The December, 1993, issue contained an in-the-water test and evaluation of 16 different Type IV life preservers (cushions, horseshoes and ring buoys). Besides their throwability, flotation and the ease with which a person in the water can get to and utilize them, an important consideration was said to be how quickly these Coast Guard-required "throwables" can be detached from the boat and made available to the man overboard. …
The capsize of WingNuts is not the first fatal accident that has put the spotlight on the harness-to-tether connection. Since 1986, several widely publicized fatal sailing accidents have prompted inquiries into the harnesses and safety tethers used by sailors.
Practical Sailor tests the Seascoopa man-overboard device and compares it to our top pick in the previous man-overboard device test, the horseshoe buoy Lifesling2. Seascoopa solves many of the problems of other parbuckle-type devices in that it is compact, lightweight and has an interlocking three-piece carbon-fiber whisker pole that holds the trapezoid-shaped net out at right angles to the boat. The ultimate goal of the device is to make it possible for a single person to safely secure and lift a much heavier person aboard with minimal effort. In addition to reducing the risks associated with a vertical lift, the Seascoopa aims to simplify making contact with the victim. Because it can be employed while the vessel is slowly making way, the recovery involves less stationary bobbing, when the boat is at the mercy of wind and waves.
Two years ago, I purchased a Water Witch bilge pump switch. When it developed a glitch, I called Kathleen at Water Witch Inc.s San Diego office (www.waterwitchinc.com). She asked me a couple of questions, then assured me the replacement part would be shipped the following day. It was, followed by an email saying it had shipped. It arrived 10 days later (international), complete with a personal note. Does it better than this? I think not.
It’s summertime, which means the kids are out of school and flocking to youth sailing camps, heading out on family cruises, and cooling off in the pool. Over the years, we reviewed dozens of safety products to keep wee crew safe around the water, including PFDs (personal flotation devices) for children, toddlers, and infants. Here are some of our top picks.
Sailing harnesses and safety tethers were put to the ultimate test in July when a storm packing winds of more than 50 knots swept through the fleet of sailboats racing in the annual Chicago-to-Mackinac Race. One of the boats, the Kiwi 35 WingNuts, capsized in a powerful gust. It stayed inverted, forcing the crew of eight into the water. At the time of capsize, the crew were wearing safety harnesses and tethers, and most were clipped in to jacklines on the boat. All but two of the sailors, skipper Mark Morley and his girlfriend, Suzanne Bickel, were able to unclip themselves and survived.
Theres a reason why we recommend safety tethers-the umbilical cords that connect the jacklines on our boats to the harnesses on our bodies-be 6 feet long or shorter. Getting dragged behind a boat, even at the sedate speed of 4 knots, can easily drown a person. Unless someone is on hand to haul you on board, survival relies on a superhuman burst of adrenaline. Though rare, there have been some highly publicized deaths involving harnesses. The story of Harvey Shalsky, a sailor in the 1999 Double-handed Farallones Race, is familiar to most racers. Shalsky, racing with longtime partner Mark Van Selst, drowned while tethered to his J/29 White Lightning. Van Selst was unable to slow the boat or haul his partner in, and eventually cut loose Shalsky (who was by then unconscious) so that following boats could recover him. The hazards associated with a tether that cannot be easily released under load prompted the International Sailing Federation (ISAF, the council responsible for regulating offshore sailing races) to recommend this feature in tether designs. It is not a requirement, only a recommendation, and ISAF does not stipulate what method should be used for the release.
Tenders come in all shapes and sizes-from 6-foot inflatable kayaks to RIBs capable of towing skiers-and they serve a variety of transportation needs. Where the live-aboard couple will need a dinghy suitable for grocery and laundry runs, the small-boat daysailor usually needs only a fuss-free, easy ride to a moored or anchored boat. A few accessories that we checked out recently can add to such tender experiences.
After a series of tragic accidents involving sailors in organized sailing events and training programs in 2011 and 2012, Practical Sailor initiated research into safety equipment in use during the time of these accidents. Our current ongoing tests deal specifically with personal flotation devices (PFDs), safety harnesses, and combination inflatable PFDs and safety harnesses. Ultimately, we hope to come up with recommendations similar to those we made for infant PFDs in June 2007, when we published a prototype of what our ideal infant PFD would look like.
With regards to your recent marine oil filter tests (see PS July 2019, Marine Oil Filter Comparison Test), having spent my career in the aeronautical engine technical field specializing in maintenance I must state my allegiance to non-encapsulated filters and independent housings. This trend towards spin-on filter assemblies prevents in my opinion the most important aspect of filter maintenance which is particle inspection. Filters are not removed so you can inspect or replace them, they are removed so you can ascertain your engines condition. This practice seems to have been set aside to make way to quick and easy maintenance using spin-on filters. Oil analysis is fine but it should start with a simple sediment inspection after a low cost electro- sonic cleaning in a 60 Hz bath (jewelry cleaner bath).