Have to say I'd trust myself before I'd trust some no-name brand I got off of eBay. If you want quality, it's going to cost. I wouldn't want "...and he got it for $39.95 and free shipping" included as part of my memorial service, nor would I entrust my family's safety to a bargain tether or harness.
Not to pick a fight, but...
Why do you trust the ones that cost more, but not the ones on eBay? Have you personally tested the name brand ones vs the ebay ones? Have you personally seen the results of the load tests? Have you ever seen a report of cheap eBay knock-offs failing and resulting in personal injury? Maybe there's an issue of practical sailor that I missed that showed the scientific studies comparing name brand and off-brand tethering equipment?
Sounds like the same reason people wont buy the plastic-body Tohatsu outboards they see on eBay, but they'll buy the exact same outboard if it has Mercury or some other brand name sticker on it.
I really did a thorough comparison (enough to satisfy myself, that is), and just couldnt justify the expense of the name brand tethers. I bought some from West Marine, first. The ones I got on eBay were made from the exact same material as the ones I got from West Marine. Same for the jacklines. Which is why I took the West Marine ones back and used that cash for other things.
To each his own, I guess.
I seem to remember seeing pictures of Robin Lee Graham tethered to Dove with a length of rope and a big bowline on a bight slung across his torso. My eBay tethers are a step above that in both comfort and safety. Hell, I've sailed for years without ever having a tether or a jackline. Good thing we never got caught out in any heavy weather.
I daysail my little Newport 27, so yes, I'm not a fulltime cruiser. At that, I might sail ten weekends a season (sadly), and in total, I've been caught out in seas or a storm that warranted tethering a total of ZERO times. The weather forecast has always been my best safety gear. That said, last year three Chicago sailors lost their lives and the boat they were delivering in a situation where a tethered crew would've averted the entire disaster (A MOB situation on a lee shore that led to a catastrophic grounding and loss of life). Ever since, I've been thinking more and more about safety equipment. Especially seeing as I sail by myself 90% of the time.
But, I do have to sail on a budget, there's no way to sugarcoat it. I think theres a disconnect on here sometimes, when Sailnet members assume that everyone is in a position to spend boundless sums of money on their boats. Some of you would never leave your slip or "endanger your family" without the latest and greatest GPS, Radar, bow thrusters, electric windlasses, dinghy davits, and self tailing winches. Others of us have been muddling through with the budget version of 1970's state-of-the-art technology.
Maybe the increased caution comes with age? I'm just 30, single, no kids. Maybe in twenty years when I am married with an Admiral and a family I'll look at this differently. But the way I see it, at the moment, I've been sailing many years with less, and these no-name off-brand eBay tethers and jacklines are a definite step in the right direction, toward a safer, more well-prepared skipper and sailboat.
So, the eBay tethers and jacklines are just fine for now. Maybe for Christmas, Santa will bring me fancy new tethers.