Originally Posted by mattt
I think you're supposed to attach your harness in such a way that you don't exit the boat ever.
I sail in the Puget Sound, and as has been mentioned over and over, its super cold year-round. My limbs would stop being useful to me in about 10 to 15 minutes in that water, so I wear a mustang inflatable at all times on deck.
In Caribbean waters I'm less concerned.
However, I always always always bring the type IV throwable into the cockpit and ready to throw at a moment's notice. If someone goes in without a PFD, I want them to have something to grab within seconds.
I sail in warmer waters on the East Coast and to and from Bermuda. My big problem is getting from the bottom of the companionway ladder to the deck, and then to behind the helm quickly yet securely. My personal rule is that any task requiring two hands presents at least an option, and often an obligation, to hook on with a safety harness with its "third hand," the tether. Two-handed jobs include: climbing up a ladder, stepping out of a companionway, making your way aft in a cockpit that may be crowded with lines or shipmates' legs, sliding around a large-diameter steering wheel, and then taking the helm.
This short exercise may seem easy on paper but it can be unsteady, especially if you have to stand upright. Here's where the safety harness (with PFD), tether, and jackline come into play. The backup is the cushion or Lifesling tossed to the swimmer by an alert shipmate.