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Old 03-25-2010, 08:27 AM   #1
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As Im doing a sailing trip coming up. I would like to head out to sea for a couple of days, to refocus. I went into my local marine shop investigating safety harnesses. Expecting to purchase a harness etc was blown away when suggested the best way is to buy a Hutchwilco Inflatable vest and a tether line. it does make some sense however, Is the jacket strong enough to take the strain of an overboard situation happens? any ideas very appreciated. What do others do?
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Old 03-25-2010, 11:06 AM   #2
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I am not familiar with the Hutchwilco brand, our experience is with the SOSPender brand. A few weeks ago we disassembled a very old one that we did not want to take a chance of using should something happen. (We regularly disassemble old backpacks and anything with strong straps and buckles so we can reuse the buckles around the house and boat.)

This 20-something year old SOSpender was tough. The stitching was still intact, I had a hard time removing any of the parts, they weren't going to give if one of us had been wearing it when going overboard. The outside covering of the inflatable portion of the vest had gotten a bit brittle with age, but the inflatable bladders were still supple and strong.

Here's a YouTube video of its deployment:

We bought these after a short but very uncomfortable passage when we both kept our safety harnesses on all the time, both below and on deck. The bulky life vests were uncomfortable to wear all the time, though, so they were removed when one of us was off watch. The SOSpenders were more comfortable to keep on all the time if necessary ("more comfortable" than the regular fat vests, though still not "comfortable.")

I would endorse their use offshore.
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Old 03-25-2010, 03:55 PM   #3
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I prefer the harness/inflatable over those in-croperated into a jacket. The jackets might be nice in colder climates but the harness, in my opinion, can be used with any combination of deck gear.

I don't remember which brand I have (it's on the boat now & I'm not). It might be a Mustang, but it is just an inflatable harness with just chest straps, no crotch straps. It has the D ring in front for attachment of the tether, along with a single harness snap or buckle. I also use this when I go aloft, it may not be approved for this but it is much easier to get into/out of than the others I have. The life jacket is not auto inflate since I had hear negative reports about the auto inflates. This one is like the military inflatables and you have to pull a lanyard, plus it has an oral inflate tube.

I wear mine when I'm single handing and on deck. I also wear it in the dingy in bad weather (I'm 72 yo and have never been a strong swimmer). I also try to remember to wear it when docking or picking up my mooring, even if I have a crew. Just makes good sense. At least the crew could complete the mooring/task and safely before dealing with the "skipper in the water".

Also this harness it compact enough to wear under or over the foul weather gear or jacket. Since the tether is in font, you can just unzip the front partially when you want to use it to "snap-in". I do find the tether does cause problems when you bend over to do something. I try tossing it over my shoulder but that seldom works for long and I try to avoid the temptation to loop it over or around my neck for obvious reasons. I think one of those tethers with elastic would be the best solution for this problem. My standard tether is about 8 ft long and I think those elastic ones stretch out to about that length.

Enough of my Opinions, FWIW

Steve
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Old 03-26-2010, 06:47 PM   #4
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David and I have Mustang harness/inflatable life vests. These are the automatically inflatable ones (once they hit the water they inflate but won't inflate in heavy rain) but they do have two manual inflate capabilities if the auto inflate thing doesn't work. The first is a pull tab on the auto cartridge, the second being a blow tube. These come with a tiny whistle inside. I recently took one apart to figure out how I'm going to sew on a pocket with strobe and another whistle to the life vest.

We both wear these comfortable vests whenever we're mooring/docking and in the dingy since the waters are cold here in the Pacific and even a spill from the dingy would be a bit of a shock. Other boaters do ask us about why we're wearing (clearly offshore use) lifevests in the dingy--and we just tell them that if we're in the habit of wearing them, we'll have them on when we need them.

I was trying to figure our if I could modify or add to this Mustang to achieve a full harness and just decided that we will very likely go ahead and make or purchase full harness (with leg straps/seat strap arrangement) for use under the Mustangs offshore in rough conditions.
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Old 03-26-2010, 10:05 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Festina' date='25 March 2010 - 01:27 AM View Post

As Im doing a sailing trip coming up. I would like to head out to sea for a couple of days, to refocus. I went into my local marine shop investigating safety harnesses. Expecting to purchase a harness etc was blown away when suggested the best way is to buy a Hutchwilco Inflatable vest and a tether line. it does make some sense however, Is the jacket strong enough to take the strain of an overboard situation happens? any ideas very appreciated. What do others do?
If you go over by yourself while the boat is moving, you are probably a dead man. Better to rig it so it prevents you from going over at all, or at least keeps you out of the water.
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Old 03-27-2010, 08:31 PM   #6
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Yes, you don't want to go over, period. Rig your jacklines, ideally along the centerline of the boat rather than along the rails. Further, give yourself two tethers--one short, one long (say 3 ft and 5 or 6 ft) so you can choose which to use depending on how tight you want to be to the jackline.

