instead of being leashed to the boat, I have been trying to think of a way to have a break-away cord attached to the cleat releasing the sheet ... de-powering the boat
Even with the sail de-powered, light wind can push a boat faster than most people can swim. Our first hint of this problem, was when a friend rolled up the sail and jumping in to cool off when the wind dropped. He could not catch his drifting AI swimming, even without his PFD on. I had to 'catch' his boat and stop it from drifting further, so he could swim to it.
An 8' or longer line (surf leash) should keep you far enough out of harms way if the boat flips, but still keep you with your boat, for self rescue, or easier locating in rougher waters. A harness sounds good, as long as it won't keep you under the boat in a flip, or hanging half off of one if you slip off. A easy one-handed access to a sharp knife is always a good idea with lines on the water.
We use to go out early, before the wind in the morning to snorkel off the AI's until the wind came up. More than once, when the wind came up, we could not see others still in the water more than 30 feet away, once small white caps developed. Scott (the fish), who always swam the longest, finally agreed to wear a bright pink swim cap, so we wouldn't accidentally run him over in those conditions! With strong winds, you could be 100 feet from your boat, drifting away, and we could find your boat, but not see or hear you.
Everyone needs to make their own choices. Points to ponder...
- - - - - Hobie Island Sailing since 2006 - - - - - 2011 & 2015? Hobie AIs and a 2012 TI