Super Snoopy 050 8:02pm, 11 May 2009
A comment from Andrew regarding Derek's lack of a lifejacket while on Snoopy set me thinking about what others in the group feel about the use of lifejackets.

My own philosophy has been that sailing in a small cruising yacht under favourable conditions is not a water contact sport (unlike my previous pastimes of dinghy racing and canoeing which definitely are water contact sports). I always don a lifejacket with attached harness if the wind gets above a F5 and when I am on deck at night but otherwise, I prefer the freedom of not being trussed up.

In any RYA practical course that I've been on, the rule of thumb is largely similar.

In this day and age we have the ludicrous situations of renactments of the Battle of Trafalgar (on the Thames) with Nelson himself wearing a full lifejacket and woe betide any TV reporter going within 20 feet of water without one.

Does anyone else subscribe to my opinion or it it just me?
Amrum 9171Y 10 years ago
I do agree for the most part. Dinghy and cat sailing involve wet and drysuits as well as lifejackets, whereas on a cruiser I usually wear normal clothes with waterproofs over the top if necessary. However, I do tend to wear a lifejacket at all times - it's just a habit like wearing a seat belt in a car. What I haven't yet got used to is a harness. The health and safety police seem to think no one can take personal responsibility for anything any more, which is going to result in increasing interference in our sport in the future.
pjbharrison 10 years ago
There is a legal requirement in Ireland for all persons to wear lifejackets or buoyancy aid. I've always done it out of habit and am used to it. Once while sailing alone I was hit by the boom and almost fell overboard. If I was wearing heavy waterproofs etc I imagine it would have been very difficult to swim to the boat even if it stopped after a short distance. For me, the minor discomfort, if any, is outweighed by the potential benefit. As Snifter534 says its habit, like wearing a seatbelt.
I wouldn't allow any of my children on the water without one, they're too precious to me. As a parent I have to set the example. I can't insist they wear one and not do so myself.
From a financial viewpoint, the fewer serious accidents and deaths the lower our insurance premiums. In theory, at least!
busy home [deleted] 10 years ago
Ive been doing it all wrong for fourty years. That is not wearing a life jacket.
Ive never had a dinghy ,, only the tender type ,, my four kids grew up sailing with me and the misses, no lifejackets,, they knew that falling in was dangerious. so they didnt. .. (we never visited an emergency dept. with them either) It just dosent come to me to put one on now.
Ive always had huge respect for the sea,, and treat it with caution.always, So what am I saying? With the modern auto jackets
(we do carry them)yes wear them if you feel the need ,, its just that I never have and dont.
guillainevib 10 years ago
I'm with you Ron. Especially single handing. OK so you fall in and float. What then? You are more than swimming distance offshore, alone, boat on auto pilot, no PLB. I think I would rather sink quickly than wait for ages to achieve the same result. Now if the question was 'are harness and life lines a good idea?' I would have a different opinion. My answer would be an emphatic yes.
Sailing with crew and/or children, then, I suppose, yes to life jackets. hate the bloody things though. Fortunately I almost always sail alone.
NormanKlipspringer 10 years ago
I have alwayys worn a lifejacket (with crotch strap). as others have said it is just like wearing a seat belt. Carrying a lifejacket and not wearing it is a waste of time. How do you know when you might need it. If the lifejacket is not adjusted for you it can take 15mins plus to get it on properly. As for a harness - my own lifejacket has an integral harness and I use safety lines to attach to the jackstays when going forward when on my own and in any form of sea. I don't always clip on in calm conditions or if not on my own. If I have to wear one of my other lifejackets without integral harness then I wear a harness underneath if the conditions are rough and/or I am by myself.
Just because you have messed around in boats for many years without problems does not mean that you cannot have an accident - even if you 'respect' the sea.
At the end of the day I would never make it compulsory to wear a lifejacket, but I would urge everyone to consider doing so. There were three fishermen drowned in the estuary about two years ago. Yes they had lifejackets on board, but they were in a locker and no attempt was made to put them on since there was not time.
Like all aspects of safety insurance- you don't realise the benefit until you need it and you cannot predict when that might be. I have never had to make a mayday call, but I always want to be able to do so.
Skykomish E29 Posted 10 years ago. Edited by Skykomish E29 (member) 10 years ago
I hate to say this but Linda and I are in Normans camp...we always wear a lifejacket and so too does anybody else who comes on the boat. I also insist that Linda or myself are clipped onto a line before venturing out of the cockpit. The Achilles is a small lively boat and walking around on deck wouldn't take much of a wave or even trip to find yourself entering the "green room".
Whereas I agree that the general approach is that of only weraing one in rough conditions, we have deliberately chosen to be more disciplined and feel that if we make a habit of "good practise" then when the chips are down we are less likely to get caught out.
This approach has served us well throughout our diving years, often being the last to enter the water because we would insist on doing our pre dive checks whilst others simply kitted up and rolled in with no checks done, and earned us a reputation for being safe reliable divers, We try and carry that philosophy across into our sailing, but each to their own, like Norman I agree that it is upto the individual, nobody goes sailing with me without one.
elite request [deleted] 10 years ago
As I sail alone all the time, I allways put one on, but I feel it should be up to the individual. We do live in a nanny state, it won't be long before we have to pass a boat test and pay for a licence to sail.

