What PFD to get really depends on what kind of boat and what kind of sailing you'll be doing. An inflatable PFD isn't really recommended for dinghy sailors, like those who sail Lasers, as the boats are so wet, you'd be having to recharge the PFD rather regularly. Likewise, a Type III vest is not really that great an idea for a boat that is going bluewater.
It would also help if you defined big guy a bit better. Are you 7' and 140 lbs., or 5' and 300 lbs, or something in between.
For a PFD to be self righting, it usually needs to be either a Type I (best with most floatation of the foam types, but really uncomfortable), a Type II (a bit less flotation, not as likely to flip you over, and still pretty uncomfortable), or a Type V. Type V's are inflatables and must be worn to count in your USCG inspection as a PFD.
There is a new hydrostatic release PFD, believe Mustang makes one, that will not trigger no matter how wet it gets until it is a certain distance under the water's surface. They're still a bit pricey though.
If you're going to get an inflatable—make sure it has both a harness (with crotch strap preferably) and an automatic inflator. Personally, I like the Spinlock Deckware Deck Pro Harness with integrated PFD. Very nice, and very comfy...also fairly easy to get in and out of. However, it is NOT USCG Approved, so carry a Type I, II or III PFD with you to make it legal.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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