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Old 06-06-2017, 16:12   #1
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Child Harness Options

Hi,

We’re a family of four planning a sailing trip and have been trying out various lifejackets and harnesses for our daughter. We’ve settled on a lifejacket, but can’t find a suitable safety harness. We’ve tried the Baltic, Plastimo, and West Marine harnesses but they aren’t quite what we want and we’d like something a bit better. Does anyone know of any other ones we should try? We’ve googled but these seem to be the only ones we can find.

If not, does anyone know of any places which could make a custom safety harness?

Thanks very much for any help.
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Old 06-06-2017, 16:45   #2
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Re: Child Harness Options

Welcome to CF! It would help to know the age & size of the child, plus what features you are or aren't looking for. Such as crotch straps
That said, I got a LOT of hits when I Binged "children's sailing safety harnesses"
children's sailing safety harnesses - Bing

And don't a lot/most kids life jackets come with built in/attached harnesses?
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Old 06-06-2017, 16:49   #3
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Re: Child Harness Options

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Originally Posted by SouthCoast View Post
Hi,

We’re a family of four planning a sailing trip and have been trying out various lifejackets and harnesses for our daughter. We’ve settled on a lifejacket, but can’t find a suitable safety harness. We’ve tried the Baltic, Plastimo, and West Marine harnesses but they aren’t quite what we want and we’d like something a bit better. Does anyone know of any other ones we should try? We’ve googled but these seem to be the only ones we can find.

If not, does anyone know of any places which could make a custom safety harness?

Thanks very much for any help.

Howdy! Welcome Aboard CF!

Look through the previous discussions about children's harnesses and PFDs.

https://cse.google.com/cse?cx=011403...ess&gsc.page=1
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Old 06-06-2017, 16:55   #4
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Re: Child Harness Options

Thanks Steady! Right on target as usual.

Some other ideas:
Crewsaver Venturer Child Harness
www.REI.com
www.CMCrescue.com
Anyplace else which sells climbing or recreational safety gear.

Also, I'm sure that there are climbing associations which have patterns for harnesses. And with adults it only takes a moment or two to fabricate a semi-temporary one out of webbing. It's not as if they're rocket science, nor will be subject to high loads. What problems are you running into?

One other old solution is to find a vest which fits the child well, preferably something in mesh or a breathable material. And then sew the harness to it. One of the best harnesses I've ever seen was based on this idea, made by Switlik back in the mid 80's.

You simply don the vest. Zip it up, & fasten a buckle or two... and done! Which such harnesses are quick & simple to get into, & impossible to tangle, unlike ones made purely from webbing. Sadly Switlik no longer makes that model. It even had dual built in inflatible bouyancy chambers, along with a few gear pockets.

You might try contacting them too, given that they make all sorts of maritime safety gear.

Growing up, there wasn't a lot available in terms of harnesses for kids. Nor was there much demand. Though we always wore lifejackets on deck, or when on the docks. But generally we stayed in the cockpit when under sail, unless it was very calm. At least until we hit double digit ages. And there were never any problems.

If you do an online search, there are numerous blogs on saiing with kids. So it's another starting point.
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Old 06-06-2017, 17:09   #5
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Re: Child Harness Options

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Originally Posted by SouthCoast View Post
If not, does anyone know of any places which could make a custom safety harness?
We've made safety harnesses for one of our kids. I don't remember why the store bought ones didn't work well for her, but they didn't, and it was no big deal to sew one. The design was super simple since it did not have to be adjustable -- we just made them again as she grew.
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Old 06-06-2017, 19:00   #6
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Re: Child Harness Options

Thanks for all the welcomes and the help.

Our daughter’s 12 and 57 inches tall. What we’d ideally like is a modified version of the West Marine child harness. We definitely want it to have a crotch strap (important as she’s slim), but when we tried it the webbing was narrow and pretty uncomfortable so we’d like something more like the Baltic harness she tried which had wider webbing. The West Marine harness was much lighter than the Baltic one and as she’ll be wearing it all the time lightweight (but obviously strong) webbing would be good if possible.

We also want something which has the buckles and adjusters in the back and all the harnesses we’ve tried do up in the front. We tried putting the West Marine harness on backwards, but it wasn’t practical and we’ve not been able to find any harness which does up behind. We’d also like an attachment point for safety on the back. High-visibility webbing would also be good.

(The lifejacket we got has a built-in harness but we need the separate harness for when she’s not wearing the lifejacket.)

