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:

http://www.d13.uscgnews.com/go/doc/4007/2890638/

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.

 

Throw Bags

Throw bags are an important piece of safety equipment whenever you are around the water. We manufacture in house two different models:

Bluewater: designed for use on salt water or lakes.

Whitewater: designed for use in rivers and places where you have a strong current.

The throw bags are quite similar and all incorporate our “cornet” (inverted cone) design for easy restuffing of the rope. They all use Sterling Rope Company’s WaterLine which is made in the USA and specifically designed for throw bags.

What differentiates the two models is the diameter of the line used. The Bluewater models use 5/16″ (top with blue tracer) and the Whitewater models use 3/8″ (bottom with red tracer).

waterline5/16″ WaterLine has a breaking strength of 1596 pounds whereas the 3/8″ has a breaking strength of 3416 pounds. The added size also makes it easier to haul a victim back to shore by hand. The picture really does a poor job of showing the difference in diameter but the 20% increase makes the 3/8″ size much easier to grip.

Can you use a Whitewater model in a salt water environment, sure. The materials these bags are constructed from are the same, it really comes down to what line diameter you want.

If you are in Tacoma, come on by and give them a toss. Online you can check them out and place an order using our secure shopping cart.

 

Tacoma mushroom hunters could have used a PLB

The Tacoma News Tribune just had an article about two men who got lost while hunting mushrooms.  Fortunately they had enough supplies to survive a night in the woods. Our days are getting shorter and the nights colder, pretty soon spending a night outdoors will be difficult without good gear.

Ocean Signal rescueME Personal Locator Beacon
Ocean Signal rescueME Personal Locator Beacon

If you are going out in the woods consider adding an Ocean Signal rescueME Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) to your kit. Weighing in a bit over 4 ounces it will not slow you down (or reduce the number of mushrooms you can harvest). It is a good piece of gear if you are backcountry skiing, snowmobiling, or even driving  during the winter.

There is no annual charge involved with the rescueME PLB. $249.00 (current price as of October 2014) and a seven year life it works out to $35.58 per year or about 10 cents per day. Truly an affordable piece of safety equipment.panduan android

PLB’s work using a satellite system, owned and operated by governments and provide world wide coverage. You don’t have to worry about cell coverage, as long as you can see the sky, it will work. If you want to get rescued, this is the piece of equipment you want in your hands.

Bad things can happen even close to home

USCG Photo

Last Friday (October 17th) the Lady A sunk in the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Talking with one of the owners who was not onboard, it appears that the hull failed due to extreme weather. The good news is that everyone is safe and no oil was lost.

As you can see in the photo, a small Inflatable Buoyant Apparatus (IBA) had been deployed. IBA’s are available in 4 to 100 person capacities and are an extremely economical piece of primary life saving equipment for those who do not travel offshore. They keep the victims out of the water and are extremely easy to see from the air.

USCG article on the sinking

Where was the EPIRB?

Two fishermen spent the better part of a day in their life raft after their lobster boat sank. Lucky, you bet, but where was their EPIRB? Most commercial fishing vessels are required to carry an EPIRB but in the report from Maine’s Department of Natural Resources there is no mention of one being deployed. I am sure we will hear more but my guess is that the crew were not able to grab the beacon prior to abandoning the vessel. If the water was not deep enough the EPIRB would not have self-deployed.

This shows why it is important to have an EPIRB or PLB packed in your life raft. PLB’s make the most sense, they are small and will pack in any raft and costing less than $250.00, very affordable. Add one the next time you have your life raft serviced.

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Another person saved by the rescueME PLB

Ocean Signal rescueME Personal Locator Beacon
Ocean Signal rescueME Personal Locator Beacon

A trout fisherman in New Zealand was rescued after falling and activating his rescueME PLB. Complete details are on the BMY web site.

Once again the compact size and light weight make the rescueME the perfect PLB to carry on your person. We have sold units to bicyclists, back country runners, hikers and hunters who selected this unit because of its size and reliability.

I am not planning on falling overboard!

A Coast Guard spokesman said “a lot of people don’t wear life jackets because they don’t have intention of being in water”. Still that guy Murphy with his “law” which always seems to be true says differently.

