Any time I read someone's account of his mistakes, I review my own practices for points of weakness. That's why I appreciate people sharing these sorts of things.
...I am thinking of our own state regs, might have helped here some (can't tell you how many people ignore them, including myself from time to time)... a tossable, and a horn have to be ON deck...
Interesting you mentioned this. We got pulled over in our Trophy boat by Law Enforcement on Lake Wally about 10 years ago, and it left a lasting impression. The reason we were pulled over was because my wife was pulling me on skis with my ~10 year old son acting as a spotter. Since he looked a little young, they wanted to check us out. They said that the previous week a family tried to claim their 3-year old son was a "qualified spotter" (which is the legal requirement - no specific age). My son passed their little quiz on hand signals, but then they did a complete inspection fir our compliance with state regs. I had an air horn in a latched tool box under the console. The law stipulates that it be within reach, and since the tool box was right by my foot, it met the legal requirement, though clearly not the full intent. Since then I have gone to great pains to make sure the horn is within reach on all boats (and a whistle around my neck on the Phantom). When we got the C250, I immediately ordered an organizer to keep the horn (and refreshments) within easy reach:
We also bought a LifeSling to meet the throwable requirement.
Last winter I bought a new radio plus a RAM mic, because I recognized the importance of having the ability to call from the cockpit and the handheld seemed to be far inferior for reception. I also bought a radio with AIS because of the large number of freighters and tugs/barges in our vicinity.
PFD's are always worn - no exceptions. Much of this comes from experience on the two smaller boats, and my childhood memory of my father lecturing me "it don't matter how well you swim if you hit your head on the way down." As you can see in the pic above, we do use auto-inflate PFDs for comfort.
So we check out well vs. a lot of the issues raised here. But reading over the comments here did remind me of one big deficiency we have. We do have a real nice anchor locker with two rodes/chains and two anchors. Last spring I was indecisive about which anchor I wanted connected to which rode, so I left them both disconnected. That is a major safety shortcoming which I will address as soon as the #@^$% snow stops. I may even consider moving one back to the cockpit locker, although attaching the bitter end is not straightforward in that location.
So once again following these threads has helped me upgrade our safety practices. Please keep the helpful comments coming, and the repetitive piling on to a minimum!