Had my first speeding ticket the other day, spent most of my life driving sports cars and motorbikes and not one mark on my licence. get a ticket driving my Landrover defender on a sunday afternoon with no traffick, clear road, no parked cars at the side, a mile of clear vision and a cop with camcorder behind tree. Was I a danger to others, I think not, but it's cheaper to police this way. in the old days I would have been given a warning or not stopped at all. Sorry but it got me a bit cross!
Andrew Curry 10 years ago
Oh look what I have started!! I better not get caught not wearing my lifejacket now. I know its a matter of personal choice,but I think its always wise to use them. Modern jackets are so comfortable to use not like jackets from years gone by. The rule on Amaryllis is always to wear one.It makes things simple when you have people sailing with you. Its ok saying that you as skipper could pick a crew member up if they went over the side as you know your boat how it handles etc. But could your crew pick you up?
blueachilles 10 years ago
Interesting topic. We now always wear life jackets, although we have only got into the habit since last year, and we will always encourage guests to do so.

Di is a non swimmer, and has an automatic lj. Mine is manual.

Andrew makes a very good point; I do feel I could pick Di up if she went over the side, and we have ensured that Di knows what to do if I go over. Di is very petite, and I do not think that if she got the boat back to me she would be able to get me back on board if I couldn't get myself back on.

How either of us would actually react in a MOB situation is something we will never know until it happens.

I think the best thing is to make absolutely sure that you don't go over; we are very careful moving around the deck, and its usually me who goes up to the foredeck. We do have lifelines but rarely use them unless conditions are very dodgy - but then we rarely venture outside Carrick Roads.

And we always use LJs in the dinghy, and at night.

How many people have tried getting onto their boat from the water? I haven't.
Mike A1 10 years ago
When I started sailing in cruising yachts (with the Scouts), lifejackets were not worn on board in calm or moderate conditions. They were compulsary at all times in the tender, and of course when the weather got bad. I doubt the rules are the same now, but I think that this is an acceptable thing to do in a fully crewed yacht.

Most of my recent sailing is singlehanded and I always wear a lifejacket when under way. Most of the time is in river estuaries where I am not very far from the bank (or the bottom!) and I would have a good chance of swimming (or walking) ashore provided I could stay afloat. Further out to sea, I think I'd prefer to have a very small chance of surviving rather than drowning quickly.

When I sail with other experienced people I very occasionally don't bother if I think they could get back to me if I fell over the side. There aren't many people I trust to be able to do this. I wouldn't take this risk with inexperienced people and would insist they wore a lifejacket.

It is all down to the individual and the skipper, but I think that the most important thing is to be aware of the risks of any situation and to take appropriate action.
busy home [deleted] 10 years ago
Getting back on board is near immpossibile without assistance from on board, The Ladder is too short to get your feet onto , Especially if fully clothed Towing the dinghy is a precaution , Even then the shock of hitting cold water takes your strength away, (I rescued a fit large lady two years ago, who fell off the stern of her yacht in loe Beach.
She could not help at all and flipped into the dinghy like a seal! not able to move until we were ashore, She was wearing a life jacket and i admit probably saved her )
Yes wearing a modern auto jacket is sensible but I tend to forget.
What a great site ,where we can discuss issues as adults and not take offence!
craig48uk 10 years ago
In all my miles of racing/deliveries back home we had the same rule of thumb as most. Lifejackets in rough weather and at all times during night hours. The jackets had integral harnesses and this was more important than the actual jacket. Anyone forward whilst wearing the harness/jacket was clipped to the jackstays regardless.
Single handed racing I always wore mine.
Here in the Caribbean we don't have problems necessarily with water temps, however if the weather turns grotty the jackets/harnesses still come out.
I believe it is a personal choice, I know what works for me, besides those things are so hot to wear on a nice day here!
pjbharrison 10 years ago
It is much easier and quicker for rescue service to locate and recover a body, alive or dead, if it is wearing some form of buoyancy. This can reduce the waiting time for friends and relatives. The sooner a body is found the easier it is to identify. I don't think I need further explain............
rothwell_neil 10 years ago
I guess I have a mixed view on this as I often sail alone and on autohelm with no other boats around a life jacket is useless unless you count the extra time you get to wish that you hadn't fallen in. The Irish Sea is a lonely place and you rarely see a boat that could help. I was brought up without lifejackets but have them on the boat and will don in bad weather mainly as it feels sensible and has a harness and I can clip onto the safety line. I think a harness is more use when going forward than a life jacket on the basis that with a harness you should stay with the boat and it is less bulky. I am remiss in that I don't like to wear a life jacket on a fine day as they are uncomfortable. The life jacket that I don't wear has a built in harness and is automatic.
Tocviria Posted 10 years ago. Edited by Tocviria (member) 10 years ago
I recognize I never use them.But now I will start to as a discipline.I have sailed quite a bit , with strong winds and heavy seas , close to shore and offshore ,at day and night alone and crewing and very rarely did I use the harness and lifejacket, even though I have them on board at all times.Recently on the first days of May a ship Captain from the Spanish Navy was lost at night while racing ,even though a whole rescue operation followed he has not been found, he was a most experienced yachtsman. I shall try not to take the risk anymore and discipline myself towards wearing lifejacket and harness at all times. Lately I had not been able to sail for a spell of about three months and I scared a bit as i took my boat out for I did not have the feel of my sea legs and my counterbalance was not in top condition. The sea will not allow us a second chance, so harness and lifejacket however they are not liked
Skykomish E29 10 years ago
good for you Antoni.....It is a personal choice but I wonder how not wearing one would affect an insurance payout if somebody was drowned???? just a thought.
This has certainly been a great discussion
Daddsie 10 years ago
If there is chance of survival I wear one, but when single handing at night across the Channel etc, not worth it, especially as I do not swim on the surface all that well
elite request [deleted] 10 years ago
Afraid I got a very bad fit of the giggles when a scotts friend of mine said

"Tie me to the boat" as a squall about force 6 hit us and then said "NO Don't, if we sink! I will go with it". At which point I just lost it and nearly burst my sides. I don't think he trusted my sailing abilitys very much. He still reminds me every time I see him.
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