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Types of Personal Flotation Device (PFD) For Alaska Boating Trips

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For any kind of boating trip you're taking, whether it's for fishing, wildlife spotting or simple sport, proper personal flotation devices (PFDs) for every person aboard the vessel are a vital consideration. These are a legal requirement in every state in the US, for starters, and are also an important safety concept that all boaters should be cognizant of, whether you're a driver or passenger.

At Pybus Point Lodge, PFDs are a standard part of all our Alaska boating excursions, whether you're riding with us for a saltwater fishing trip, a wildlife tour or any other purpose. We provide all required PFDs for our boating passengers, ensuring no one is ever without protection. What are some of the different types of PFDs out there, and which will be prudent for your ride type? Here's a primer.

Off-Shore Life Jacket (Type I)

The Type I PFD is designed for offshore, rough seas and remote waters, where rescue may be slow in coming and the chance of hypothermia is high even in summer temperatures. It also comes equipped with a whistle, for use in signaling rescuers. This type requires at least 22 pounds of buoyancy to support the weight of anyone trapped in water.

Near-Shore Vest (Type II)

This type has a slightly lower requirement for buoyancy of 15.5 pounds, and is meant for nearshore boating excursions. It's less bulky than Type I, so it's more comfortable to wear over prolonged periods of time. It is approved for use in milder climates.

This type is not intended for rough or offshore waters. This is because while it will turn some unconscious wearers face-up in the water, it's not designed to keep anyone afloat in truly rough seas and can actually be a danger in such conditions.

Flotation Aid (Type III)

Commonly used for wakeboarders, water skiers, surfers and others, this PFD is basically a vest designed to be worn over the head and not fastened around the waist. It's intended for moderate conditions, and can also be fitted with safety harnesses and tethers for wakeboarders and others who need to attach their bodies to objects during use.

The minimum buoyancy required here is 15.5, the same as Type II devices. Flotation Aids are not meant to turn an unconscious wearer face-up; you'd need to be conscious for that.

Throwable Device (Type IV)

This type of PFD is meant to be held rather than worn. If a boater falls overboard and is in danger of drowning, the person can throw the device to them and hopefully it'll support them long enough for rescue to arrive or until they can swim back to their vessel.

This type has a buoyancy requirement of 16.5 pounds or higher in most cases.

Special-Use Device (Type V)

Finally, there are certain special-use PFDs that use inflation, such as rafting vests, deck suits and special number of other special-use applications that don't fit into the above classifications.

Don't worry about type selection for any Alaskan adventure at Pybus Point Lodge -- we have all our vessels and passengers properly outfitted for any trip they're taking. For more on this, or to learn about any of our all-inclusive fishing trips or Alaska all-inclusive vacations, speak to our team today.

Alaska Packing List PDF


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Discover why people like you can’t stop talking about Pybus Point Lodge. More than 30 years ago, the lodge opened as a simple fishing camp, drawing a devoted following in spite of basic accommodations. With new owners and experienced captains and crew, our corner of Alaska has become an unbeatable fishing and eco-tourism resort.

Andrea Tate

Incredible Experience!

Pybus Point Lodge has some of the most stunning scenery I’ve ever seen. I mean absolutely breathtaking! In addition to the amazing fishing, I hiked to a beautiful secluded lake, soaked in some hot pots, saw several waterfalls, went whale watching, saw bears and all kinds of wildlife and marine life. As a photographer, photographing a wedding under a waterfall will remain a highlight of my life.

Shirley Johnson

Pybus Point Lodge - WOW!

We had the best time! This was our first visit to Pybus, but it definitely will not be our last. The stunning scenery, amazing fishing experience, and the joy of meeting new friends – all outstanding! We did not want to leave!!! If you are thinking about this trip – don’t think any more, just book it. You will not regret it!!!

Sharon Hedding

Trip of a Lifetime!

We had such an amazing time the staff was so wonderful and the lodge was fantastic! capt Joe was so helpful and always doing what ever he could do to make each day special. a special thank you to both Scott and Jody for taking the time to make us feel like family. can't wait to go back next year

Jason Nielsen

Wonderful and Magical Place

We had an amazing business retreat to Pybus Point Lodge.  Everything was top notch... the fishing, the staff, the boat captains, the food, the accommodations, and especially the scenery. I really liked that Pybus took care of everything from start to finish. Chef John is an amazing cook. We had delicious hot meals the entire trip.  The cabins were amazing and very comfortable.  The fishing was awesome and that’s coming from a guy that doesn’t fish that much.

Brandon Foote

We brought home 100lbs of fish!

My wife and I spent a week at Pybus Point this Summer. We had a beautiful, private room overlooking the bay and our own new, ensuite, private bathroom. What an amazing place for couples to get away together. We set our own breakfast time, met our boat captain after, fished the day along, and returned to clean up and enjoy a nice dinner at the restaurant. Next time Alaska is on the trip list, Sherrie and I will go together, and it will be to Pybus Point!

Kent Danjanovich

Fun in Alaska

This was my first trip to Pybus Point. I stayed in one of their new cabins. The accommodations were incredible, the view onto the bay in the mornings was stunning. I loved the staff and the food was really very good. All of this and they have new boats to take you out onto fairly calm waters to fish. The fishing guides were great. Overall a great experience. Definitely going back.


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