We are in the minority, but we refuse to take the nanny state along with us when it comes to kid safety
and various other topics.
As a yacht kid in the 80s, my brother, sister and I never used lifejackets.
Cruising now, my 9 yo son only uses a life jacket when in an organized regatta
for kids - where nanny rules apply. He can swim like a fish
because I had him around my neck at 4 months of age while swimming underwater from one end of the pool to the other. Without mask or fins, he can now free dive down to 8 m and I would expect him to swim 10 miles if his life depended on it or to float around for 24 hours.
If I insisted on a life jacket, he will not take the care that he currently does to avoid falling overboard
. So he has become careful and responsible. Responsible enough to do night watches alone while we are doing passages.
In Hopetown earlier this year, we saw the ridiculous sight of 2 adults and 2 dogs
in that little harbor with < 5 knots of wind
and all 4 were wearing life jackets. We took photos in between the giggles.
If my son or our dog wore a lifejacket while in the dinghy, it would indicate my failure as a parent and pet owner to adequately teach them to swim.
During night watches, he knows if he falls overboard
, he will die and in the daytime, we might find him but it is not guaranteed. That ensures that he takes care and does not depend on anything apart from himself and his own common sense.
The rules of the nanny state make people forget about common sense, seamanship and personal responsibility. Yachtie kids are great, especially if the nanny state crap stays behind and you, as parent / skipper
decide what level of safety is appropriate for the kids / crew and the situation.