Marine Survival Technologies
www.mstoverwater.com
(251) 639-9354
Randy's Soapbox

 

Placing a foam life vest on a child and not wearing one yourself is really not a good idea. Here's why:

  • You are not setting a good example for your children when you require them to wear their life vests and you do not wear yours. You have them wear a life jacket for two reasons; It's the law, and you want your child be be safe. Don't you think your child wants you to be safe too?
  • Parents may believe that they can get their life vest on if something comes up. The problem is, when something comes up, you will being tending to your child and may not have time to get your life jacket out from under the seat and get it on. The most common small boating accidents are sudden on-set cases where something was struck or sudden capsizing (there are over five hundred small boat capsizes each year in the United States).
  • If you go into the water with a child wearing a life jacket you will naturally hold on to that child. If there are swells larger than three feet, you will submerse the child's head if you try to use his life jacket for flotation. It cannot support both of you. A foam life jacket will only provide 15 lbs. of buoyancy, which is enough to keep an adult on the surface in calm coastal waters. But move offshore with swells at three feet or higher and your head will bob under each time you reach the bottom of the swell.
  • Another issue is hypothermia. If you are in water colder than 70 degrees, you can die from hypothermia. If you are not wearing flotation, you will not be able to perform the heat escape lessening position (HELP) or the huddle position while staying on the surface. Offshore swells will again be an issue if you are are using only the child's life-preserver to keep both of you up and on the surface.

There were 418 recorded drownings in the United States in 2014. Of these drowning victims, 337 were not wearing life vests. Thinking that you can stay afloat by holding your child's life jacket is dangerous for both of you. Set the example, stay safe, and wear your life vest too.

BTW: An inflatable life vest will provide 35 lbs. of buoyancy, which is more than sufficient for an adult in heavy seas.

______________________________________________________________________

 

U.S. Coast Guard Calls Off Search For Two Florida Teens

Is There A Trend Here? Are We Paying Attention?

As someone who constantly looks at these stories, I see a lot of the same factors in each of these cases. Call them trend analysis if you wish. Here are three common trends that I find.

1. Sudden Onset Survival - As boaters, we try to prepare for the worst scenario. We go out and buy life vests, EPIRBs, life rafts, and required CG equipment. That's fine, but the truth of the matter is that about eighty percent of these cases are rapid-onset capsizes during a storm.
If you are not wearing a life vest with attached signaling devices (PLB, signal mirror, whistle, etc. when your boat capsizes, you will most likely become a statistic (There are over 500 capsizes in the U.S. each year).
If the seas are raging enough to flip a boat, then the chances are, you will not be able to retrieve gear after you are in the water. Many survivors describe the seas as if being in a washing machine. You have no control and will be dragged or pushed in whatever direction that the waves and swells send you. Once you are in the water, there are no time outs or do-overs. It's too late. Your only recourse is to climb onto the hull of your over turned boat or anything else floating near by if you can find it.
Other rapid on-set scenarios may include, falling overboard unnoticed, fire, grounding, or being rammed by another vessel. There are so many events that can turn your world around in just a matter of seconds.
Life vests are designed to be worn on the boat. If a foam vest is too bulky and dorky looking for you, try wearing an inflatable vest. There's even a small pouch inflatable (belt pack) that you can put on and rotate it to your backside. Yes, you will have to rotate it around to use it, but it is ON YOU, and that is what really matters. (BTW, the strap on this life vest can be used to attach signaling gear).

2. Do not assume that you will be quickly located if you go in. Even in a high traffic area!
Many believe that because the Gulf Of Mexico and the Pacific areas outside of Florida are "warm water" and crowded with other boaters they can go without floatation. Their belief is that if they go in, they can tread water in hopes that someone will locate them quickly.
I think this case speaks for itself. They have been searching for these two young men for seven days now and have covered well over 40,000 miles of search area.
Looking back at the NFL players who succumbed to hypothermia a few miles off of Clearwater FL a few years back, again, it was a storm, sudden on-set flip-over, and no signaling gear. It took several days to find their capsized boat with one remaining survivor (Nick Schuyler) clinging to the engine shaft. (Read "Not Without Hope")
I have spent a good part of my life searching for PIWs and I can tell you that without some kind of signal, (distracting colors or anything that will catch a scanner's eye), the chances of being found are very slim. It's like looking for a needle in a haystack. Even a bright colored life vest or life raft can be difficult to see in a sea with whitecaps.

