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Old 10-02-2012, 14:33   #1
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Child Overboard Procedure

This year my wife and I will be doing a lot of sailing with our 3 year old daughter (it will be her first year sailing).
We are big proponents of safety and have rules and devices for keeping everyone ON the boat, The chances of her going over are VERY slim, but I want to be prepared for anything.

We have done countless MOB drills over the years and are very efficient at picking up the faithful MOB life vest with a boat hook.
We have a good understanding of what to do when an adult goes over and the different ways of getting them back on board.

Is there anything you would change in the standard procedure if a toddler goes over?
One part that has me thinking is getting them back on board. The freeboard on our boat is too high to reach down to the water to grab them.
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Old 10-02-2012, 14:54   #2
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Re: Child Overboard Procedure

Zero chance. Be certain the tether will NOT allow her to reach the edge. Also, tethers can tangle, so she must NEVER be unattended.

We used one from the very beginning. The first I sewed myself, as I could find nothing small enough. Not difficult.

-----

Regarding recovery, I've got to believe that a swimmer is probably going in the water to get her. I'm a parent and that's just the way it would have happened, I'm sure. for certain, the PFD and harness must be capable of being used to lift; a wet baby/toddler is just to slippery.

-----

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Old 10-02-2012, 16:23   #3
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Re: Child Overboard Procedure

We had a sailmaker sew a nylon strap around a regular lifejacket with D rings in the front so the lifejacket itself formed the safety harness. It was the kind of jacket that had the strap between the legs too. That built-in harness came in very handy many times as we could either use a rope to limit movement or tie the child to something, like the dinghy seat. The dinghy is probably the most likely place to get into trouble as you might be occupied starting the motor while the little one goes over the side. It is not normally recommended procedure, but my wife and I had decided that in the event of a child overboard we could get the boat close and she was going over the side to retrieve the child as she is a tremendous swimmer and a former lifeguard, while I am a better boat handler. I have no doubt she would have been in the water in an instant anyway if one of our kids went over.

Watch out when you are doing things that seem very routine, like walking down a dock to get to your dinghy. My son fell off an 8-foot high dock in the Bahamas when he was about 4 as I was struggling trying to put his lifejacket on. He just wriggled out of my grasp and out of the lifejacket and plunged over the side. Needless to say I was only seconds behind him, but on the way down I realized that the water was probably 3 feet deep and I hit the bottom like a ton of lead--luckily on my feet. But, by the time I got there my son had already grabbed ahold of a dinghy and was fine. Similarly, my daughter at the age of two fell off a dock in the dark while standing outside of an ice cream shop. Realizing that there was no way I could see her underwater I waited for a moment and she bobbed right back up and I was able to pull her out by her hair spluttering. It is very important you get your children used to being in the water as much as possible.
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Old 10-02-2012, 17:41   #4
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Re: Child Overboard Procedure

There is a great product that helps alert parents (and pet owners) if their loved ones accidentally fall overboard. It's called a Pool Safety Turtle. It's a small lockable wrist band with a turtle shaped transmitter that is activated by immersion into water triggering a loud siren from the base station. The great thing about it is it's price. You can pick up a used base station and wrist band for under $100.00 on eBay. It's recommended for use primarily in pools and lakes (fresh water) because although salt water activates it, it won't continue to transmit under salt water. This limitation can be easily remedied by attaching the transmitter high on the shoulder of a PFD or on the top of a pet's collar. We have 4 dogs on board with transmitters on their collars and it really works. Great for peace of mind.
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Old 10-02-2012, 18:57   #5
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Re: Child Overboard Procedure

