Wear Your PFD: A Cautionary Tale from Mustang Survival

words :: Ned Morgan.

Out on a marine adventure? Wear a PFD. You shouldn’t need any convincing. But in case you do, listen to Hunter Bland.

Driving their Triton at a cruising speed of about 55 miles (89 km) per hour on Florida’s Lake Seminole, the pro angler and his tournament partner Conner Young had just kicked off the 2017 University of Florida bass competition.

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Hunter Bland. Photo: Mustang Survival

Though just 21 at the time, Hunter knew how to handle a boat. But he didn’t know that his boat’s engine was about to fail, with nearly disastrous results.

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“We completely passed our boat check that day,” says Hunter today. “We had launched the tournament and made it about two miles downriver [when] we ended up losing a nut on our hydraulic steering and the entire assembly came apart.”

The boat passed over the wake of another boat ahead of them and swerved violently, making a 90-degree turn and throwing both men like rag dolls into the water. Fortunately, both were wearing PFDs.

“I was wearing the kill switch so the engine did cut off,” says Hunter. “I was wearing a manual PFD and Conner was wearing a hydrostatic. So Conner was able to swim over to me and pull the cord on my manual to inflate it immediately.” (Momentarily trapped under the boat as it swerved, Hunter was totally disoriented.) “Then we were both able to swim back to the boat.”

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Hunter Bland with his fourth monster bass. Photo: Mustang Survival

Since the accident, Hunter has conducted speaking tours advocating for boating safety, and recorded a PSA for the U.S. National Safe Boating Council. “When you go through something like that, you understand how quick things can happen. Because there’s the chance when you’re operating a bass boat that you could be knocked unconscious. That’s something I learned at 21 years old. I thought I was invincible but now … I realize how precious life is.”

The Evolution of the PFD

That precious life is easier than ever to protect on the water—fabric technology and intelligent engineering has evolved in strides to make today’s PFDs minimal in profile and weight, not to mention more buoyant (and more comfortable). The bulky PFDs of 15 years ago were easy to leave in the bottom of the boat or use as seat-cushions. Today, there’s no excuse not to wear one.

Mustang Survival MIT 70

Take Mustang Survival’s new MIT 70, for example. Here’s an all-around boating/paddling PFD with an ultralight streamlined build with a new buoyancy classification, as the smallest approved PFD in North America.

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The MIT 70, Automatic model. Photo: Mustang Survival

It meets the minimum buoyancy rating of 15.7 lbs (U.S. Coast Guard– and Transport Canada–approved) in an extremely flexible, forget-you’re-wearing-it package. Available in both automatic or manual models.

Types of Mustang Survival PFDs:

Hydrostatic

Mustang Survival owns the exclusive distribution rights to Hammar Hydrostatic inflators in North America. The Hammar Inflator is equipped with a hydrostatic valve that inflates the PFD bladder when submerged in 10cm (4 inches) of water and provides unique protection against inadvertent inflation in stormy conditions.

Automatic

An automatic PFD is activated when water enters the detector and dissolves a water-soluble trigger. Upon firing a mechanism will activate and pierce a CO2 cylinder. The air coming out of the cylinder will inflate the bladder of the lifejacket and create buoyancy.

Manual

A manual PFD is activated when the user pulls a tab that then triggers the piercing of a CO2 cylinder. The air coming out of the cylinder will inflate the bladder of the lifejacket and create buoyancy.

WIN one of three Mustang Survival Essentials Kits here.

More about Mustang Survival’s different types of PFDs here

Watch Hunter Bland’s account of (and footage of) his accident here

Mustang Survival Shifts Production to Make Gear for Frontline Healthcare Workers

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