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MedSailor 09-05-2012 11:48 PM

We did it! We took our 3 week old sailing today!
We've barely been able to get out of the house for the three weeks since little Medsailor was born. Today though we had a favorable slack current at our slip to come and go for a 4 hour sail so we decided it would be a good test of what it's like to take the little guy out before we actually do an overnight or longer trip.

Here's what we learned:

1: For starters, we really aren't day sailors. I felt totally lost without a destination to head for. "which way? How about that way and then back again?"

2: The boat should be set up to singlehand as much as possible. You never know when a screaming baby will require the attention of one of us, leaving the boat to the other. This is the single biggest thing we learned I think.

3: Little guy may not be a budding sailor after all but rather a budding powerboater! :confused: He is soothed by the sound of our noisy perkins engine...

4: The car seat is the place to be for the little guy.

Any tips from you infant sailing veterans?

One questions I had: aren't boaters below a certain age required to wear a life jacket at all times? The infant lifejacket with it's HUGE head float/collar would not be compatible with being in a car seat, or breast feeding. The coast guard did buzz us but didn't board us. I wonder how it would have went if he was in his car seat which was strapped to the settee but not wearing his lifejacket??


night0wl 09-06-2012 12:17 AM

Re: We did it! We took our 3 week old sailing today!
oh man, i'm so taking tips from this thread. have not been able to convince the wife to take our baby girl (2 months old now) on a trip yet.

Faster 09-06-2012 12:20 AM

Re: We did it! We took our 3 week old sailing today!
Not sure about the US but I don't think there's a mandatory 'wear lifejacket' legally up here... aside from the practical good sense of it...

It's easier to take your little admiral sailing now than when he's starting to get around on his own.. Good on ya for starting early. I'm sure he'll grow out of the 'soothing motor syndrome'.;)

Our son's sailing memories go back to before he remembers.. (we beat you by 3 days!) and he treasures them still.. and has his daughter on the same program.

Marcel D 09-06-2012 12:38 AM

Re: We did it! We took our 3 week old sailing today!
Well where to start when we picked up our Beneteau 285 my wife was 5 months preg. The ensuing summer was quote quite intresting we would secure the car seat to the binnacal under the biminnie and from their it was breast to wheel for my wife. One day i had the oldest in the cockpit with me on the weather side of the boat and he had fallen asleep in my lap. We were fastly aproching an island with a nice reef. I asked my wife to come up and lend a hand and she replied that she was feeding our youngest left to one again. When the kids got a little older it was to the jolly jumper off the boom great fun. From their it was to running on beaches and long hikes. Our kids are now 3 and 5 a lot of fun, and the questions oh my they sound like the sea gulls off of Nemo. We now sail a 2009 Beneteau 34 much better more room and more lego parts under the the cabin sole all the more to plug our bilage pump I guess. Good luck happy cruising. Oh and don't forget to pickup a 5 gallon rubbermade tote they make the best bath tubs for the kids.

MedSailor 09-06-2012 12:52 AM

Re: We did it! We took our 3 week old sailing today!

Originally Posted by night0wl (Post 918603)
oh man, i'm so taking tips from this thread. have not been able to convince the wife to take our baby girl (2 months old now) on a trip yet.

Feel free to use us as an example. I'll leave it up to you to decide if it's an example of "what to do" or "what NOT to do." ;)

We derived a lot of inspiration from this blog:
Sail Far Live Free: Cruising with Kids: Don't Leave the Dock Without Them!

