This is not Nam, this is kayaking. There are rules.
Last week a Tallahassee man drowned near Pensacola after the kayak he and his son were paddling in capsized. Apparently he wasn't wearing a life jacket.
I can't stress this enough. If you're paddling coastal waters, do not fail to wear a PFD. It may be stuffy, uncomfortable, and inconvenient in warm weather, but the drowning stats for boaters are far too high to be ignored (90% of boating fatalities in 2004 were drownings where the victim was not wearing a flotation device.)
By virtue of a military aircrew background, I am a pretty damned strong swimmer, but even I won't delude myself into thinking I can handle anything on the water. So I wear a PFD. If I'm not wearing one (isolated, momentary situations usually,) it's on my lap where it can be snatched up in an instant.
As much as I sympathize for the man and his family, I can't help but repeat the cliche "Safety rules are written in the blood of the careless."