Thanks for all the links to other sailing harnesses – we checked the information but as best we can see some of the harnesses aren’t sold anymore, and the ones we hadn’t seen don’t appear to have what we’re looking for.

We’d never thought about climbing harnesses so thanks very much for the suggestion; we’ll check those out and maybe order a few to see if they’ll work.

Also, we’re not sure we trust our ability to make a harness, but if getting one made means getting all the features we want, then we’ll definitely go that route – the vest idea sounds like it could be a potential solution. If we can’t find what we’re looking for, does anyone know of any places/people which would make a harness?

Thanks very much again – we’re really grateful.
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Old 06-06-2017, 20:00   #7
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Re: Child Harness Options

On harnesses, not to scare you, but the reality is that the tether & jacklines need to be short/tight enough to prevent you from going over the side, period. As being dragged alongside the boat at even 1.5kts for much more than a minute will drown your average adult. And getting the boat to come to a full stop is awfully damn hard.

Said info has been repeatedly proven by the major sailing bodies, & numerous prominent sailing magazines. And it's also why having the ability to "cut away" from one's harness tether where it connects to the chest hardware is key. Usually via a snap shackle which has a lanyard that you pull, which releases the tether from the harness, even under high loads.


That said, I'll try & give a description of what I think might work if you're having something custom made.

Start with a vest with integrated over the shoulder straps, & an easy to adjust built in belt at the waist. Possibly with a fastex buckle, or something more secure if you like. Say a military frog buckle. And the primary webbing for the tether & chest hardware attached to the vest at or just below the rib cage, integrated with the over the shoulder webbing.

Then a pair of drop down leg loops. Basically webbing extending down from the shoulder straps on the back, to mid-thigh. And at the thigh there are easy to open leg loops. Using say a 3-layer velcro system as found on surfboard leashes. Or again, a military frog buckle. And there are other systems for leg loops which are easy to open & close without removing the harness. Look at some of the big wall climbing harnesses. They're designed so that you can hang in them for several hours comfortably, but be able to open the leg loops easily for when you need to drop your trousers to take care of business, but still keep the waist belt of the harness snug around your waist.

Here are a couple of examples of harnesses with military frog buckles on the leg loops, & waist:
https://www.narescue.com/military-pr...s-m-harness-qr
https://www.narescue.com/military-pr...m-harness-qrps

Some pics of "Big Wall" harnesses, many with leg loops designed to be either easy to open, or removable:
big wall climbing harness - Bing images

Kids climbing harnesses:
https://www.rei.com/c/kids-climbing-...rnesses&page=1

Harnesses with droppable leg loops:
https://www.rei.com/c/mens-climbing-...bing-harnesses

Ones with padded leg loops:
https://www.rei.com/c/mens-climbing-...bing-harnesses

I don't specifically know anyone who makes custom climbing gear, but am certain that there are lots of folks who do such sewing. The thing is too, that if you're going to custom design something, it'd be best to allow your child to have some input into the design, so that they feel like it's "theirs". Which will make it much easier to get them to wear it. Ditto if you find a number of off the shelf harnesses which will work, let them have a big say in which one to get, so long as it meets your personal criteria.

You can get some other good ideas on harness designs from the equipment that's mandated by OSHA for guys who work on buildings, & do construction on buildings, where they're working above ground level, & there's the possibility of falling. Said harnesses have both crotch straps, as well as over the shoulder & around the waist webbing, all in one unit.

But again, staying ON the boat is key! And I personally wouldn't wear a harness or lifejacket harness combo that didn't have a quick release feature at the chest. It's just silly not to have that option, even if you never need it.

BTW, once you figure this out, I'm sure that a lot of folks would like to learn what you discover & go with. It may help out other parents/cruisers.

Good luck!


EDIT: Thinking on it, you're much more likely to find drop seat harnesses in women's gear lines than men's. Which, being a guy, this didn't occur to me until now... that I'm done with this post
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Old 06-06-2017, 21:07   #8
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Re: Child Harness Options

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Originally Posted by SouthCoast View Post
... We also want something which has the buckles and adjusters in the back and all the harnesses we’ve tried do up in the front....

I'm sorry, but this is non-sense for a 12-year old. Back buckles are for children so small they might take the harness off (less than 5). By 12 there is no question that it is safer if she can unbuckler herself in an emergency. Additionally, she will be able to attach the tether herself. By 12 you should not need to dress her. Heck, she should be in the process of becoming a sailor.