3. Don't think for a minute that you are fully prepared for every survival situation. Everyone reacts differently to a survival event. I don't care how salty and experienced you are, you cannot predict your outcome once you are in the arms of the sea. Survival and Murphy's Law go hand in hand and can defeat even those who believe they are ready for anything.
Don't take safety for granted and don't rely on the Government to mandate what you carry and wear when on the water. You should be the one who does this! It's your life and just because the CG does not require you to wear a life vest does not mean that it is not important. They left that interpretation up to you. In 2013 there were 337 boaters in the U.S. who decided that wearing a PFD was not necessary. It was the worst decision of their lives.

 

 

 

Water Survival is not about how long you can stay alive, it's about how soon you can be rescued. With water submersion, time is urgent! To be rescued, you must be found NOW! (From Aviation Survival Technologies Site.)

 

"They flew over me several times. I don't understand why they didn't see me!"

We have all heard the 'after rescue' stories. The one comment that I find most prevalent in these stories is: "They flew right over me several times". The survivors seem so fixed on this statement. "How could they NOT have seen me?"

As a side window scanner for Coast Guard C-130, HU-25, and HU-16 aircraft, I made it a point to search for every person in the water (PIW) as if I were searching for myself. If I were the one out there, I would want the persons searching for me to do the very best they can.

In order for a U.S. Coast Guard HC-130 Scanner to become qualified, he or she must complete a syllabus for pre-flights, post-flights, fueling, servicing the aircraft, and standardized search procedures. When searching for PIWs, they are trained to scan parallel to the trailing edge of the wing, out to the wing tip, then back in. This method will give approximately one mile visual from the aircraft flying at around two hundred feet off of the surface. They are also trained to scan by keeping their eyes moving. This procedure is used in conjunction with the tracking pattern entered into the aircraft's NAV system. The wing-tip rule ensures a one mile search range for the Scanner while the aircraft is set at two mile tracking. This means that the Scanner searches one mile out from the aircraft and when the aircraft turns to do the reverse tracking, the scanner on the other side of the aircraft scans the second mile. In essence, the two mile tracking is divided and searched twice (left and right scanner positions). The Scanner is taught that the probability of spotting a PIW by direct sight is less likely than spotting them with peripheral vision. In other words, we all know that it is nearly impossible for a person in a aircraft moving at around 150 knots to spot a PIW with no signals. The repeated survivor and non-survivor stories tell us that.

A live PIW will be positioned head up and feet down (unless in a immersion suit). The only thing visible from the air is the PIW's head. By keeping the scanner's eyes moving in an up and down motion (fuselage to wing-tip), the PIW will most likely be spotted by the unusual occurrence (a change of seeing just gray water with occasional white caps) via peripheral vision. This scan method helps to relax the brain and lessens fatigue. If you stare at the water, you would become fatigued within minutes.

Usually when a Coast Guard HC-130 does a known search, they will place an extra Scanner on board to help rotate positions. With three Scanners, you can do a rotation every hour with a break between shifts. My longest search took place off of Sitka Alaska where we searched for a downed aircraft for thirty hours within a three day period. Ten hours each day searching for any signs in the water, shoreline, and mountains with no results on that search. 

As a PIW, you have to make an unusual occurrence happen in order to be spotted. If a scanner's peripheral vision passes over an orange object, or a color different from the usual gray, it sounds an alarm in the scanners brain (that was different). Now he goes back to see again, It's too late, it's gone. It's now up to the scanner to make his report. "Pilot -Aft, I think I just spotted something at three o'clock. It looked orange and I only saw it for a second or so." The navigator will automatically lock on to the position where the report was made and they will turn to intercept that position to do a low level search. Now let's complicate that with flying in Alaska or areas where they use orange crab pots. Most have seen the TV series, Deadly Catch. Notice what color those buoys are that they are throwing overboard? Yep, international orange. Now take that fishing area (actually entire Alaska offshore area) and search for a PIW there. After seeing hundreds of small orange buoys floating in the gray water it becomes an even greater challenge!

To be spotted you must change normalcy, you have to attract the scanners peripheral vision on the first pass. For instance, If I were an Alaska fisherman, I would consider changing my signaling colors. Maybe a florescent green from a sea dye maker, or a bright green hat or signaling cloth while keeping in mind that the scanner will spot change of scenery and color before he spots you. Waving your arms above your head (while in the water) does about as much good as yelling at the aircraft.

As a PIW, your main objective is to be rescued and to be rescued quickly. Time is of essence! The rules to survival change when you are submersed in water. You are now completely surrounded by a dangerous and fatal environment that you have absolutely no control over. Your body is losing heat at a very fast rate and you must act fast! Your only chance is to get yourself out of the heat robbing water (Any water temperature below 70 Degrees can kill you).

