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Old 13-02-2012, 06:01   #31
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Re: Child Overboard Procedure

Originally Posted by Bash View Post
My wife and I hardly ever wear life jackets when we're sailing alone. But when there are kids aboard EVERYONE wears a life jacket. The kids don't seem to resent the life jackets so much if the adults are wearing them too.
Another good point, well worth repeating. Kids learn by example. "Do what I say, not what I do" NEVER works!

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Old 13-02-2012, 06:12   #32
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Re: Child Overboard Procedure

I have once sailed with a 2 year old son of mine. Of course he was never alone in the cockpit, so he got tied to the adult that was with him.

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Old 13-02-2012, 07:43   #33
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Re: Child Overboard Procedure

We only had our daughter age who was a toddler to worry about, but simple precautions go a long way.
1) The cockpit was netted and she was not allowed into the cockpit with out an adult present until she was old enough to be semi supervised. She was (is) not allowed out of the cockpit without an adult (at anchor) until she can swim around the boat 3 times, tread water for 5 minutes AND climb up the swim ladder on her own power after that. (Powerful incentive to learn to swim!)
2) Underway above - tether and life jacket required (we made our own tether and the bungy cord was just long enough to let her reach the edge of the cockpit). Any thing forward of the cockpit required an adult present. A future swim test (TBD) will be required to allow her to get out of the cockpit (also after we net the rest of the boat.)
3) down below any time - no life jack no tether required, play and have fun.

No fuss, those are the rules, they were explained and understood (ie repeated back) and we had a lot of fun so it was fun.

Always a life jacket in the dingy, sat in a adults lap or on the floor unless we were going slow. Then mom let her lean over and stick her fingers in the water going by (with mom or dad holding on the the retrieval loop on the life jacket - mom tether)
Spent some time in the sit atop kayak with her also a life jacket and a warning to sit still reinforced with tippy exercise and she did really well not wanting to get wet and cold if she fell in. Loved sneaking up on ducks and stuff in the kayak with her, little girl squeals of delight and all that when they took off in a thunder of wings.

We spent a month on the Bay twice. Once when she was 18 months old and once when she was 3.
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Old 13-02-2012, 07:47   #34
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Re: Child Overboard Procedure

In my experience children below swimming age sink like rocks. In the Columbia river a 3 year old child fell off of the back of a power boat, AND NEVER RESURFACED, ...EVER.

The best MOB recovery for a child is to never let them leave the boat. Have them tethered in a life jacket to a responsible adult, that adults ONLY, and primary responsibility is to watch the child. If that adult gets distracted, or want's to do something else, their responsibility is to hand off the child to someone else, insure the new person understands they are in charge of the child, and then transfer the tether.

It's too easy for a child in a group of adults to each assume the other is watching the child. And for the child to slip out of life jacket and fall overboard. Once a preswimmer child hits the water they will sink like a rock to the bottom, and may not resurface making rescue impossible.

If the child tries to untie the tether, it's time for a "timeout" in the cabin. With the responsible adult insuring they stay there until they are ready to go back on the tether.

It is easier for the child to take if two people are tied together, instead of just them on a leash. Also if the boat capsizes, it is better that they be tied to an adult than a sinking ship.
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Old 13-02-2012, 09:20   #35
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We have two children ages 4 and 20 months. When our eldest was 18 months we sailed from cape town to rio via st Helena. We made a decision to not use a life jacket on her as we felt going in the water meant she was dead so we instead focused on keeping her on the boat.

We made one adjustment to the boat by welding on two attachment point at the base of the cockpit so that she could be attached there and have access to the full cockpit but not be able to climb out due to the tether length.

We also had a set of rules we followed religiously..

1. She was clipped in before she left the companionway
2. She was not allowed outside the cockpit
3. She was not allowed into cockpit if the conditions were rough, seems common sense but little ones want to be where their parents are and ours always wanted to be outside so would make quite a ruckus to be let out even when conditions were not great.

The fear of a small child falling overboard at sea should be dealt with by having appropriate rules, equipment and training but it it really the least of your concerns when sailing with small children.

They are far more likely to be hurt badly in a fall during bumpy weather or to drown while in a marina or off the hook.

We had terrible weather for an extended period on the passage from st Helena to rio and thankfully had rigged an attachment point in the salon for a car seat that allowed us to secure her in there if the boats motion was excessive, which it was for over 10 days straight, and also if we both needed to be on deck for any reason we could secure her in there, and pay dearly for it with her screams of protest.

It is not when we are vigilant that our children get hurt it is when we feel safe. Most deaths of children in the sailing community happen in marinas. Not two weeks before our arrival into Niteroi in Rio a child aged 5 was unsupervised playing with other children and fell off the dock and drowned. While in cape town a 6 year old fell in and the wind blew them away from the dock and only pure fate was a rib in the water to pull her out. Neither of these incidents were the parents aware of until after the fact.

Edit: another death in brazil in bahia de ilha grande happened with a couple with a fully netted boat like ours that were asleep at anchor with their companionway hatch open as we all do to keep the air flowing. Their 4 year old climbed out onto the deck and over the netting and fell in the water and drowned while they were sleeping.
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Old 13-02-2012, 10:42   #36
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Re: Child Overboard Procedure

She/he must have never been taught to never ever leave the cabin without a life jacket. My 3 yr old can put her jacket on by herself already. Undoing the clips takes too much strength, but she knows she has to put it on before climbing those steps.

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