Safety Spray Hood
According to safety specialist Capt. Henry Marx, sailors who go overboard and subsequently drown—particularly those wearing a PFD—would have stood a better chance of surviving if equipped with the means to keep spray out of their faces, and consequently their lungs. This is why Marx's company—Landfall Navigation—is importing and selling the Crewsaver Spray Hood.
This device, which is made in the UK by the lifejacket manufacturer Crewsaver, comes in a small nylon pouch about the size of a cell-phone holster and is essentially a partial hood made of lightweight, day-glow nylon and flexible, transparent plastic. There's also a 20" strip of reflective material sewn along the bottom for nighttime visibility. The hood is attached to the pouch with a small adjustable lanyard.
To enhance breathing, the face shield has a series of small holes punched in it above where the wearer's eyes would be and below where the mouth would be. The hood also has elastic straps that are meant to be stretched below the lower front portions of the wearer's PFD to keep the hood in place.
The idea is to attach the pouch to your PFD so it's handy should you end up in the water. (It comes with a belt loop on the pouch.) Once in the water, you pull out the hood, pull it over your head, and stretch the elastic straps over the inflated PFD.
PS tried out the spray hood, first in calm water, later in waves. The hood does indeed inhibit the ingress of spray to the face, and does facilitate breathing. However, it also limits visibilty via fogging, and the fact that the fluorescent cap of the hood tends to ride down over the user's eyes when the device is tensioned by the elastic straps.
The Spray Hood sells for $39.95, which seems pricey, but it's hard to dismiss the value of anything that can save your life. Like all safety equipment, it's important to practice using such devices in advance so that you'll be comfortable deploying them.
Contact - Landfall Navigation, 800/941-2219, www.landfallnavigation.com.