I would totally agree that killcords are an essential safety item and indeed the RYA line is “killcord on when engine running”. The reason (as I understand it) that the RNLI don’t have killcords on the 21/75/85 is that there is a balance to strike between the benefits of the killcord and the risk of killing the engines inadvertently at the most inopportune moment.
In your example
RYA instructors are always told to 'practise what they preach' when training novices. But the last time i looked the RNLI don't use killcords in any conditions, and still really push the message that they are essential
I think you are comparing two very different groups of individuals. On the one hand RYA Instructors are teaching best practice. It may be their audience is experienced or inexperienced but in the normal course of events a kill cord is essential and there are no downsides to its use. On the other hand (the RNLI Coxswain) you have an extremely well trained and experienced helm who is likely to put his/her craft often into situations where an engine kill may prove fatal.
I wear a kill cord 99.99% all of the time. When I don’t (eg a rescue situation on a lee shore with a need to position the craft then rapidly recover the casualty – where an inadvertent kill of the engine would be disastrous) it is because I will have made a judgement call balancing all of the inherent risks in my decision and being mindful of the fact that it will be me before the MAIB if it goes pear shaped. The RNLI has made a judgement call and in the above example so have I.
The parallel is that on RYA courses you are taught that the default position is ‘engine off’ in MOB recovery situations. However it is accepted (and publically stated by the RYA) that as a helmsman you will need to assess whether you do switch off given the prevailing circumstances – ie a very competent helm, difficult conditions, close to a lee shore etc . However it is far better to teach that the default is engine off (or kill cord on) then as helms become more adept they can make their own judgement calls – and be prepared to back them.
So in summary I would disagree that the RNLI or RYA’s position is contradictory in any way whatsoever – it is simply a matter of circumstance.