As a newcomer to this site, I have been reluctant to respond, but I must on this topic. my qualifications: I was corporate safety officer for a large company with 1600 workers for 6 years. During that time I did not have to bury any of them.
I agree with many of the postings, the best piece of safety gear is: R E S P E C T. Respect for the power of the sea and respect for your abilities. If you do not have these don't even think about leaving the dock, you are an accident looking for a place.
Safety gear is for the rare time that you are presented with a "no win" situation. If you are not willing to go to sea without the gear, you are not ready.