There are two types of signals, Active and Passive. An active signal is a signal where you are having to physically produce the signal, such as waving two hands above your head or aiming a signal mirror. The passive signal is a signal that can be placed and left unattended, such as a fire or stringing a bunch of bright colored crab pots from a tree.

On the water, one of the most effective signals is a signal mirror. Simply, place the mirror in your pocket prior to your over water flight and it will be there, ready for you to use if needed.

Signal mirrors have been spotted as far as sixty miles away from the air. If scanning the horizon with a signal mirror, you will reach approximately fifteen miles because of the curvature of the earth. By scanning the mirror at about thirty degrees above the horizon, you can be spotted by high flying aircraft. The signal mirror emits a reflection from the sun and produces a very effective eight million candle power flash. A signal mirror is categorized as an active signal but it can easily become passive by attaching the mirror to the outside of a life raft or leaving it to dangle over your shoulder while floating in the water. The center of the signal mirror has a see through hole. By placing the signal mirror (backside) up to your eye, you should see a bright spot. This is the nucleus of the sun. By aiming this bright spot at an aircraft or boat, you are aiming the signal. Another way to aim the signal mirror is to make a V with your first two fingers (gun sight) and with the other hand, aim the mirror flash at the bottom of the V.  You can actually place the flash in the window of a searching aircraft or boat using this method. Signal mirrors can also be used in overcast daylight and at night using the moonlight.

In the water without a signal mirror? Here's a little secret that will place thousands of sun reflections at your disposal. Cup your hands and throw as much water into the air as you can. Each droplet of water will create a reflection from the Sun's prisms. This is a very effective signal to use when aircraft are seen in your search area.

So, I have covered the difference between an active and passive signal, now lets cover the long range signal vs. the short range signal. A long range signal will notify searchers that you are in trouble and a short range signal will direct the searchers to you. Even though a signal mirror can be considered a long range signal, it does not inform others, out of range, that you are in distress. Because boats have glass or Plexiglas windows they are capable of reflecting flashes from the sun. If we diverted every time we saw a flash on the water, it would turn out be unproductive most of the time. But, if it was known that someone in the area was in distress, then the flash would certainally be investigated.

So, how do we communicate our distress? The most common way is by using an Electronic Location Transmitter (ELT).  There are different variations of ELTs such as the Personal Location Beacon (PLB), the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), and the ELT carried on all aircraft. The electronic signal is transmitted to a satellite receiving station and then forwarded to a search and rescue command center. Once the command center gets the information, they will attempt to give you a call to verify the distress. When purchasing an ELT, you are now required to register the unit with NOAA. This registration gives the command center valuable information about you. Who you are, where you live, your phone number, your aircraft type, color, etc. I even recommend that you say what survival equipment you carry on your boat or aircraft in the remarks section. For instance, if you indicate that you have life vests and a life raft on board, this will raise your probability of detection (POD) and probability of survival (POS) score and will not only give the search coordinators a better idea of your drift rate (wind and current factors), but it can also extend the amount of time that they search for you.

An EPIRB is fairly large and is used mostly on small boats with either a manual deployment or a hydrostatic deployment. I have heard of some pilots who like to carry this in a ditch bag, but I do not feel it necessary to carry such a large unit, especially when the much smaller PLB serves the same purpose and function.

The PLB is small and can be easily attached to your belt or to a life vest. I prefer the PLB over any of these devices because it is carried on you verses on your vessel. In the case of an aircraft ELT, it will work fine as long as the aircraft does not sink. (Hello, it's an Air-craft and they are not designed to float)! So if you are depending on the aircraft ELT to bring searchers to you in the water, it will not complete the signal to the satellite once the antenna becomes submersed. Besides, you want them to be searching for you, not your boat or aircraft.

The new PLBs have become digitized and seem to get smaller and smaller each year, but don't let the small size fool you. They still put out the same frequencies (alternating 406MHz & 121.5MHz) and have the same wattage that the larger EPIRBs emit. The only difference is that the EPIRB battery is larger and will usually give the EPIRB a longer transmit time. The McMurdo FastFind Max-G PLB now transmits up to 48 hours. A PLB transmit time is normally 24 plus hours which is plenty of time to locate you just about anywhere on the globe. In fact, the new 406MHz frequency can be picked up by Coast Guard aircraft as far as 150 miles out!

All of the ELT's will alternate between 406MHz and 121.5MHz. This provides two different frequencies for redundancy and accuracy. The satellites will no longer receive the 121.5 frequency from the ELT, but it does give a fairly accurate position direction for surface vessels within line of sight, thus providing long range and short range function.

