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Old 02-05-2011, 09:43   #1
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Children and Life Vests (PFD)

I will be sailing the US and British Virgin Islands this summer with my wife and two children ages 8 & 11. This is the first time we are taking a trip like this with the kids. Both are excellent swimmers. Our charter company does not provide children sized PFD's so we need to bring our own.

What are the rules for US and BVI? Kids need to wear them while on deck I assume. While anchored? In the dinghy?

Any advice on what to do with them when going ashore (leaving them in the dinghy probably not a good idea)? I assume we need to lug them around with us the whole time.

Also, since we need to purchase two new PDF's, any advice on what ones to get that the kids could live in for two weeks?

Thanks for the help.
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Old 02-05-2011, 09:49   #2
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Re: Children and Life Vests (PFD)

Get inflatable ones like SOSpenders. And get 4. Everyone wears them when underway or in dinghy. Set an example and the kids will sign on. Take back packs when going ashore and stuff them in.
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Old 02-05-2011, 10:01   #3
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Re: Children and Life Vests (PFD)

Quote:
Originally Posted by keltan View Post
I will be sailing the US and British Virgin Islands this summer with my wife and two children ages 8 & 11. This is the first time we are taking a trip like this with the kids. Both are excellent swimmers. Our charter company does not provide children sized PFD's so we need to bring our own.

What are the rules for US and BVI? Kids need to wear them while on deck I assume. While anchored? In the dinghy?

Any advice on what to do with them when going ashore (leaving them in the dinghy probably not a good idea)? I assume we need to lug them around with us the whole time.

Also, since we need to purchase two new PDF's, any advice on what ones to get that the kids could live in for two weeks?

Thanks for the help.
While underway and in dinghy. not at anchor. leave in dinghy - loop thru chain - live a little..
I bought a new one to where with my daughter when in dinghy. If something happens is easier to get her to safety with a life-jacket on me also. And we are swimmers!
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Old 02-05-2011, 17:01   #4
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Re: Children and Life Vests (PFD)

Thanks for the advice everyone. Very helpful. Much appreciated.
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Old 02-05-2011, 17:08   #5
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Re: Children and Life Vests (PFD)

Here is the best advice I would also give you - taken from above.

Get inflatable ones like SOSpenders. And get 4. Everyone wears them when underway or in dinghy. Set an example and the kids will sign on. Take back packs when going ashore and stuff them in. Or, loop them throught the cable on your dingy & motor when ashore. All my kids wore them when young, and still do.
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Old 02-05-2011, 17:47   #6
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Re: Children and Life Vests (PFD)

I'm not sure there are any currently available inflatable PFDs that are CG approved for children's use.
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Old 31-07-2011, 09:17   #7
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Re: Children and Life Vests (PFD)

I havn't found any but if anyone knows of some please post!
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Old 07-08-2011, 13:42   #8
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Re: Children and Life Vests (PFD)

BoatUS has free life vest loaners for all ages, may work in the USVI. Try BoatUS.com or org.
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Old 07-08-2011, 14:09   #9
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Re: Children and Life Vests (PFD)

I will only answer questions about which I have personal knowledge and am fairly certain. If my comments below are in error, my apologies. I've sailed many miles with kids, from 2 to adult.


PFD usage. Get it from the horse. Google USCG and PFD and you will find the rules. I am somewhat stunned that a boater would not know the answer reflexively. The BVIs I have no knowledge.

A dingy is obviously a boat, and probably more hazardous than the sailboat.

Technically, anchored is "underway" and is not different. I'm also willing to bet that children are at great risk at anchor than underway, based upon the numbers.

Inflatables for kids. Nope, don't exist, unless there is something very, very new. However, given the complexities of proper use (we're taking the government and kids) this may never happen.

Tethers and harnesses are best. Given that this must be a crewed charter (OP didn't say), I don't know whether this is an option. I would push for it.

Storing in tender. I've always used cheap ones in the tender and run the risk of loss. None so far.
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Old 07-08-2011, 16:24   #10
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Let the kids choose

Why not take the kids into the store just before you go and let them choose their own. May be wise to do a little underhand checking first, things like weight, quality and type.

It can be hard to get the small lifejackets to fit well. In another thread the suggestion was made to get a crotch strap and I'd go along wwith that.

Don't forget to bring the SPF 50+ sunscreen. If you let the kids choose their own they're more likely to accept it and won't hate you as much when you smear it on them. Maybe even bring several types (in and out of water, spray. alcohol based etc.) with extra in case one chooses well and the other doesn't. They'll bless you for it in 30 years time!

Hats and Sunsmart clothing are essentials.
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Old 07-08-2011, 16:39   #11
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Re: Children and Life Vests (PFD)

In a nutshell, in the USA a child must wear an approved PFD while in/on a boat - unless the child is inside an enclosed portion of the boat. That being a pilothouse or down below inside the cabin, otherwise PFD's are mandatory.
- - Other countries could care less and feel that if you don't want to protect your child that's your business.
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Old 07-08-2011, 16:59   #12
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Re: Children and Life Vests (PFD)

USCG rules say kids under 13 must wear a PFD when underway unless in an enclosed portion of the boat. Underway does not include anchoring for PFD use. Unfortunately, as with many things, the states have different requirements. I believe the USVI follows USCG rules on this. Inflatables are only approved for people 16 and up.
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Old 07-08-2011, 17:58   #13
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Re: Children and Life Vests (PFD)

Under the COLREGS, when anchored, you are not underway.

I would not put an inflatable PFD on a child. They do not inflate 100% of the time. Closed cell foam does float 100% of the time.
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Old 07-08-2011, 18:52   #14
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Re: Children and Life Vests (PFD)

West marine has some small ones with a really nice leopard print.
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Old 07-08-2011, 18:59   #15
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We are in the minority, but we refuse to take the nanny state along with us when it comes to kid safety and various other topics.

As a yacht kid in the 80s, my brother, sister and I never used lifejackets.

Cruising now, my 9 yo son only uses a life jacket when in an organized regatta for kids - where nanny rules apply. He can swim like a fish because I had him around my neck at 4 months of age while swimming underwater from one end of the pool to the other. Without mask or fins, he can now free dive down to 8 m and I would expect him to swim 10 miles if his life depended on it or to float around for 24 hours.

If I insisted on a life jacket, he will not take the care that he currently does to avoid falling overboard. So he has become careful and responsible. Responsible enough to do night watches alone while we are doing passages.

In Hopetown earlier this year, we saw the ridiculous sight of 2 adults and 2 dogs in that little harbor with < 5 knots of wind and all 4 were wearing life jackets. We took photos in between the giggles.

If my son or our dog wore a lifejacket while in the dinghy, it would indicate my failure as a parent and pet owner to adequately teach them to swim.

During night watches, he knows if he falls overboard, he will die and in the daytime, we might find him but it is not guaranteed. That ensures that he takes care and does not depend on anything apart from himself and his own common sense.

The rules of the nanny state make people forget about common sense, seamanship and personal responsibility. Yachtie kids are great, especially if the nanny state crap stays behind and you, as parent / skipper decide what level of safety is appropriate for the kids / crew and the situation.
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