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Old 06-11-2007, 13:57   #1
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Babies in the Caribbean?

Hello All,

My wife and I are planning to cast off and sail the Caribbean for a year starting next November. We plan to set sail from S. Florida and meander our way through the Caribbean to the Panama canal, then to the Galapagos's Island, and then back up to San Fransisco. When we start on our adventure our first child will be 8 months old (due in March 08 ).

Has anyone taken( or know personally someone who has taken) a baby cruising in the Caribbean? We would really like to know how the trip went and what were some of the things learned along the way. I'm mostly concerned with safety abroad in foreign countries with a baby, mostly because I don't know what to expect, being a new dad and never having been to the Caribbean. Does immigration control work any differently for a young child. I would be interested to know of any problems any of you may have encountered. Where there any places that you avoided or wish you avoided along those lines. Any places you particularly enjoyed?

Thanks in advance,
Jason
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Old 07-11-2007, 14:29   #2
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Tips for Sailing with Babies ~ by Cliff Sojourner

From personal experience, here is what I know about sailing with babies. My daughter went sailing at 13 days old and my son went sailing at 6 days old. Cruising with infants is very possible and even enjoyable for all if you are properly prepared. It is imperative to set up the boat to be completely single-hand-able. Most of the time one of you parents will be physically preoccupied with the infant so the other will have to be able to do all of the sailing.
Find a few "nursing berths" where you and the baby can tuck in. Remember you probably won't have a hand free so you will need to be able to comfortably sit wedged in with your legs. My wife had a spot in the cockpit and a couple spots down below.
Infants' skin is very UV sensitive. It does not tan or burn but is easily damaged. Keep your baby out of the sun. Also eyes are sensitive so take precautions. You can find infant sunglasses. My daughter always removed them and chewed on them. Oh well. Babies enjoy the motion of the boat. On our boat (Catalina 25) I kept the kids in their car seats, in the cockpit. The car seat had a cover to keep the sun off. They could see us, we could see them, they got shade and the gentle rocking at the center of motion of the boatÉeverybody happy!! Screw some eye straps down for bungees to hold the car seat down.
I never worked out flotation for the infant in the car seat. Baby is safe on the boat but watch out on the dock, it would be horrible to lose the stroller and/or seat in to the water, with baby carefully strapped in. Bleah, that was difficult to type. Anyways, that is something to think about, come up with a system you are happy with. Still not sure what to do in a serious "abandon ship" type situation. I always thought the best would be to forget the car seat and use an infant Type-1 lifejacket with lanyard.
Choice of diapers does make some difference. We used disposables. As on land, they are just more trash, but the convenience is worthwhile. On a boat, water and fuel, opportunities for drying laundry, and your time are all at a premium. So, find a place to stow the diapers.
Do you use a microwave to heat infant food? Might have to rethink that...
This may be a way off for you but still consider what you will do once your baby is out of the car seat. Cruising with toddlers is a real hassle!!! They really need to get up and move around but the motion of the boat will make them very frustrated and is actually dangerous. They will get thrown around and bonk on to sharp things—every boat has a bunch of sharp things at just the wrong height! This is made worse by the Type-1 life jacket they must wear at all times. Infant/toddler Type-1s are so bulky they can not even reach their arms around the front.
For ages 2 - 5, I do not believe that harnesses and tethers are a viable alternative to life jackets. The tethers just get tangled. Also, the height of the companionway ladder in most boats make it a real danger.
That said, toddlers and older just love crawling around the cabins in boats, making secret forts and finding special stuff. It's OK to let them run around but again, just like home, keep the cleaning supplies etc. in some inaccessible place.
Most of all, don't be afraid to get out there and do it!! My kids are 7 and 5 now and they love sailing, the more vigorous the weather the better.
"More Bonga-Bonga waves DaDa!!!"
Regards,
Cliff Sojourner
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Old 07-11-2007, 18:28   #3
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Gord, that is great information. We hope to have our boat in the water in the next 3 -4 months and when the weather is suitable for it, taking the kids out a little at a time.
Your advice is just great and covered a couple of things that I had been wondering about myself. The experience that you share with us will help us set the boat up a little better for the little ones. Sailing would be no fun for them if they were getting hurt or were frustrated the whole time.
Thanks
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Old 08-11-2007, 01:38   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clausont View Post
... Your advice is just great ...
Thanks, but not MY advice. The article was authored by Cliff Sojourner.
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Old 08-11-2007, 08:13   #5
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Hello,

I was wondering where you sail from with your babies?

Thank you very much for the info! I really appreciate the info.

Jason
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Old 09-11-2007, 04:04   #6
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Some resources related to cruising with children:

Children and PFDs:
Children's PFDs- Canadian Red Cross
Children and PFDs
NRS - Kids PFD Reference Guide


Baby Onboard: Taking the Little Ones Sailing ~ by Steven White
SAILjazz - Our Sailors Write: Baby Onboard--Taking the Little Ones Sailing

Kids Aboard Water Sports Magazine for Kids & Families
Kids Aboard - THE Boating & Watersports Magazine for Kids & Families

A Doctor's Guide to Boating with Children ~ by Dr. Ethan Welch
A Doctor's Guide to Boating with Children

Tips on Cruising With Kids ~ by Maria Russell
Tips On Cruising With Kids

The Cruising Life: Welcome to The Cruising Life

The Benefits of Cruising as a Family ~ by Barbara Theisen
The Benefits of Cruising as a Family
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