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I would consider developing something a kin to the lock/release mechanism used in QD fluid ...

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Falling overboard is not something a lot of us want to imagine happening to us, but for some it’s a risk of their job. But, having a lifejacket attached to the hull of a moving boat can be as dangerous as not wearing one at all.

Opinion has long been divided in the nautical world over whether it is safe to stay attached to the boat’s safety line if you fall overboard, which risks slipping under the guard rails and getting trapped or hanging over the side while still tethered to the boat. A situation which can be hard to release yourself from.

The traditional option of using a knife for release is not easy in an emergency, and while quick release systems via the safety line have been explored by other manufacturers, these have proved unsuccessful or unreliable. The systems become overcomplicated, oversized and can compound the problem of quick release. An externally mounted quick release safety line also risks the chance of accidental release.

The challenge

This month’s challenge therefore is to come up with a safer, easy to operate quick release for lifejackets. It could be designed into the lifejacket itself, the safety line or even the hull of the boat. Whatever form your design takes it should be small, lightweight, easy to maintain and easy to operate even in the dark or with wet, tired hands.

The idea we have in mind will be revealed in the March issue of Eureka! Until then, why not post your design ideas in a comment on the Coffee Time Challenge section of the Eureka! website or by emailing the editor: paul.fanning@markallengroup.com

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Coffee Time Challenge is just a bit of fun, but it is based on a real engineering solution. If you send in your ideas by using the comment button below, we can add your solution as an alternative – perhaps something funny, practical, cheap or, of course, innovative.

I would consider developing something a kin to the lock/release mechanism used in QD fluid couplings. This allows for easy and quick connection and disconnection during normal use, incorporating some form of “rip cord” arrangement that could be operated in an emergency.
Steve Lang

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