|Boy's Manual of Seamanship and Gunnery|
Life Buoys and Their Use
There are two descriptions of life buoys supplied to Her Majesty's ships.
Kisbie's Life -buoy
Is a small circular buoy, fitted with beckets round it, to hang on by when there is more than one person floating by it.
These buoys are distributed round the upper deck of a ship, hung in conspicuous places, ready for use at the shortest notice.
At the alarm being given of a man overboard, one of these buoys is immediately thrown to his relief.
Care should be taken not to throw it at random, or in a wild way, merely for the sake of pitching it overboard, without any regard to the position of the man in the water.
First ascertain where the man is, and then throw it as near him as possible. If he has fallen from forward, by running aft you will, in all probability, be able to throw it in advance of the man in the water, and be the means of saving him.
The best position for one man to keep himself afloat by a Kisbie's life buoy, is to slip it over his head, and rest his arms over it on either side : in this position, by keeping himself perfectly steady, he will float for any length of time, until a boat can be sent to pick him, up.
The Service Life Buoy
Is floated by two large copper balls, and is supposed to be capable of keeping four men afloat.
It is attached to a ship's stern by means of a slip, which is disconnected by pulling a trigger, when the buoy is immediately freed, and falls into the water, clear.
At night, the same trigger fires a friction tube, which ignites a fuse that exhibits a blue light, and burns from fifteen to twenty minutes, thus marking the position of the buoy.
The buoy is primed every night at sunset, the tube being removed again at sunrise.
Great coolness and caution is required to float on this buoy. As soon as you get hold of the buoy, place your feet on the balancing plate, grasping the buoy above the balls with your left hand, and the up and down rod above again with your right hand, to keep it from striking you on your head by the quick motion the sea invariably gives one of these buoys.
In this position you will float with your head well out of the water.
Some men get frightened, and endeavour to raise themselves higher up the buoy, which is certain to overbalance it, and throw them headlong into the water again.
A sentry is constantly stationed by this buoy at sea.
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