Skip to main content
What Makes One Life Jacket Better Than Another?
How would you go about figuring out if a life jacket design is capable of saving a life when used in rough water? What would you look for? How would you measure the life jacket’s effectiveness? Which models would you accept, and which ones would you fail?
New Ideas on Personal Safety Gear
Fast forward 20 or so years, and Stan is again sailing on state-of-the-art multihulls, but now on Gitana 17, a foiling trimaran, whose crew intends to set the around the world record: the Jules Verne Trophy. While the personal gear that the crew wears is similar to what we had on Playstation, there are some subtle differences.
Pros and Cons of Personal Safety Gear
Bottom line: safety gear is a compromise. Too foolproof, and it may be either too expensive or too difficult to use. Too heavy, and people leave it below decks. Too much maintenance required, and it may not work when it is supposed to. 
Life Jacket Performance
In 2017, US Sailing Yachtswoman of the Year Timmy Larr asked me to participate in a series of life jacket tests in Tampa Bay, about ¼ mile from the University of Southern Florida. These tests were reasonably similar to other life jacket testing that I had done, with a few exceptions.
THE COLD FACTS: Special Safety Considerations of High Latitude Voyaging

With tens of thousands of miles sailed (and working) in the cold-water latitudes, CCA Member Mark Roye has learned a

The Labels are Coming, the Labels are Coming!
After an initial stage of having existing life jacket designs updated with modern labels, new life jacket designs created under a new UL standard (UL 12402) will begin to enter the market, and these life jackets may have features and innovations which are not currently allowed under the older UL standards. At least that is the hope.
Life Jacket Recommendations
The CCA recommends that, at the skipper’s discretion, all crew should WEAR A LIFE JACKET when on deck of a recreational boat. There are various types of life jackets with advantages and disadvantages, and that are appropriate for different conditions. But the best one is the one you are WEARING. The boat's skipper should establish a culture of safety and protocols, the goal of which is: don't fall overboard.
Tough Questions on Inflatable Life Jackets
I like to think that the courses and articles and online tutorials are complete and easy to understand, but anyone who teaches knows that the best way to check comprehension is to listen to the questions that are asked. After my “story” in Lectronic Latitude was published, I received several excellent questions from a sailor whom is living on her boat in La Paz, Baja California. Alison Osinski, PhD, asked me the following:
USCG Alert on Inflatables
Coast Guard Safety Alert: This safety alert reminds all inflatable life jacket users of the importance of performing periodic maintenance on their equipment. Instances of fatal accidents where inflatable life jackets failed to properly inflate have been documented. When a life jacket fails to inflate properly, the results can be life threatening. Unknown bladder leaks may exist, fabric degradation or an improperly installed CO2 cylinder is all it takes to render an inflatable life jacket ineffective by preventing its inflation or ability to stay inflated.