Wednesday, July 15, 2015


I've been wearing an inflatable Life Jacket on board BIANKA for decades. Happily, I've never had to use it.  Since it has automatic inflation I've always thought it would save me if I ever went into the water in an unconscious state. I thought it was the best lifesaving device I could wear until I saw...

 this video by Mario Vittone a former U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmer turned water safety expert:

BoatSafe TV - Episode #1 - Inflatable vs. Non-Inflatable: Why I'm Old School from VLinc Maritime on Vimeo.


Andy Mckenzie said...

My father has one of the inflatable ones, but my understanding is that it fits differently. I think it puts more of the floatation lower on the body and more behind the back. He went overboard once (nasty situation; the tiller jammed keeping the boat going straight, and the main sheet wrapped around it keeping the sail in), and had enough mobility to wave to a commercial fishing boat enough to get their attention. He also got waterproof gear bags for an emergency radio and light, and hung them from the harness on the life jacket, where he knew he could get at them in the water.

That said: I'd wear an inflatable one while sailing in a lake or pond, and one of the full jacket kinds if I were solo on the ocean.

And thanks for the video! I hadn't run across those before, and it looks like a good series to watch.

Capt. Mike said...


Glad your Dad got rescued and the jacket worked for him. I did an actual test my inflatable life jacket back in the mid 1990's on a schooner while anchored at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas. It did work but, as Mario pointed out in the video you need to use it for a while to see how uncomfortable it is. I only was in it for five minutes or so. Still, I remember how tight it was around the collar as demonstrated in the video. I just floated in it a few minutes but, have to agree with Vitone that swimming with it would have been difficult. I do like his high visibility mesh jacket choice. I plan on buying one soon.