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Personal Floatation Devices

The RYA does not believe that simply making it compulsory to wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid will of itself enhance safety

We believe that knowledge, skills and experience rather than regulation are the foundations upon which personal safety and responsibility are built.

The RYA wants to achieve

  • Continued ethos of self-reliance and responsibility for own safety on board within the recreational boating community, which includes awareness and knowledge of the lifejackets and buoyancy aids available and the importance of choosing the appropriate device for the chosen activity.

RYA position

  • The RYA opposes making the wearing of life-jackets or buoyancy aids compulsory.

However, the RYA strongly recommends that recreational boaters always wear personal buoyancy:

  • When using a sailing dinghy or a small tender;
  • If they are non-swimmers or otherwise vulnerable in the water and there is any possibility of entering the water;
  • When the skipper considers it to be necessary;
  • When abandoning ship;
  • The RYA recommends that, at other times, recreational boaters wear a life-jacket or buoyancy aid unless they are sure they don't need to.

More information on lifejackets and buoyancy aids


A significant part of the work done by the RYA is aimed at ensuring boaters - through training courses and awareness initiatives - are well equipped in terms of knowledge and experience for the boating activity they are participating in.

The UK has a strong learning culture in recreational boating. The RYA believes that knowledge, skills and experience are the foundations on which personal safety and responsibility are built.

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