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Old 01-05-2016, 08:34   #1
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Practical advice sought - kids safety and security


I'm not sure if this is the right forum but I am looking for some practical advice.

I have just got my day skipper licence (ICC) and we are chartering for the first time this summer.

We are a family of 6. Kids aged 12, 10, 7 and 5.

I am concerned about a few things where I am struggling to find good resource.

My two primary concerns are as follows:

1) early in the morning when everyone is asleep, or indeed during the night, how do I ensure that none of my kids wander up on deck? I understand that briefing them in the first instance is critical but are there any particular tricks, systems to ensure that I am alerted if one of the children tries to go up on deck while myself and my wife are asleep. Of particular concern are my 5 (particularly inquisitive) and 7 year olds.

2) somewhat paranoid I know but if we are on a pontoon or pier by night, how best to manage the security of the boat particularly in relation to someone wandering on board, one always being conscious of the security And safety of ones children.

I do hope someone has advice!!!

Many thanks.

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Old 01-05-2016, 11:04   #2
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Re: Practical advice sought - kids safety and security

what my friends did when they didnt trust their kids was sleep in cockpit. worked great. neither daughter snuck out nor got pregnant while they did this.
most people walking as tourists on docks donot just walk on board the boats they donot own. since 1990, i believe i had only one transient individual decide to try to enter--- but was immediately discouraged. neighbors watch out for each other.
teach your kids to swim.
if you donot trust em not to fall into water under boat, place locking harness and a permanent tether.
you cannot ensure anything. you CAN teach the kids and make sure they learn and do what they are told first time every time, as this will save their lives. you can mandate pfd use while topsides, as many do, and no topsides without pfd.
kids must have responsibility for their actions, and responsibilities on board boat.
these are taught by parents.
my first day on a boat was at age 7, without pfd and without ll the nanny stuff of todays kids. we were shown responsibility and practiced it. we learned because we enjoyed the activity of sailing. .

life is an adventure meant to be LIVED!!!!
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Old 01-05-2016, 12:51   #3
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Re: Practical advice sought - kids safety and security

Well, I would start with reasonable amount of passive protection:

- netting ALL WAY round the deck,
- cool and comfy children pdfs,
- AIS/DSC MOB device on them while underway,
- safetylines and tethers designed for children and laid out for their needs
- etc.

The girl who died in the Pacific had an AIS/DSC locator on her, she was found and retrieved even though visual was lost for a long while. You get a sound alarm onboard and you know where the lost one is. This is what you want, not just for your children.

I would also try to find a way that children have to physically walk over you when you sleep - your bunk towards the door and their bunks further into the hulls.

With someone in the cockpit on a passage I think this basically limits the most obvious exposure - losing one and not knowing.

At the dock, you simply do not go to countries where people walk on your boat while you sleep. There are many such countries.

I am not sure what your boat is but consider a cat as this further limits some very common factors - life is easier and safer when the boat heels and rolls less.

I think I would also design a game that can be played to imitate how you want your children to react when one of them falls overboard while playing. Basically the one remaining onboard should run to the skipper and report the fact immediately. This game should be played by the whole family, with alternatively you, your partner and the older of the children at helm. There should be awards to the best performers.

Last and least there should be rules. Not for children, for everybody. Make the rules very clear and penalize all who break them. You save an a dish washer machine this way too.

PS One good rule is: whoever comes out from down below says hi to the skipper and makes their intentions clear; when there is no skipper in the cockpit, report your going on deck to the nearest adult.

PS2 Do not over-worry the whole thing. You may notice that once onboard your attention, freed of mobile phones, blinking screens and countless shore illusions will stretch out and adjust to the new reality. It will take some time but it will happen to you too.

