It's a lot harder to see orange smoke or a red handheld than it is to see a parachute flare-specially if it's dusk or you're moving up and down in a swell. You're not garuanteed someone will be looking out to sea on the piece of land nearest to you either...they might be 7 miles away.
Remember it's safety you're talking about-you can't scrimp on it or it'll come back and bite you on the arse. Sod's law applies double when you're afloat.
I carry one of These Pains-Wessex Miniflare Packs
in a pocket as well as a coastal pack onboard just in case I get separated from the boat and can't get back in.
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