As a PIW, you will need to get out of the water as soon as possible. You must have effective signals and you need to have these signals ready to use within a split second. Once you spot an aircraft flying towards you, you will not have time to start fumbling around in your gear bag to find a signal. Once the aircraft flies over you, it may not come back. Your signals must be ready and they must send a message.

A single fire indicates you are camping, and three fires in a row, indicates distress. Waving one hand above your head, indicates 'hello," whereas crossing both hands above your head indicates distress. As a general rule, distress signals come in groups of three. Three fires, three logs laid parallel on the beach, three gun shots, and the well known "Mayday, Mayday Mayday" call in threes. In the water, the three rule is replaced by a single flash or color distraction.

Other recommended signals for in-water use:

Fluorescent Lime Green or Orange Signal Cloth           

Pea-less Whistle (close range signal)

Flashlight

Strobe-Light

Rescue Laser Flare

Sea-Dye Marker

Rescue Streamer

Marine Band Handheld Radio

Reflective Space Blanket (Radar and Visual)

AST Deluxe Signal Kit w/ACR ResQLink PLB w/GPS/Real Time Tracking/Strobe Light in Molle Case

MST Lifevest Signal Kit

 

________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

I would recommend for anyone who flies over water frequently or who owns a boat to read the book, "Not Without Hope". I do not sell it on my site, but it can be purchased at Amazon.com.

This book describes the ordeal encountered by Marquis Cooper, Corey Smith, Will Bleakley, and Nick Schuyler as they suddenly found themselves in the water with only the clothes they were wearing and no signals or survival equipment. Nick Schuyler, the sole survivor, describes the events, including the sickening feeling he had when he realized his cell phone was useless and they had no way of letting anyone know that they were in trouble!

This book is an excellent learning tool. It shows how even the most physically conditioned athletes in the warmest coastal waters are too, vulnerable to the deadly effects of hypothermia. It shows how a good event can turn to bad within just seconds and just how vulnerable we are to the open seas. It also describes the determination and struggle of each of these men to survive and how Nick Schuyler (the sole survivor) refused to give up hope, even against all odds.

If this book dosen't convince you to carry a PLB on a donned lifevest, every time you leave the shore, nothing will.

 

__________________________________________________________________________________

 

Ego before Lifevests?

After reading yet another story about a tragedy in the gulf, I feel compelled to add a few thoughts. A small boat off the coast of Louisiana capsized. Four persons are dead and one survivor. Water temperature 52 degrees. Lifevests were in the clasped hands of the deceased.

When the originators of Alaska Marine Safety Education Association created the Seven Steps to Survival, they went out among the fishing fleets located in various parts of Alaska and talked to the fishermen and survivors. One of the questions asked of the survivors was, why didn't you call for help before your vessel sank? The number one answer was, we didn't want the others to know we were having a problem. Most of these fishermen are three and four generation long. In other words, "great grandpa owned the boat, then grandpa, dad, and now me. The last thing I wanted to do is let all my peers know that I am the one having a problem". After receiving several comments of this nature, AMSEA made "Recognition" as the first step to the Seven Steps to Survival.

What it mostly boils down to is ego. The AMSEA group concluded that the very thing that causes a man to not admit he has lost control of a situation, or that causes him to drive lost for hours before he will stop to ask for directions, is the same ego that can cause costly time in making a distress call or to prepare for the emergency.  

I am convinced that this is the same ego block that prevents persons from wearing life vests or from buying the equipment needed to ensure safety. People do not wear lifevests mostly because they are afraid of how others may perceive them. They may be perceived as weak swimmers, or boating novices. Other excuses include, they are intrusive, to bulky, or had a bad smell to them, etc.

As a boat owner, you are the one who sets the standard of safety for your vessel. Wearing a lifevest does not portray weakness any more than wearing a chemical suit into a potentially hazardous room, it shows that you are a responsible boater and that you are able to recognize that there is a potentially dangerous/fatal scenario ahead and you are taking steps to advert that danger should it become imminent. 

You have to set the example! Make it a rule, no one comes on this boat unless they are wearing lifevests. I guarantee you this, your passengers will have a much higher regard for your safety concerns, and since they are required by you to wear the lifevests, it takes the perception issue away.

How does a lifevest help you survive in cold water? It allows you to stay afloat without having to flail your arms and legs. You can now assume the Heat Escape Lessening Position (H.E.L.P.) or HUDDLE position. (Shown Below).  The five largest heat loss areas are the sides of the torso, groin, arm-pits, neck, and head.  To assume the H.E.L.P. posture, place your elbows down covering the sides of your torso, cross your arms across your chest, cross your feet and pull your legs up into a near sitting position. This should cover most of the heat loss areas that are submersed. Having a lifevest on also provides some insulation around the neck and chest area and it also enlarges your target size. Not so much because of the size of the inflated bladder but because of the contrasting bright orange or yellow color of the bladder.

