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Old 08-05-2012, 13:57   #1
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Sailing with babies

Hi Everyone,

We recently welcomed our son into the World and we have done a few day sails but one of us always needed to be holding him which makes some tasks difficult and impossible in foul weather. So now the missus has tasked me with devising a method to keep him safe and secure when we are sailing (and hopefully I figure it out before this sailing season ends!). I've read a number of posts and articles about people sailing with kids and young kids but not babies. The difference being we can't just put up a lee cloth in the V-berth as he can't even sit up yet and would be thrown around as we tack back and forth.

My original thought was lashing his car seat to the dinnette table but thought the heel angle might be uncomfortable for him and I'm not sure how sturdy the table is (since it comes off to form a bed). Then I thought I could fashion some sort of hanging swing but I would be worried he would bump into things in the cabin. So my current idea is to somehow secure a basinet on the floor in the centre of the cabin where the motion is the least but this would restrict movement of traffic. So before I proceeded any further I thought it best to ask the sailing community what has been done before and worked well for them. I don't want to be re-inventing the rudder.

Thanks in advance for any advice.


BTW we have a Catalina 27 Dinnette series in case that helps.

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Old 08-05-2012, 15:06   #2
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Re: Sailing with babies

a velcro baby grow,and a crash helmet could work quite well till they start to crawl.
ours both had head injuries fairly frequently but they are now in their teens with no serious side effects...................

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Old 08-05-2012, 15:12   #3
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Re: Sailing with babies

The best way to attach a car seat in the cabin is to install pad eyes with which to attach LATCH connectors. You will want to have him facing the bow so you can attach the pad eyes to a solid surface. In our case, our settee side butts up against the back wall of the galley. Baby is almost in the center of the boat. Baby will be much safer in a 5 point harness, secure in his seat than rolling around in a bassinet in rough weather. If you are worried about the baby not dealing well with a 25 degree heel- reduce your sail.

When the weather is fine, what really helps is to wear your baby. They will be happier being part of the action and close to mom or dad. Whoever is wearing the baby obviously isn't going to be doing any work on the deck but you CAN use both hands. We use a Beco Gemini carrier as we can wear our baby on our front or back and have use of our hands while knowing she is secure. The key is in being cautious with the weather as safety is our first priority.

Here's a video of me wearing our daughter while sailing a year ago. She is now 2 and usually happy to be in her PFD clipped in with her tether but I do wear her from time to time on the boat. For shore side excursions, the Beco is fantastic for when she gets tired of walking. There are several great carriers on the market- Beco, Ergo, Boba etc. Just don't get a Baby Bjorn or Snugglie where all the kids weight is on their crotch. OUCH! Make sure you get a sturdy, well built carrier designed for heavier kids. The Beco can be used for kids up to 40 pounds.

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Old 08-05-2012, 16:45   #4
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Re: Sailing with babies

Started with the car seat on the cabin sole. Then moved up to building a nest of pillows on the cabin sole. After that it became life jacket and bounce around time (learning to walk). Now it's kick back and have a beer while she sails me around time.

The best thing I did was got her used to the life jacket at home. If you kid hates em, it's easier to do battle in the living room.

Also, in the summer we had a fan pointed on her when she was in the cabin. Made her more comfortable.
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Old 09-05-2012, 21:23   #5
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Re: Sailing with babies

Thanks everyone for their suggestions. We have since decided to go with a chair we got that has a nice wide base with rubber non-slip feet. It will be more comfortable then his car seat, he can still be strapped in and should stay put even when heeling. We also have a pack and play that should fit down in the cabin where we can wedge it in place with some cushion for his naps. We don't want to install any hooks or the like as this phase won't last long.

Thanks again.
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Old 10-05-2012, 02:51   #6
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It's not a bad idea to install flat pad eye style hooks as you will need them far longer than just the infant stage. We crossed the south Atlantic when our eldest was 20months. On both the port and starboard sides we installed flat clips under the cushions so we could remove the cushions and attach a car seat to the leeward side of the saloon. We did this if we both needed to be on deck or in really bad weather. When the boat is moving violently it is nice to have the option of the child secured in a 4 point harness. we had some horrendous weather where sticking her on the cabin sole or in a pilot berth with a lee cloth was not an option.

We also opted to not use a pfd on board but only when in the dingy. We instead used a properly fitted harness. She wore it at all times except when sleeping. Because it went on in the morning with her first nappy change it was just a part of her life and there was never a fuss about it. She was clipped in at all times. We also installed pad eyes at the base of the cockpit so we could clip her in there and let her have free reign of the cockpit but not be able to climb out on deck.

Regarding the pfd, we felt it was more important to keep her attached to the boat and our experience and that of other sailing families we met is that a pfd is hot and uncomfortable for a young child and likely to not be used as consistently as a harness and tether that is kept on continuously. Once they are older then an integrated harness and tether becomes an option.

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