SERVICING YOUR INFLATABLE PFD
Tasmania has the highest per capita rate of private boat ownership in Australia, which is hardly surprising considering our amazing coastline and inland waterways.
Generally, our sailing and motor boat community takes marine safety very seriously.
When it comes to complying with the regulations to wear inflatable and non-inflatable lifejackets, 94% of us Tasmanian boaties do the right thing, according to MAST (Maritime and Safety Tasmania).
However, when it comes to regularly servicing our inflatable lifejackets we fail dismally.
Every inflatable lifejacket has a legal requirement to be serviced by an authorised Service Agent regularly, and you can’t do it yourself!
You can however, complete an annual Self-Check to ensure that the PFD is fit to operate as a Life Jacket.
According to Peter Hopkins, (General Manager, Recreational Boating Safety & Facilities, MAST) the greatest danger facing recreational boat owners is lack of familiarity with their safety equipment especially inflatable lifejackets.
“There are several important points that every boat owner needs to be aware of, Peter said.
“Firstly, make sure that you are familiar with the type of inflatable lifejacket you own. Is it self-inflating or manually activated? This is critical information in an emergency situation and it’s vital that you instruct your crew on how to use their lifejackets before you head out onto the water.
“When you purchase inflatable lifejackets check the manufacturer’s servicing instructions and then make sure you follow their schedule.
“Correctly servicing your inflatable lifejacket is a legal requirement. When you buy the lifejacket, you also purchase the on-going responsibility to maintain it” Peter said.
MAST encourages all yacht and motor boat owners to “self-check” their inflatable lifejackets rather than self-service.
“It’s easy to perform a self-check of your inflatable lifejackets” Peter said. “Firstly, do a visual inspection and make sure there is no visible damage to the straps and fabric of the lifejacket. Then check that the gas cylinder is not corroded and that it is firmly screwed into place. A common cause of an inflatable lifejacket failure is a loose gas cylinder.
“Servicing your lifejacket is a different matter. PFD owners can’t service their own lifejackets as they do not have the required equipment or expertise. MAST recommends you leave it to the experts and we have a list of accredited service centres on our website (www.mast.tas.gov.au/recreational/boating/life-jackets/)” Peter said.
Chris Morris, of accredited service centre, Lifejacket Servicing Tasmania, services a wide range of inflatable lifejackets both for recreational and professional users.
“Following the manufacturer’s requirements for servicing and doing regular self-checks will ensure your inflatable lifejacket will work when it is needed” Chris said.
“Many people don’t wear their inflatable lifejackets correctly. Make sure it is fitted and fastened properly and where possible use a crotch strap as this will dramatically improve the performance of the jacket when inflated.
“A perfect way to ensure that you are familiar with your inflatable lifejacket is prior to a mandated service blow it up and jump into the water. Probably best in a heated pool at this time of the year. Check for comfort and make a note of how high or low in the water you float.” Chris added.
The upcoming 2021/2 Sailing Season is a great time to check your lifejackets. As all RYCT Members know, new legislation came into effect from January this year. This new standard ensures greater buoyancy, more reflective material, and easier checking of your PFDs.
“My advice to all yacht and motor boat owners is to check all of your lifejackets right now and make sure they meet Australian Standard 4758.1 If they don’t, they will need to be replaced.
“Get your compliant lifejackets serviced when required and don’t forget you may have to provide a proof of service, such as a compliance certificate, a notation on the jacket itself, or a service tag.” Chris added.
To facilitate the regular servicing of PFDs through the RTYC, Chris has established a LJS Drop Box at the Bosuns Office on the hard-stand. He will be collecting PFDs each week to enable Members wishing to have their Inflatable Life Jackets professionally serviced.
The cost of servicing an Inflatable PFD is $40 plus parts. The RYCT has negotiated a special deal with Chris to return $5 from each service to the club in support of the Junior Sailing Program. Fundamentally, when you have your PFD serviced by LJS some of this money will directly help your club Juniors. What’s not to like about that?