The 'Y' Flag
Life jackets are the most important piece of equipment on any boat. Inflatable PFDs (personal flotation devices) are appearing with increasing frequency on BSC boats . We all carry PFDs on our boats and put them on when conditions warrant (generally this is at the beginning of whitecaps).When racing, life jackets are required when the Life Jacket Flag (the 'Y' flag flag, a red and yellow diagonally striped flag) is flown. For most races, the 'Y' flag is flown by the committee boat before racing starts. Some sailors wear a PFD at all times. The modern approach is to wear an inflatable PFD because it may provide superior protection. The following is a brief presentation of the merits of Inflatable PFDs.
|Disadvantages of Inflatables:
- Some require multiple steps to deploy.
- Not suitable for non-swimmers.
- Not recommended for children under 16.
- Not appropriate for activities that involve frequent water entry or high speed boating activities (such as personal watercraft use, racing, sailboarding, kites, whitewater rafting).
- Require frequent inspection and maintenance.
- Do not protect against hypothermia.
- May not keep an unconscious user face up.
- May fail to inflate, or may require manual inflation.
- Are seldom tried to see how well they work. If you own one, jump into the water and actuate it!
- Are more expensive (but not compared with the value of a life!).
Advantages of Inflatables:
- High visibility when inflated.
- Turns most wearers face-up faster than traditional PFD's.
- Will keep some unconscious users face up.
- More comfortable than inherently buoyant PFD's.
- May be more likely to be worn than a traditional life jacket.
- Superior in-water performance.
- Compact, easy to store.