Mailport: June 2012
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.
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 email@example.com.
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