The Jobbie Crew is dedicated to everyone coming home alive, every time. Starting this year we are going to start our own safety series including a way to “Ask the Captian” if you have specific questions related to boating safety that you want to be explained. These laws primarily apply to Michigan and are more geared towards Lake St Clair. Ultimately you are responsible for knowing the laws where you boat at! A knowledgeable captain is a safe captain! Ask the Captain your questions here

This weeks lesson – Everything you want to know about PFD’s and who needs what and where?

Let’s start this week by going over the types of life jackets/PFD’s that you will come across.


Type 1 life jacket

Type I PFD

Best for open, rough or remote water, where rescue may be slow coming.
Sizes: Two sizes fit most children and adults.

• Floats you the best.
• Turns most unconscious wearers face-up in water.
• Highly visible color.


Type 1 life jacket

• Bulky, uncomfortable.


Any vessels that carry paying passengers are required to have 1 Type 1 life jacket for each passenger.

They are required to have additional buoyancy and reflective strips

Cost range – $45.00 and up




Type 2 life jacket

Near-Shore Buoyant Vest. These are the most common and on most boats.
Good for calm, inland water, or where there is a good chance of fast rescue.

Sizes: Infant, child, youth, and adult.Advantages:

• Less bulky.
• Turns some unconscious wearers face-up.
• More comfortable than Type I PFD.

Type 2 infant life jacket

• Not for long hours in rough water.
• Will not turn some unconscious wearers face-up.



Cost range – $5.00 and up





Type 3 life jacket

These are the most common when skiing, tubing or riding PWC’s.
These will satisfy the requirement for 1 life jacket per person on the vessel.

Flotation Aid
Good for calm, inland water, or where there is a good chance of fast rescue.
Many sizes from child – small through adult.
• Generally the most comfortable type.
• Designed for activity marked on the device.
• Available in many styles vests.


• May have to tilt head back to avoid face-down.

Type 3 child’s life jacket

• Wearer’s face may be covered by waves.
• Not for extended survival in rough water.





Cost range – $9.00 and up


Type IV PFD’s

Type IV throwable

Michigan law says one USCG–approved Type IV PFD must be on board vessels 16 feet or longer and be readily accessible.
Throwable Device
For calm, inland water with heavy boat traffic, where help is always nearby.

Type IV throwable

Rings, Horseshoe Buoys and Cushions.
• Can be thrown to someone.
• Good back-up to wearable PFDs.
• Some can be used as a seat cushion.
• Not for unconscious persons.
• Not for nonswimmers or children.
• Not for many hours in rough water.


Cost range – $4.00 and up

So now you know all the types. Here is what Michigan laws says you must have:

  • The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) requires that all vessels
    have at least one Type I, II, or III personal flotation device
    that is USCG–approved, wearable, and of the proper size
    for each person on board or being towed. Sizing for PFDs
    is based on body weight and chest size.
    Note the key words are “EACH PERSON” and “SIZING” Each person must have a properly fitted PFD or you will get a ticket
  • Michigan’s PFD law permits a vessel that is less than 16 feet long or is a canoe or kayak, to choose to have either a wearable PFD (Type I, II, or III) or a throwable
    PFD (Type IV) for each person on board.
  • In addition to the above requirements, one USCG–approved Type IV PFD must be on board vessels 16 feet or longer and be readily accessible.
  • Michigan law requires all children under 6 years of age to wear a USCG–approved Type I or II PFD when riding on the open deck of any vessel while underway.
  • Each person riding on a PWC or being towed behind a PWC or other vessel must wear a USCG–approved Type I, II, or III personal flotation device. Inflatable PFDs are not
    allowed on PWCs or while being towed behind PWCs or other vessels.
  • All PFDs must be in good and serviceable condition and must be readily accessible.
    Keywords are “good and serviceable” If they are moldy or sun faded you will get a ticket. Type I also have expiration dates

Well, this should be enough for this weeks topic but we love to hear what questions you may have or if we got something wrong. Let us know here

We have also found a couple of good videos that go through the different types of jacket. Just remember that each state and the loccal municipality may have their own laws in addition to what the USCG puts out.


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