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Old 21-03-2015, 23:36   #1
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Living aboard with a baby???

I know people have done it but I just need some tips. We are planning on moving onto a boat next year, 41 footer with three cabins, and looking for experienced sailors to chime in. Just hoping that we don't have to drop the curtain on our plans. We have a daughter now who is 5 and very comfortable sailing. Thanks in advance.


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Old 22-03-2015, 00:28   #2
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Re: Living aboard with a baby???

No problems till the baby more mobile. Hormones tend to keep you from sailing but that passes.

Easier with shore power. Need more water for bathing.

Can roll off settees and bunks.

Can be done


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Old 25-03-2015, 20:50   #3
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Re: Living aboard with a baby???

When I commercial fished salmon and tuna, West Coast, 1970's, there were a number of families that lived aboard and some that lived ashore and brought the kids with them. Most of the boats were in the 35 to 60 foot range, but at least 50% of the boat was dedicated to fishing.
From time to time, babies seemed to just show up. Babies and toddlers usually had a crib or playpen. In good weather the top of the fish hold hatch was their play area. I have seen a kind of trolly under the boom with a leash to a child harness. You need to be religious about life jackets. You do have to keep a good eye on the mobile ones. Seafaring children need to mind...
The better sailors would weave a netting on the lower rails so short people stayed on board. Have a extensive first aid kit. The Coast Guard and water police do a great job, but can't always form a rescue as quickly as on tv.
In my fishing time there had to be dozens of children of all ages. I can't remember any injuries other than the usual ones that happen on land, too.
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Old 12-04-2015, 02:09   #4
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Re: Living aboard with a baby???

Bit late on this thread sorry.

I agree with previous posts that it can certainly be done. We went cruising with a 6 month old and are off again soon with a 4 year old and a 6 month old.

Some quick tips on what worked/works for us.

- A boat that is setup to single hand.
- A 'safe' spot to put the baby when you do need a second set of hands is also good. A berth netted off or a spot harnessed in the cockpit etc.
- Beware the companionway. I found as she got older the risk of our daughter injuring herself by falling on or down the companionway was exponentially higher than any chance of her going overboard.
- Lots of boat toys, snacks and fun.
- Define your comfort zone. Take it easy, understand your limits and goals.
- Have a sense of humour, relax and enjoy.

We are staying coastal at the moment, but have no problem doing overnight passages.
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Old 13-05-2015, 09:06   #5
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Re: Living aboard with a baby???

It is definitely doable. While we don't have any children onboard ourselves, I love to meet children who were raised on boats. They are independent, confident and seem above the curve with regards to life in general. For blogs about families with young children check out this great blog about babies onboard, windtraveler.net. Brittany and Scott have three under 3! Her blog is insightful, witty and just plain fun to read. We had an opportunity to meet them at Nanny Cay, on Tortola a few weeks back. They are a great family! (mountainsandseashore.blogspot.com under A Boatyard Life- Nanny Caye Marina, British Virgin Islands)

Enjoy!
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Old 13-05-2015, 09:18   #6
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Re: Living aboard with a baby???

Follow the folks on s/v Windtraveler. Their blog is windtraveler dot net. All your questions will be answered.
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Old 13-05-2015, 10:02   #7
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Re: Living aboard with a baby???

If you come from a very wealthy family like the bloggers it helps a bunch.
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Old 13-05-2015, 10:43   #8
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Re: Living aboard with a baby???

I guess Boatguy30 is speaking from his own experience. Many of us work very hard and live fairly simply to enjoy this way of life. No need for remarks like his.

Kind regards,
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Old 13-05-2015, 10:55   #9
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Re: Living aboard with a baby???

Our next slip neighbors had a baby and a five year-old living aboard, and to be quite frank, it ended their marriage.