Would you wear a harness with the clip in the back? I didn't think so.


... Also, we’re not sure we trust our ability to make a harness, but if getting one made means getting all the features we want, then we’ll definitely go that route – the vest idea sounds like it could be a potential solution. If we can’t find what we’re looking for, does anyone know of any places/people which would make a harness?....

Have you ever sewn webbing to known-strength? It is much more difficult to do than you think. In fact, in a US Sail tests a few years ago, half of the commercial products failed because they did not understand stitching design. I have pull tested many stitching samples, and I can tell you it is more complex than you think. Commercial bar tack machines, properly adjusted, are about the only way. Climbing equipment is always bar tacked for a reason.
I think one of the commercial harnesses for small women will do fine.
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Old 07-06-2017, 02:19   #9
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Re: Child Harness Options

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Originally Posted by SouthCoast View Post
Thanks for all the welcomes and the help.

Our daughter’s 12 and 57 inches tall. What we’d ideally like is a modified version of the West Marine child harness. We definitely want it to have a crotch strap (important as she’s slim), but when we tried it the webbing was narrow and pretty uncomfortable so we’d like something more like the Baltic harness she tried which had wider webbing. The West Marine harness was much lighter than the Baltic one and as she’ll be wearing it all the time lightweight (but obviously strong) webbing would be good if possible.

We also want something which has the buckles and adjusters in the back and all the harnesses we’ve tried do up in the front. We tried putting the West Marine harness on backwards, but it wasn’t practical and we’ve not been able to find any harness which does up behind. We’d also like an attachment point for safety on the back. High-visibility webbing would also be good.

(The lifejacket we got has a built-in harness but we need the separate harness for when she’s not wearing the lifejacket.)

Thanks for all the links to other sailing harnesses – we checked the information but as best we can see some of the harnesses aren’t sold anymore, and the ones we hadn’t seen don’t appear to have what we’re looking for.

We’d never thought about climbing harnesses so thanks very much for the suggestion; we’ll check those out and maybe order a few to see if they’ll work.

Also, we’re not sure we trust our ability to make a harness, but if getting one made means getting all the features we want, then we’ll definitely go that route – the vest idea sounds like it could be a potential solution. If we can’t find what we’re looking for, does anyone know of any places/people which would make a harness?

Thanks very much again – we’re really grateful.
I full on missed this earlier. Must have posted it while I was typing offline. Heed thinwater's wise words.
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Old 07-06-2017, 07:08   #10
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Re: Child Harness Options

We love the Spinlock Cento harness/inflatible lifejacket. They are the real deal - both the harness and lifejacket and are sized for kids. Our 13 y.o. just moved up to an adult size, but until this year, the cento was his go to harness and offshore lifejacket. Before the cento came out, we modified and adult harness, but were never fully satisfied with it.
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Old 07-06-2017, 13:56   #11
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Re: Child Harness Options

Uncivilized - thanks for the ideas and detail. We ask her opinion on the harnesses and lifejackets we try and she has let us know some pros/cons but pretty much complained about all of them. The issue is that she’s set against wearing any type of lifejacket/harness. We’ll talk with her about a vest instead and see what she says. It could be made to have what we want and she might think it’s better.

And the information on the tether is useful – thanks. We plan to get a one-yard tether with two hooks with a loop at the other end. The loop end would go onto her harness, and one of us or our eldest will clip/unclip the hooks. We think one yard is practical and will remove any chance of her going over the side. And just to be clear – her tether will be attached on the front (the back attachment point is extra and not for the boat). Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

Thinwater – thanks as well. We hear your point but pretty typically for a child of her age, she’s anti-lifejacket and harness. We’ve obviously been over and over it, but we aren’t naive and safety comes first so we aren’t debating it with her and she’ll have plenty of things to be in charge of. We hear what you say – we do – but until we’re 100% sure she won’t mess with it, our rule is that we decide when she has her harness on and when she doesn’t. If she’s frustrated by that then she knows it’s up to her to prove we can trust her, and if she isn’t then she’s ok and safe. And her tether will be attached on the front. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

And we’re in total agreement about sewing webbing. We know we can’t do it, so we’re looking for someone to potentially make the harness for us. And thanks as well for telling us about bar tack machines – you clearly know what you’re talking about and if we have a harness made we’ll check with the maker about how it will be sewn.