 By assuming the H.E.L.P. or Huddle position, you can extend your survival time by hours.

These life-saving positions CANNOT be performed without floatation.

Foam life vests provide 15 lbs. of buoyancy, whereas, Inflatable life vests provide from 22 to 35 lbs of buoyancy and will ride you higher in the water. I recommend the 35 lb. buoyancy vests for offshore boaters and aviatiors.

______________________________________________________________________________ 

Do you know your liferaft?

 

Did you know?

That you can have personal items placed in your life raft? Sunglasses, PLB, Prescription Medicenes, Hats, Space Blankets?

That you will need to pull 30 to 40 feet of inflatation lanyard out of your life raft valise before it will inflate? The inflation lanyard is also your tether line. When pulling out the lanyard, make sure to keep it neatly coiled in your hands. When you feel it stop, it is at the inflation point.

That the best way to inflate a life raft while floating in the water is to place the bottom of your feet on the life raft package while sharply pulling on the inflation lanyard.

That the CO2 used to inflate your life raft will dissipate over a short period of time causing the life raft to become limp. It will become necessary to pump air back into the life raft as this happens.

That with even a slight wind, a life raft can travel faster than you can swim. Make sure all survivors have a hold of the inflation lanyard when inflating and boarding the life raft.

That aviation life rafts have minimul equipment carried in the enclosed survival equipment package (SEP). Make sure you have necessary gear in your SEP for the area you will be traversing. Do you know what is in your life raft SEP?

That if you place both feet on the bottom rung of the boarding ladder, you will fall underneath of the life raft. The best way to board is to use forward thrust to place your upper body on the top tube, while being assisted by others. It's not pretty, but it works.

That a life raft that is tethered to an item (boat or aircraft) that sinks will break away. The inflatation lanyard (tether) has a 500 lb. break-away point on the liferaft.

That an inverted life raft can be righted by locating the CO2 cylinder and climbing onto the cylinder while pulling the remaining life raft over your head.

That water submersion whisks your body heat away twenty-five times faster than air. By boarding a life raft and getting out of the heat robbing water, you increase your chances of survival by 75%.

 

 

______________________________________________________________________________ 

 

Wait! Where are you putting that EPIRB?

 

 

 

 

A recent case with the four football players in Florida has prompted many to purchase safety and survival supplies for their boats. One Tampa Tribune article mentioned how the marine stores were being flooded with customers stocking up on safety gear. Here are a few of my thoughts about this particular case.

Many (forums, bloggers) said they should have had an EPIRB on their boat.

I question if an EPIRB would have helped in this particular case.

My point. On a small boat such as the 21 footer (that these men were in), there are only one or two locations that an EPIRB would be placed or installed. On the sides of the mid console bridge or in a compartment in the bridge area.

There are two types of EPIRB deployments. Automatic (Category 1) and Manual (Category 2). With an immediate flip over, the EPIRB would remain in it's holding bracket throughout the entire flip-over. If the EPIRB is an automatic deploy (Category 1) there may or may not be enough submersion (13-15 feet) to activate the hydrostatic release. Then, lets say that it did release. Where is the EPIRB going? Right in the middle of the overturned boat! This EPIRB now has two fairly thick layers of fiberglass and a thick layer of foam blocking the signal. The EPIRB is a very valuable tool but it has two drawbacks, it must have clear view of the open sky and the antenna cannot be submersed.

Now it's possible that had one been on board the above mentioned boat, depending where mounted, it may have been retrieved the same way that the life jackets were retrieved, but a loose EPIRB would have been very difficult to locate. I wouldn't recommend, nor does the U.S. Coast Guard, for anyone to swim under an overturned boat. There are many obstacles that could snag you or the back of your clothing.

Placing a Category 2 holding bracket on the console means that you have to physically remove the EPIRB. In this particular case, the EPIRB would have remained in the bracket, up-side down and totally useless. Again, you are taking a dangerous risk by swimming under an overturned boat to retrieve it.

 

By placing a Personal Locater Beacon (PLB) on your person, attached to your belt, in your pocket, or attached to your lifevest, it is with you no matter what. You will be saying "I'm glad I have it, instead of I wish I had it".

