We have three sets of PFD’s aboard Barefoot Gal: our inflatable ones with integrated harnesses for use underway, cheap orange horse collar ones that stay in the dinghy, and then the “small boat” zip-up-the-front ones that we use for paddleboarding or if we take the dinghy in nasty conditions.
The inflatables stay near the companionway door and the orange ones in the dinghy. But where should we keep the ones for the SUP? (The same question would apply if you have kids aboard that have to wear PFDs in the dinghy — or if you wear one in the dinghy.)
At first, we were keeping them on our guest bed. But I soon realized that the PFDs often got wet in salt water – even if we rinsed them and hung them out to dry before putting them away, they were still putting salt on that bed, and then it would attract water, mold and mildew.
We’ve been on a mission to eradicate mildew and mildew attractants on the boat this winter – it’s been really humid. And I suddenly realized that those life jackets were a big contributor to the mildew in that aft cabin.
I started looking for a better place to keep the PFDs. Everywhere that I looked in the boat was going to have the same problem of putting salt in the boat.
Then it hit me – why not hang them under the solar panel on our dinghy davits? They’re protected from the sun for most of the day (I took that picture about 15 minutes after sunrise so that they could be seen), dry out in the wind and the salt stays out of the boat. All three of ours (yes, Paz has a PFD for paddleboarding) have plastic clip latches as well as zippers, so I’m not worried about them blowing away. We’ve kept them there underway on coastal hops – if we were going offshore or crossing the Gulf Stream, I’d remove them – and we put them inside when bad squalls were forecast for our anchorage.
Keeping them outside 99% of the time results in far less salt on the bed and a lot less mildew. I’ve really been surprised at how much less damp it is on that bed (I washed the bedding after moving the PFDs to get the salt out of it) and how much better it smells.
Added bonus: they’re easy to grab when we want them and it’s easy to hang them up when we get off the paddleboard!
No davits? Just the other day I saw a boat that had sewn mesh pockets into the underside of their bimini to hold life jackets. That’d work too!
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