Staying safe, one lifejacket at a time

The Lifejackets for Lobstermen vans traveled to more than 40 harbors in Massachusetts and Maine, sometimes twice, from spring to late fall this year, offering different types of lifejackets for sale at 50% off the retail price to lobstermen in the two states. The vans were part of a project begun three years ago by the Northeast Center for Occupational Health and Safety based in New York. Response from lobstermen was enthusiastic, according to NEC staff. For some lobstermen, buying a lifejacket had a deeply personal meaning.
“I was working as a skiff man on a herring seiner that rolled upside down. I was wearing a lifejacket and it saved my life. I wear a lifejacket when I get in the skiff now and wanted to get something that I will wear while I’m working,” said Mike Keating of Owls Head.
“I almost lost my old man [Van Seiders] overboard last week,” said Pete Seiders of South Bristol. “He went in and I wasn’t sure we were going to get him back. He’s 72. He had his Muck boots on and they only partially filled with water so they kept floating up and his head kept going under. It was scary. I gaffed him by the hood to get him back in.” Van Seiders purchased an inflatable vest at the van. “If it wasn’t for my son, I wouldn’t be here,” he said.