It will carry but one person at a time, but it is easily and rapidly handled, and this fact renders it invaluable. It is made of stout canvas, something like a pair of breeches for the legs, from which it takes its name. From a circular float which comes just under the armpits ropes are attached, which suspend the buoy from a pulley block running upon the large line. It takes but a minute for a man to fix himself in the "breeches," and then he is hauled through the air—perhaps part of the way through the water—to the shore. Whenever practicable, the line at the vessel is fastened
tight upon a mast, so that the passage may be made without immersion. Many thousands of lives in all parts of the world have been saved by this simple but effective device.
The "life car" is brought into requisition when the number of persons to be saved is large and circumstances require that the work be done quickly, as when a vessel shows signs of breaking up. It is a covered boat, perfectly tight with the exception of a few small holes for the admission of the air. It may be hauled upon the water by means of lines, or suspended from the hawser and passed to and from the wreck. It will contain six or seven persons, and is a comparatively safe and speedy means of rescue. The life car was designed by Joseph Francis, who but a short time ago received, at the hands of the President, a superb gold medal, voted by Congress in recognition of its value. Upon the first occasion of its use more than two hundred persons were safely landed from a wreck.