Features April 2007 Issue

Throwable Man Overboard Aids

Quickly making contact with a man overboard is essential to the victim’s survival. The Quick Stop maneuver and other proven man overboard sailboat techniques typically call for a throwable flotation aid that can be tossed with accuracy from a cruising sailboat. We tested the Lifesling Inflatable and other unique personal flotation devices (PFDs) that claim to greatly improve the odds of making contact with a man overboard.

In an era when the ordinary life ring is being replaced by a wide range of “improved” rescue devices, Practical Sailor tested several rescue products that boast unique advantages as man-overboard flotation and retrieval aids. We gathered two throwable man-overboard devices that use automatically inflated chambers for flotation—the TechFloat from Survival Technologies and the Lifesling Inflatable from West Marine—and one made of expanded polyethylene foam—the Personal Retriever. Each comes with floating line; the bitter end of each is intended to stay in the hands of the rescuer or be tied to the vessel. Only the TechFloat is a certified U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) personal flotation device. We also tested a fourth throwable MOB aid—the Rescue Stick by Mustang Survival. It’s a different animal than the other three, but shares many of the same features.

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