This is one product that I've been waiting a long time to get my hands on. I stumbled upon the Rapid Rescue website a few years ago while researching safety products, but it wasn't until this summer that I decided to test out its Personal Retriever myself.
It's U.S. Coast Guard approved and has a buoyancy of nearly 12 pounds. With a solid toss it can reach someone in the water up to 100 feet, yet only weighs 1.5 pounds.
It comes ready to go, but you do need to devote some practice time to mastering the throw, even if it's just like throwing a large Frisbee.
First I secured it to the rail of the pontoon boat, then I took aim and I gave it a good toss. It really is that simple. The nice part is that if you miss your target and have to bring it back in for a second try, the Personal Retriever flips over so it can be pulled in quickly. It doesn't take a lot of time to wind the rope so you can toss it again, but it took me about a minute or so between throws, so you want to make sure each toss counts when someone's life is on the line. However, you can quickly retrieve it and throw it again without winding the rope, so it is possible to get several accurate tosses within a short period of time.
At $139, which includes a carrying bag, it's not the least expensive safety device you'll ever own. But it will give you peace of mind to know that stowed nicely below one of your seats is a quality product that truly is capable of saving a life.
On a side note, while I was practicing my throw I had several boats respond from off in the distance to see if I really needed help rescuing someone. I guess its yellow color and unique design was attracting more people than I realized. Of course then everyone wanted to give it a try, which explains why the Personal Retriever is really catching on with boat owners.