And from the awesome "Bumfuzzles" blog. If you start when they have their first kid, you can see the evolution from new parents to "new parents" that want to get back out on the water. My wife is reading their blog now and loving it, not just for the boating stuff but for the really good and honest commentary about being a new parent:
bumfuzzle | dec 2009

We're planning a 2 day trip coming up at the end of the month. (Sacrifices to the weather gods are in process now). My mother-in-law thinks all this is child-abuse but she's from a land locked state. When I asked her what she was worried about her answer was:
"What if something happens??!!"
"Like what?"
"What if the wind comes up?"
"Then we'll turn off the motor and put up the sails." :)

Setting up the boat to be as close to totally single-handable is what seems to be the key. That and sailing as if you ARE single handing. I found myself wanting jacklines and was hesitant to lean over the side to pee. Falling in is bad enough with only 2 aboard. It seems like it would be worse if my wife is down below when I go over and also has to deal with the little screamer.


americanfrog 09-06-2012 01:34 AM

Re: We did it! We took our 3 week old sailing today!
Fantastic. We took my out for the first time when he was 10 days old. Same deal, strapped in his car seat... He's 12 now, an avid dinghy sailor and love sailing our 40.5 hunter. He's as comfortable on the boat as he is on land. Such as great life skill your kid will have. I've attached a picture of him sailing my friend's 42 jeanneau in a gale (32 knots) and lovin' it -- that was in Seattle in March earlier this year - great to be raising sailing babies. ;-)

Pardon My French
Seattle WA

engineer_sailor 09-06-2012 06:47 AM

We did it! We took our 3 week old sailing today!
Nicely done. We've taken our two year old and eight week old out in our new to us Catalina 27 several times now with great success.

1. We experienced the same phenomenon with the engine soothing. As soon as the diesel fires up the eight week old is out.

2. We bring two car seats on board so we can strap the kids down if two of us are needed on deck. Both carseats are full harness types, no booster seats or equivalent. Pretty happy with this setup. They currently set on the cabin floor. Even the two year old sits patiently.

3. Our current rules are:
Lifejackets on while on deck or in the cockpit underway (including Mom and Dad, both for safer and setting the example)
Mustang 3185 inflatables for Mom and Dad
Lil Mustang for the two year old
Infant life jacket for eight week old

Lifejackets can come off when in the cabin
At anchor or in slip, same rules but we have a lighter weight jacket for the two year old

When underway I tether the two year old with a bowline and the spinnaker halyard attached to his jacket but plan on getting a real tether and jacklines

4. We plan on installing life line netting

5. I agree that setting everything up and operating as a singlehanded is essential. We are still working on this. I spent half a Saturday recently with my former ASA instructor just learning more singlehanded docking techniques ( warping/springing, approaches, etc) and getting in docking reps. I am already glad that I took the time to hone and expand the docking skills. I'm quickly learning that I have to think and plan ahead for every action. Much to learn.

6. My wife nurses down below successfully

7. We bought a few fans to help keep the infant cool

8. We bought battery powered white noise and nightlights for naps on the boat. The kids nap as well if not better on the boat

9. I'm encouraging the wife to become a proficient sailor so she isn't always on kid duty

Looking forward to exchanging experiences and tips

nickmerc 09-06-2012 12:01 PM

Re: We did it! We took our 3 week old sailing today!
We also took ours out when she was 2 weeks old. Wanted to go earlier but the wife needed a little more time to recover from the C-Section. We did a few overnight trips with her when she was around 1. It was much easier then. She was able to sail all day and did not want to get up and run around. Now, at almost 3 she loves the boat, but is unwilling to sleep when underway. I think it is FOMA (Fear of Missing Anything). So we do very short trips (2 hours max) now. She is very interested in steering the boat and "helping" raise the sails.

Each new stage brings new surprises and learning experiences for the parents. Enjoy the stage you are in and don't worry too much about the next one. You will figure out what works best.

eko_eko 09-07-2012 07:48 PM

Re: We did it! We took our 3 week old sailing today!
We sail with our five-month-old daughter, Zoey. She's usually in someone's lap, in a car seat identical to MedSailor's -- but our favorite place to put her is her booster seat.

Her seat is the "Fisher-Price Healthy Care Deluxe Booster Seat." (can't post links) It has a three-point harness to hold her in place, a strap that we put around the companionway ladder's rail, and a tray for holding her toys. We strap the toys to her harness with pacifier holders.

