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1417Re:: My Story (and electrics)

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  • olivershaw4229
    10 May
      >   I already have most safety equipment (life rafts, buoyancy aids, life jackets

      Do be aware that modern inflatable lifejackets are built to a very high standard but have a limited life.    They should be serviced annually,  and most service agents will not re-certify a lifejacket more than ten years old.

      >  However I do not have a set of distress flares so these will be top priory for me. How essential is a P.L.B if i have a radio and flares?

      By all means,  if that is your choice;   but I did try to steer you away from pyrotechnic flares in favour of electronic alternatives.

      To put it bluntly,  flares are expensive,  of limited effectiveness,  potentially very dangerous,  they have quite a short shelf life (three years) and at the end of that time they are difficult to dispose of (legally).   Oh,  yes,  and they cannot be tested prior to use.

      Their effectiveness totally depends on someone happening to be looking in the right direction during the very short burn time (typically just two minutes),  and if that person happens to be a landsman they also depend on him or her recognising that what they are seeing is a distress signal,  and then realising that they personally need to alert the authorities because it is possible that no-one else will have seen it.   If you are too far from the coast,  or from whoever happens to be looking in your direction,   hand-held flares may well not be seen,   which is why the initial alert should be signalled by parachute flares;   but if you happen to have a low cloud base the parachute flares will disappear into the clouds and may also not be seen ...   ...

      It is far from unknown for flares to misfire,  even when within date and in apparently good condition,  and to then cause fires or injury or both.    This is highlighted by a well publicised case a few years back when a Yachtmaster Instructor was demonstrating the correct use of flares to his class by firing a white (collision avoidance) flare,  so one may assume that he knew how to use it safely and correctly and that he was doing everything right;   however the  flare misfired,  with the result that he shot himself in the stomach.

      Need I say more?  ....

      Go for electronics;   very much more effective,  very much safer,  the system can be routinely tested,  it puts you in direct communication with the Coastguard and with whatever SAR asset comes to your assistance,  doesn't need replacing every three years,   all that needs routine replacement are the batteries.   Etc.,  etc.    Total cost,  at entry level,  is not significantly more than an offshore flare pack,  and the ongoing running cost is minimal:    plenty of PLBs at under £200,  and a Cobra entry level hand-held VHF at under £60,  compared with an Ikaros Coastal Flare Pack at £115 or Ikaros Offshore Flare Pack at  £227,  either of which latter two would have to be scrapped and replaced after three years.   (All priced online this morning,  at Force 4 Chandlery.)
      But do regard one system or the other as essential.   Your choice which.

      If cost is an issue,  which it is for most of us,  I really would go for a hand-held radio,  preferably a good one (if affordable) rather than an entry-level one,  and leave the fixed radio for a future upgrade when funds permit.

      I will try to get back to you on the rubber window seals;   I need at some stage to replace my own windows,  or get the job done professionally (which at my time of life I might prefer).    I have the impression that there are several sources of supply of such mouldings,  and although the precise one may be no longer available I am sure that a current equivalent can be found.    But I have yet to do the research for this.


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