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  #1  
Old 05-14-2008
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Baby on Board

My daughter is coming to visit with her 13 month old son. We plan on daysailing in Corpus Christi Bay. I would appreciate some advice on how to care for a baby on board. It seems like this wasn't a problem 28 years ago, but then my daughters car seat then was a plastic box between the front seats of the van. Your advice will be appreciated.
John
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Old 05-14-2008
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Old 05-14-2008
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a portable playpen makes a good boat corral for a toddler.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
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Old 05-14-2008
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The Graco collapsible playpens should work in most V-berths of 30 feet and over sailboats.

The kid might sleep in the cockpit lashed into a car seat. Mine did until about a year old.

Tell the parents a fitted PFD. Some kids are huge, others aren't. The kid must wear one, even below, because they can't save themselves if the boat goes under by climbing out, and they frequently fall over. A fat foam PFD can and does cushion the blow.

Put 'em on a halyard if in the cockpit. They can't go on deck at that age, because they could easily fall...even at dock...under the lifelines and onto a bollard.
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Old 05-14-2008
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How old?

Our children are now 4 & 6 so I can remember a little. I remember using the V-berth for naps with cushions and netting blocking the escape route. Blankets locked the kid in place.

A good fitting life jacket is a must. We did bring the car seat and used it a lot lashed in place. But once the baby could move about we just let the jungle gym games take place. I can remember seeing something falling across the cabin one day while well heeled. Investigating we found the "girls" riding cushions from the high to the low side. Watching them climb back up was astounding.

As they are learning to walk a sailboat is a wonderful thing to clamber around on. The safety police will probably hate me for writing that. No offense to real police intended because they actually try to keep us all safe.

We did and still do lash them in or tether them via their life jackets when the ride gets to be a little wild. But I did learn to level the boat out and found it to be as fast or faster than when ploughing along with a rail submerged. Not as satisfying - but I like faster.
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Last edited by lharmon; 05-14-2008 at 07:55 PM. Reason: Additional info - and I did not even ask my wife.
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I'd second the tether if the kid is in the cockpit. The toddler harnesses clip the tether to the back of the harness, not the front as you'd find in an adult harness.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Last edited by sailingdog; 05-14-2008 at 08:48 PM.
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Old 05-14-2008
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What's wrong with leaving him down below??

A mattress on the floor between the settee and the table makes a great cot and most 13-month old's I know aren't at the climbing stage (yet!), and could never climb out of the cabin or get up on a berth whilst the boat is moving - the sides are too steep - particularly when wearing a WeeWilco.

The motion of the boat (the "moving floor") will be something he's never experienced before and will either have him in wonder for the entire trip or rocked fast asleep.
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We cruised the Keys with my daughter when she was barely a year old and it was alot of fun. She wore a life jacket most of the time and if we were underway, she was tethered to a cleat. Belowdecks; lots of pillows around and we secured her between us at night in the v-berth. During the day, she took a nap her in a car seat. Like most parents, I was a little apprehensive, but cruising with a baby onboard was relatively easy.
One of the best nights was when my parents motored out in their cabin cruiser, tied up along side for the night and helped out, kinda like nautical babysitters. That was a few years ago, as my daughter is now nineteen.
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Old 05-14-2008
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Depends on the child, really. We started sailing with my older daughter when she was just about 15 months or so. Lifejacket was on, but otherwise we didn't do much else. She's a good sport in that she falls asleep on board pretty quickly (partially because we give her quarter of childrens Dramamine to avoid occasional seasickness, you never know with kids). So, we just tuck her into the corner of the cockpit with lifejacket under her head and for the next 6 hours or so she's catching some zzzs. Make sure child lifejacket has support behind his head - it is both a safety feature and really convenient as a pillow


The little one is 8 months now and pretty active, so we try to stick her in a v-berth where she is free to roll around In the cockpit unless coaming is really high, active child might be a problem - and it isn't so much about harnesses. Harness will not keep a toddler from falling on the floor or bumping his head.

One thing that worked for us (for the older one but we plan to try it on the little one too) is a kind of a "seatbelt" we fashioned out of nylon webbing and snap buckle, and an adjustable foam seat (the one where the top inclines). Keeps her relatively safe in one location, if needed.

YMMV but above all don't worry too much - kids seem to love boats and do better then their parents occasionally

Last edited by brak; 05-14-2008 at 11:34 PM.
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