Without safety gear the Coast Guard’s job is just that much more difficult

The United States Coast Guard recently came to the rescue of two sailboats off of the Washington coast.  All four people rescued are in good shape but one of the vessels was not equipped with immersion (survival) suits so the Coast Guard helicopter crew had to leave the rescue to obtain survival suits to lower to the crew.

For around $300.00 you can purchase a new immersion (survival) suit and greatly increase your chance of survival should you need to abandon your vessel. These suits last between 10 and 15 years with minimal service which you can do yourself. You can easily take them from boat to boat should you be the crew on a number of vessels. Forgo a cup of coffee at McDonalds one a month and you have covered the cost of an immersion suit.

Here is the full news release from the United States Coast Guard:


Fire Extinguishers on Commercial Vehicles

All commercial trucks, truck tractor and busses must be equipped with a portable fire extinguisher. It must be readily accessible for use and securely mounted to prevent sliding, rolling or vertical movement relative to the motor vehicle.

If you are carrying hazardous materials the fire extinguisher must have a minimum rating of 10 B:C, otherwise the extinguisher must have a minimum rating of 5 B:C.

We sell two Amerex fire extinguishers that meet the 10 B:C minimum (and these are the smallest models they offer). Both come standard with a bracket designed to vehicle mounting and they meet all of the requirements set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Model 417T is rated as a 1 A, 10 B:C extinguisher. It uses ABC dry chemical powder which while less expensive than other models, this dry chemical powder tends to adhere to hot surfaces making clean up a bit of an issue.

Model 410T is rated as a 10 B:C extinguisher. It uses a BC dry chemical powder known as Purple K. This powder is noted for being an extremely effective agent for extinguishing Class B flammable liquid and pressurized gas fires. After the fact it also provides easier clean up than the ABC powder.

Both of these fire extinguishers are dimensionally the same so the choice is in their extinguishing agent.

If you want the full Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulation, click this link for Part 393.95.

Inflatable PFDs (life jackets)

While we sell rearm kits for inflatable PFDs, we no longer offer marine PFDs, mainly because we could not make money selling them. Still I often get asked what my thoughts are on brands and if one should buy a manual or automatic inflate model.

I read an entry at the Scuttlebutt Sailing News blog which provided an excellent viewpoint on  the manual/automatic debate. You can read it for your self and see if it makes as much sense to you as it did to me.

As to what brands I like, the answer is “the one that is most comfortable for you”. PFDs like all clothing items are cut and sized differently from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some are more comfortable for women and others for men. Just because a ABC brand fits you well, that does not mean it will be the least bit comfortable for your wife/partner. You both need to try them on and decide what type of inflation system fits your needs best.

When it comes time to buy a rearm kit, we have ones to fit most inflation systems. Give us a call at (253) 627-6000 if you need help figuring out what to order.


Lifting tackle modification

A customer asked if there was a way to modify our 5:1 lifting tackle so it would be easier to extend. Having the Prusik knot on the upper triple block put the least load on the knot when hoisting but it makes it difficult to extend the device to its full length. We did a little checking and some testing and found an easy solution.


Moving the Prusik knot to the lower double block allows you to keep it loose for extending the lifting tackle but still work great under load.

The first step is removing the Prusik cord from the upper triple block.


The you retie the knot on the correct leg of rope (see the first image and follow the pink arrows) on the lower double block. The second image above shows the first loop of the Prusik knot.


Here we have completed the knot by passing the cord through for the second loop. Needless to say inspecting the knot prior to removing it in the first place would make this easier.


Now we have attached the Prusik cord to the shackle on the lower double block and other than tightening up the knot, our work is done.


The lifting tackle is ready to be put back in to service and now it will be much simpler to extend it to its full length. As of June 28, 2016 all of the 5:1 lifting tackles ordered from us will be rigged in this manner.

If you need any help performing this modification give me a call at (253) 627-6000.

Install a hydrostatic release in a GME EPIRB

If you need to replace the hydrostatic release in a GME Category I EPIRB, here are the steps.

  1. Install the bolt and yellow curved plastic piece with its “buttons” pointing down.
  2. Next place the hydrostatic release with the top label pointing down over the bolt and curved yellow piece. Remember to date the release prior to installing it- the date should be two (2) years from the date you install the release. Then place the yellow top piece over the release. Note the position of the “button”.
  3. Finally pull the stainless steel spring down over the release. Thread the stainless nut over the plastic bolt and tighten until it is snug. You are now finished.

We have hydrostatic release kits in stock for GME EPIRBs. The come with a new Hammar H20E release, special bolt and stainless steel nut.

Ikaros hand held smoke signal recall

The USCG issued safety alert 04-16 regarding hand held smoke signals (their other smoke signals like the 3 minute lifeboat smoke or 15 minute bridge smoke are not affected by this safety alert) manufactured by Hansson Pyrotech using the Ikaros brand name.

These are not the “lifeboat” smoke signals used in life boat and life raft equipment packs, rather they are a hand held version used in bridge flare kits of some passenger carrying vessels.

If you have any of these contact Datrex directly at (337) 738-4511.


USCG can’t use the best equipment

The USCG is banned from using “essential night-vision technology” because they are part of Homeland Security, not the Department of Defense. Hopefully they can get this straightened out and get on with their marine safety mission.

Coast Guard banned from necessary technology because it is not part of DoD

Ever since the Coast Guard was moved over to Homeland Security their marine safety mission has taken a back seat to pushing paper. This has to be frustrating for all involved and dangerous for those who depend on their services.

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