Mailport June 2012 Issue

Mailport: June 2012

PFD Suggestion

The Yates Gear prototype has a built-in "screamer" that deploys under extreme loads and a Ronstan snap shackle (#6300) that meets military specifications for ease of release under high loads. The release lanyard is lengthened to be accessible, even if the harness is inflated. Velcro secures the lanyard to the tether when not in use, to prevent snagging. See for details on these components.

In response to the March 2012 editorial regarding improving PFDs, I offer this: One solution to the deflation issue would be to include a dump valve such as is present on all diving buoyancy compensators. One might want to re-design the valve release cord so it is less likely to hang up on rigging, etc., when wandering around the boat.

For the tether release, why not use a short nylon leader from the harness, and fasten the tether to that instead of to the harness? If the tether is under tension, the connection point will then be pulled away from the PFD. Downside is you have to run your hand along it to find the release—probably not difficult, but something to practice.

As a side note regarding safety issues, as a mostly solo sailor, I carry a homemade nylon web etrier similar to those used by rock-climbers, for getting back on board. It’s small, lightweight, and in my admittedly limited tests, it made it possible to re-board from virtually anywhere around the boat. One more thing to carry, but it’s never hung up on anything, and I no longer notice it.

Gary Aitken


Bahia de Buena Vista, Rio Dulce, Guatemala

We’ve had some great input from readers on ways to improve tether and PFD/harness designs. The dump valve was a popular suggestion. Our project to come up with a comfortable, effective PFD/harness took on a sense of urgency this month with the Farallones accident. Several knowledgeable professionals have volunteered help on this project, including John Yates of Yates Gear, a major supplier of safety tethers for the U.S. military. Yates put together a prototype (left) for PS readers to comment on. Send suggestions and comments to

Next: USCG registration Fees

Comments (1)

This is one reason the boat yard we use (burr bros boats) offers stainless steel penants in addition to the generous sized regular penants during hurricane season. In Irene last year, BBB lost no boats (including ours), where other boats did break free from other moorings. After the hurricane we notices some varnish wore through under the chock on the side of the boat with the nylon penant (and made a minor cut in the penant), but no damage on the side with the stainless penant (as it is very stiff and stands out from the chock). Great service from the boat yard! Probably will pull the boat next time to reduce the stress level!

Very good tips and information on nylon lines!

Posted by: Phantomracer | May 23, 2012 1:53 PM    Report this comment

New to Practical Sailor?
Register for Free!

Already Registered?
Log In