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Old 13-10-2010, 06:02   #1
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Getting Young Kids to Shore in the Dinghy Single-Handed

Hi

We have a cute little 8 month old boy and live aboard on a 44ft Roberts Mauritius sailboat. I go to work each day and Jill is a full time mum. We don't have a swim platform so have to board at gates on either side of the deck. At the moment she takes the little fella to shore using a bassinet which is pretty cool because he's contained really just like an other bag of stuff. He's getting too big for this though.

Now we are thinking that we need several child car seats. One on the side deck, one in the dingy, a towel on the wharf he can sit on for a minute while Jill gets out of the dinghy. This is getting complex. I'm sure many others have been though all this. It's a critical safety issue. I would love to hear how others have dealt with taking young kids to shore in a small dinghy single handed.

Cheers
Mark (Jill's husband)
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Old 13-10-2010, 06:20   #2
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Hi Mark
Some of the car seats have the same mounting in the car, as in the stroller.
So you can leave the baby in the car seat - un-clip from car base -carry to stroller - re-clip.
The baby never leaves the car seat, it has a carry handle.
Can you utilize similar system? With flotation/not clipping in the dinghy.
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Old 13-10-2010, 06:26   #3
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I would not be comfortable putting my baby in a car seat in a dinghy. If the dinghy has an accident or capsizes, the baby is trapped. I'd rather use a sling carrier w/ baby in a PFD. You can wear a baby through toddler on your hip in a sling. Awkward while operating the dinghy yes, but going ina dinghy solo with a baby is going to be awkward no matter what.

I'd also like to point out that babies strapped in car seats while parents walk with them on the dock is a really bad idea. Car seats do not float.
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Old 13-10-2010, 07:26   #4
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I'm not sure the kid would be secure in a sling with mom climbing in and out of the dinghy. Consider an ERGO baby carrier. Kid is secured to mom's front or back and she has full mobility. Weight is carried on the hips to save the back.

ERGObaby - baby carrier - back pack
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Old 13-10-2010, 07:39   #5
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The parent should also wear a lifejacket...hard to save the child while you are drowning youself. Especially if the child has no buoyancy aid or a negative one like the car seat.
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Old 13-10-2010, 08:22   #6
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I would be hesitant to suggest any form of carrying your baby. Much depends on your abilities. Personally I like JayHs suggestion. When our daughter was that age I had a framed backpack baby carrier much like the one JayH linked to. I carried her everywhere with that thing. I clamped a fixture for a golf umbrella to a quick connect to the frame when we were outside. My hands were free which was a big advantage for me. It was sooooomuch better than hauling a stroller around. The pack had a few compartments for baby neccesities and the load was light. I liked it so much that I know my daughter and I bonded so much better at that age. Expect a lot of peek-a-boo's, gotcher nose and choke holds. But it was one of those great things I remember when looking back. I would highly recommend it for all new Dads and Moms.
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Old 13-10-2010, 08:23   #7
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Wow thanks for all the replies. You mentioned all the issues we have been wrestling with for months!

The sling idea is interesting. Not the traditional native style cloth sling but we do have a fancy modern sling that puts baby in front of mum. I was worried that if Jill fell overboard the kid's head would he held underwater. Also it would be difficult to fit him in there with a life jacket (which of course he always wears), Jill and I wear inflatable life jackets and if this were inflated he would end up underneath it. As he gets heavier it could be hard for Jill to climb the topsides of the yacht. Aaargh! It's not easy.

I saw one of those metal framed backpack-style baby carriers the other day and the interesting thing about them is the child's head is right up high at the same level as the parent. The weight problem still remains however. Chubby baby + metal framed baby carrier and skinny wife, high topsides, choppy water...

The idea of strapping him in to a car seat in the dinghy was a desperate last resort. We would prefer that he could just float free of any mishap. He must be contained somehow though.

