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Discussion Starter #1
Hello All,

I know there are additional threads out there with advice about sailing with children, but most I've seen seemed to address older kids. I am now the proud parent of a four month old daughter. Down here in FL it is too hot to take her out sailing his summer...besides, the Admiral wouldn't allow it anyways...however, she has been somewhat amenable to taking her out later this fall...October/November when it is cooler. At that time, she will be about 6-7 months. So, I would love to hear advice/suggestions concerning this plan. Obviously, it will be a calm day...and we may go down a couple of times before to sit on the boat at the dock. The boat is 1998 Catalina 28, so there is room below we can bring her too if needed.

Is this too young? How did others bring children this age out? In a car seat? Something else? I will mostly singlehand while the Admiral attends to her, so she will constantly be under supervision. What life jacket do we get? Do they even make them that small? Suggestions for toys/activities? Would people recommend taking them out at this age, or wait until they are older? For those that did take kids out at this age, how did they do? Were they scared? Indifferent?

Any and all suggestions/advice would be appreciated.

Thank you.
 

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We took our daughter, born in December, sailing that summer season. Same with her brother, born in January, a year later.

We brought them in their car seats,(which are baby carriers, make shift cradles for sleeping-for those that don't know). We were both freelancers then, so I was stay at home parent with my daughter for that first season. I took her sailing myself and with a friend or two.

There was always a safe place to stow those baby carriers on board. We didn't use life preservers until they could walk.


We sailed all season with babies. My wife especially thought being aboard -sailing, was the easiest time to care for them.

She felt they were safe, easy, and we would spend 100% of sailing time, just the four of us. It was a unique time, unforgettable, really, for all of us.


I don't think there is too young an age to take kids sailing, as long as the parents are both confident, they're safe.
 

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inspirational tom...Im getting close to taking ours out...he is 11 months already and time flies, the boat is almost ready at least for some local cruising and sleepovers hopefully by the end of the month...

cant wait!
 

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We've had our little one (just over 3 months old) out a few times on the boat. We have a Salus lifejacket for him, clicky as it seemed to be the best one specifically for babies/newborns rather than infants but it only goes to 25lbs. The lifejacket goes on as we get out of the car, and stays on until he's back at the car afterwards. We carry him on the dock, no car seats, he is much safer being able to float in the PFD than sink in a car seat. On the boat itself we have a co-sleeper in the cockpit, this sort of thing
to stop him rolling about, with an umbrella to keep the sun off.
Same thing can be used on a berth below as well if it starts raining.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the replies...that was something I was wondering, whether it was better to keep them in car seats or not. It seems most have used car seats with success, but I also like the idea of the co sleeper (pictured below) with a life jacket. Believe it or not, my biggest concern is carrying her on and off the boat...and for that the car seat does seem easier, but there is always the concern of sinking if dropped.

TomMaine/PaulinVictoria...at the ages you took them out, did you find that they would be scared at all? Obviously it will be a very calm day the first day out.

TomMaine - Did you continue to take them out at all ages, and if so, did you find that taking them out early introduced them to sailing better? Were there any ages that it doesn't seem to work quite as well?

Thanks again.
 

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We've been sailing the Chesapeake with our 4 and 2 year olds for the last two years on our Catalina 27.

It has been great making sailing a regular family hobby activity. Definitely go for it. People think sailing with kids is either genius or crazy. We ignore the naysayers.

Infants seem to love the boat and spend lots of time sleeping in the infant carrier as the boat naturally rocks. The older child sleeps in the v-berth and the younger in the quarter berth. We've used a small collapsable tent wedged into the quarterberth to keep the 2 year old contained. We sleep on the pull out settee.

We bought two cheap car seats so we could strap them down when all hands were needed on deck. Worked great when the kids were infant through 2 years. We don't need them anymore at 4 and 2. Ages 2-3 are the hardest so far. By 4 things get easier.

