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:


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.

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Crew Overboard Lessons

Last night I was reading an interesting article published in Yachting Monthly about recovering a victim who had fallen overboard and was attached to the vessel by a tether.

Yachting Monthly Article

There were several observations that I took from the article:

  • It is awfully difficult to recover someone who is dragging alongside the vessel attached by a tether.
  • There is a good chance of drowning while attached to a tether alongside a vessel.
  • Tethers should be short enough to keep you from going overboard in the first place.
  • Jacklines need to be positioned in a manner to help keep tethers short enough to keep the crew onboard.
  • Prior planning and training are paramount to saving the stricken crewmember.

I also found it interesting that Sir Robin Knox-Johnston has successfully recovered two crewmembers who had fallen overboard and that in his tenure running the Clipper Round the World Race three more individuals had been recovered successfully. That goes to show that with proper planning (and maybe a bit of luck) crew falling overboard does not need to equate to death.

Give us a call if you want to discuss your jackline or tether needs. (253) 627-6000

Inflatable PFD Servicing

IMG_1311We service inflatable lifejackets (PFD’s) and we just had two come in that were really old. After talking about it with the owner, he decided to remove them from service and asked if we would dispose of them.

On one lifejacket, the CO2 cartridge did not want to unscrew from the inflator. This was not a real problem since we discharge the cartridge in to the lifejacket as a way to remove the gas charge. Still something just didn’t feel right so rather than pulling the cord in the shop we too it outside and put the device in the bed of our pickup truck. When the lanyard was pulled, the gas discharged and the plastic inflator broke.

IMG_1312Then the CO2 cartridge was free to fly around in the bed of the truck making quite a racket. Fortunately nobody was hurt and even more importantly this lifejacket was not used in a survival situation where the user might have died.

Lessons learned include:

  • Make sure the CO2 cartridge is threaded into the inflator properly. They should thread in smoothly and not bind. It is possible this one was cross threaded putting added load on the plastic inflator.
  • Inspect, or have a professional inspect, you inflatable life jackets yearly. It is easy to do and does not require any special tools.
  • Inflatable life jackets age, plastics become brittle and the buoyancy tube(s) can lose their ability to hold air. These devices are not designed to last 20 years. Replacement every 10 years is prudent.
  • When in doubt, discharge a vest in a controlled environment to keep everybody safe.

If you have any questions please feel free to stop in with your vests.



What OSHA wants

30″ Life Ring

If you have a commercial dock, OSHA wants you to be safe, but just in case someone falls in the water their needs to be a way to rescue them. 29CFR§1926.106(c) requires that “Ring buoys with at least 90 feet of line shall be provided and readily available for emergency rescue operations. Distance between ring buoys shall not exceed 200 feet”.

So at least every 200 feet you need a ring buoy, 90 feet of line and a way to make it readily available.

We sell the Datrex hard shell ring buoys which stand up very well to both UV and  seagulls.  A stainless steel bracket (or two) provides an easy way to mount the ring buoy so that it is immediately accessible.

We make ring buoy rope bags which contain the required 90 feet of floating rope. Having the rope inside a Cordura® bag greatly extends its life and keeps it easy to maintain. The rope is attached to the life ring with a simple splice and easily feeds out of the bag. It is just as easy to re-stuff the bag with the rope after use.

We also make vinyl covers that will protect everything but are quick to remove in an emergency.

As you can see on the back side of the cover there is just a black elastic which holds it in place.

We have other items that might meet your dock’s needs, check them out at http://WestpacMarine.com  and click on the Safety navigation dropdown.