The whole lifejacket issue is something I'd like some feedback on. We don't know the type of PFD that Laura was wearing so this may not pertain at all to this case, but this tragic event is something that makes me 2nd-guess the inflatable harness PFD's. If the inflatable tube were to get punctured by rigging of the boat if you're thrown/rolled or by some other hardware that got into the water from the boat, or by a reef, then it woud deflate and be useless. In circumstances like this, it drives home the point - for me, at least - to get a bonafide Type I PFD for offshore passages.
Belisana makes a very good point made here!!!
For years (on shore and off) I sailed with inflatable PFD's to meet our life jacket requirement. On my first Carib 1500, Rick Palm (head safety inspector) looked over my gear and said, "What happens if one of those gets punctured while you're climbing up a cargo net of a steamer who's stopped to rescue you". I smiled and ignored him. We sailed south with our inflatables and we did another 12,000 uneventful miles with them.
But, I never forgot Rick's question. What if....?
Five years later we're getting ready to do another Carib 1500. Again, the safety inspector gets on my case because we don't have inherently bouyant Type 1 life jackets. My reply this time is, "Where do you suggest I store them?" The safety inspector says, "It's your boat. You're the skipper" and asks me to sign off on a waiver because I don't have the "proper gear".
This time I remember Rick's admonition from fives year prior, I swallow my pride and trot off to West Marine -- $300+ dollars later I am the proud owner of 6 cubic feet of safety gear that I have no place to store. All because of "what if...."
Imagine what it might have been like when the mast came down on Rule 62. With the boat rolling in the swell and spars and wire flying around, it's easy to see how a USCG approved inflatable PFD could have been punctured, even before anyone stepped into the liferaft.