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  #1  
Old 06-23-2007
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infants, lifejackets, wee one issues: not looking good...

Has anyone had experience with sailing/cruising with an infant? After many years of grinding, my work schedule finally allows my wife and I to do some cruising this season, and we've been especially excited (and somewhat apprehensive) about doing it with our now 5 month old daughter. I've got good protected spots identified to lash the car seat, and just bought her infant life jacket (Mustang brand). Tried to make her first sail this past weekend, but didn't even come close to getting her on the boat...normally a docile, good natured child, she screamed inconsolably as soon as we put on the jacket, and wouldn't stop until it came off. Tried multiple times and failed. I'm sure it felt too confining with all that bulky stuff surrounding her.

So, has anyone had experience with a different brand of life jacket for infants that might be more comfortable but still provides sufficient floatation? Other than the Mustang brand, all other jackets I've seen look cheap and unsafe.

We have great dreams and increasingly serious plans to be living aboard and doing extend cruising within a year or two, and I've got a million fears and questions about doing it with a young child on board. Here we are unable to get beyond this simple first step. Hoping this isn't a deal breaker. Would welcome advice on this issue, or any other advice in general, about cruising with the wee little ones...
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Old 06-23-2007
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Unfortunately, the Mustangs are really the best for infants IIRC from the PS tests. Infants generally don't need a life jacket, except when on the dinghy or dock. When aboard, they can be confined to the cabin pretty easily—a portable playpen or car seat are two ways of doing it.

You might want to read the Strathgowan blog, since they live aboard a boat, an Alberg 30, and have since their child was born IIRC.
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Old 06-23-2007
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Thanks for your reply. I was thinking that perhaps an infant doesn't need to be wearing a PFD given that they're always either strapped in their car seat or being held by someone in the cockpit, but of course the anxious (ie new) parent in me doesn't want to do anything too unconventional (aside from sailing with an infant)...no PFD somehow seemed sacrelige. Actually, I wonder if it is technically illegal (doesn't the CG require children to wear them?), though I'm not necessarily such a stickler for rules...

Thanks for the blog site suggestion, I'll check it out...

If anyone else happens to read this with boat-baby experience, I'd love to hear what your PFD approach and rules have been...
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Old 06-23-2007
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We started sailing with our son when he was 18 days old - now he's 25, a boat owner himself and a dedicated racer on OPBs. He and his wife are expecting their first child in November, and he is determined to beat our 18 day old record!!

Too bad the PFD caused such a stir - it really needs to be second nature for them to wear one when they get older. The Mustangs are definitely the cream of the crop.

At that young age we cruised (usually doublehanded) with him in a car seat, as you plan, but we also had an old-fashioned pram with a detachable carriage. We used the body of the pram as a boat bed, placed on a berth and confined by a leecloth. We were fortunate that when things got going weather-wise he usually preferred to sleep, and so he was safely contained below in the pram in the secured berth as we dealt with the sailing.

We used a "snuggly" - a front mounted carrier - (nowadays they have variations like the "Baby Bjorn") at times as well.

Once he reached the toddler stage things got a bit more interesting, but by then he was wearing a PFD as a matter of course and quickly became accustomed to the motion of the boat.

He was rowing at 4, had a sailing dinghy by 6 or 7 and raced with his parents from the time he was 11 yrs old. Imagine - we were able to continue to do things with our son throughout his teens - and he was happy to be there!

In all the years we cruised with children, not once did one fall overboard accidentally - probably good luck more that good management, but we were diligent about keeping an eye out and preached "one hand for the boat, one hand for you" from the get-go.

Considering he had no choice in the matter, it's extremely gratifying to have seen him carry on with such enthusiasm and commitment to what began as (and remains) our favourite pastime!
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Old 06-23-2007
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Jak,
The main thing is to take her sailing on a short trip and see how she reacts to being on the boat. If she is nausiated and throwing up she will dehydrate rapidly.
I think if you pick a day to break the ice and see how she takes to it the life jacket could be handy but not on.
I don't have children of my own but deal with this on a daily baisis. It is a tuff call.
My advice would be to go for a afternoon sail for a couple hours and build from there.
In my expierience kids are usually tougher( and less concerned) than adults. So the most important thing is that You and Mom get comfortable with having the baby onboard. I guarantee you are more anxiouse than she is.

Faster Great Post
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Old 06-24-2007
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IIRC, an infant or toddler, down below in an enclosed cabin is not required to wear a PFD in most states... your state may vary...so check to be sure. On deck or in the cockpit, even with an adult carrying them, it is usually required... as it is for most children under 12 in most states.

Soul searcher's point about nausea is a very valid one... some children don't mind the motion at all, and other can't adjust to it at all.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

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Old 06-24-2007
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Both of our girls, Elizabeth (2 1/2) and Olivia (4 months today) have been sailing since they were just a few weeks old. We've never had any real issues, other than getting them to wear their life jackets.

For the infant/toddler...the car seat works great. When they begin to stand, crawl, etc...the pack & play came in real handy. Next item was a booster seat with straps to secure her to the bulk head at the dining table. We also have a sea berth that we cover with a fine netting (lee cloth) that is the safest place while underway when they're sleeping.
Fortunately they seem to sleep at just the right times? Luck I guess.

To keep them entertained, the usual, but ...a bucket of water (we use the fresh water) and a cup, keeps Elizabeth occupied for a good long while.

A friendly reminder...CO2 detector! Get one if you don't already have one.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T37Chef
Both of our girls, Elizabeth (2 1/2) and Olivia (4 months today) have been sailing since they were just a few weeks old. We've never had any real issues, other than getting them to wear their life jackets.
Yeah, my nephews and nieces weren't too fond of them to start with...but as they got older, and realized it was either wear them or stay home with mom and dad...they learned.

Quote:
For the infant/toddler...the car seat works great. When they begin to stand, crawl, etc...the pack & play came in real handy. Next item was a booster seat with straps to secure her to the bulk head at the dining table. We also have a sea berth that we cover with a fine netting (lee cloth) that is the safest place while underway when they're sleeping.
Fortunately they seem to sleep at just the right times? Luck I guess.
Pack & play is portable play pen I take it??

Quote:
To keep them entertained, the usual, but ...a bucket of water (we use the fresh water) and a cup, keeps Elizabeth occupied for a good long while.
Depends on the age... at six, my oldest nephew likes to fish.

Quote:
A friendly reminder...CO2 detector! Get one if you don't already have one.
Probably should get a CO detector instead... since CO is far more dangerous.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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  #9  
Old 06-24-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog
Probably should get a CO detector instead... since CO is far more dangerous.
Thanks...that is what I meant to write
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Old 06-24-2007
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Thanks for the answers, saildog, SS, and esp the inspiration from Faster and T37...wheather looks calm for tomorrow, will try to make a first run with her. Last night found infant swim classes as well. Love the idea of her growing up with all this stuff from the start (and of us not missing out on sailing for the next few years!). Thanks everyone...
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