Keep salt OUT of the boat by storing the "in the water" PFDs outside but out of the sun

PFD Storage

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.

Keep salt OUT of the boat by storing the "in the water" PFDs outside but out of the sun

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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  • Larry Whited
    Posted at 18 January 2016 Reply

    I’m glad to hear that you use the PFD’s. So many don’t. My wife can attest that my rule is firm, boat doesn’t move until the PFD’s are on. Good article. Thanks

  • Dave Skolnick (S/V Auspicious)
    Posted at 18 January 2016 Reply

    Your topic is a specific example of what is a general rule on Auspicious. We have storage for clean, dirty, and wet. Clean is stored in the boat and never taken into the cockpit (I’m talking about cushions and throws, not plates and flatware). Dirty is either in the engine room (oil changing “stuff”) or in cockpit lockers, in either case generally inside storage (boxes or bags). Wet is outside or in the shower; our head with shower is at the base of the companionway (which is where God intended – this is truly a religious issue) and where we peel off PFDs and foulies underway and store outside cushions when appropriate.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 18 January 2016 Reply

      Unfortunately, we can’t use the shower that way — it’s the area in front of the toilet on Barefoot Gal! So we have to be a little more creative . . .

  • Evan
    Posted at 18 January 2016 Reply

    I’ve been a reader/follower the Boat Galley for the past couple of years, loving your tips and suggestions. However, this one is the first one I found to be not so good. I appreciate the goal in keeping the salon and berths mildew free. However the “added bonus: they’re easy to grab when we want them…” seems to apply to those non-crew members (i.e. thieves) who are tempted, too, to “grab them when they want them.” Plus it looks like you are permanently doing laundry. Not so nice.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 18 January 2016 Reply

      Right now, we’re not in a high-theft area . . . if we were, our thoughts might change. Many boats may have a better place to store “daily use” PFDs — our previous boat did — but for those who don’t, this might be a solution. Not everything is right for everyone!

  • Claudia Bryant
    Posted at 19 May 2017 Reply

    I like the design of your website. What host do you use ? Do you go all of it and the podcasts yourself?

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 19 May 2017 Reply

      Thanks! It’s a WordPress site with a custom theme design. It’s hosted on WP Engine. Boat Radio edits and produces the podcasts; they are hosted on Audioboom and then I embed them on the site. Until about six months ago, I did all the design and “programming” myself. More recently, I’ve hired help with some aspects where I was just out of my depth, but I still do some tweaks myself. The big design change this past winter was done by a professional.

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