Quick Study

Add ac­ces­sories and safety items to re­flect how you boat.

Boating - - CONTENTS -

I own a va­ri­ety of life jack­ets for a va­ri­ety of uses. My belt pack serves for evening cruises and other quiet-water use when I am ac­com­pa­nied. My in­flat­able vest is great for when I’m off­shore fish­ing with friends. When I’m out on open water by my­self, I of­ten choose the vest pic­tured here. In­her­ently buoy­ant, it’s re­li­able and re­quires lit­tle at­ten­tion, and the pock­ets come in handy. It’s not meant to be pre­sented as the “best” life jacket. In­stead, I’d like you to con­sider the fea­tures it pos­sesses and the cus­tomiza­tions I’ve made, in the hope that you might ben­e­fit from them in your per­sonal boat­ing sit­u­a­tion. —Kevin Falvey

RE­FLEC­TIVE PATCHES This vest came with them fac­to­ryin­stalled, but com­pa­nies like ACR make ad­he­sive re­flec­tors you should con­sider adding to any life jacket not equipped with them. Ap­ply them high on the shoul­ders and neck to en­sure they catch a search­light beam when you are in the water.

WHIS­TLE No mat­ter how loud you can yell, you can’t yell for long be­fore los­ing your voice. A whis­tle al­lows an ex­hausted per­son to make a loud noise. This one eas­ily at­tached to the top strap of my life jacket.

BEA­CON I keep my per­sonal lo­ca­tor bea­con (PLB) strapped to the life jacket I am wear­ing. Many of these float, but un­like a full­size EPIRB, they must be held so the an­tenna faces the sky. So, even if I be­come ex­hausted, fas­ten­ing my bea­con in this fash­ion en­sures it will con­tinue to send its res­cue sig­nal — and

its strobe light will con­tinue to be seen.

LIGHT Shown is a strobe light that is ab­so­lutely blind­ing. But even a less pow­er­ful, ba­sic life-jacket light will ex­po­nen­tially in­crease your chances of be­ing spot­ted. The bat­ter­ies for these are a spe­cial long-last­ing type.

IDEN­TI­FI­CA­TION Writ­ing the names of crew in wa­ter­proof marker en­sures that each crewmem­ber can grab the cor­rect jacket in an emer­gency. The boat’s name is marked on life jack­ets, and ev­ery­thing else that might float free in a sink­ing and pro­vide a clue to res­cuers search­ing for me.

WATER Emer­gency water pack­ets avail­able from camp­ing-sup­ply com­pa­nies en­sure I can stay hy­drated at least for a time. This means I can stay more alert and be more read­ily able to make the best de­ci­sions to help res­cuers find me and my crew.

SUN­SCREEN It’s not silly to pro­tect your face from the burn­ing rays while float­ing in a life jacket. Coated as such, my crew and I would be in bet­ter phys­i­cal con­di­tion — and thus bet­ter able to as­sist in our own res­cue — than if we did not have it. FOOD

l also load the life jacket’s pock­ets with a cou­ple of en­ergy bars and some Life Savers to suck on. At the risk of sound­ing repet­i­tive, con­sum­ing these may help me to bet­ter help my­self.

LINE I keep a 12-foot­long length of ¼-inch ny­lon coiled in one pocket to tie my­self and my crewmem­bers to­gether so we do not drift apart. Stay­ing to­gether is bet­ter for morale and also makes a big­ger tar­get for res­cuers to spot.

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