A friend of mine is a member of what is jokingly called the Elk Lake Yacht Club, which is a loose and freewheeling group of folks who like to sail small boats on the jeweled lakes in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. So, when he invited me to go sailing one summer, I jumped straight on board.
I’d never been sailing before, and I can tell you, it’s not for sissies. You have to tack and jibe and constantly stay on your toes. Booms are swinging, lines are flying, and there’s never a dull moment as you constantly gauge the wind and waves. I come from a power boating background, but I can also tell you, sailing is fun.
With all that maneuvering around the boat, and to be safe in case something tippy and untoward happened – we wore auto-inflatable life vests. Also known as inflatable PFDs (personal flotation devices), these auto-inflatables are extremely easy to wear – less bulky, less hot, and equally as effective as conventional life vests.
They are also great for fishing, which involves a great deal of shuffling around the boat, baiting lines, and leaning over the edge with nets. SavvyBoater.com actually sells an auto-inflatable fishing vest that includes six roomy storage pockets, a sheepskin hook and fly patch, and a back hanging ring for your landing net.
You’ll also find it easier to get teenagers into PFDs with auto-inflatable life vests because the smaller, less cumbersome design doesn’t “mess with their look” – or so I’m told.
Depending on your preference and activity, you can choose a manually inflatable life vest, an automatic inflatable life vest, or a belt pack inflatable PFD.
The manually inflatable life vest uses a rip chord that the wearer – or other, nearby individual – pulls in the event of an emergency.
Automatic-activated inflatable PFDs inflate when they are immersed in water. They operate on a small bobbin or tablet that dissolves in the water and causes the inflator to activate and fill the inflatable cell. They are an ideal choice for situations where you don’t expect to go in the water – such as sailing or power boating – but want to be prepared for the unexpected.
A belt pack inflatable PFD fits around your waist like a belt, staying out of your way until activated and is manually inflated by pulling the activation cord. Manually-activated PFDs are a great choice for activities such as paddling, wade-fishing and swimming where there is a reasonable chance you will end up in the water and are confident you will be able to pull the inflation cord when you need it.
Shop Savvyboater.com for wide selection, top brands, and great value. For more information on how to pick the right inflatable PFD, read their articles on Choosing the Right Life Jacket and How to Select and Maintain an Inflatable PFD.
An auto-inflatable life vest gives you excellent protection in case the unexpected happens, and are available in U.S. Coast Guard approved Types III and V.
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