We have been splashing out on equipment ready for travelling on rivers etc. The first item was a couple of life jackets for us. I settled on Crew Saver auto inflation but with no extra harness. I have used these for a long time when at sea so I am confident of their sturdiness and ability to get wet and mucky and still do the job. I am able to maintain them myself so seemed the right thing to do.
Crew Saver Life jacket.
The 'horse collar' design seems to be largely unobtrusive and doesn't make you too hot in the summer. The fit can be adjusted to go over lots of clothes in the winter. There is a crutch strap that stops the jacket riding up over your head when you fall in the water. I 'ummed and ahhed' about whether I really needed an auto inflate type but in the end decided that if you need a life jacket it will more than likely be an emergency and you may be unconscious after a fall, or just forget to inflate it in the shock. With the auto inflate once it is immersed in water the CO2 gas bottle is opened by a disc expanding and puncturing it. There is still the pull toggle that does the same thing and the inflation by mouth too. I was surprised as to how cheap they are. Well perhaps not cheap, but for a good quality safety product not that bad. I was always getting questioned when ordering them for work. I suppose they had to factor in the annual maintenance charges though.
The other item we have bought is a VHF radio. I have one from work but unfortunately through lack of use and heavy use in the past it was not working. When I looked into it it was almost as expensive to buy a new one as to have the old one checked and repaired. It seems that Cobra make some very cheap radios but didn't really look well made enough for me. In the end I settled for a Standard Horizon make. I'm sure that it wont get the battering that the radios used to get at sea. They were regularly dropped and constantly used with oily hands, and worse, and in all weathers. They type that I have bought wouldn't last five minutes there. I have got eh HX300E that is quite a budget one, but pretty cheap at the moment as there have been a few newer models come out so are being sold off. At sea many people used to either put them in their top pockets, or to free their hands put them down on the rail or else where. Quite often the end result was that they went 'plop' over the side!! The HX300E says that it will float!
Standard Horizon HX300E VHF radio.
I hope that we never have to find out whether it does, but if we do it also has a water activated LED light that comes on to indicate its position. It is also suppose the be withstand immersion to 5ft for 30mins. I'm not sure why it would have to if it can float but there you are. I suppose if you dropped it from a great height it my get stuck in the mud and not be able to float to the top!?! I was thinking of getting a throw line for man overboard purposes but have decided against it. We have the life ring and rope. I thought we would be able to reach further with a throw line but then the recovery lines are thin and so difficult to pull a person in with. I'm sure you would be able to make your own that works just as well anyway. We will be all set to have a trip or two on the Trent when the time comes now as we already have the anchor waiting.
I am still wondering about investing in a Smartguage or not. Like many on narrow boats I can become quite obsessive about the state of the batteries. This was quite bad last year as I found it impossible to check the batteries in the position they were in. I'm hoping that as they are physically easier to check now it wont be so bad. There is a volt meter with the solar panels, and of course the engine, but that doesn't really give you the State of Charge, or, in my mind anyway, simply what percentage is left in the batteries.
Smartguage display unit.
Helen has said that she wants a television on the boat this year. mainly as Master Chef is starting soon and she loves to watch that. I don't get it myself as we still seem to eat beans on toast and a fry up! Using the power for a TV and longer use of computers will mean I will get twitchy about the batteries again. It seems that the Smartguage is easy to install so I just may just ponder a little longer and see how we go. It doesn't look that difficult to install, but you never know until you try.
We have accumulated loads of stuff to take to the boat so next week we will have to make a trip with the first load of stuff and then we will be ready for the off.