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Old 06-26-2017 Thread Starter
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Sailing with Infants

I'm sure this has been covered, but I'm having trouble locating anything! So my wife is due with our first July 1 and we would like to start sailing again as soon as feasibly possible. We sail only on an inland lake in Ohio, so no crazy weather, offshore, or cruising items to deal with. I guess my questions are: 1) what age did you first take an infant sailing, and 2)What did you do with the baby while sailing? I have read plenty of threads where the baby is just in its car seat which is down below, but my wife likes the idea of having the baby in a harness which is strapped to her (same harness you would use to take the baby for walks,etc). We also have an infant life jackets but can't quite figure out what age they would really start fitting into that.

Sailboat wise, just sold my Catalina 22 and will likely be in a Catalina 25 by the time baby arrives.
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Old 06-26-2017
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Re: Sailing with Infants

I raised a child sailing around the world. She went from the hospital to the boat at day 2 or 3. She stayed with me until she was 12, when she went to boarding school.
We turned one of the settees in the salon into her place. It was one that allowed her to see into the cockpit as well as down below. We used new mono fishing net around the settee's open sides with the lee cloth holding its shape on the inboard side. The forward and outboard sides were lined with pillows.
The advantage to this placement was that she was always within our sight and we hers. Forcing her to sleep in the salon taught her to sleep even if things were happening around her, day or night. This worked amazingly well as she can still sleep through anything, and she's in her 40's now!
As she got older the rule was that she could not go out the companionway or on deck from the cockpit, unless she was holding an adult's hand. PERIOD! End of sentence. No discussion allowed. I guess you've got the idea, right?
The other thing we chose to do was instill a good fear and respect of the water in her. IMO, teaching a child who spends a great deal of time on the water to swim is not the right approach, until they are old enough to know WHEN to swim.
I once made the mistake of thinking a boat totally becalmed on a glassy sea is not moving faster than I can swim. Thankfully, I wasn't singlehanding!
When she was old enough to know when to swim, she became a little fish.
I know you aren't a liveaboard family, but perhaps this will help.

"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
ďBelieve me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.Ē ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

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Old 06-29-2017
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Re: Sailing with Infants

We are expecting our first in September and are in the same boat. Definitely interested in the responses.
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Old 06-29-2017
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Re: Sailing with Infants

We have 2.5 year and 7 week old daughters. Weíve done a lot of sailing with the 2.5 year old and the 7 week old has already been out sailing twice. First time out was at 4 weeks. I wouldnít say any age is too young - itís more about momís readiness than babyís. Itís actually much easier when theyíre infants than when they start crawling/walking/climbing.

We do have a well-secured car seat in the cabin and have found it indispensable in many situations. Baby goes in car seat when we are departing and returning as well as at any times a situation requires two sets of hands or if conditions get rough.

First 4-6 months our oldest was mostly in her car seat below or being worn in an Ergo carrier. Due to the motion, they sleep and nurse a lot more than normal while underway. Harnesses and PFDs just arenít very practical at that age anyway. Theoretically, any size/weight infant can use an infant PFD but in practice, we found the ones we tried EXTREMELY restrictive of movement and prone to cause overheating. The harness is better, but was still hard to make fit securely until she put on a little more girth.

Around 5 or 6 months, we started using the harness more regularly. We put a blanket and some toys on the cockpit sole and tethered her to a secure tie-off. We went for the marine grade harness and tether, which have 1,000 lb. breaking strength. Our oldest still uses the harness and much prefers it to a PFD.
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Old 06-29-2017
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Re: Sailing with Infants

We started 'em young too. there is a bungee cord behind the car seat that you can't see allowing it to swing some with the motion of the boat but not too much to swing wildly.
He was a cranky baby but loved being in his swing on the boat. He could see us in the cockpit so he didn't feel left alone. He's 24 years old now!
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Re: Sailing with Infants

Great, thank you for all the feedback...very helpful. One question:

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4arch View Post

We do have a well-secured car seat in the cabin and have found it indispensable in many situations. Baby goes in car seat when we are departing and returning as well as at any times a situation requires two sets of hands or if conditions get rough.
So how do you secure the car seat while it is in the cabin? Do you just set it there or strap it in somehow?
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Re: Sailing with Infants

The seat fits snugly on top of the settee between the edge of the dining table and the back of the seat. We place a webbing strap around the car seat handle and secure it to a tie-off point so the seat can't rock side to side or front to back. If we didn't have a table to wedge it against, we probably would have needed to get a little more creative.

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Old 01-07-2018
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Re: Sailing with Infants

We go sailing at least a 4 week non-stop cruise each summer and have done that with our kids ever since they were newborn. They are now 11, 7 and 5.

The first 9 months are really easy. We have used the sleeping module of the baby stroller down below or a babybjorn.

The tricky part is when they are just learning to walk. Keep falling during waves and there are a bit more tricky to child proof a boat the same way as at home. It requires a lot more attention that at home, thats all.

USE LIFEJACKETS! Sorry, but donít be stupid. A child (even at the jetty) if the fall into the sea they will sink like a stone. There are a lot of good life jackets for kids. Just make sure that you get the correct size, test them in the pool before you go. No reason at all not to use them. Our kids are always using lifejackets as soon as we step out of the car at the marina. The only time they are aloud to take them off is when we are in the cabin.

When they are small we have used a baby bike seat strapped through some holes to an extra hatch made of plywood. Keeps them out of the sun as well as out of the wind and at the same time they are in the center and can see us at all times.

The sooner you introduce them to sailing the more they will enjoy it. There is not really any time that is too early.
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Old 01-08-2018
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Re: Sailing with Infants

Cincy,

Put a life size doll in a carry harness and see how well your wife swims in 5 ft waves keeping the doll's head above water...The problem with all these ideas is that none of them deal with in water emergencies.
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Old 01-08-2018
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Re: Sailing with Infants

Out kids have preferred a Finnish brand of life jackets called Hokka. They are made up of small foam balls and feel similar to a bean bag instead of the big foam pieces used in most life jackets. When they were small and were tired they even wanted to put them on themselves in the cabin when taking a nap.

Donít know if you can get them where you are located. But regardless itís very important that the fit and actually works. But regardless of how good they are they will never help if they are not used.

@Yorksailor : I assume you understood that we only used the Babybjorn in the cabin or on or off the boat at the marina.
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