Skyblazer flares

I just bought a new package of Orion Skyblazer flares, and I see that they are “improved” and the instructions for using them are more elaborate than a couple of years ago.

It’s now something like – press top of launch tube to unlock sleeve; pull down on cap to lock sleeve in place; unscrew cap so ignition chain drops down; pull the chain to launch.

So, my question – I’d really like to try the process out with one of these new guys, but without firing it or rendering it unusable in the future. (They cost $12 each!) Has anybody fired or tried these and can tell us how much of that process we can carry out and then reverse, so the flare is back in more or less storable/usable form.

Thanks. --David.

like a morey eel
LIke the novice diver asks, hey, can I touch the morey eel, the answer here is the morey does not have venom, but it packs a powerfully nasty bite.

Try checking with the University of Sea Kayaking website they have a video of how flares are effective and surprisingly NOT in daytime and certain situations, their use and misuse.

I only use Pains Wessex flares smoke and dye products. I do not know how well regarded Orion products are, but it is like the question of do you buy a 10 vs 100 helmet for your head, depends how much you value your life.

Tideplay, P&W flares are undoubtably outstanding flares, but do they make anything that will fit in a PFD pocket? Any pains and wessex that I’ve seen are approximately the size of a heineken mini-keg!

I too carry the skyblazers in an alocsac in my PFD because I want flares on my person.

It would probably be wise for me to carry larger more reliable flares in my boat too though.

As far as the OP’s question. You can do everything up to but excluding pulling on the chain. The chain is encased in some waterproof goo, and if you tug on it you’ll dislodge that plug (and fire a red comet through your kitchen ceiling). But everything else seemed completely reversible.

That said, these things expire after 3 years, so if you want to save the $$ find a paddler who is replacing theirs, and then call your coast guard station to ask how and when you can practice popping it off. They sometimes have practice/training days where you can go and shoot flares willy-nilly, without someone sending in the cavalry.

yes they do

– Last Updated: Jun-13-09 8:36 AM EST –

Yes they make products that fit in your PFD. The larger ones are for coastal ocean sites and crossings. An excellent choice is one that has both orange smoke on one end and red flare on the other. No, you don't fire them both : > ) It is a day night combo.

Really, check out the videos that dramatically show you that the really small flares like skyblazers are simply not visible. Get the best ones for the task at hand. I also have a laser flare that does not expire every three years.

Greatland laser

inexpensive test
of 12 bucks on a device you are expecting/doubting might save your life. To say nothing of the unfamiliar mechanics to light it off. Reminds me of gent I know who bought a new 380 pistol, never cleaned it, never fired it, yet kept it in his truck to save a life.

Firing a flare as a test
Firing a flare for a test – it’s not so much the $12 as finding a place and time to do it, which is not easy. So I’ll be content with just going through all the steps up to and NOT including pulling the chain to fire. I’d hate to pay $12 just to do that, since it will not verify actual working order.

As for how effective these flares are, I think these small ones are considered good only for the last stage of a search, when the searchers are in you general vicinity and need to pinpoint your exact location. If you’re bobbing in big swell, that may not be obvious without some device like a flare. So you should carry them in your pfd.

Presumably you’d also carry bigger flares in the boat, ones suitable for a distress signal and also for locating you from farther away.



– Last Updated: Jun-13-09 8:26 PM EST –

I've never seen those - none of my yachting catalogs carry those little Pains Wessex flares. Only the bazooka-sized SOLAS flares. Where did you buy them?

According to the manufacturer's reported stats though, the skyblazer goes 3 times as high, and burns 60% brighter. Maybe Orion is juicing it's numbers? If not, I think I'd rather stick with the skyblazers. Hopefully the newly improved Skyblazer II has fixed the problems the first version had.

(btw, I've seen the old first version skyblazers on sale real cheap in a couple places. I'd never buy them for actual in-service use because they're close to expiration, and they are proven unreliable, but maybe you could buy those for firing practice. About $5 each.)

Wait until the 4th and test away.

My friend thought it was legal to test flares on the fourth of July, and he was actually arrested by the Salem Police (MA) for firing a red flare from his boat in Salem Harbor on July 4th a couple years ago. Spent a few hours in jail. Not fun.

If you want to test flares, I’d ask the USCG.

exactly what I always did with my…
expired flares.

flare test
Yep, when i saw my orion skyblazers were expired. Backyard. 4th of July. It was fun and educational. Not to mention damn patriotic.