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.
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,