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Auto v Manual Life Jackets - Foot for thought

Printed From: The Solent Fishing Forums
Category: Fishing Forums
Forum Name: Boat Talk
Forum Description: This forum is for anything related to local boat fishing
Printed Date: 23 January 2019 at 9:07pm

Topic: Auto v Manual Life Jackets - Foot for thought
Posted By: snowy
Subject: Auto v Manual Life Jackets - Foot for thought
Date Posted: 05 November 2017 at 4:13pm
I posted this on WSF but in case you haven't seen it:

I always wear a life jacket and so far it has been a manual inflate but auto inflate for the crew. This was in case I needed to go into the water and also because of a previous false activation in wet conditions.

On Friday 3rd November I had just docked my boat in Portsmouth Harbour and got onto the dock with the intention of flushing the engine. As I leant against the boat to attach the flush the boat moved away from the pontoon and I fell in, hitting my head on the propeller as I went. I surfaced with blood pouring from a head wound, dazed, disorientated and needing to get out of the water urgently.

My lifejacket, of course, had not inflated and I had no thought to do it manually.

To cut the story short I was blue lighted to hospital with my skull clearly visible through a two inch gash. I lost a fair bit of blood and the wound was glued back together.

The point of the post is that I was so close to being unconscious and probably drowning. In future I will always wear one of my auto inflate lifejackets and perhaps anyone reading this will consider doing the same.

This is not an isolated incident, two years ago another club member went in and dislocated his shoulder in the process and was unable to get out of the water. He managed to hold on to a dangling rope until help arrived

Posted By: rag & stick
Date Posted: 05 November 2017 at 4:49pm
Snowy, so glad to here you survived your ordeal. A few years back I had an accident and here to tell the storey. I was going over to the boat in my tender when I reached forward to grab the boarding ladder and my kill cord pulled out of the outboard and stopped the tender. Thinking rather than than replace cord I was close enough to reach out further to grab the ladder and fell in between tender and boat. This was in February so the water was very cold, I too had a manual operated life jacket on and because it was dark and freezing cold I could not locate the pull cord to inflate the life jacket and spent far to long trying to get out of the situation and out of the water. Big learn for me always wear automated life jackets

Posted By: Redduke
Date Posted: 05 November 2017 at 6:07pm
Glad to hear you are ok. Think its good to share experiences, good and bad for us all to learn from. I personally always have auto inflate for the very reason that falling overboard may involve some form of injury. Better to be lying face up in the water than face down.

Just goes to show, you dont need to be ten miles out to sea for accidents to happen.

All the best. Hope you didnt damage the propeller 😀

Posted By: Doombar Dave
Date Posted: 05 November 2017 at 8:03pm
Likewise glad you are both here to tell your tale just goes to show how easy these things happen and we all take it for granted that it won't happen to me attitude.

4 auto inflating lifejacket's was one of and  the 1st bits of kit I bought when I got the boat, but like many it is to easy to forget to put them on, so what we do is mine is hung on the wheel and Kev's is on the crew seat so that have to be moved PUT on before we set off.

With all that blood in the water didn't you think about putting a bait over in case you had attracted some sharks.

Parker 660 AmyJames

Posted By: Whitewash
Date Posted: 05 November 2017 at 8:47pm
This is a big point for me.

I wear automated life jacket with a EPRB attached when on my Orkney 520 wherever I am or when using tender in Chi Harbour to get to charter boat. Most do not when going out to moorings. Tide can be ripping.2 years ago I picked up a yachtie in Itchenor Reach who fell off tender between it & boat and he had been swept 300 yds within seconds - life jacket had not been put on. I was on my way to the charter boat in the tender. No one else around!
If on thecharter boat put same life jacket/ EPRB on whenever moving away from railed area e.g sorting anchor issue up front.
Some may think a bit wimpy BUT too many have been lost due to lack of basic safety.Am IoW boy & Dad & 2 sons I knew drowned a few years ago off Bonchurch when their boat capsized just offshore. Coroners report said they drowned due to no flotation kit and heavy clothing as no sign of other injuries.
If my EPRB is activated Coastguard knows that I am in the eastern Solent area & can get a fix. Imagine falling into sea on a big tide & how fast you get swept along from where you went in and no one may know that happened unless you have something to tell them like EPRB. Also useful as a locator on top of VHF distress signal.
I have done sea survival course and marine first aid for my Commercial Ticket but recommend for anyone out in boats.


David Cox

Posted By: snowy
Date Posted: 05 November 2017 at 9:05pm
Clothing was another issue. Trying to climb out in a soaked hoodie under a heavy fleece with two wellingtons filled with water was not easy even though I had managed to drop the dive ladder on the back of my boat. One of the other guys that helped me commented on the enormous weight of the soaked clothing.

Posted By: WiltshireRam
Date Posted: 05 November 2017 at 9:12pm
Plenty of food for thought there, thanks for sharing. Andy - so pleased to hear that you are okay.


Boat Name: "Millster", white Warrior 165

Posted By: Osprey Oldman
Date Posted: 05 November 2017 at 10:22pm
Blimey Andy, That was a nasty one. Very glad that you survived to tell the tale. And many thanks for posting it as it makes a good reminder that accidents can and do happen.