Invest in a Mustang infant/child PFD. We also keep a line tied to the jackets when the kids are up above. We will be installing lifeline netting sometime this season. Life vests go on as soon as we get out of the car at the marina and are on anytime they are out of the cabin. I set an example by always wearing my inflatable vest.

We bought a kayak (9.5 feet sit on top) that we throw on deck. Both kids and the dog love the chance to get off the boat and explore the shoreline or look for animals. It's all about keeping it fun.
More recently we acquired a 8'6" inflatable dinghy (high pressure air floor) and 2.5 HP outboard. Enables the whole family to go to shore which is important now that everyone is older.

We keep an iPad on board for family movie nights, entertainment in bad weather, etc. We also keep a range of toys, arts/crafts, etc.

Since one person must always attend to the kids, I strongly recommend an autopilot. Having a "third crew member" is great for single handing.

My stress level is always higher when the kids are aboard. We tend to be more conservative with weather, schedules, etc. Typically keep trip legs under 6 hours. This isn't to say that we sail conservatively, the kids love a fun sail as much as I do. Kids are robust and ride out rough weather better than the adults.

One great aspect of a larger sailboat is that it has sufficient infrastructure to support kids schedule issues like nap time and "potty time". We usually get 1-2 hours of adult only sailing time while the kids nap below.

Keep it fun and everything will go smoothly.

Josh
 

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good stuff!
 

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nolesailor - he slept pretty much the whole time, the motion of the boat, and the vibration from the little 1 cylinder diesel puts him to sleep right away. Personally I find him easier to carry by himself than in a car seat.
 

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TomMaine/PaulinVictoria...at the ages you took them out, did you find that they would be scared at all? Obviously it will be a very calm day the first day out.

TomMaine - Did you continue to take them out at all ages, and if so, did you find that taking them out early introduced them to sailing better? Were there any ages that it doesn't seem to work quite as well?

Thanks again.
I don't recall any fear from our babies, sailing. But we were coastal sailors and picked our weather. I think parental fear is the bigger problem. If you're the one picking the weather and the extent of your sailing, be very sure your partner is 100% sure as well.

I think sailing with babies and then young children made me a much better sailor. Our daughter became prone to seasickness pretty early on. Her mom has the same ear. That taught me a lot. Even now, I enjoy sailing for the least experienced person on board. If I can show them the best of sailing, I please myself.

Introducing them to sailing at the beginning made them natural sailors. I built this sailing dinghy just after they were born mostly so we could expose them to sailing themselves as early as they wanted to do it. Both our son and daughter started sailing the dinghy very young. Here's my daughter taking a friend sailing. This is pretty light air for kids this age.



Here's my daughter last season sailing her college roommate around Cuttyhunk Pond. They had both just graduated.

 

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Discussion Starter #12
Engineer - Thanks for the response! A dinghy w/ outboard is definitely something we are looking into for next summer for trips to the shore/beach. How old was your youngest when you first did an overnight...if you have?

Tom/Maine & Paulin Victoria - I'm happy to hear that fear/being afraid isn't really an issue for a baby...makes sense as they probably haven't developed that yet, but as a new father, EVERYTHING is a learning process for me...

Our plan is to take her out a few times this fall, when it is cooler, on a nice calm 5-10 knot day. May just sail under headsail for a bit at first, for simplicity's sake. Trips would be short...maybe a few hours only. Obviously a life vest for the times she isn't in a car seat (or other carrier/cosleeper item...haven't decided upon that).

Our hope is that by sailing with her at a young age, it will become a lifelong activity for her...

Thanks again!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
TomMaine - those two pictures of your daughter sailing in the same dinghy...when she first learned and after college graduation must really bring back some memories...
 

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Nolesailor
Our first overnight with our youngest was at the six week old mark. Forgot to mention that we've used battery powered white noise machines to help the kids sleep both on land and on the boat. On a smaller boat it's easy for one person to wake another and the white noise helps. Does obscure the sounds of nature and water at anchor.

