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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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  #11  
Old 06-06-2012
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Re: How to secure a baby

I am about ready to have a heart attack at all these suggestions of using a car seat on a boat. You might as well tie your baby to the boat anchor.

The baby MUST be wearing a PFD on board. There is no way a baby can sit in a car seat with a PFD, and even if they did, the PFD wouldn't keep the car seat from sinking to the bottom of the water.

Please don't ever ever ever ever ever put your baby in a car seat on a boat. I don't know much about sailing, but I know that much. If you can't find a way to safely transport the baby with a PFD and not strapped to a boat anchor, don't take the baby on board.

I've only taken my babies on boats a couple of times (never sailing, once in a canoe and once on some kind of motorboat thing in Hawaii), both times they wore their own PFDs and sat on my lap. That's not practical of course for being out all day long or overnight, but it works for a couple of hours.

You might try hanging something like this in your boat: http://us.kanoe.com/ - if you can find a place to hang it where it won't bang against stuff as the boat moves.
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  #12  
Old 06-06-2012
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Re: How to secure a baby

Steve-
Consider some strips of wide adhesive velcro, and using them to add padding (yoga mat, camping pad, exercise mat) in the area where you'll be stowing the baby "just in case".
Vecro, btw, is often underappreciated. A couple of large patches, allowed to bond overnight before being used, can help secure a LOT of weight.

Brigala-
"The baby MUST be wearing a PFD on board. There is no way a baby can sit in a car seat with a PFD," I'd suggest you haven't spent much time in the water with PFDs. Very few of them will keep anyone's face or mouth out of the water, and those that will are so bulky (typically Type1) that they are shunned. I have doubts that any "baby PFD" would do anything except, sadly, make body recovery faster. (Which is all any PFD will do for anyone in icy waters.) A car seat might indeed work BETTER since the seat will probably orient the baby's head and face above the water, and the seat itself may have net bouyancy, especially if it is rotomolded plastic and hollow, or uses closed cell foam. You can't begin to guess without putting the specific seat in the water.

To abuse a phrase, there's no need to go overboard with safety.
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Old 06-06-2012
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of course there is a risk in taking the baby on a boat, or anyone who cannot swim for that matter. I believe the risk of keeping the baby in the car seat far outweighs the risk of not.

I'm not advocating you keep the baby in the cockpit, in the car seat, under severe weather conditions...they should be down below with supervision, that's where something like a pack and play or another secure area can be used. On our boat, we used the pilot berth, perfect area as it was easily secured with a mesh Lee cloth and padded with pillows or the pack and play in the salon which kept it low and centered which gave a comfortable motion if the seas were rough.
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Re: How to secure a baby

When my daughter was just an infant we slung a hammock with foot and head end spreaders from an adjustable pole made from a cut-down swimming pool cleaning pole that extended between the mast and the aft salon bulkhead just above the table. The pole fit into chocks and could be locked in place. I did this to minimize the length of the suspenders to keep pendulum action to a minimum. Later, when she got a bit older, we hung a "Baby Bouncer" seat from the overhead with a length of shock cord to an eye-pad fastened to the deck below to limit swing. On deck, we had her in a car-seat lashed to the front bulk-head in the cockpit and she was quite happy with the arrangement.

When she was tired, or when the two of us were needed to maneuver that yacht, we put her in the V-Berth with a mesh screening across the head of the berth to disallow her to escape and pillows against the sides for padding when we tacked. With "colors" and toys she was alway quite happy with that arrangement. As she got older we'd always announce "tacking" in a loud voice and she'd scoot across the berth to the High--soon to become low-side of the berth. (Once I had to "crash tack" to avoid some moron on a jet ski and there was an audible thump from the V-berth followed by loud wailing. My wife blew below and soon emerged with a very unhappy little girl who crossly declared "You didn't say tacking Daddy. You're a very bad Daddy!")

Later she'd help "Otto" and me "drive the boat".

We do miss those daze...
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Old 06-06-2012
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Re: How to secure a baby

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brigala View Post
I am about ready to have a heart attack at all these suggestions of using a car seat on a boat. You might as well tie your baby to the boat anchor.

The baby MUST be wearing a PFD on board. There is no way a baby can sit in a car seat with a PFD, and even if they did, the PFD wouldn't keep the car seat from sinking to the bottom of the water.

Please don't ever ever ever ever ever put your baby in a car seat on a boat. I don't know much about sailing, but I know that much. If you can't find a way to safely transport the baby with a PFD and not strapped to a boat anchor, don't take the baby on board.

