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Life Cell By Steve Morrell

The Life Cell can be secured to a bulkhead or a railing.

The Yachtsman Life Cell opened.


n December 2011, two Australian fathers and their two 11-year-old sons were forced to abandon their trawler about 10 kilometers off the coast of Sydney, Australia. They had only minutes to abandon the boat after they noticed the cabin was flooded with water. As they jumped in the water, they grabbed their emergency locator beacon and their esky (“esky” is the word Australians use for a portable cooler, as so many Australians bought Esky-made coolers that it became the colloquial name used for all portable coolers). Although the boys had life jackets on, the four gathered around the esky as a common flotation device to keep them together. Because of the emergency beacon, they were rescued by helicopter 45 minutes after they jumped into the water. But the event became an inspiration for the two men, Scott Smiles and Rick Matthews, to develop the Life Cell through their new company, Life Cell Marine Safety. The Life Cell is a floating device that contains emergency equipment, handholds for survivors, and lanyards to secure the device to the survivors. Lanyards are to keep users from separating from the device in case of fatigue or high seas. Below is some of the safety equipment that can be held in the Life Cell (not included with Life Cell purchase): EPIRB – all brands Flares Parachute Flares Flare Gun Safety Flag Whistle Air Horn Flash Light Signaling Device


August 2017


The company has four versions of the Life Cell: Trailer Boat: assists for 2-4 people; for any size vessel; 4 lanyards Yachtsman: assists 4 people; for vessels greater than 18 feet; 4 lanyards Trawlerman: assists 6 people; for large/ commercial vessels; 6 lanyards Crewman: assists 8 people; for large/commercial vessels; 8 lanyards The company says there is also room in the Life Cell for wallet, keys, phone, sun block and a handheld VHF radio. There is even room for water. All items will be kept dry in the device. The Life Cell is filled with closed-cell foam and is unable to absorb water, and will consequently float even if damaged. An EPIRB can be stored inside the Life Cell or on the outside with a special bracket. One of the main points that Life Cell Marine Safety promotes is where to mount the Life Cell. They found that many people place their safety equipment down below in a locker, a cabinet, under a berth—or on top in a cockpit locker, sometimes in the back beyond other equipment. But the company founders’ own experience showed them that the equipment needs be mounted where it is readily available, since emergencies—like the one they found themselves facing with their sons—often give you only seconds to get off the boat. Also available are brackets for mounting on bulkheads or railings—brackets that will release the Life Cell to float away if the boat sinks with them attached. For more information, including many useful videos, go to A list of dealers is available. Life Cell can be bought online at, and The Yachtsman version is available for $292.75 at Wal-Mart online.

Southwinds August 2017  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...

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