Watching the poor couple struggle with managing a toddler and a five-year old around the docks made me really feel for them. The day we met them, the dad was carrying a bag and the toddler, who reached into his pocket and pulled out and dropped Mom's phone, which immediately clattered off the slip finger and into the water. Gone. Diver found it but too late.

I've heard the frustrated father going a bit overboard with the yelling when the five-year-old did something dangerous that a five-year-old shouldn't be expected to predict. The mother looked weary all the time.

I was always a bit nervous watching the five-year-old playing on the docks unsupervised as her mom was at work and her dad was doing maintenance. I'd spend a lot of time chatting with her as we were neighbors and that's the nature of five-year-olds. She's talk about a lot of mundane things and then slip in the time her baby brother crawled off the dock and how it was sure a good thing somebody was there to fish him out.

About six months into living aboard, there was a fight one night, and the Mom left with the two kids. Dad still lives aboard, maintaining the boat and his outwardly cheerful attitude, but I haven't seen Mom or the kids since.

While I wouldn't presume to tell another person how or where to raise their kids, I do find marinas to be an unnecessarily risky place for children, and that risk will place a subconscious burden on your marriage unless your spouse is 100% on board with the plan. It only takes a minute of inattention to lose a small child to the water.
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Old 13-05-2015, 17:45   #10
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Re: Living aboard with a baby???

We have three kids and our last has been on our boat since day 2 of life. We kept him in a secure place next to us in bed for the first 5 months. Then we just moved him to a little portable floor bed (really a dog bed, shhhhh) that way we would have to worry about him falling out of bed. It always works, just think safety along the way. We had our companion way stairs blocked off for a while, until he learned how to climb over it. At that point he deemed himself worthy of access to the stairs. Life Jacket at all times outside our complete enclosed dodger. And Harness when we our outside of the Bay and in the Ocean. The last two apply to all kids.
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Old 16-05-2015, 11:04   #11
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Re: Living aboard with a baby???

Just lurking about in this thread – for those of you that do have toddlers on board, how do you balance the need for a little ones space to play with the limited space below. While sailing there’s no way my two year old is on deck. Do you set up the V-Berth as a play room? He would need a space to bounce off of.
He bounces well…
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Old 16-05-2015, 14:34   #12
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Re: Living aboard with a baby???

I lived aboard with my newborn until he was 3 months when we decided it was too much work for mom- I'm a professional seaman though, which means I'm not always able to help out. We have a rental house now and use the boat for recreation. It's not a bad compromise.

We have a 280 mile sailing trip coming up in 2 weeks. (The boy is 10 months now). A couple of years ago I would have left at 8 am sailed over night and arrived at 8 three days later, now we are planning on taking 8 days to do the trip. Make lots of stops, avoid bad weather (it's got to be pretty bad to be problem for my boat though).

I have a nice safe centre cockpit, and a net across the after end of my large V-Birth.

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Old 26-05-2015, 12:35   #13
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Re: Living aboard with a baby???

we're in the same boat (pun intended!) and will be moving aboard with our girl when she is about 6 months old. We have been doing weekend gunkholing and it works fine. She is below deck when sailing in her car seat crammed in the salon settee by the table or playing with me in the forward cabin. We tried several sleeping arrangements including a bouncer by our berth, a travel crib (didn't fit in her cabin so we had to set it up in our berth, and finally creating a "crib" in her cabin with the matress that was there and installing plastic playpen walls around it. we have a citi-mini stroller that folds nice and small and basically use it to get her to the boat. I carry her in an Ergo in the dinghy with a pfd over the whole arrangement on me and once in town carry her in the ergo. I breast feed so no issues with bottles. only major problem is its hard to get her to nap as the boat is so bright. you also have to watch overheating depending on where you are. I dress her a layer less than what i would on land as the cabin can get hot when we are underway. GL, hope to see you out there!
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Old 26-05-2015, 12:37   #14
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Re: Living aboard with a baby???

I also learned a lot from Windtravelor's blog, she has a "baby essential's" list that was helpful.
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