Cheers
Mark
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Old 13-10-2010, 09:33   #8
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After heading down the oregon coast and doing the baha haha last year. I can tell you that the only way to go is a personal life jacket for the baby with a strap on the back side. This strap is for easy handling to and from the dingy just like a bag. When you need to grab the baby in a hurry especially when attempting a surf landing you do not want your child strapped to you by any means. There were plenty of times that the child was like football when getting out of the dingy in the surf. I only found one life jacket that would keep the child on its back. It was for babies but for some reason was not coast guard approved? the floatation was only on the front and behind the head with a mesh bottom so it was comfy, no straps under the butt. I will try and get some pics of it and or the name. hope this helps. limmer
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Old 13-10-2010, 09:41   #9
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Old 13-10-2010, 13:17   #10
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Jay, I have a back/front carrier but the problem with them is that the baby can not wear a PFD in them and should you go in the water, you want to be able to get the baby out of the carrier ASAP if needed. This is why the sling works better than a structured carrier.

FYI- I currently have 3 different baby carriers and they all have different uses!
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Old 18-10-2010, 12:38   #11
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Two choices:

Keep the kid strapped to you, in which case if you go in the drink you need to unclip them as fast as you can because they are going to be underwater. Advantage is that you have your hands available, which is no small thing.

Keep the kid separate from you however you want to do it. Disadvantage is that at some point they are going to be on the deck while you're in the dinghy, or in the dinghy while you're on deck. Just a split second but there you go. Further disadvantage is that more often than not "things" drop in the water a lot more than you yourself do.


There's no inherently safe way to move kids around between boats. Hell, there's no safe way for adults to do it. Just pick whichever method you like and keep your eyes sharp for the problems and have a plan rehearsed for how to deal with it when it happens.

No one's going to drown and die in 10 seconds so no matter what goes wrong as long as you can respond quickly enough and alleviate the situation you'll be good.
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Old 18-10-2010, 16:22   #12
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I like the way you put it rebel heart. There's no perfect way, but you just do your best.
Thanks everyone for your responses.
I'm going to try wearing my lifejacket (it's small and not inflated), then a sling on top with Indy in his lifejacket. I feel most comfortable with the idea of this... let's see how it goes in practice...
Thanks again,
Jill
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Old 29-12-2010, 17:47   #13
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My daughter is two right now and was raised aboard since birth. We had a similar issue of course. I used the car seat method until she was just too heavy and the car seat just too big. I invested in a BabyBjorn front harness and took her EVERYWHERE in that. On and off the dingy, up and down ladders, docks, ramps, grocery store, walks, you name Lucie was in it. When I was in a situation that I thought needed a life jacket, I put mine on. The Bjorn is a front carrier so that wasn't an issue. If something were to happen, it is very quick and easy to get the baby out. I did trip on the dock one day (didn't fall in) and the Bjorn worked very nicely in holding my little one securely to me.
This might sound strange, but I didn't feel comfortable having my little one in a lifejacket. Even the smallest one was immensely too big and bulky, I couldn't get a good hold on her when she was moving about, which I felt was even MORE dangerous. When she started walking on the dock, I would put her in the lifejacket mostly because I could hold the back handle and keep her from falling on her knees. She grew up learning to walk on the dock and has never needed to wear one in case she falls off. She just knows that you need to walk on the dock and not in the water - normal for her, but I suppose not for others.
I have also started a website called Kids4Sail.org. Take a look and join up to find kids out there on boats.
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Old 29-12-2010, 18:52   #14
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I have friends on the hook that raised a son and now TWIN daughters aboard. When still small enough to be handled in a car seat that is what they did.... except they rigged two 2 liter soda bottles to the sides for floatation. They were located so as to turn the car seat in an upright recumbent position if it went in the drink. By toddler time it was PFD's with handles.
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Old 29-12-2010, 20:04   #15
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with Stephen i was allways afraid if i fell the car seat would sink. for tommy i used a type 1 pfd from a cruise ship wih a length of line not tied to any thing put the eye on the boat then ploped him on in.
If It Doesent Feel Safe Dont Do It is a great idea. parental instincts kick in., with Stephen we were anchored for Tommy i got a dock. no matter how carefull there have been scary moments!
Tommy is now three and scampers in and out of the dinghy with confidence.
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