Skip to main content

From the Editor: the Controversy of Compulsory Lifejacket Use

SAIL Magazine's Editor Peter Nielsen offers an opinion on the matter of compulsory lifejacket use...

For some time, contributing writer Alan Keene has been trying to talk us into printing his essay on lifejacket use—make them compulsory, he says! We finally gave in, and you can read Alan’s rationale for compulsion HERE.

Personally, I couldn’t disagree more—there are times when I’ll wear a lifejacket and times when I won’t, but I’d rather not have some bureaucrat making that decision for me, or some humorless goon in a uniform writing me up for not wearing a lifejacket on a 50-yard row to shore on a blazing hot summer afternoon—because you just know that’s the sort of thing that’s going to happen.

SAIL’s position is that we strongly encourage sailors to wear lifejackets, but leave it up to the individual to decide when and where to do so. Most states already have some form of law concerning lifejacket use by children, and for those that don’t there’s a Coast Guard rule in effect. Some northern states have cold-weather laws requiring lifejackets to be worn during winter; these mostly apply to small boats, kayaks, SUPs and the like, which are tippy by nature and on which you’d have to be pretty stupid not to wear a lifejacket.

I’d be interested to know what others think, though, so if you have an opinion on the matter of compulsory lifejacket use, drop us line at sailmail@sailmagazine.com

Peter Nielsen lives and sails in Marblehead, MA, where he dons his lifejacket when necessary

Related

m138123_14_00_210609_TORE02_SE_2152_2504-2048x

The Ocean Race to be “Climate Positive”

The 2023 Ocean Race intends to be one of the world’s first climate positive sporting events, offsetting more greenhouse gasses than are produced. The two-fold effort means cutting emissions by 75 percent and investing in ocean projects that sequester carbon and restore ocean ...read more

01-LEAD-Ancients-3-2048x

Cruising Lake Superior

Almost anywhere a sailor drops the hook someone else has been there before. We are hardly ever the first. That remote Maine harbor without a soul in sight: there’s a lobster trap. The south coast of Newfoundland: the crumbling remains of a fisherman’s cabin lie hidden among the ...read more

01-LEAD-Tablet-Holder-4

Fabricating a Tablet Holder

During the pandemic, I was stuck aboard Guiding Light, a Lagoon 410, in St. Lucia for over a month. During that time, as I worked on the boat, I started by doing a spring cleaning in my spares locker and finding some parts and material that I forgot I had. As soon as I saw them, ...read more

00-LEAD-AdobeStock_486335954

A Catamaran for a New Era

Anacortes, Washington, is an unassuming sea-salty town near the San Juan Islands of Puget Sound, and the Betts Boats yard is easy for a passerby to miss. But within Betts’ facilities, the dawn of an era in Pacific Northwest production boatbuilding could be breaking with the ...read more

X5_plus_slide-01

Boat Review: Xquisite X5 Plus

The Xquisite X5 Plus is a major update of the boat that SAIL awarded Best Large Multihull and Best Systems titles in 2017. The changes were not just cosmetic, but genuine improvements to an already fine boat, making it lighter, faster and less dependent on fuel. The builder’s ...read more

01-LEAD-AdobeStock_40632434

Cruising: Offshore Prep Talk

When I began preparing Minx, my 1987 Pearson 39-2, for extended Caribbean cruising, I had to balance my champagne wish list against my beer budget. Every buck spent on the boat before leaving would be one less frosty can of Carib down in the islands. On the other hand, I had to ...read more

m5702_RACE-AREA-6

Barcelona Venue Shaping Up

The decision to host the next America’s Cup in Barcelona ruffled the feathers of some fans, but the Defender is happy with how the venue is shaping up. The process of allocating team bases, spectator zones and the race village is underway. “I cannot speak highly enough of the ...read more

ELAN-GT6---273

Boat Review: Elan GT6

Elan’s first sporty “Grand Turismo” yacht, the 43ft GT5, launched in 2017, and was actually a bit of a mash-up. It combined an existing go-fast hull from Elan’s sexy E5 racer with a new deck and interior optimized for cruising comfort, and a somewhat detuned rig to create a ...read more