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  • #16064
    Fairey Mary

    Do you sniff the milk or just throw it away if it hits its best before date??

    In 2012 when I first got Mary I got a pair of life jackets and luckily never had to use them in earnest.  I hope this continues.  However I thought I should replace the cylinders as they had been there for 5 years and they had hit their best before date.  However the adage that you get what you pay for is never more relevant.  I got these branded jackets ‘cheap’, the reason being they were a deprecated model, not that I knew this they looked the same.

    The offshoot is that I cannot get a replacement gas canister.  So here is the rub.  They still show pressure (as do my 2012 fire extinguishers) and I tested the ‘bladder’ by leaving it under pressure for 24 hours.  So for me they pass the ‘sniff’ test and for me I think they are fine and I am comfortable sailing with them.

    However it is not just my opinion that counts, a failure in the jacket now risks tabloid level hyperbole and finger pointing.  But more importantly if I have visitors on the boat.  Would I extend this trust to them?  So, in this case, I will pay to get my jackets serviced and maybe replace the most important fire extinguisher.

    But I don’t carry a life raft, flares or an EPERB.  Maybe I would if I was to cross the channel?  I think you can hire them now and as they need servicing maybe this is the best way forward.

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    • #16066
      Nick Phillips

      I am a sniffer – happy to use milk up to failure of a personal test. But milk soes have two excellent warning devices built in – smell and taste.

      Lifejackets are more difficult to operate the sniff test. The bladder test is simple and excellent practice annually.
      The cylinders are also easy to ‘sniff’ as you can weigh them (certainly the mainstream suppliers quote empty and full weights).
      Are they autos? If so the third critical element is the activator. Unfortunately sniffing these without letting them off is much more difficult.  They can be visually inspected for corrosion / mechanical issues but not much more. Therefore for me these should just be replaced at their ‘use by’ date.

      This PBO page provides a useful guide to diy checking.  They recommend professional servicing but, other than being able to wave the certificate, I am not convinced this is necessary if you follow the advice in the article.  Of course a different perspective would be that the additional £15-20 (maximum) for a professional service every two or three years is a small price to pay for peace of mind….

      A final provocation. All of this ‘safety’ equipment is actually ‘recover after something has gone wrong’ equipment. If you have a sum of money to spend are you better to spend it improving the boat  and its equipment (and your knowledge/experience) so that you can avoid needing to ever use safety equipment?

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