BA/Life jacket advice.

Places, technique, kayaks, safety, the sea...
Post Reply
User avatar
Andy Harpur
Posts: 191
Joined: Mon Jul 25, 2005 1:58 pm
Location: Glencoe, Scotland
Contact:

BA/Life jacket advice.

Post by Andy Harpur » Thu Jul 18, 2019 9:16 pm

My wife recently commented that one of the reasons she no longer paddles much is the bulkiness of her BA (sitting on top of what ladies naturally come with that blokes don't).
She asked why she couldn't use a sailing lifejacket instead (?) maybe one that she has to pull a cord to inflate. She never paddles solo, or is likely ever to do so.

Suggestions welcome. Is this something that others do?
Andy Harpur
My Blog

mcgruff
Posts: 110
Joined: Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:06 am
Location: Scotland
Has thanked: 27 times
Been thanked: 24 times

Re: BA/Life jacket advice.

Post by mcgruff » Thu Jul 18, 2019 10:28 pm

Cold water shock:

If you're wearing a drysuit or wetsuit, or if you swim regularly in cold water, cold water shock might be manageable. If not, I wouldn't expect a 100% success rate in finding and pulling the cord on a self-inflating lifejacket while you're being zapped with what feels like a 10,000V of electricity. A buoyancy aid at least provides immediate help staying afloat but of course doesn't guarantee to keep your face out of the water.

Loss of consciousness:

Same. Buoyancy aid will at least help a bit but a self-inflating lifejacket won't help at all - unless someone else can grab you and pull the cord.

Re-entry:

I suspect this would be a lot more difficult in an inflated lifejacket. Mind you, if you're in command of the situation and a controlled re-entry is possible, you probably didn't need to inflate the lifejacket.

Losing your boat:

Probably doesn't make much difference which you're wearing as you get towed to shore by the rest of the group.

Gannet Attack:

The padding in a buoyancy aid provides a small amount of protection against an angry, bull gannet. On the other hand, pulling the cord on a self-inflating lifejacket would make you look bigger and scarier - the puffer fish defence.

Same applies to confrontations with angry landowners etc.

Chris Bolton
Posts: 2959
Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:33 pm
Location: NW England
Has thanked: 26 times
Been thanked: 89 times

Re: BA/Life jacket advice.

Post by Chris Bolton » Thu Jul 18, 2019 10:37 pm

Hi Andy,

I think people use BAs rather than lifejackets because of the bulky collars, but a pull to inflate LJ doesn't have that problem. In terms of staying safely afloat, an LJ is better, because it's designed to turn you on your back and keep your face out of the water, but depending on how you do it, it might be harder to get back into a boat. Heel hook should work well, though, with a rescuer bracing the boat. When I dinghy sailed, I wore a wetsuit and an inflatable LJ and it didn't get in the way much; I never deliberately inflated it.

There are also specific BAs designed for women. Best wishes to you both!

charleston14
Posts: 179
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2016 6:22 pm
Has thanked: 3 times
Been thanked: 14 times

Re: BA/Life jacket advice.

Post by charleston14 » Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:04 pm

From personal experience of BA for kayaking and life jacket at work:

BA is for providing buoyancy to a conscious paddler, capable of movement without excessive restriction whereas a life jacket is for emergency buoyancy of an unconscious paddler. They are first and foremost designed to roll you over and float you face up to the sky.

An inflated life jacket is a rather bulky cumbersome and surprisingly physically restrictive thing, meaning it will be considerably more difficult to perform an effective and energy efficient self rescue from the side of the kayak or to self egress.

Example; on a sea survival course I simply could not get out of a swimming pool without using the steps, with an inflated life jacket on, I was shocked how difficult it was to climb over just 8 inches or so of freeboard from the water. In such benign circumstances I was utterly reliant on others on the pool side to effectuate my egress.

Swimming (to the bank or shore) with an inflated life jacket is difficult too, you need to float on your back and use both kicking legs and an arm action quite like when making snow angels. It’s slow and difficult progress and you can’t really see where you are going. Swimming on your front is possible but hard work as the life jacket is constantly trying to roll you over.

Who wants to be fighting against their safety gear?

Let’s suppose you’re back in the kayak somehow. you now have to deflate the life jacket and repack it, and the cylinder has been used up, you may capsize again whilst faffing with it and if you do capsize again, for whatever reason, you will have no added buoyancy until you blow air in to it manually, ..if the cold water shock hasn’t caused you to hyperventilate, which it probably will.

There are quite ergonomic bouyancy aids with much of their volume lower down rather than all up front on the chest, take a look at the palm fx and the kaikoura for example.

rockhopper
Posts: 765
Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2006 7:55 pm
Location: Essex
Been thanked: 19 times

Re: BA/Life jacket advice.

Post by rockhopper » Fri Jul 19, 2019 12:58 am

Peak do the Ocean Wrap that has models designed specifically for women:
https://www.peakuk.com/pfd?product_id=326

Rog.

TheEcho
Posts: 110
Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2015 5:11 pm
Location: Essex
Has thanked: 4 times
Been thanked: 11 times

Re: BA/Life jacket advice.

Post by TheEcho » Fri Jul 19, 2019 10:58 am

I would also recommend the Astral SeaWolf or similar astral BA for women. It is a two piece design and the figure hugging bit is under the bust so doesn’t squash the female chest. The upper portion is loose and floppy so although there is a bit of bulk you don’t notice it.

User avatar
PeterG
Posts: 816
Joined: Thu Mar 09, 2006 4:36 pm
Location: On the water, or in the woods
Has thanked: 3 times
Been thanked: 16 times

Re: BA/Life jacket advice.

Post by PeterG » Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:22 pm

Any reviews of the peak wrap around?

CM2
Posts: 70
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2008 8:32 pm
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: BA/Life jacket advice.

Post by CM2 » Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:31 pm

charleston14 wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:04 pm
Let’s suppose you’re back in the kayak somehow. you now have to deflate the life jacket and repack it, and the cylinder has been used up, you may capsize again whilst faffing with it and if you do capsize again, for whatever reason, you will have no added buoyancy until you blow air in to it manually, ..if the cold water shock hasn’t caused you to hyperventilate, which it probably will.
If she does decide to go the life jacket route she really needs to have at least one preferably 2 or 3 spare cylinders. You should be OK rafted up while faffing with it (but you definitely need to be able in inflate again if you have another swim.

Another thing to bear in mind is the spray deck means a crotch strap is not an option. The higher level of flotation a life-jacket brings also means there is more force trying to pull the life jacket over your head, tests with sailors has shown that while most find a crotch strap uncomfortable and a pain while on deck if they go for a swim they really wish they had is attached. An very well fitting life jacket might be ok but you might need to try a number of styles to get the right one.

User avatar
MikeB
Posts: 8063
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2003 9:44 pm
Location: Scotland
Has thanked: 9 times
Been thanked: 14 times

Re: BA/Life jacket advice.

Post by MikeB » Tue Jul 30, 2019 3:48 pm

She might find it worthwhile looking at the K/tat range of BAs.

Post Reply