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-   -   Child's drowning. (https://www.sailnet.com/forums/cruising-sailing-children/330590-childs-drowning.html)

Yorksailor 07-14-2019 08:07 AM

Child's drowning.
 
https://www.news.com.au/national/nsw...df0d321752fe26

This is a heart-breaking incident and condolences go to the parents. It is not stated if the child was or was not wearing a lifejacket.

In a previous life, for 25 years, I worked as a doctor in a pediatric intensive care unit. During those 25 years I took care of dozens of tragically injured children including several drownings. When faced with such a case you are the doctor for the entire family and must be sympathetic and none-judgemental. However, that does not mean that you ignore the root cause...small children do not cause their own injuries 90% of serious injuries and drowning are caused by the negligence of the parents/supervisors...if the child is not wearing a lifejacket on the water it is automatically negligence.

Arguments like...'children should be allowed freedom to be children' are only valid up to a point and that point is that you must use common sense. We have raised 3 children and recently 5 grandchildren who have a marvelously adventurous life, sailing, canoeing, skiing, rock climbing, fishing and hunting but they have never been on the water without a lifejacket and on the two occasions one of them went arse over tea kettle into the water they were wearing a life jacket.

I am passionate about lifejackets because the last near-drowing I managed ended up as an organ donor.

Phil

capta 07-14-2019 01:00 PM

Re: Child's drowning.
 
I raised a child from her birth on our circumnavigation, long before anyone ever considered rules or laws about life jackets on children or adults. They were big, bulky uncomfortable, and honestly, wearing one could be more hazardous than not.
Therefore, we had RULES! She was not allowed to be outside the cabin, even in the cockpit, when there was no adult up there when she was very young. Until she was over 7 she was never allowed on deck at sea without holding an adult's hand, but after she could swim and understand when she could swim, she was allowed on deck at anchor or in a marina.
The only time I put her in a lifejacket was during a storm in the Atlantic which killed 12 people I know of, including Alan Colas. I put her in my bunk near the cockpit w/an EPIRB, but conditions were very dangerous and the boat was in danger of capsizing or pitchpoling.
Some years later, as a commercial captain operating day tours on sailing or fishing charters, children were exempt from the laws requiring children to wear lifejackets, but my crews were trained to be especially aware of the children's position and actions aboard.
I'm of mixed feelings about requiring children or adults to wear PFD's as sometimes required protection gives one a feeling of safety that the protective item does not fully guaranty. Education, situational awareness (by parents especially) and common sense, are much more protection, though probably in short supply in the general boating public, than laws, IMO.

4arch 07-14-2019 02:09 PM

Life jacket or not, with 11 kids if only the two parents were supervising, the parent to child ratio was way too low. I never like to discourage parents from getting their children out on the water at early ages, but parents with supersized families probably aren’t good candidates to be boaters.

chall03 07-14-2019 03:31 PM

Re: Child's drowning.
 
That river system is my home cruising ground and while I do not personally know the family involved, I do know of them. We have some mutual cruising friends and my heart goes out to all involved.

I'll make no further comment on the incident other than to say it is an absolute tragedy.

My comments below are general, and our current approach to mitigating this risk as a cruising family though.


1) Swimming Lessons. Both our kids have been in learn to swim programs since they were 3 months old.
2) Lifejackets and HARNESSES. When we were cruising the Australian East Coast our rule on passage was tethered when in the cockpit. If a small child falls overboard in the average conditions there of 25knots and 4 metre seas even in their lifejacket it is not a good situation.
3)Lifejackets in the tender. Always.
4) You don't go on deck without letting an adult know.

The conditions here in the Med are more benign than East Coast Oz, but I can't see us relaxing too much of our rules.

capta 07-14-2019 04:12 PM

Re: Child's drowning.
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chall03 (Post 2051614758)
1) Swimming Lessons. Both our kids have been in learn to swim programs since they were 3 months old.
.

I took a completely different tack on this one. My child was not taught to swim until she was old enough to know when to swim. I found out the hard way that when completely becalmed at sea, the boat can still be moving faster than one can swim.

chall03 07-14-2019 05:23 PM

Re: Child's drowning.
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by capta (Post 2051614768)
I took a completely different tack on this one. My child was not taught to swim until she was old enough to know when to swim. I found out the hard way that when completely becalmed at sea, the boat can still be moving faster than one can swim.

Thats a valid point.

The swim classes we did were quite big on water awareness more than just learn to swim which was good.

Teaching children they don't get into water unless there is an adult there inviting them in, giving them a sense of their own (lack of) buoyancy etc.

Having said that swimming lessons are aimed at land dwellers. Capta's point is well made. On sailboats the situation is different to a day at the beach. Rules are important I believe. The phrase 'not negotiable' was used a lot on our last boat. So much so that my daughter still makes a joke out of how much I used that phrase on the boat when she was younger.

I am myself a confident swimmer, but had my own scare last year. While snorkelling of the back of a friend's yacht in the Whitsundays on a calm warm sunny day I decided to explore the coral reef out by the point. It was as I was viewing the coral at the point that I suddenly got a cramp while in a reasonable current that started sweeping me out to sea. Just by coincidence another yacht's tender passed by and all was fine in the end but I was reminded that complacency and overconfidence are things I need to be careful of.

PhilCarlson 07-16-2019 01:31 PM

Re: Child's drowning.
 
I wonder at the accuracy of the article. I certianly hope they have botched some key facts because if not, this boat was a tragedy waiting to happen.

It says 11 children were living on the boat. There are 15 people in the group picture and 14 visible on the boat pic. And it says the yacht is only 7 meters! With the whole family aboard, the crew would outweigh the keel.

overbored 07-16-2019 03:04 PM

Re: Child's drowning.
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by PhilCarlson (Post 2051615194)
I wonder at the accuracy of the article. I certianly hope they have botched some key facts because if not, this boat was a tragedy waiting to happen.

It says 11 children were living on the boat. There are 15 people in the group picture and 14 visible on the boat pic. And it says the yacht is only 7 meters! With the whole family aboard, the crew would outweigh the keel.

Tragic story
where did you read 7 meters the pic is of a 40'+ motor sailer

Minnesail 07-16-2019 03:35 PM

Re: Child's drowning.
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by overbored (Post 2051615204)
Tragic story
where did you read 7 meters the pic is of a 40'+ motor sailer

The article says:
Quote:

Beccie and Steve Soetekouw and their children, from Tasmania, had been travelling on their seven-metre yacht, the Sumbawa, for two years.
Other sources put it 13 meters, which seems a lot more likely.

Still. 11 children and two adults on a 43' boat. I cannot see how that could be happy or healthy.



My condolences to the family and their friends. What a tragedy.

MarkofSeaLife 07-16-2019 04:49 PM

Re: Child's drowning.
 
What a terrible situation. My heart goes out to all.

As a paediatric Doctor I am sure @Yorksailor has seen the most tragic events. To hear of this one must remind you of so many others.

I'm glad I am not a father.


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