Posted by: Helena Smalman-Smith | August 9, 2011

I’m very attached to our boat

Preparing for an ocean row involves, amongst other things, an orgy of shopping, mostly over the internet, and today’s exciting arrivals were our lifejackets. We’ve gone for a more expensive type which has 2 great advantages compared with the kind that both of us wear on a regular basis for coaxing and coaching. First, they’re surprisingly comfortable for rowing in as there isn’t lots of bulk round the back of your neck, and second, they also feature as a safety harness so you don’t need to fiddle around with donning both in bad conditions. A 2-in-1 item, if you like.

The 2 golden rules of ocean rowing safety are “stay clipped on” and “keep the doors shut”. The thing about staying clipped on is that if you don’t, and you go overboard, if there’s any kind of wind at all, the chances are that the boat will blow away from you faster than you can swim back to it. And if your rowing partner is asleep in the cabin with the doors shut, they’re unlikely to hear your cries for help.

In the first photo below, Helena is modelling the 2 methods of staying clipped on – from her lifejacket harness and also from an ankle leash. Both points are attached to a ring on the jackstay strap that runs alongside the slide rails. There’s one of these on each side, allowing us both reasonable movement around the deck without turning into a game of Twister.

The second photo below shows a further sophisticated feature of our de luxe life jackets – the hood that pulls out should you find yourself bobbing around in the sea, with integral windscreen so that the waves don’t splash up into your eyes. OK, it does faintly resemble an NBC suit, but it’s better than a girl’s mascara running, isn’t it?

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