I've only taken my babies on boats a couple of times (never sailing, once in a canoe and once on some kind of motorboat thing in Hawaii), both times they wore their own PFDs and sat on my lap. That's not practical of course for being out all day long or overnight, but it works for a couple of hours.

You might try hanging something like this in your boat: http://us.kanoe.com/ - if you can find a place to hang it where it won't bang against stuff as the boat moves.
Hi Brigala,

Welcome to Sailnet.

I understand your concerns. From a non-sailing point of view, what you are talking about makes sense. However, it is important to remember that on most of these boats where this advice is to be used, the danger is not flipping over. Our keel on our boat probably weighs more than your car... just our keel. My boat weighs in circa 26-28000 lbs. In anything but very severe conditions, you are not flipping it over. THose conditions are offshore conditions in what would likely be hurricane+ strength winds. That is teh same for most sail boaters. No way I would EVER put a kid in a childseat in a canoe, kayak, or small motor boat. But the only thing those have in comon with larger sailing vessels is that they all float (most of the time). Comparrison ends there.

When a storm rolls up, the kiddo is down below. We constructed a V-berth set up that is more padded than most cribs. We also put him on the compression post lashed into his car seat. My danger and concern is not the baby going ino the water. THe issue is them hurtin themselves in a rolling and tossing boat. Also, when bad weather comes up, they are in a lifejacket.

Since you are new, I would suggest investing in a top of the line jacket for you child. I have many times reccomended Mustang with crotch strap and head floatation. These jackets will right the child, without effort, face up in the water. Many jackets do not properly do this. They also haver a strap on top to jerk them out of the water when they go in. Notice I said when. Here is an example of the jacket I am referring to:



Falling overboard underway is not the big issue for infants and toddlers. THey will be under extreme adult supervision at that time and sailboats are, in general, pretty child proof. It is at the dock that both of our kids have gone over (generally when running down it). That is where you chief danger will lie. I ALWAYS keep a jacket on them at the dock until they were very avid swimmers. As far as the sailboat, no one will sail out into foul weather with a kid on board. Not fun for the parent or the child.

Be very thoughtful about your water temps up there. Last I was on Puget SOound (about two weeks ago I think), temps were 49-51 degrees. That is cold enough to kill an adult in minutes. Assuming no stroke when you hit the water, I have been told 3-5 minutes. I cannot verify this, but that is the "dock-talk". I think we lose what, 6 people/year (adults) who jump into the COlumbia on a bright warm day and hit that cold water and go into total shock and don't come back up.

When sailing, we would often take our kids out of the car seat and let them play around down below or sometimes in the cockpit. Our rules are that down below, they do not have to wear a jacket. Top side, always. If weather turns questionsable, everyone is sporting a jacket.

Here is a Pic of our V-berth. When they were younger, we constructed a crib side that latched into the opening from the V-Berth. The only issue with this is that wne the seas climb, that berth becomes un-useable because the bow jumps off the waves and anyone forward of the mast will likely become airborne. The fix for this is to put them close to the compression post or in the aft berth.



Feel free to ask questions. Glad to have you around. BTW, a car seat does not sink like a anchor. Drop your in the water and you will see. We did (no baby inside). It floated suprsingly well, but would be terrible situation for the child as I would assume their head would go under water. THat is why when transiting between boat and dock, they should have a jacket on (the appropriate jacket).

All the best,

Brian
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  #16  
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Re: How to secure a baby

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Re: How to secure a baby

Ok, When I said "always" in a PFD I wasn't really thinking about down in the cabin. The law around here (and I suppose most places) exempts children in the cabin from wearing PFDs and I have to assume there's a reason (I suppose if a child is in the cabin when the boat goes down, the PFD will do very little to protect them). I was envisioning the cockpit when I was saying that.

And yes, my child always wears a PFD on the docks. We have one similar to the ones that are pictured, although now that she's 30 lbs I need to find a new one.

I disagree that the main point of a PFD, especially for a small child, is to make body recovery easier. If a child falls overboard, whether that's off the deck of the boat or off a dock, a PFD will keep the child from sinking and make it easier to quickly retrieve the child out of the water. Hopefully within seconds. I have lived in (and swam in and boated in - though not sailed in) the pacific northwest my entire life and I am painfully aware of how quickly hypothermia sets in. A typical PFD will do nothing for that except hopefully make it easier for someone to pull you out of the water before it happens.