Back in the 60's when I was commercial fishing in the PNW, I had a beer with an older, retired gent in the pub in Silva Bay on Vancouver Island. He related a tale that scare me straight and I modelled my own kids life vests after his observations. He lived in a cabin on one of the Canadian Gulf Islands and early one morning, still dark, he slid his skiff into the water and headed out for the morning bite. He was trolling along and something in mid channel caught his eye. He was going to ignore it but decided to motor over to check it out. It was a young child about 3 years old,in a life jacket but unconscious. He hauled the kid aboard and headed back to his cabin and got the kid warmed up, fed her some soup and hiked down the road to a neighbor who had a phone. The authorites dispatched a vessel to pick up the kid who had evidently fallen overboard off a powerboat out of Bellingham, Washington. Imagine the terror and dispair aboard when they couldn't find the youngster.
When my kids were aboard, they were always in life jackets, with crotch straps and a water activated strobe in case they went overboard. The strobes were very new back in the day and not cheap but I always felt they were a great investment.
I don't think you plan ahead for every eventuality but a belt and suspenders approach to safety aboard when kids are involved is good planning. Capt Phil
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Old 10-02-2012, 19:18   #6
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Re: Child Overboard Procedure

Quote:
Originally Posted by thinwater View Post
Zero chance. Be certain the tether will NOT allow her to reach the edge. Also, tethers can tangle, so she must NEVER be unattended.

We used one from the very beginning. The first I sewed myself, as I could find nothing small enough. Not difficult.

-----

Regarding recovery, I've got to believe that a swimmer is probably going in the water to get her. I'm a parent and that's just the way it would have happened, I'm sure. for certain, the PFD and harness must be capable of being used to lift; a wet baby/toddler is just to slippery.

-----

Sail Delmarva: MOB Drills, Lifesling, and Climbing Equipment

The title I added to this, which I realize did not display, is that a harness and tether is the only sure way, and that it is 100% sure when used.

Relying on a jacket with a plastic buckle between the legs seems optimistic. You wouldn't trust that buckle with a briefcase, but you would trust it with a life. Silly.

As for finding a small child in the water on a dark night, those are long odds. Even if you succeed, everyone's life would be changed.

Use a harness and tether. Kids are accustomed to car seats in this generation, they don't mind restraint, since that's what they know. Some folks talk "belt and suspenders", but I disagree; have one plan that you always follow and that is bullet proof. Too often we see a "belt and suspenders" that are both inadequate, and then surprise when they both fail.

(No, I'm not digging at you Capt Phill--your words made sense. Just the phrase.)
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Old 10-02-2012, 19:19   #7
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Re: Child Overboard Procedure

Hook em up and keep em that way till they are GOOD swimmers!! and still keep em hooked up !! they mite not like it ! but they would like drowning a lot less !!!! just my 2 cents Bob and Connie
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Old 10-02-2012, 19:35   #8
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Re: Child Overboard Procedure

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Hook em up and keep em that way till they are GOOD swimmers!! and still keep em hooked up !! they mite not like it ! but they would like drowning a lot less !!!! just my 2 cents Bob and Connie
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.
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Old 10-02-2012, 20:38   #9
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Thanks for all the great advice and suggestions. Our daughter has been taking swimming lessons for the past 6 months and is getting very used to being in the water. We will take every possible precaution to stop this happening accidentally including lifeline netting a harness/tether and PFD. That turtle alarm sounds interesting to.

My wife and I have discussed what we would do in the event of a child going overboard. The natural response would be to jump right in after them. But that would leave the person at the helm alone to spot the 2 MOBs. Throwing all the cockpit cushions over may help to create a visible debris field to head back to.
Our current thinking is for one of us to be at the helm while the other is the spotter. As the boat gets back within range the spotter will dive in and assist the child back to the boat. The helms person will lower the boarding ladder and use lines/boat hook etc to get them back on board.
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Old 10-02-2012, 20:50   #10
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Re: Child Overboard Procedure

Life jackets in my opinion, are nice but for children are not enough !! teather them and hook em and don't let em go overboard !! and if your at sea without at least some type of life jacket is sorta DUMB !! I don't care if your an oylimpic swimmer !! most offshore or even coastal sailors wear sopenders or some type life vest !! its alway better to be safe then dead !! Im an x navy UDT sailor and make everyone aboard my vessel wear PFDs my self included and life lines for kids ! I imagine this mite make ya mad but Ive seen to many folks go overboard and some did not come back aboard !! but not on my boat !! Just my 2 cents Bob and Connie
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Old 10-02-2012, 20:57   #11
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Re: Child Overboard Procedure