Some may question the ability of the PLB compared to the much larger EPIRB. They both put out 5 watts of power, they both alternate 406MHz and 121.5MHz and they both are designed to reach over passing satellites, and within sight searching vessels. The distinguishing characteristics of the EPIRB is that it can be mounted on a vessel, and can be automatically activated by submersion, it floats with the antenna up and out of the water (with the exception of a few splash overs from waves), and it operates for 48 hours. The McMurdo FastFind Max-G PLB floats, and operates for 48 hours. The only distinguishing difference, is that it is attached to you instead of attached to a overturned vessel.

Now granted, because of the size of the EPIRB and higher placement of the waterproof antenna, it will operate much better than a floating PLB. Therefore it is recommended that the PLB be placed up and out of the water. Secure it to the top (outside) of your liferaft or attach it to a upper part of your lifevest. The U.S. Coast Guard helo crews carry PLBs in their lifevests. They have Velcro attached to to top of the helmet to place the PLB.

 ____________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Is Your Personal Locater Beacon (PLB) a Passive or Active Signal?

There are two types of signals, Active and Passive. An active signal is one that you have to operate, such as aiming a signal mirror or firing a aerial flare. In either case you have to actively use your hands and attention to operate it. 

A passive signal is one that you deploy, then leave it alone, allowing you to use your hands and attention elsewhere. An EPIRB once activated is a passive signal. You turn it on and let it float while attached to you or your liferaft.

So here's the question. Is a PLB an active or passive signal? I say on land it is a passive signal, but in the water, it becomes an active signal. Well wait you say, my PLB floats!

Here is what you need to know about floating PLBs.

Although a PLB may be designed to float, it does not mean that it will stay upright, or that the antenna will stay above the waterline. Why is this important? Because the PLB will not send a full signal as long as the antenna is submersed in water! By submersing the antenna (no matter how deep), it cuts the signal transmission enough that it probably will not reach the satellite. If you think that a floating PLB is going to stay upright, and the antenna is going to stay dry with waves crashing over it, you are sadly mistaken. 

So let's get the PLB up and out of the water. You have a choice, either you can hold it up in the air, making it an active signal, or you can attach it to a high point (up and out of the water) on your person.

The U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crews have attached a piece of Velcro to the top side of their helmets where they stick the PLB.

Since you probably don't use a helmet, you can attach a piece of pile (soft side) Velcro w/adhesive to an area on your lifevest bladder. To do this, you must open the lifevest casing, exposing the bladder. Place a 2x2 piece of pile Velcro (soft side) in the area close to where your head comes out (see picture). Then add the "hook side" (coarse side) of the Velcro to the back of the PLB.

Most PLBs come with a attachment line w/ a small halyard type clip on the end. This attachment line (See Picture) should be used as a "back-up" in case the PLB comes loose from the Velcro in a heavy sea state.  Note: I have jumped from a diving board several times with the smaller McMurdo FastFind 210 PLB on Velcro and it did not come off.

By placing the PLB in this location, it becomes a passive signal, allowing you to use both hands for other functions, and because of the PLB placement, you can keep an eye on it as well.

There is only one way to ensure that you have a PLB to attach to a lifevest. By wearing a lifevest with a PLB attached. I see many boaters that keep the PLB in a separate place. This only causes you to grab one more item prior to going overboard. If the PLB is already attached to your lifevest, and you are wearing the lifevest, you will have both hands free for the egress and the lifevest and PLB will be there for your survival. Once you find yourself in the water, inflate the lifevest, pull the PLB out, activate it, and place it on the Velcro on the bladder, then attach the back-up line to the vest. You now have a passive PLB signal, allowing you to use both hands to perform other signaling functions such as using a signal mirror to vector searchers to you.

Marine Survival Technologies sells a 5"x5"x 1.5"  Deluxe Lifevest Signal Kit with the McMurdo FastFind 210 (406MHz) PLB with all components for attachment it to a inflatable lifevest bladder.

Click here for more info.

 

__________________________________________________________________

Life Rafts

Don’t Jump Ship Without One

Randy Boone August 9, 2010

 
  comments
 
test

While it’s common knowledge that life vests and signaling instruments are essential safety devices required by the United States Coast Guard, most boaters don’t put a lot of thought into safety gear. Think about the situation that may arise if you’re ever forced to egress. You may believe that you’re a fit individual and can float around in the ocean for hours on end, but think about your passengers. What if you have children, elderly individuals or the family dog on board? Do you have the same faith they can hold on until rescue arrives? While keeping your passengers out of the water is vital, life rafts serve a secondary purpose—they are substantially more visible to search and rescue crews.

life-rafts1

1 of 3

Highly visible canopies feature reflective tape to make you easier for rescue crews to spot. Photo: (top to bottom) Revere, Viking

For commercial operators the rule is clear and concise. The life raft you select is dependent on the number of passengers onboard and the distance from the coast at which your vessel regularly operates. As a recreational boater you don’t have to abide by the same stiff regulations, but at the very least you should be fully aware of your options.

