We have a 43 ft Swan which we spent 3 months on last year in the Spring sans kids. I was pregnant at the time with our first and now our daughter is 7 months old. We want to take her sailing with us this Spring/summer. Brian, I will look up the life jackets you recommended, thank you. In terms of making a crib for her, we were thinking the best place to put her would be in the main berth, near us. There are side benches with pillows adjacent to our bed, but I'm not sure how to make that into a crib. Our captain helps us sail the boat, so I can stay more focused on our daughter throughout the day. Other than doing day sails and seeing different spots along the water, what else do you recommend doing with a soon-to-be crawling infant on board? What other safety equipment should we consider? Thanks for your input. Orit
Fabulous news! We need more families out here. First of all, just want to let you know a couple of things: First, BoatUS has contracted me to write an article on some of the very things you just asked. I would take a look for the article when it comes out (I don't know Pub date yet, but I think it is a Cover/Feature). I will let you know. Second, SSCA asked me to put together a webinar on raisin children afloat. Might also be something for you to check out. So, back to your questions:
You need to find a way to lock that companionway from the inside if you do not already. THat was always our biggest nightmare as parents and the companionway ladder is probably the biggest hazard you will be facing as young parents on the boat (kids love to climb.. just aren't very good at it). Our rule was always, "NO PLAYING OR STANDING IN THE COMPANIONWAY!"
Things to do? Short rides. We carried a pack n play which seems to be discontinued now. However, Chicco has one that looks pretty good. Keep it small, very portable, and if possible, with a full zip-up mosquito screen.
Once they start walking, it starts getting more fun. One thing you can do is at the beach. Get a net (the ones we used were about 3 inches by 4 inches) and a large, clear, disposable container like the Ziplok containers. Walk with your child through the water and scoop up the dirt and dump it the clear container. It will be amazing what all you find!! Older kids enjoy this too.
Swim, swim, swim! It is never too early to start teaching your kid to swim. They will have fun with it and it may save their life one day.
Avoid long boat rides. This becomes even more of an issue the older they get.
Keep a set of toys just for the boat. Let the child pick them out (especially if they are new). It makes them want to go to the boat just to see their toys.
Watch out for heat at this age... especially in the portable pack and play. And lather them up with Waterbabies SunBlock. Also buy the stick to use on their cheeks and ears.
It is very important to show the child what jellyfish are and to avoid them... even if they look dead on the beach. Worst sting my boy ever got was a Man-O-War that he stepped on at the beach in the Tortugas. Those types of things will really make them weary of the water.
Get some water balls. THey are cheap and fun to throw. We also used beachballs, but they often liked to fly away.
There is a DVD called Ocean Life A-Z. Fabulous DVD for both the boat and the house. You will love it (and will probably learn something yourself).
That's a start. Lots of other things I can help with... just ask. THere is a LOT more stuff in the BoatUS article. It is broken down by age groups and currently has over 60 things to do with your child aboard.
Take care. Again, let me know if you have any questions.