She sits there facing aft, watching us at the wheel. It's a ton of fun.

Cruisingdad 09-11-2012 12:35 AM

Re: We did it! We took our 3 week old sailing today!
Very sorry I missed this thread! Wow! good for you Med (and congrats btw).

Lets see:

As you probably know, our kiddos started off about 5 days aboard. We have cruised/LA on and off since then. Chase is now 12 yo.

First, car seat was always our standby. But we also found this bouncing chair to be great:

Not sure if they still make it. But what we liked was it would be quick and easy to get him out with. It also was more comfortable than the car seat. FOr us, where we sailed, our temps got very hot so the cumbersome car seats were always a concern.

As far as the engine noise, we are in some ways still living with that! However, ours isn't the engine noise, it was a fan. Chase always has a fan on now to sleep. That is a thought for others too to consider for investment. They are cheap and as LA/Cruisers, very neceesary. SO try giving him/her the white noise of a fan instead. Our favorite are the Caframo 747. They are very easy on power and the kids can stick their fingers in them and it won't cause any damage to either.

Down below, we always let teh kids take off their vest and do what they want. I believe that should be legal in WA too (I know it is in FL). Getting a nice tv or something that occupies them is almost a must. Does not have to be a tv. It can be something like a special car or toy. But there will be times mom and dad need to be top side to take care of things if possible. That being said, yes, you will both need to be able to single the boat. Now you see why I am such a big proponent of both parents singlehanding!! Reality for us though is that I do that vast majority of the sailing and she does the vast majority of the kids at sea. If she gets seasick though, you might consider a different arrangement.

I am a long time fan of Mustang life jackets. They come in infant sizes (I gave mine to Giulietta/Alex who used to post here). You may be able to pick one up from another family. we give ours away when the kids are too big for them. I just gave away my last one or I would send it to you. However, those don't work great in a car seat. Too big (at least in our expderience) and too hot. Wife will probably end up holding the little one when the LJ is on. The USCG never once bothered us about that. I think it is one of those things that they kinda understand. THat being said, if you start putting him or her in the jackeet now, they will become very accostomed to it and all its uncomfortableness. The jacket is still worth it though until they are proficient swimmers.

You need to look into a way to secure the hatch from the inside (for night and sometimes during the day). Before long, little junior will learn to crawl and going up the companionway steps will become very appealing. Ours did, but never got out. That is a nightmare scenario for a parent - esp at night.

Also, biggest chance of falling overboard is not at sea but at anchor/marina. The lifejackets come off and mom and dad are generally at ease. Our kids have gone in twice, both at the marina, and they have a LOT of sea miles under their belt. Food for thought when in the marina. And the water up there is COLD. I know. We spent time up there.

Boats are pretty much already childproof. Exceptions seem to be the nav station and battery switches. If your panel is keyed, maybe remove the key and keep it out of sight.

We made Chase a very comfortable Vberth arrangement where it was like a pen and he was surrounded by pillows. This came in handy more times than I can remember (esp when coming into a new anchorage or marina where 2 people are really awesome). This was also his bed and he was very comfortable there. In fact, he's asleep there right now with his brother. THe pic below is with my mom holding Chase and you can just see the Vberth arrangement to port. We made a "crib side" that blocked off the vberth so that when he wanted he could stand at it and peek over and still see us. THis is really good again when 4 hands are needed. Seeing mom/dad really helps:

The life is Awesome with kids Med. Not sure I will enjoy it as much without. I am happy to help anyway I can and answer any questions you have. I do not pretend to be an expert of anything. I can only show you what worked (and didn't) for us. Congratulations. Good to have you posting on this sided of the forum now! Tell your wife the same and she is always welcome to chat with my wife about mom-sailing stuff.

Take care.


PS THis is a taste of what you have to look forward to:

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