LeBlanc: New water sports safety products available

In spite of COVID-19 invading our country, most of the manufacturers of outdoor merchandise are still cranking out some new and mostly worthwhile products. As usual, there are some that are touted as “New and Improved”, which makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I have lived long enough to find that new and improved can also be synonymous with cheaper made and more expensive. So I would like to share my thought on a few new products.

The first one that comes to mind is a lightweight, wearable safety strobe for all lovers of water sports and boaters. It looks like it could be an important safety device for anyone who happens to fall overboard during an aquatic outing.

When one falls overboard it is important to remain visible to rescuers and any other boater on the water near you and to be wearing a US Coast Guard approved flotation device. Add to the PFD a Life Light strobe from Ritchie Navigation and you increase your safety level drastically, it improves the ability for other boaters in the area to see you as well as help rescuers to see you more readily.

These lightweight and compact Life Light Strobes attaches easily to any PFD, harness, survival suit, life raft, or throwable device. They are US Coast Guard-approved and fully automatic, it activates as soon as it’s immersed in water.

It is functional in fresh or saltwater and when the Life Light is removed from the water, it deactivates. The non-replaceable lithium-ion battery lasts for five years.

The Life Light (RN-Strobe) has a rugged, yellow housing that floats and is permanently sealed to ensure absolute corrosion resistance and is only one and one-half inches in diameter and weighs only one-half ounce. Beside water safety it is also ideal for any outdoor activity where emergency assistance may be needed due to injury or being lost. It comes with a lanyard and Velcro strap for a wide range of uses, including on a pet’s life vest.

I think this can be an important piece of safety equipment and it makes a thoughtful Christmas gift. It has an MSRP of $24 and you can see it at www.ritchienavigation.com

This next product I feel is an absolute necessity for any boat, power or sail, is a magnetic compass.

I know that with all of the electronic and satellite navigational aids available for our vessels some will laugh at this ancient mariners tool but before you hurt yourself at the thought of a magnetic compass you might keep reading for a couple lines.

It only takes one electrical hiccup on one foggy, disorienting day on the water to make a boat owner understand the value of a magnetic compass. The SuperSport Venture SS-PR2 from Ritchie Navigation is the ideal new or replacement magnetic compass for boats from sixteen to thirty five feet in length. It comes with the unique Compensation Module that allows for dash or bulkhead installation locations that are near equipment that might otherwise affect deviation.

The SuperSport Venture has a blue three and three-quarter inch CombiDial card with bold, easy-to-read heading numbers in thirty degree increments on the side and cardinal directives on top. It’s pre-wired with blue twelve to twenty-four volt LED lighting for use in reduced light. The polished dome has orange forty five degree lubber lines for direction reference and the compass comes with a protective slip-on cover.

The SuperSport Venture SS-PR2 with Powerdamp system performs in the worst of conditions. With a hardened steel pivot and triple cup sapphire jewel movement, dial spinning and jumping are virtually eliminated. Also card movement is sure and accurate.

The SuperSport Venture SS-PR2 costs $208.66 and comes with a five-year warranty. For complete information you can go on line to www.ritchienavigation.com.

Too often, people don’t wear PFDs when boating because they’re simply too bulky to have fun in. There is a new one on the market that looks like a winner to me and it is the inflatable Bombora Adventurer. This one is worn around the waist and offers complete freedom of movement for all-day comfort and it is Type III US Coast Guard-approved for safety.

It has a simple pull-cord activation and inflates into a full-size life jacket with 25 pounds of buoyancy, is designed for use by boaters sixteen years old and up, and it fits chest sizes from thirty to fifty six inches. This makes it ideal for owners who want their guests to be safe, but don’t want the inevitable groans that come when the old-fashioned foam PFDs are brought out.

The Adventurer is worn like a fanny pack and features a zippered pocket, front attachment loop and D-ring for securing keys and small accessories.

Using the Adventurer is simple. It’s armed with a commonly-available threaded 24-gram CO2 cylinder. Pulling on the bright yellow pull cord handle instantly inflates the PFD. The vest is then slipped over the head. A manual inflation tube with an attached signal whistle is mounted on the front. Reflective tape is on both shoulders for added safety.

The Bombora Adventurer is equally as simple to re-pack and rearm after activation. A new CO2 cylinder is installed. The vest is dried, deflated, rolled back into the belt and the cover Velcro reattached. You can see it online at www.bomboragear.com.

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