Josh
 

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Discussion Starter #15
We also use a white noise machine on land, so carrying it over to the boat is a great idea. I appreciate all the responses, and once it gets closer and the Admiral begins voicing her concerns, I'm sure I may have more questions...

Thanks again!
 

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The age you are planning on going out is a good one. I think it's going to be a long time before sailing with the kids will be as easy as when there was only one in a car seat. We took our little guy out at 7 weeks if I recall for his first overnight. It worked great. Here's my list of pointers based on our experience:

-Use a car seat when underway, docking or anchoring. Sailing is best done around naptime and if the engine is on, they'll likely sleep well.
-Create a way to strap the car seat down, or otherwise secure it.
-Have the car seat visible from the cockpit if it is below.
-set up the boat for single-handing
-have a USCG certified vest aboard (and in the tender) to fulfill the letter of the law, but we didn't have the little one wear it because he was always in a car seat or strapped to momma in a chest carrier.
-We prefered to have the baby strapped to momma in a carrier when transferring from the boat to tender. I agree this is the most stressful part. The plan was, if she falls overboard, she would float on her back. Typically we don't fall overboard while getting in the tender though and the baby is very well secured in the front pack. When transferring to or from a dock we used the car seat.
-For sleeping we had the opposite problem, too cold. We chose to have our little one co-sleep with momma for warmth. If you don't co-sleep I wouldn't have them sleep the whole night in the car-seat. I'd get a cheap bassinet or something flat.
-We never once put the lifejacket on him, as he wasn't mobile and we firmly believe that the secured car seat or secured frontpack was a safer option. I was willing to make my case to the USCG if boarded and accept a fine if levied. I did always carry a USCG certified vest with me, and if it came down to it, I would be willing to argue that the USCG regs only state the requirement to have the appropriate sized vest aboard, and say nothing about wearing it. Only state law (which it is not their duty to enforce) state that the kiddo should be wearing it.
-If you do want to use a lifejacket I would highly recommend the salus bijoux that PaulinVictoria lined to. I don't own one (yet) but from all my research it appears to be the only one that is truly designed for a small infant. It's not USCG approved though.

Happy sailing, you guys will do just fine!

MedSailor

PS Sail as much as possible before the little one becomes a toddler!
 

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The Salus isn't Transport Canada approved either, but since no approval exists for infants under 35lb, and therefore there is also no requirement to carry one, there won't be TC approval and it doesn't matter. Not sure if the same goes for the US.
I personally prefer not having him strapped to something/someone. If I or my wife is going swimming with him accidentally, I would rather he floated face up regardless of if I am or not.
 

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After she was born, our daughter began sailing with us when she was 6 weeks old. Her first passage was made in a car-seat/bassinet that hung from the overhead on a short tether (so the the natural period of the "pendulum" was greater than the boats roll and her bassinet simply hung vertically while the yacht rolled about her). As she grew, we progressed from the bassinet to a car seat that could be secured below or in the forward corner of cockpit. When she was bigger and began walking, we fitted her with a baby floaty and tether if she was above deck and added netting to the life-lines around the entire boat (and she learned to never-ever leave the cockpit without her mommy or daddy and without holding onto the boat). Our--and her--first rule was/is "safety first". Her, and our, second rule was/is "always hold onto the boat". She's in her early 20's now but still respects/repeats the rules, aboard our boat or when on her own...
 

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PS Sail as much as possible before the little one becomes a toddler!
This!!! The terrible twos and boating have a bit of a rocky relationship. Nothing like having a critter running around the boat that isn't so stable on solid ground. Best thing is that they get past this age fast and your nerves get a break of sorts.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
All...thanks again for all the replies, the advice and suggestions are appreciated!

Medsailor - Great advice, a cosleeper would be helpful for overnights...but we certainly aren't there yet!

We plan to get lifeline netting once she is mobile (although I always swore I never would. Amazing how things change!). We are looking forward to taking her out this fall when it is not so hot/humid as it is here in the FL summers.

Thanks again!
 
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