This is cool – If you should become separated from your solo sailboat, kayak, or other watercraft out on the open sea, staying afloat isn’t the only challenge – you also have to be seen by your rescuers. That’s where the wearable, inflatable SeeArch is made to come in.
Created by Canadian entrepreneur Neil Darroch, the SeeArch is intended to be worn along with a third-party personal floatation device. When not deployed, it sits stuffed inside a fanny pack-like pouch that is worn around the user’s waist.
Should that person fall overboard and not be able to get back to their vessel, they reach down and yank a ripcord on the pouch. This causes an integrated CO2 cartridge to rapidly inflate the arch itself, which pops out of the pouch and floats at the surface – it remains attached to the pouch via a short tether.
The arch is deployed in eight seconds, forming a highly-visible 5-foot (1.5-m) yellow triangle that sticks up in the air above the user. It’s made of tough 210 deniers ballistic nylon and incorporates retroreflective patches at the top for night-time searchlight visibility.
Once help arrives, the wearer puts their head and shoulders through the bottom of the arch, with their arms out over the sides. The rescuers are then able to grab the arch at the top, using it as a sling to pull the user up out of the water.
Additionally, if the user needs periodic breaks from hanging mostly immersed in the cold water, they can push the arch over so it’s sitting flat on the surface – they can then use it sort of like a swimming pool air mattress, so they’re lying horizontally with their arms and legs over the sides. Of course, they’ll have to get off when they see that an aircraft or boat is in the area, so the arch flips back upright.
After each use, the arch is deflated and stuffed back in the pouch, and the CO2 cartridge gets replaced.
There are two models of the SeeArch – the relatively light and sleek Sport, along with the heavier-duty Mariner. They’re priced at CAD$199 and $219, respectively (about US$153 and $169). This is a good product to be distributed here in the Philippines.