Although the subtropical climate surrounding the state of Florida offers relatively warm waters year-round, hypothermia is a real possibility. In fact, it’s a serious threat.

For the recreational operator there are two categories of life rafts—coastal and offshore. Coastal rafts are rated for use less than 10-miles from shore, while offshore rafts are for those who routinely venture over the horizon. Offshore life rafts are designed to extend survival time by including noteworthy features such as supported canopies and double chambered buoyancy tubes.

When purchasing a life raft you must first identify where it will be stored on your vessel. Both coastal and offshore life rafts can be packed in a hand carry valise or mounted canister. Valise packs are advantageous because they can be deployed and boarded from any point of the vessel. They can be placed in a shaded and dry area of the vessel, and removed for safe storage when not in use. The downside of a valise is that they can be cumbersome and heavy for some to deploy.

Canister packed life rafts offer peace of mind knowing that your life raft will self-deploy once your vessel sinks, although they can be deployed manually by releasing the hydrostatic holding strap. There are disadvantages to a canister. Sitting in the sun your life raft literally bakes in the canister. In addition, moisture can penetrate the canister and damage the life raft. If unable to manually deploy, you will have to wait until the hydrostatic system releases the life raft. There is also a higher chance of theft or losing the raft overboard in rough seas. Whichever you select, spare no expense and make sure it is the best available option for your particular needs, desires and application.

Among recreational boaters there are many mixed feelings about carrying a life raft. You’re either for it or against it. Many feel that it is an added expense that can be spent on other items such as EPIRBs, PLBs, and/or radio equipment. This equipment is all necessary, but a life raft is paramount.

As a retired U.S.C.G. Senior Chief Aviation Survivalman, I know a great deal about hypothermia and cold water drowning. Although the subtropical climate surrounding the state of Florida offers relatively warm waters year-round, hypothermia is a real possibility. In fact, it’s a serious threat. Fishermen who deal with arctic temperatures know that if they go in the water, they have very little time to live. Because of this, they prepare for the worst. In subtropical locales people believe that because the water is “warm” they will be fine if forced to abandon ship. According to the U.S.C.G Boat Crew Seamanship manual, if the water temp is 70°, most adults have no more than 7-hours before exhaustion or unconsciousness sets in. With 80° degree water temperature, the survival period is extended to no more than 12-hours. In addition, safety experts estimate that nearly half of all drowning victims are a result of hypothermia.

When purchasing a life raft you should take a close look at the equipment carried in the survival equipment package. Some rafts are outfitted with a basic equipment package that contains an air pump, bailer bucket, raft repair kit, flares, knife and survival manual. Smaller rafts may only have an air pump with no survival supplies whatsoever. Others feature extensive packages with whistles, sponges, paddles, seasick tablets, watertight flashlights, drinking water, food rations, first-aid kits and thermal protective aides.

When it comes to necessary features you should first look for an inflatable floor. This will place a four to six-inch barrier between you and the water. Double-layered floors insulate passengers from the elements, as the surrounding water will be colder than your core body temperature. A thin piece of rubber between you and the water will actually suck the warmth from your body through conduction. In the case of a life raft, you can add convection heat loss due to the movement of water under the raft. To improve seaworthiness life raft rafts use a combination of water-filled ballast pockets and a sea anchor. Most feature designs that enable them to right to the correct upright position during deployment—even in dangerous waves or strong winds. You should also look for a platform-boarding ladder, rear-boarding ladder, rainwater catcher, boarding handles, and double-taped buoyancy chamber seams.

If you have all of the survival tools in the world and never have to use them, you are considered a survivor. If you have no survival tools when you need them, you will most likely become a statistic. If you’re convinced you don’t need a life raft for yourself, consider adding one to your vessel for the safety of your family and friends. If it’s ever needed, it will turn out to be the best investment of your life.