A couple found out the hard way, spending 14 hours treading water before they were rescued. No life jackets, no signaling devices but a whole bunch of luck and the will to live got them rescued. One might argue that they didn’t need life jackets since they survived but I don’t think I could tread water for 14 hours (not sure I could for 1 hour), so wear a life jacket.

 

I use to sell inflatable life jackets but got out of that line of business when I found we were not making money at it due to competition. Customers still ask what they should purchase and my advise is quite simple:

  • Try them on and find one that is comfortable to wear for you. Every brand has a different cut, some fit women better, some are better for skinny guys and some are just damned uncomfortable for everyone. If it is not comfortable, you won’t wear it.
  • Get a model that is approved in the country your boat is registered in. If you are a Canadian, that means Canadian approved models which generally are not available in the United States.
  • If you boat anywhere but a small lake, get a vest with around 35 pounds of buoyancy. These vests are sometimes called “offshore”. The added flotation will help keep your head out of the water.
  • Buy a model that once inflated does not require you to don the vest. I am not a fan of belt pack models and there have been cases where the victim was not able to properly don the vest and ended up dying.

You will note that I have not mentioned if the vest should auto inflate or not, that depends on your situation. The three brands of inflators we see in North America; Halkey Roberts, Hammar and Secumar all produce excellent products so I feel the comfort of the vest is much more important than what inflation system that particular manufacturer decided to use.

If you need help with rearm kits, that is something I carry and would love your business.

 

Emergency Signalling Options

Boat US just published an article in their Seaworthy magazine titled “Emergency Signalling Options”. While the majority of the article provides good information there are several discrepancies in the EPIRB and PLB sections (the only sections I am technically knowledgeable enough to comment on).

First to the ‘pros’ of EPIRBs:

  • I agree with what Boat US says.

‘Cons’ of EPIRBs:

  • Boat US states that “EPIRBs can not be taken from vessel to vessel. They must be registered to a specific vessel, so you can’t legitimately use one unit for multiple vessels”. With the online registration process you can change the vessel information for a beacon as long as it is done 24 hours prior to sailing. While this is not something you can or should do on a daily basis plenty of vessel operators do move from vessel to vessel and change the registration information.
  • The cost figures stated are inflated. I sell the GME brand and the least expensive Category 2 model is $449.00 and the most expensive Category 1 unit with GPS is $765.00.

‘Pros’ of PLBs:sinopsis film

  • Boat US implies that PLBs are a Crew Overboard location device. The vast majority of vessels do not have the capability to receive the 121.5 MHz homing beacon that a PLB transmits. If you are considering to use a PLB in this manner you must deal with your onboard equipment. There are better devices such as the Kannad R-10 AIS Survivor Recovery System which utilize electronics you probably already own.

‘Cons’ of PLBs:

  • Boat US says “not only do they suffer from the same limited-data constraints of the EPIRB, they actually transmit even less data, since they don’t include vessel information.”  Sorry to say this is flat out incorrect. EPIRBs do not transmit vessel information, ELTs (the aircraft version) do not transmit aircraft information, and PLBs do not transmit personal information. What they all transmit is a set of unique identifying information. In the United States that is the Country Code and a serial number. When a signal is received, SAR staff know which countries data base contains the full data and turn to that for their information. When one registers an EPIRB or PLB there is a field for “additional information”, so with a PLB it is possible to enter the data about your vessel should you so desire.
  • Boat US missed the biggest ‘con’ regarding PLBs in marine use. They are not required to float! Some units do but they are not the tiny form factor ones popular in most stores. Others come with a flotation pouch and some require you to purchase a device to keep the PLB afloat. Even the ones that float, will not float with the antenna out of the water like an EPIRB will.
  • The statement that “they have half the guaranteed battery life” is misleading. There is no guarantee on how long either device will work. There are standards the units must be designed to and tested against. For and EPIRB it is transmitting for a minimum of 48 hours at -20 degrees, PLBs must transmit for 24 hours at the same cold temperature. Depending on the age of the battery pack and the operating temperature you will see major differences from the design standard.

EPIRBs and PLBs are the correct choice for your primary life saving package. Even if you buy a new PLB rather than having the battery replaced the cost works out to $3.56 per month.  A top end EPIRB works out to $13.41 per month and that includes replacing the hydrostatic release every two years. It is pretty inexpensive insurance for a system that has been proven to save lives.