Spinlock Lifejacket

deckvestOne of the many things that attracted John and I to each other is that we are both gimped. John has one leg shorter than the other and a slight scoliosis and I have congenitally flat feet and knock-knees. John walks like a duck and I walk like a penguin. It is a match made in heaven!

But there is a downside to being the gimp twins: carrying heavy packs for long hikes is out (meaning no overnight camping trips without a Sherpa) and wearing traditional lifejackets during multi-day passages, especially with the added weight of an integral harness with attached tether, which we wear most of the time, has caused us both untold hours of neck and back discomfort.

However, when we visited the London Boatshow in January 2008, we came across the Spinlock booth and had a long chat with the rep. He was so convincing that when it came time to replace my old Sospenders lifejacket, I purchased a Spinlock, despite its higher cost.

And, let me tell you, I haven’t regretted spending those extra dollars for a minute. In fact, last spring, while I drove the car, John wore my lifejacket on a two day passage and, right after his arrival in Nova Scotia, he retired his Mustang lifejacket and bought a Spinlock too!


The difference is that the Spinlock, if worn properly with the easily adjusted chest strap cinched tightly, creates absolutely no forward pull on your neck, due to its horse collar design. Additionally, Spinlock has fashioned the integral tether attachment from an almost weightless high tensile fibre instead of heavy steel.

The one problem that I have found so far with the Spinlock is that the cover material is very thin and so has chafed from the Velcro tabs on my foul weather gear jacket. To protect the bladder I have sewn a small patch of elk hide inside the covering. We will keep an eye on John’s newer model jacket to see if the same thing happens.

NOTE: If you purchased a Spinlock lifejacket, with inspection window, prior to early 2010, check the Spinlock site, as your jacket may be on a recall list. Contact Spinlock for more info.

Do any of you have experience with the Spinlock lifejacket? Do you wear a harness? Let us know what you think.

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Phyllis has sailed over 40,000 offshore miles with John on their McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, most of it in the high latitudes, and has crossed the Atlantic three times. As a woman who came to sailing as an adult, she brings a fresh perspective to cruising, which has helped her communicate what they do in an approachable way, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 18 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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