- See more at: http://floridasportfishing.com/life-rafts/#sthash.8sMiVL7G.dpuf

 

Life Rafts

Don’t Jump Ship Without One

Randy Boone August 9, 2010

 
  comments
 
test

While it’s common knowledge that life vests and signaling instruments are essential safety devices required by the United States Coast Guard, most boaters don’t put a lot of thought into safety gear. Think about the situation that may arise if you’re ever forced to egress. You may believe that you’re a fit individual and can float around in the ocean for hours on end, but think about your passengers. What if you have children, elderly individuals or the family dog on board? Do you have the same faith they can hold on until rescue arrives? While keeping your passengers out of the water is vital, life rafts serve a secondary purpose—they are substantially more visible to search and rescue crews.

life-rafts1

1 of 3

Highly visible canopies feature reflective tape to make you easier for rescue crews to spot. Photo: (top to bottom) Revere, Viking

For commercial operators the rule is clear and concise. The life raft you select is dependent on the number of passengers onboard and the distance from the coast at which your vessel regularly operates. As a recreational boater you don’t have to abide by the same stiff regulations, but at the very least you should be fully aware of your options.

Although the subtropical climate surrounding the state of Florida offers relatively warm waters year-round, hypothermia is a real possibility. In fact, it’s a serious threat.

For the recreational operator there are two categories of life rafts—coastal and offshore. Coastal rafts are rated for use less than 10-miles from shore, while offshore rafts are for those who routinely venture over the horizon. Offshore life rafts are designed to extend survival time by including noteworthy features such as supported canopies and double chambered buoyancy tubes.

When purchasing a life raft you must first identify where it will be stored on your vessel. Both coastal and offshore life rafts can be packed in a hand carry valise or mounted canister. Valise packs are advantageous because they can be deployed and boarded from any point of the vessel. They can be placed in a shaded and dry area of the vessel, and removed for safe storage when not in use. The downside of a valise is that they can be cumbersome and heavy for some to deploy.

Canister packed life rafts offer peace of mind knowing that your life raft will self-deploy once your vessel sinks, although they can be deployed manually by releasing the hydrostatic holding strap. There are disadvantages to a canister. Sitting in the sun your life raft literally bakes in the canister. In addition, moisture can penetrate the canister and damage the life raft. If unable to manually deploy, you will have to wait until the hydrostatic system releases the life raft. There is also a higher chance of theft or losing the raft overboard in rough seas. Whichever you select, spare no expense and make sure it is the best available option for your particular needs, desires and application.

Among recreational boaters there are many mixed feelings about carrying a life raft. You’re either for it or against it. Many feel that it is an added expense that can be spent on other items such as EPIRBs, PLBs, and/or radio equipment. This equipment is all necessary, but a life raft is paramount.

As a retired U.S.C.G. Senior Chief Aviation Survivalman, I know a great deal about hypothermia and cold water drowning. Although the subtropical climate surrounding the state of Florida offers relatively warm waters year-round, hypothermia is a real possibility. In fact, it’s a serious threat. Fishermen who deal with arctic temperatures know that if they go in the water, they have very little time to live. Because of this, they prepare for the worst. In subtropical locales people believe that because the water is “warm” they will be fine if forced to abandon ship. According to the U.S.C.G Boat Crew Seamanship manual, if the water temp is 70°, most adults have no more than 7-hours before exhaustion or unconsciousness sets in. With 80° degree water temperature, the survival period is extended to no more than 12-hours. In addition, safety experts estimate that nearly half of all drowning victims are a result of hypothermia.

When purchasing a life raft you should take a close look at the equipment carried in the survival equipment package. Some rafts are outfitted with a basic equipment package that contains an air pump, bailer bucket, raft repair kit, flares, knife and survival manual. Smaller rafts may only have an air pump with no survival supplies whatsoever. Others feature extensive packages with whistles, sponges, paddles, seasick tablets, watertight flashlights, drinking water, food rations, first-aid kits and thermal protective aides.

When it comes to necessary features you should first look for an inflatable floor. This will place a four to six-inch barrier between you and the water. Double-layered floors insulate passengers from the elements, as the surrounding water will be colder than your core body temperature. A thin piece of rubber between you and the water will actually suck the warmth from your body through conduction. In the case of a life raft, you can add convection heat loss due to the movement of water under the raft. To improve seaworthiness life raft rafts use a combination of water-filled ballast pockets and a sea anchor. Most feature designs that enable them to right to the correct upright position during deployment—even in dangerous waves or strong winds. You should also look for a platform-boarding ladder, rear-boarding ladder, rainwater catcher, boarding handles, and double-taped buoyancy chamber seams.

If you have all of the survival tools in the world and never have to use them, you are considered a survivor. If you have no survival tools when you need them, you will most likely become a statistic. If you’re convinced you don’t need a life raft for yourself, consider adding one to your vessel for the safety of your family and friends. If it’s ever needed, it will turn out to be the best investment of your life.

- See more at: http://floridasportfishing.com/life-rafts/#sthash.8sMiVL7G.dpuf

Get Social With Us:

 

Contact Us: 251-639-9354
    Email Us