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Old 06-23-2013
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Re: Do you wear a life jacket?

Sometimes, rarely in the summer. I have been sailing off and on for 43 years and I have never fallen off a boat unintentionally.
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Old 06-23-2013
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Re: Do you wear a life jacket?

In 50+ years of boating I have only gone overboard twice when it wasn't intentional or an anticipated possibility. Canoe racing excepted. Once as a teenager driving a class B hydroplane when the steering suddenly failed. The boat turned sharply to the left and I went straight ahead. It was so violently fast my hand did not trip the crash throttle. I survived. That is an interesting and funny, unbelievable, story. The second one was last year at our mooring in Seal Harbor when the lifeline parted as I was reaching for the pickup float. Life vests both times. WW canoe racing requires worn pfds. Plenty of possibilities to swim. Class III rapids are much more comfortable when you are wearing a life vest.

Staying aboard is the plan. That is why our sport is not called swimming! If you have any experience with an avoidable, tragic, accidental death you understand the remorse surrounding that irreversible event. Current equipment is not too bulky to be worn comfortably. Wishing you could undo an accident that ended the life of a friend or loved one is a permanent reality. Selfish is one of the words that comes to mind when I read of people who have died while boating and were not wearing life vests, leaving their loved ones behind to grieve. For ever!

My politics are Libertarian leaning Independent. Hands off! Don't regulate my personal decisions.... But, if you want to sail with me, you will wear a life vest. It is a loving thing to do.


I am more comfortable in just shorts too, when the conditions are appropriate. But!
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Last edited by downeast450; 06-23-2013 at 08:27 AM.
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Old 06-23-2013
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Re: Do you wear a life jacket?

I do not wear one all the time on our boat. While these could become my famous last words, it would be pretty tough to fall out of our cockpit, through the bimini frame then through the lifelines/pushpit. (throws salt over shoulder)

However, I will wear one in rough conditions or on lengthy passages, where it is just the two of us and one is sleeping or down below.

On a boat which would be more likely to knock down or easier to end up in the drink, I would also wear one more often. If one is alone, I see no excuse not to wear one at all times, with a handheld radio, regardless of the boat. Seriously, what would the back up plan be, otherwise?

As for the feedback that inevitable proclaims that some wear them all the time, no matter what, etc, etc. My observations of sailors over 40 years, is they must sail well out of sight distance. I see very few come and go with their pfds on, all the time. I find it somewhat amusing that the entire crew in the Newport-Bermuda race is required to have them on when the cross the start and finish lines, but fielders choice in between. They are trying to set a good example.

While it remains good advice to wear it at all times, there are some that claim to, but have posted several pics of themselves sans pfd. You know who you are.

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Old 06-23-2013
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Re: Do you wear a life jacket?

The auto-inflatables really take a lot of the air out of the argument to not wear them.

Even so, I'm not religious about PFDs. I always wear one when I'm working the foredeck on my Friday night race boat. When single-handing, I wear one when the water temperatures are warm enough for me to survive for a period in the water. When the waters are colder, I either wear a harness and tether or my SOSpenders with integrated harness.

On those occasions when I have crew, or when I am acting as crew in the cockpit of someone else's boat, I don't wear one, especially if the water is warmer.
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Old 06-23-2013
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Re: Do you wear a life jacket?

I sail inshore, so I generally do not have rough conditions to contend with. I always wear an auto-inflatable belt pack inflatable. Not as good or secure as a vest/harness type inflatable, but very comfortable. You don't even know it's there most of the time. However, it is not as safe as the harness type inflatable in that you have to finish putting it on after you are in the water and part of the process is letting out some of the CO2 to partially deflate it so you can get it over your head. Then you pull the straps tight to finish. You use the mouth piece to re-inflate fully after it's on. If it becomes rough, then I go to an auto harness type inflatable, which I carry on board at all times, also have tethers/jacklines to clip in. I have three of each type on board, plus a bunch of the red foam Type II's.

Last edited by NCC320; 06-23-2013 at 03:42 PM.
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Old 06-23-2013
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Re: Do you wear a life jacket?


Kayak, but generally only whitewater (always) or cold water. On warm flat water the kayak isn't going anywhere, I can reboard, and the jacket is in easy reach. Not hard to put on the in the water. These skills must, of course, be practiced.

Tender if out of the harbor. It could leave me if I forgot the dead man switch.

Harness if...
* alone
* night
* rough weather
* chute up in moderate weather
* going forward in moderate weather
* cold water

* Hot in summer. Harness is more comfortable.
* Harness is more comfortable all of the time.
* Harness much better for the above for conditions.
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Old 06-23-2013
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Re: Do you wear a life jacket?

harness alone is a good option, and one I'm also considering.
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Old 06-23-2013
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Re: Do you wear a life jacket?

I have kids and so try to set an example whenever they can see (i.e. wearing one all the time)... that said, I'm quite often not wearing one when sailing "other people's boats" and the kids are not around. Reckon I should be and I endeavour to wear one when rowing the tender in/out, but I'll be upfront and say I do it less than I think I should.
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Old 06-23-2013
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Re: Do you wear a life jacket?

Almost all of the time.

All of the time if I'm solo, there are no other confident sailors onboard, or I'm chilly.

Less likely if it's really hot out and there is a lot of experienced crew.

I did a fair amount of kayaking before sailing and got into the habit there. I feel naked if I get into a kayak without a PFD on.

I also have a kayaking dry suit that I use as my foul weather gear. With that I can be comfortable in the water even if swimming for over an hour. I've tested it before at 45 minutes in 42 degree lake water.

My sailing PFD is an inflatable, but I use a standard one when on the dinghy or a kayak.
boats that I sail on regularly: Pearson 28-2, Rondar 505, Yankee 30, Blanchard Junior
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Old 06-23-2013
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Re: Do you wear a life jacket?

I have Mustang inflatable and I always wear it. I have a strobe and whistle attached to it.
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