I've never seen any stats on it but I bet most accidents, like falling in, happen near moorings, logical I suppose.
I posted my stupid experience a few years ago but here it is again.
January, freezing, about 6.30pm so dark. Had just come in and cleaned up. My two mates went on with the trolley and I locked up. 
I have no idea how it happened really, but I walked along the pontoon and turned right onto the ramp, except the ramp wasn't there! I'd turned right a yard too early and stepped right off the edge of the pontoon. The only explanation I can think of was that my specs were splashed with water from hosing down, and the pontoon light might have dazzled me (no, I definitely hadn't been drinking!)
I called out to my mates who ran back - straight past me, as they couldn't see me below the pontoon.
I grabbed the edge of it and heaved myself out with their help, but as Andy says, three layers of fleece makes swimming impossible and heaving yourself out very difficult.
And was I wearing my life jacket? Of course not! We'd been wearing them all day but taken them off to leave on the boat, ready for the next trip.
So now, especially if I'm on my own, I try to persuade myself to keep it on till I'm on dry land. 
Andy's experience adds a lot of weight to the argument!

Posted By: Ahab
Date Posted: 06 November 2017 at 7:56am
glad to hear your ok andy im sure   others on here will learn from the near death tale auto life jacket    on the xmas list good point dave   about the plb   now I do use mine the wife got it me a few years ago and its   tiny   I just thread it on belt so its   not in the way   anyone   got any ideas on the most   comfy light weight auto jackets please

Posted By: Redduke
Date Posted: 06 November 2017 at 8:00am
After reading these experiences, I will seriously think about wearing my jacket until I get back to the car. I often fish alone and set off or get back when no one else is about

Posted By: Whitewash
Date Posted: 06 November 2017 at 12:45pm
Ray - I have Seasafe 150 (12402 -3) Automatic with crutch strap, auto light & spray hood which can be added into the

Some other points for all- apologies if sucking eggs etc:

As you say the EPRB is small and mine is on my life jacket belt as is my waterproof handheld radio which is on other side (have lanyard for more reach if needed). Boat DSC radio is on general channels such as 77 and handheld on 16 so can listen to coastguard. If I am in the water & conscious I can use radio to aid rescue and am already on CH 16.

The reason for automatic inflation, & light is obvious but I learnt from my sea survival course how important a crutch strap &the spray hood are. SH reduces the risk of swallowing sea water. All costs a bit more but what price a life.

Also get you life jackets checked & serviced regularly. I once did all my 4 (non charter) a year later than should have & on inspection they found one of the older ones deflated when in the water due to a tiny hole in the bladder (I think from a hook). It would have been no good if someone had been wearing it!

The message has reminded me that I need to send 2 of mine in to Seasafe Via Force 4 in Chi which is one of their drop off points. You can find where


David Cox

Posted By: snowy
Date Posted: 06 November 2017 at 3:30pm
The servicing of a life jacket is quite simple but I can fully understand why people would want it done professionally.

From what I can see you inflate the bladder manually and leave it overnight to ensure it is still airtight.

Then check all around, especially the gas canister and housing and look for corrosion. If there is any then change all the affected parts, all are readily available online. Check all the webbing straps for wear or damage. Lastly replace the gas canister, with a small amount of marine grease around the thread, and the battery in the light.

Another tip I was taught is to wrap the gas bottle and where it meets the trigger mechanism with insulation tape. It keeps it dry and free from corrosion.

Check everything works and moves freely and then carefully repack the lifejacket.

Alternatively pay you local chandlery to do it for you!

Posted By: Whitewash
Date Posted: 06 November 2017 at 3:59pm
Good tips.
I just take the easy route although I do check them during the year for anything obvious.The key point you make is to CHECK that they will work as when they don't it will be when you need it to.

Thanks for suggestion re gas bottle - will do that as makes a lot of sense.

David Cox

Posted By: Ahab
Date Posted: 06 November 2017 at 4:26pm
my auto life jkt is ordered   this life jkt chat has reminded me of an incident   about 5 years ago a mate a commercial   chap was getting out of his boat into the tender when he slipped into langstone harbour as luck would have it he ended up under his upturned tender his auto jkt inflated   trapping him under   his tender talk about panic every time he tried to get under and out his life jkt stopped him after a couple of mins   struggling and panicking he calmed down enough   to   push his tender up and   get out where he could shout for help which he got and ended up stripped naked on the shore   and taken to qa hospital hard to belive but true

Posted By: MadMackem
Date Posted: 09 November 2017 at 4:59pm
Originally posted by snowy snowy wrote:

The servicing of a life jacket is quite simple but I can fully understand why people would want it done professionally. .......Alternatively pay you local chandlery to do it for you!

Some RNLI stations used to have lifejacket maintenance sessions. You take the spares along but they are on hand to advise. All for a donation - not sure ion they still do it but if enough were interested I'm sure they would put one on. 

Boat name MeMe; MMSI 235 086 284;    Call sign 2ELL9

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