With the wind really starting to howl outside as I am writing this - and it must be quite something where I was in Kerry last week - a blog post about the whole safety out on the shore thing seems rather apt. I haven’t been able to return to this safety issue recently because I have been in Ireland for three weeks out of the last four, but I am home now, and in between the two trips a lifejacket arrived here for me to test out and see how it might work with my shore fishing…………
First off, it’s a big thanks to the Isle of Wight company Spinlock for being so kind to send me a lifejacket to test - I’ve got their lightest and most unobtrusive model here, the Deckvest Lite, and I took it over to Kerry with me just in case we managed to get a session out on the boat with our clients. I wanted to see what it would be like to wear this lifejacket while I helped the guys out, took a few photos, and moved around the boat.
I have worn a bunch of different lifejackets over the years either when out on a boat in Ireland, or when out on a lake photographing fly fishing, and whilst I am of course grateful to be wearing something that’s going to keep me afloat if something goes badly wrong, I can’t recall ever actually enjoying wearing those lifejackets because I always felt that they slightly got in my way and I knew they were there, but I accepted it as being far better to have one on that not - which of course begs the question why I have chosen to completely ignore the wearing of a lifejacket for some of my shore fishing for so many years. Please go back and read a couple of recent blog posts here and here which I hope make some sense.
Anyway, I have yet to wear a lifejacket when shore fishing, but a few hours of wearing this incredibly light and compact Spinlock Deskvest Lite on the boat and I hardly even know it’s there, indeed I would describe this lifejacket as not getting in my way in any way at all. I was wearing waders with a wading belt, and towards the end of the session I put a waterproof jacket on as we lost the sun. I was using the crotch strap as you are meant to (so the lifejacket doesn’t ride up over your head as it auto inflates, very important), and to be perfectly honest I forgot the thing was there after I got used to it and stopped thinking about the fact that I was trying to find out if it got in the way - which it didn’t.
Now that I am back home and I can start to properly get out shore fishing again and put some decent time in, as and when I feel it is required I will be wearing this lifejacket to see how it does. The next logical step is to do a bit of basic testing, but for this we require some settled conditions and also a couple of mates who are willing to “fall” in so that I can shoot some video and take a bunch of photos (Spinlock kindly sent me some extra auto inflation systems so that we can reset the lifejacket after use). There’s a long way to go with all this, including wearing the lifejacket while I am actually out lure fishing from the shore of course, but with how easy this Deskvest Lite was to wear on the boat I am feeling really hopeful about all this. More to come.