A car seat will not float with a baby strapped inside it. I am positive it will sink. I spend a lot of time with car seats because I'm a certified car seat tech, and although I admit I haven't thrown a lot of car seats in the water (hmm... maybe I've just found a new use for expired/crashed seats - mythbuster style!) I am quite familiar with their construction and I can't think of any except maybe one that *might* have a chance of not dragging your child into the depths immediately. The amount of foam in a car seat, if present at all, is NOT enough to keep it buoyant, I am sure. Even in a cabin I am very concerned about something that will make a child sink even faster, and make the child even harder to pull back to the surface quickly, than the child would with no floatation device at all.

There has GOT to be some kind of solution for keeping an infant from bouncing around the cabin that doesn't involve using heavy-duty straps and buckles (which, by design are a bit difficult to unfasten) to strap the child to something heavy that will sink like a rock. And if there isn't, perhaps it's time to invent something and market it.
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Last edited by Brigala; 06-06-2012 at 01:00 PM. Reason: Typo
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Re: How to secure a baby

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brigala View Post
Ok, When I said "always" in a PFD I wasn't really thinking about down in the cabin. The law around here (and I suppose most places) exempts children in the cabin from wearing PFDs and I have to assume there's a reason (I suppose if a child is in the cabin when the boat goes down, the PFD will do very little to protect them). I was envisioning the cockpit when I was saying that.

And yes, my child always wears a PFD on the docks. We have one similar to the ones that are pictured, although now that she's 30 lbs I need to find a new one.

I disagree that the main point of a PFD, especially for a small child, is to make body recovery easier. If a child falls overboard, whether that's off the deck of the boat or off a dock, a PFD will keep the child from sinking and make it easier to quickly retrieve the child out of the water. Hopefully within seconds. I have lived in (and swam in and boated in - though not sailed in) the pacific northwest my entire life and I am painfully aware of how quickly hypothermia sets in. A typical PFD will do nothing for that except hopefully make it easier for someone to pull you out of the water before it happens.

A car seat will not float with a baby strapped inside it. I am positive it will sink. I spend a lot of time with car seats because I'm a certified car seat tech, and although I admit I haven't thrown a lot of car seats in the water (hmm... maybe I've just found a new use for expired/crashed seats - mythbuster style!) I am quite familiar with their construction and I can't think of any except maybe one that *might* have a chance of not dragging your child into the depths immediately. The amount of foam in a car seat, if present at all, is NOT enough to keep it buoyant, I am sure. Even in a cockpit I am very concerned about something that will make a child sink even faster, and make the child even harder to pull back to the surface quickly, than the child would with no floatation device at all.

There has GOT to be some kind of solution for keeping an infant from bouncing around the cabin that doesn't involve using heavy-duty straps and buckles (which, by design are a bit difficult to unfasten) to strap the child to something heavy that will sink like a rock. And if there isn't, perhaps it's time to invent something and market it.
I am not advocating a child seat in replacement for a life preserver. I am advocating a secure place to keep the child. Good luck getting a child seat and a good life preserver on.

The principle damage, up above or down below, is them banging their head. They do not have adult balance. There is very, very little risk of a fixed keel boat capsizing in condition most of us would venture out in.

Our car seat did not sink. It floated long enough to get it out. Our child was not in it. I would hate for that to happen, as I stated earlier. But the odds of that happening versus them banging their head or being free to wander and falling overboard are significatly greater.

We used this dome contraption down below that was netted on top. I cannot remember the name of it but did a write up on here or other forums a while back. It was awesome if placed in the Vberth.

In bad weather, down below or up above, everyone has a jacket on. I also want to impress that not all life jackets are made equal. You really need a jacket that has a crotch strap and a head flotation. The mustangs seen above will flip the child to head up and out of the water. Many regular life preservers are not great at that, if they work at all. Believe me, safety on our boat is our number one concern.

The mustangs as described above have several differnt weght levels. I think it goes up to about 80lbs flotatoin. There is an infant, young child, and older child version if memory serves. We generally give our away to other families when they are outgrown (esp if they don't have what we feel is the proper jacket for kids).

This is a good discussion. Your concerns are valid. But what I am suggesting has worked for us and most long distance sailors. I would not suggest this for other smaller boats and certainly not anything with much of a tendancy to flip.

Thank you again for adding to the discussion.

Brian
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Re: How to secure a baby

By the way, I never said the PFD was to make reccovery easier. I said the proper PFD was for righting a child head up. The crotch strap and handle on top allows you to grab them quickly without them slipping out of it. I suggest trying any jacket out in a pool and see how it works first. We did.

Again, great discussion.

Brian
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Re: How to secure a baby

This couple is sailing around the world for the second time, this time with a 2 year old and a 9 month old.

You may pick up some hints from their blog.

bumfuzzle | living, sailing, procreating
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