There is always debate about whether lifejackets should be compulsory or left to the intelligence and experience of the skipper to determine whether they are necessary. Here's an experienced cruiser's perspective – Janis Couvreux on the Huffington Post:
My blog post “We Sailed Across the Ocean…” from November 11, 2015, recounting our 30-day trans-Atlantic crossing on our sailboat with an infant and a toddler, featured several photos of my children onboard, “sans” life jackets. Some readers were taken aback and posted a comment of surprise and concern. This is not the first time I have had such remarks from – and here's where I must remind myself – amateurs, weekend recreational boaters, non-sailors, or at least non full-time “cruisers.”
No, our children did not wear life jackets. For the 10 years we were on our sailboat, whether we were sailing under fair-weather conditions, at anchor, docked on shore, or in a dinghy going from our boat to shore, they did not wear life jackets. Was this irresponsible, was it reckless, was it total ignorance on our part, us, the parents? No. Our boat was our home – the only home we had. We had no other dwelling on land. This was it.
Not having our children wear life jackets was being realistic about our everyday life. It was about making life in a restricted space, and under such “unusual” conditions, tolerable for two young lads. Our daily reality was that it was not feasible to have two young children bound up like sausages from dawn-to-dusk, every day of their lives. Like all other children, they would eat, drink, play, go to-and-from our boat on a daily basis. We would either be on the ocean for 5-10 days at a time (or exceptionally 30, as when we crossed the Atlantic), or go on shore for shopping, touring around, take the kids to a park, take them to school, or one of many umpteen daily endeavors that one pursues in daily life either on land or at sea.
Read the full blog here: