Thoughts on Spinlock Lifejacket “Failure” and Crotch Straps in General

275H Inflated Bladder Front Left In the last few months several people have written to me asking my opinion on the loss of Uncontrollable Urge and the subsequent death of a crew member wearing a Spinlock Deckvest. I would strongly recommend that everyone read the US Sailing report, but the summary is that the boat ended up on an exposed lee shore after a rudder failure while racing, and as the six crew struggled to make the shore through the breaking surf, four out of the five Spinlock lifevests worn repositioned so that the flotation chamber pulled over the wearer’s head to one side of the body. The one vest from another manufacturer (Sterns SOSpenders) did not fail in this way. As many of you know, Phyllis and I have long been big time fans and users of the Spinlock lifevest/harness, so this issue is of more than academic interest to us.

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John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 18 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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