If the plan is to have one go in, I'd get a Life Sling.
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Old 10-02-2012, 21:07   #12
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Re: Child Overboard Procedure

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blissopia View Post
This year my wife and I will be doing a lot of sailing with our 3 year old daughter (it will be her first year sailing).
We are big proponents of safety and have rules and devices for keeping everyone ON the boat, The chances of her going over are VERY slim, but I want to be prepared for anything.

We have done countless MOB drills over the years and are very efficient at picking up the faithful MOB life vest with a boat hook.
We have a good understanding of what to do when an adult goes over and the different ways of getting them back on board.

Is there anything you would change in the standard procedure if a toddler goes over?
One part that has me thinking is getting them back on board. The freeboard on our boat is too high to reach down to the water to grab them.

One of you would have to get in the water and climb up the ladder. This ladder has already been installed/rigged in such a way that the adult in the water can EASILY deploy it him or herself, because the other adult on board may be very busy.

While it's easy to say "just make sure it doesn't happen," my mantra is "Always have a Plan B." Her life vest should have a strobe and a whistle on it. A three year old can learn to blow a whistle.

You practice this, making it a game. You play hide and seek following the sound of the whistle. You get your little girl VERY comfortable with being in the water in a life jacket so she doesn't panic. Remember, she's far too young to visualize a life jacket keeping her safe until Mom or Dad can get to her. You want the practices to feel like a game with much laughter so that's what she remembers when she's in the water wearing a life jacket.

You play "catch" with your life ring or whatever throwable you have. Practice on calm days, and then take her to the beach one day when ther are waves so she can get the feel of bobbing with the waves in that life jacket. You want her as comfortable and calm in that situation as possible, and you want it to be HABIT for her to blow that whistle.

You might even make up a simple code: she blows twice, and you blow three times back, so she can get it in her ear in a fun way. Sort of a "Marco Polo" with whistles.

She doesn't understand positive flotation and will not for some time. You can't "explain" all of this to her. Children are concrete. You have to practice what a three year old needs to know to stay alive in the water long enough to get to her.

And you always, always, ALWAYS have her wear water shoes. She's never without them. If it's shallow water, you want to protect those feet from barnacles, oysters, rocks, etc.
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Old 10-02-2012, 21:10   #13
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Re: Child Overboard Procedure

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blissopia View Post
Thanks for all the great advice and suggestions. Our daughter has been taking swimming lessons for the past 6 months and is getting very used to being in the water. We will take every possible precaution to stop this happening accidentally including lifeline netting a harness/tether and PFD. That turtle alarm sounds interesting to.

My wife and I have discussed what we would do in the event of a child going overboard. The natural response would be to jump right in after them. But that would leave the person at the helm alone to spot the 2 MOBs. Throwing all the cockpit cushions over may help to create a visible debris field to head back to.
Our current thinking is for one of us to be at the helm while the other is the spotter. As the boat gets back within range the spotter will dive in and assist the child back to the boat. The helms person will lower the boarding ladder and use lines/boat hook etc to get them back on board.

You have one serious mistake here. That ladder has to be deployable from the water. Just tie it up with a loop knot of the type you use to secure your mainsail after it's lowered. One tug and the ladder is down.

Your ladder should be deployable from the water for everyone's safety.
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Old 10-02-2012, 21:16   #14
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Re: Child Overboard Procedure

At what age would you drop the " always tether on deck" rule?
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Old 10-02-2012, 21:26   #15
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Re: Child Overboard Procedure

Depends on the child, there all different. Our own boy wore one till he was 16 LOL he was a little stumblefooted LOL but you will know when they show they are ready and steady it's just a safety thing when you feel there safe on deck, and the wind is safe, take it off but keep the PFDS on em ! we all wear pfds on my boat all the time !! just my 2 cents Bob and Connie
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