Ships & Wrecks

Breeches Buoy

 Breeches buoy

A breeches buoy was a way of transferring a person between ship and shore or from ship to ship. It was usually used in an emergency such as a shipwreck.

The breeches buoy is made up of a lifebelt with a canvas bag attached. The canvas bag has two holes in it to allow the person's legs to go through, like breeches, or trousers (hence the name). It can be moved along by a series of ropes and pulleys.

It looks very similar to the’ Baby Swimseats’ available today.

Task One

How can a line be transferred over water to the ship?

The lemonade bottle rocket!

Fasten one end of a thin line to the bottle and the other to an object on the ‘shore’. When the bottle shoots off make sure that one end of the line does stay on shore.

This thin line can then have a heavier rope fastened to it and those on ship can pull the heavier rope towards themselves.

Task Two

Transfer a load from the ship to the shore using a breeches buoy.

Use the rocket and line to get the rope over to your ‘ship’.
Rig up a frame and pulley system on ship and shore to pull the Breeches Buoy back and forth.
Use a doll as a passenger


Breeches Buoy – Baby Swimseat
Lemonade bottle rocket

For more realism this activity could take place on the side of a school pool with a platform/dinghy for the ship.