks Captain Harv,,,,you're a gem!

              I am pretty lax about them, but I do have 5 adult and one kid size on board and they are all in good shape.

              Early or late in the season I will wear one when climbing out to deploy fenders, or if it is bouncy and I am far from shore.

              I'm guilty of never having drilled myself or my motley crew.