Make A Decision You Can Live With
When should you wear your lifejacket or lifevest? Official answer – always. When do we really wear our livevests/lifejackets – not very often.
Recent tragic losses of life, both in our local sailing and on the world stage of the Volvo Ocean Race, have pointed out that, no matter how experienced you are, unexpected tragedies can happen in seconds.
I say unexpected tragedies because that’s exactly what they are. We’re looking at the very serious side of Murphy’s law. Of course we’re aware that these events might and can happen, and we prepare for them with whistles, lights, GPSs, and PFDs. Will it happen to us? Probably not, but if it does we’ll be prepared. Or will we? I mention the above tragedies not as any kind of comment on their situations, but as a reminder to review ours.
The LifeSling hangs on the stern pulpit, ready for action. But has it ever been out of the case? Both equipment and crew need to be tested to see if the theories we all think we know will actually work come crunch time, or rather splash time. Most of us have our personal PFDs, not the old horsecollars that you buy in bulk to satisfy Coast Guard requirements. Nowadays, they’ve gotten smaller, more comfortable, and have addressed most of the reasons/excuses we had for not wearing them. But where are they? Usually down below in our seabag with all the fleece garments we aren’t using at the time because there’s not much wind or it’s actually warm out.
In the corner of this page is a picture of me blissfully sailing along. It serves two purposes: to put a face with the words, and is yet another photograph of someone enjoying the sport we all love. Am I wearing a lifejacket? No. Should I be wearing one? Yes. But it was a mild day and I was surrounded by good sailors and...
It all comes down to personal choice. Kids under 12 don’t have that choice, they have to wear a PFD. All the rest of us make our decisions based on comfort level – not the comfort of wearing a PFD, but comfort in being in control of an easy situation; light to moderate winds, good practiced crew, a rather calm setting in which an emergency would be rare, or rather unexpected.
The next time you’re out sailing, give your situation a realistic once over. One quick question will help with the accessment: “Can the crew onboard get me back aboard quickly, concious or unconcious?”
So, if you’re not going to wear a PFD, make a considered decision, not one out of habit. Make it a decision you can live with.