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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Cruising and Sailing with Children
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Cruising and Sailing with Children All things sailing and kids related, from safety to life aboard.


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Old 08-11-2014
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New Father...Advice needed on sailing with kids

Hello All,

I know there are additional threads out there with advice about sailing with children, but most I've seen seemed to address older kids. I am now the proud parent of a four month old daughter. Down here in FL it is too hot to take her out sailing his summer...besides, the Admiral wouldn't allow it anyways...however, she has been somewhat amenable to taking her out later this fall...October/November when it is cooler. At that time, she will be about 6-7 months. So, I would love to hear advice/suggestions concerning this plan. Obviously, it will be a calm day...and we may go down a couple of times before to sit on the boat at the dock. The boat is 1998 Catalina 28, so there is room below we can bring her too if needed.

Is this too young? How did others bring children this age out? In a car seat? Something else? I will mostly singlehand while the Admiral attends to her, so she will constantly be under supervision. What life jacket do we get? Do they even make them that small? Suggestions for toys/activities? Would people recommend taking them out at this age, or wait until they are older? For those that did take kids out at this age, how did they do? Were they scared? Indifferent?

Any and all suggestions/advice would be appreciated.

Thank you.
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Old 08-11-2014
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Re: New Father...Advice needed on sailing with kids

If you aren't scared she wont be. Oh and teach her to swim.
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Old 08-11-2014
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Re: New Father...Advice needed on sailing with kids

We took our daughter, born in December, sailing that summer season. Same with her brother, born in January, a year later.

We brought them in their car seats,(which are baby carriers, make shift cradles for sleeping-for those that don't know). We were both freelancers then, so I was stay at home parent with my daughter for that first season. I took her sailing myself and with a friend or two.

There was always a safe place to stow those baby carriers on board. We didn't use life preservers until they could walk.


We sailed all season with babies. My wife especially thought being aboard -sailing, was the easiest time to care for them.

She felt they were safe, easy, and we would spend 100% of sailing time, just the four of us. It was a unique time, unforgettable, really, for all of us.


I don't think there is too young an age to take kids sailing, as long as the parents are both confident, they're safe.
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Re: New Father...Advice needed on sailing with kids

inspirational tom...Im getting close to taking ours out...he is 11 months already and time flies, the boat is almost ready at least for some local cruising and sleepovers hopefully by the end of the month...

cant wait!
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Old 08-11-2014
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Re: New Father...Advice needed on sailing with kids

We've had our little one (just over 3 months old) out a few times on the boat. We have a Salus lifejacket for him, clicky as it seemed to be the best one specifically for babies/newborns rather than infants but it only goes to 25lbs. The lifejacket goes on as we get out of the car, and stays on until he's back at the car afterwards. We carry him on the dock, no car seats, he is much safer being able to float in the PFD than sink in a car seat. On the boat itself we have a co-sleeper in the cockpit, this sort of thing to stop him rolling about, with an umbrella to keep the sun off.
Same thing can be used on a berth below as well if it starts raining.
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Re: New Father...Advice needed on sailing with kids

Just crack down the portlights a bit
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Old 08-12-2014
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Re: New Father...Advice needed on sailing with kids

Thanks for the replies...that was something I was wondering, whether it was better to keep them in car seats or not. It seems most have used car seats with success, but I also like the idea of the co sleeper (pictured below) with a life jacket. Believe it or not, my biggest concern is carrying her on and off the boat...and for that the car seat does seem easier, but there is always the concern of sinking if dropped.

TomMaine/PaulinVictoria...at the ages you took them out, did you find that they would be scared at all? Obviously it will be a very calm day the first day out.

TomMaine - Did you continue to take them out at all ages, and if so, did you find that taking them out early introduced them to sailing better? Were there any ages that it doesn't seem to work quite as well?

Thanks again.
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Re: New Father...Advice needed on sailing with kids

We've been sailing the Chesapeake with our 4 and 2 year olds for the last two years on our Catalina 27.

It has been great making sailing a regular family hobby activity. Definitely go for it. People think sailing with kids is either genius or crazy. We ignore the naysayers.

Infants seem to love the boat and spend lots of time sleeping in the infant carrier as the boat naturally rocks. The older child sleeps in the v-berth and the younger in the quarter berth. We've used a small collapsable tent wedged into the quarterberth to keep the 2 year old contained. We sleep on the pull out settee.

We bought two cheap car seats so we could strap them down when all hands were needed on deck. Worked great when the kids were infant through 2 years. We don't need them anymore at 4 and 2. Ages 2-3 are the hardest so far. By 4 things get easier.

Invest in a Mustang infant/child PFD. We also keep a line tied to the jackets when the kids are up above. We will be installing lifeline netting sometime this season. Life vests go on as soon as we get out of the car at the marina and are on anytime they are out of the cabin. I set an example by always wearing my inflatable vest.

We bought a kayak (9.5 feet sit on top) that we throw on deck. Both kids and the dog love the chance to get off the boat and explore the shoreline or look for animals. It's all about keeping it fun.
More recently we acquired a 8'6" inflatable dinghy (high pressure air floor) and 2.5 HP outboard. Enables the whole family to go to shore which is important now that everyone is older.

We keep an iPad on board for family movie nights, entertainment in bad weather, etc. We also keep a range of toys, arts/crafts, etc.

Since one person must always attend to the kids, I strongly recommend an autopilot. Having a "third crew member" is great for single handing.

My stress level is always higher when the kids are aboard. We tend to be more conservative with weather, schedules, etc. Typically keep trip legs under 6 hours. This isn't to say that we sail conservatively, the kids love a fun sail as much as I do. Kids are robust and ride out rough weather better than the adults.

One great aspect of a larger sailboat is that it has sufficient infrastructure to support kids schedule issues like nap time and "potty time". We usually get 1-2 hours of adult only sailing time while the kids nap below.

Keep it fun and everything will go smoothly.

Josh
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Re: New Father...Advice needed on sailing with kids

good stuff!
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Re: New Father...Advice needed on sailing with kids

nolesailor - he slept pretty much the whole time, the motion of the boat, and the vibration from the little 1 cylinder diesel puts him to sleep right away. Personally I find him easier to carry by himself than in a car seat.
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