If you do go over, you want to be able to release your harness from the tether while the whole shebang is under load. Therefore you'll need to use something like a snap shackle, a Koch fitting (used on parachutes) or another similar device rather than a 'beaner or shackle that cannot be released under load.

A fellow I know who did a lot of solo sailing in the 1980's used to trail lines off the back of his boat in case he went overboard. He did go overboard once during a solo Atlantic crossing (UK to US)and managed to catch one of these lines to bring himself back aboard. The cold almost killed him, though. I can't recall why he wasn't attached to the jackline, but he wasn't.

If you do go over (especially while sailing solo), assuming you're in warm enough water to survive, you'll be happier if you have a whole little kit of things attached to your body which includes a strobe, whistle, signaling mirror, dyepack, personal EPRIB, and waterproof handheld VHF. You CAN have all this stuff attached to you and still safely maneuver on deck and do what you need to do sailing the boat.

Good luck in getting your harness together. When I finally get our little kit of stuff attached to the vests and make the full harness, I'll post a couple pics for you. That should happen in the next 30 days or so.

Fair winds,
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Old 03-28-2010, 01:52 AM   #7
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A solo sailing friend of ours rigged a quick release for his wind vane so that should he go overboard the wind vane would be released and the boat would luff and come to a stop. He figured that otherwise the boat would sail away without him. I was curious - how far would a boat sail per minute?

Towing a line behind the boat seems a bit futile unless the boat is going very slow, the line is very long, and there's something on the end that would be visible enough that someone in the water wouldn't have any trouble finding the rope immediately.

The attached file, DistanceKnots, calculated the distance a boat will travel in a minute, which is not much time to grab a 200-foot line trailing behind the boat.

Better not to go into the water in the first place, as Redbopeep said.
Attached Files
File Type: doc DistanceKnots.doc (23.5 KB, 4 views)
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Old 03-28-2010, 03:25 AM   #8
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Yes, stay aboard!

The trailing lines thing reminds me that we've yet to set up our man overboard pole correctly with line as advised by an experienced cruiser. His is set up so that when he throws the pole overboard he is also throwing several things attached to the pole: 150 ft of polypro line (it floats) which is attached to a horseshoe life ring and attached to the pole. In addition to the man overboard flag atop it, the pole has reflective tape wrapped around it, the ring has a whistle and (manual turn on) strobe attached to it and the pole has a 12" drogue attached to it to keep the whole system from floating away faster than the overboard person might swim to it. The reason for 150 ft of line is in hopes that the overboard person can reach any one of the three-- the pole, the line, or the horseshoe and grab on.

I've recently seen glow-in-the-dark polypro line so I suppose that one could use that which might be helpful to the MOB in grabbing onto the line/horseshoe ring if it is dark.

Stay aboard. Stay clipped into that jackline
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Old 03-31-2010, 01:36 AM   #9
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The only extra that I can add to the excellent info above is. Buy a descent quality harness/lifejacket (you get what you pay for) and one that is comfortable for you to wear. Remember you could be wearing it for long periods of time and an ill fitting uncomfortable harness will drive you nuts and make you less likely to wear it. We have Spinlock Deckvests which are excellent. Fit us very well especially my wife who is quite small.

Cheers
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Old 04-06-2010, 09:57 PM   #10
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Hi I started the topic about the Inflatable Lifejackets. I have done the trip and wow. I had the collar and tether on most times. What a difference, confidence up by oh quite a bit. Once I learnt that the tether fits in my pocket out the way and not hanging around my neck. Strongly recommend these. Thank you for the input into this topic it helped. I can understand how a man overboard can happen especially, when coming out on deck groggy and half asleep after a rude awakening in the dark hours or whatever. I had many a thought for the missing man on the yacht here who went over. May it happen to no one else.
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Old 04-07-2010, 12:02 AM   #11
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My life vests are CrewFit, harness type as well, I especially like the leg straps they come with, that keep the vest from riding up when your afloat, it keeps your head up much higher and makes doing other tasks with your hands much easier.
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Old 12-06-2014, 06:15 PM   #12
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Just ran across this video British sailor Andrew Taylor knocked off yacht by 70ft wave is rescued alive after spending 90 MINUTES in freezing and stormy Pacific seas | Daily Mail Online and story about a man overbord rescue this spring. Good article and take a look at that lifevest doing its job!
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Old 01-23-2015, 04:55 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Festina View Post
As Im doing a sailing trip coming up. I would like to head out to sea for a couple of days, to refocus. I went into my local marine shop investigating safety harnesses. Expecting to purchase a harness etc was blown away when suggested the best way is to buy a Hutchwilco Inflatable vest and a tether line. it does make some sense however, Is the jacket strong enough to take the strain of an overboard situation happens? any ideas very appreciated. What do others do?
You probably have the information as time has passed if not here is a very good link

Types of lifejacket and PFD - Maritime NZ
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