J120Heron – thanks as well. The cento looks like a good lifejacket, but doesn’t have what we’re looking for. What was it you changed on the harness and why didn’t it work?

Many thanks to you all again – we’re thankful for your ideas/comments. We’re ordering some climbing harnesses to try and we’ll report back on what we find out.
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Old 09-06-2017, 12:30   #12
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Re: Child Harness Options

Southcoast,

You wrote: "And just to be clear – her tether will be attached on the front (the back attachment point is extra and not for the boat). "

I am curious: What is the purpose of the back attachment point?
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Old 12-06-2017, 17:15   #13
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Re: Child Harness Options

We tried some climbing harnesses for her over the weekend, but unfortunately they aren’t what we’re looking for. The two full-body harnesses were too small and had the buckles/closures at the front, and the others were the types with separate chest/waist sections so weren’t practical. We’re waiting on one in the mail, which we’ll try, but it’s similar so likely won’t be suitable. Thanks for the idea though, we’re grateful for the help.

Steady Hand – We’ll be going to some foreign ports/cities and we’ll sometimes be expecting to be in busy crowds, and in some places we’ll be walking around in the evenings. When we are, we’d like the option of using the harness and the back attachment point is to clip on a safety lead.

We’ve contacted some sailmakers and canvas shops and asked if they can make a harness. We’ll report back on what we find out. Thanks again.
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Old 13-06-2017, 04:09   #14
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Re: Child Harness Options

Sorry, did you say your daughter is 12 and just shy of 5 ft tall?
And you think you need someone else to clip safety lines for her, plus you are letting her debate what she wears? And you want to put her in a harness on land?

Why?

I have 6 yo girl, and 10 yo boy. They both wear spinlock centro inflateable vests / harnesses at all times when we are moving. The 6 yo girl can clip herself on no problem. The boy does it one handed without thinking. At night we have 2 lines which hang down the companionway from the cockpit, they both clip on before going on deck.
There is no debate, or argument, its just how it is. Same if the skipper says that all adults will don life jackets and clip in. They even swap to a second, shorter line to attach to the jack lines to go forward if needed (ie, there are dolphins on the bow). Im not a fan of lines with multiple clips for the kids, although I use one when going to the mast so I can clip the second, short line to the mast.

Why wear a harness that isnt also a lifejacket? My kids have a plb attached all the time as well, and even that isnt too annoying.
(We do have one standalone harness which the kids wore with a foam lifejacket before they graduated to inflateables, it is no more comfortable than the inflateables). Both kids demonstrated that they could, in the water, adjust their crotch strap tight, and manually inflate before they moved to the inflateables.
We have plenty of things we argue about, but this isnt one of them - except when they tell me off for not clipping in at night...

Centro comes in blue and purple. Let her pick the colour.

Mike
(apologies if there is a reason why your daughter would struggle with the above, but i have pretty average kids, and it is just not an issue)
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Old 15-06-2017, 20:42   #15
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Re: Child Harness Options

Mike – many thanks for suggesting an inflatable lifejacket. They look good, but aren’t an option for us. We’ve settled on a lifejacket and are close to getting a harness. We chose a separate lifejacket and harness because it’s just more practical and suits our plans, and we have more choice that way.

And no apology needed – we know our situation is unusual. We aren’t letting her debate what she wears as we know what harness we’re looking for. But it’s important she has some input where she can. i.e. as she’ll be wearing the harness all the time we have to know it’s comfortable so we need to ask (things like ipad time, clothes, etc. she has much more say in).

And we’re the same – rules aren’t for debate. She knows that, but still complains and safety comes first so we need to know she’s safe before anything else. Where things stand we’re not 100% sure we can trust her and that means getting a harness she can’t mess about with, and one of us clipping/unclipping her tether. We’ve been over and over it, so if she’s frustrated by that, then it’s her choice to prove she’s mature enough to accept the rules and earn our trust. If she had the same maturity about boat safety as she does with her other responsibilities, we honestly wouldn’t have the problem.

And when we’re on shore we don’t plan to use her harness every time - only when we think the extra safety is necessary like walking around in busy and/or foreign places or in the evenings. If we go somewhere but it’s not needed, then we’ll take it off. Having it separate means we can take it with us and decide when she has to wear it.

We’ve tried the other climbing harness which as we expected wasn’t suitable. We’ve found some places who can definitely make a harness and we’re waiting on quotes. We’ll report back when we find out.
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