Geoff, I agree with you. My thoughts about this are my opinions and I DO feel, strongly, that you and everyone, including me, should and hopefully can, think for themselves. My replies on this thread do go a bit toward prosthelytizing. Not characteristic of me. I recognized that before I posted. Apologies if it offended. I was just hoping to help by hitting a nerve. It is an important topic that only becomes poignant after the fact. I wish you a trouble free life on the water. It is a passion all of us share.
No problem, Down. I don't mind a good argument....err...discussion, as long as we are nice about it.
I don't want to get too bogged down in semantics but consider this: When I drive I put on a seat belt. The danger is moderate, the inconvenience minor and the potential reward is high. But although it would be safer, I don't wear a five point harness or a nomex suit or a helmet because, while the danger is the same, the inconvenience is significant and the reward (compared with wearing a three point belt) is relatively minor (depending on how you look at it, you could also argue that the danger is greater but the reward the same - just a different spin).
Similarly, a solo sailor, small boat, cold water area, at night and in bad weather should consider every possible precaution. On the other hand, in the Caribbean, on a big charter boat, in benign condition, island hopping with someone who could pick me up, it's rare that I wear more than a pair of shorts and some sunscreen. The reasons are obvious and I don't ever recall seeing anyone in the Caribbean wearing a life jacket. For many of us (most?), there is a line somewhere between the two where the wear/don't wear decision is made. Risk is everywhere - safety is relative.
It seems to me that the person in the most danger is not the person who makes a rational decision but the person who is either oblivious to the risk or who has an "it won't happen to me" attitude. I would be mentioning the inexperienced power boater who thinks it "just like driving a car", but that would be demonstrating my prejudice... ooops!
BTW, Knox-Johnson never wore a life jacket. His opinion was that it restricted his movement which made him more likely to go over the side and, in the middle of the ocean, the odds of him being rescued were very small. I think that is a valid decision - not the decision I would make but valid none the less.
Very funny pic. Where did you find that?
Sorry but I don't remember. I save pictures that I like or find funny and email them to my friends from time to time. Here's one to support your point of view.