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...
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 Young kids, tippy boat: an appropriate place for a lifejacket

Young kids, tippy boat: an appropriate place for a lifejacket

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

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

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