And with a child, it's their parents making the decision for them to undergo such risks. As adults we take these risks for ourselves.
This doesn't mean it's necessarily wrong to do, there's some risk at any age for boating and cruising, or that there aren't benefits to both the child and parents for taking them on such a journey, but the potential for problems should be soberly considered in the decision making.
Yes, the decisions we make for ourselves are different from the decisions we make for our kids. My philosophy about the Adventure Experience-to-Risk-Ratio was to always consider carefully measured risks. I took my kids on some moderate adventures as toddlers.
We backpacked on Cumberland Island National Seashore with our son when he was one year old. It was more like walk-in camping than backpacking. We had one of the first cell phones, a bulky bag phone, and I made sure that we could get a signal from the mainland at St. Mary's Georgia and I located the nearest mainland hospital that had a med-evac unit. To get two bars of signal, I had to stand on the picnic table and hoist the external antenna into a tree with a short piece of line. This was more to comfort his first-timer mother than any fear that anything bad would happen (but, just in case).
He was still taking a bottle at night and raccoons stole his bottle. Mom was unable to nurse. We had a very rough night as I tried to fill his little belly with soft foods. I washed out a juice bottle and tied a piece of plastic over the top with a hole in it and tried to trickle formula in his mouth. I tried dipping my finger in thickened formula to let him suckle it from my finger. Nothing worked and and he continued to cry. I spent much of the night walking on the beach with him bouncing him and singing to him.
In the morning we walked to the ranger station and the ranger radioed to the mainland and asked them to send out a bottle. They sent one out on the 10:00 AM ferry. We all finally slept the rest of the morning. That afternoon I found the other bottle in the Saw Palmetto less than twenty feet from our tent. The raccoons had chewed the plastic liner and licked it clean. I washed it and we then had a spare.
It was a fun time, but my son, of course, has no memory of it. Whatever benefit he may have gained from the experience could have been achieved by camping in the back yard at home. The truth is that the trip to Cumberland Island was for me, not the baby. It was more about me trying to hang on to my single young man days by attempting to combine some adventure with being a dad.
When my daughter was about three, we took the kids on a float trip. I looked over at one point and saw my daughter walking around the ring of rocks surrounding the fire pit, in her bare feet, balancing like a gymnast on the balance beam. Just as I was rushing over to pull her off, she faltered and landed on her feet in the hot coals. She channeled her inner Zen Priest and jumped out.
We were a forty-five minute to one hour drive from the nearest burn unit but her burns were only first degree and a little bit of second degree burns. We held her and soaked her feet in cool water. We were able to bandage her feet and put on clean socks and convinced her to wear shoes the rest of the weekend. We got lucky. She does remember that trip.
I've been sharing my sailing fantasies with my kids, both now in their twenties. I put most of my adventures on hold during many years so that I was there to coach their soccer teams, be a Boy Scout dad, and drive them to sleep-overs and birthday parties. I'm ready to take my time back. They express worry, but I've told them that I would rather take a chance that I might die at sea, doing something I love, rather than dying of a heart attack on the couch, fat and lazy, while watching TV. But I will make that decision for myself, not for anybody else and never for children.