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Old 01-05-2016, 13:10   #4
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Re: Practical advice sought - kids safety and security

It is probably too late for this now, but we began from the day of the children's birth to teach them obedience. Contrary to what pop psychology says, children can be taught stuff from a very early age without "stifling creativity" or any such nonsense. By the time we were living aboard full time (ages 5, 3 and 9 months), the two older girls would obey if enjoined to stay inside or not leave the cockpit. The youngest was of necessity pretty attached to her mom, but growing up aboard made things more natural.
I would urge you to teach your children obedience--if dogs can learn it (and we know they can if trained) certainly human children can learn better.
After that, know that having kids aboard requires constant vigilance on your part. It will be less a fun sailing vacation for you than a full-time kid-sitting session. Not that spending time with your kids isn't rewarding, but doing stuff adults normally enjoy when cruising like going out late to check out the island night life or having more than one evening cocktail or sleeping well.
But if you can handle all the challenges, it can be a really wonderful experience for the kids, and perhaps in spite of the vigilance and kid-herding, and normal worry associated with boat life, rewarding for you as well.
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Old 02-05-2016, 07:50   #5
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Re: Practical advice sought - kids safety and security

Might get to hot but lock up the companion way and or remove companionway ladder at night.
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Old 02-05-2016, 08:43   #6
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Re: Practical advice sought - kids safety and security

We raised two girls onboard starting at ages 4 and 1. The one thing we did was install a simple little hook lock (that's not the right term but close enough) high up the main companionway door to the cockpit (well out of reach).

Short of that we just trusted as they got older.


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Old 02-05-2016, 08:51   #7
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Re: Practical advice sought - kids safety and security

Contrary to popular belief, kids don't want to drown. Grant it, some kids are clumsier than others. Having raised my four kids and literally hundreds of other people's kids on board and on the waterfront, I have found it especially helpful to toss them in the drink the minute they pisss me off. Get out of hand, splash!

This action:

Leaves no marks for child protective services to come after me,
Teaches the children to swim and scream bloody murder at the same time
Reminds the kids that going in the bay is not much fun in high latitudes.
Reminds the little darlings that not misbehaving around the grumpy guy is a must.

We never had an issue with any kids inadvertently going by the board. They learned the "one hand for the ship" rule, early on.

Rather than trying to devise a method for containing them below, work on teaching them the essentials of staying on board and or getting back aboard when and if they accidentally do go in.
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Old 02-05-2016, 09:00   #8
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Re: Practical advice sought - kids safety and security

"I would urge you to teach your children obedience--if dogs can learn it (and we know they can if trained) certainly human children can learn better."
Now there's a good suggestion. Life is better both ashore and aboard if parents do this. And grandparents, too. Also, as a grandparent I've found it easier to get kids to both help and behave without the parents than when the parents are also aboard. One thing I've found helpfull with kids and parents aboard is to make it clear, especially to the parent(s), that aboard the boat I'm captain and outrank parents.
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Old 02-05-2016, 09:47   #9
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Re: Practical advice sought - kids safety and security

Check out the kids (little girl and a little boy) in this video. Seems like they learned early one hand for the ship.

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Old 02-05-2016, 09:49   #10
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Re: Practical advice sought - kids safety and security

We sailed for many years with three rugrats. The under 12 year olds had to wear harnesses at all times while on deck. We also had webbing running the entire length of the lifelines so no one could easily fall overboard. Hatches and companionways had adjustable covers that would not let someone out or in without making a noise. And as others have said, train, train, and train.

You will have to get use to always being on guard, which is a good thing. It was not uncommon to have our two little daughters get lots of attention when in foreign ports. Even was offered money for them when in Tunisia. Best advice is never let them out of your sight and explain the facts of life to them early one. Our six year old was world wise and understood the need to stay close when we were mucking around a lot of third world countries as well as in southern France. Otherwise, enjoy.
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Old 02-05-2016, 10:05   #11
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Re: Practical advice sought - kids safety and security

Well, you say you're going to charter, which I think limits the range of things you can "install" in order to meet your needs. You could close the companionway, but that really depends on the weather, most places I don't like sleeping with the boat closed up. Most companionways are loud enough opening that you would get an alert.

You can take the bunk(s) closest to the hatch(es), but they may not be the most spacious.

How about a portable, battery powered motion detector to cover both your problems? They're less than $50, and set up cleverly in a cockpit (or at the companionway stairs) would likely detect your kids or an intruder without too many false alarms. Of course that will depend on the layout of the boat, and since you're chartering that may be unknown until you actually arrive.

We've had kids as young as 2 running around the boat without any of these aids and never had a problem. They occasionally make they're way to the cockpit before the adults get up, but by then I usually wake up. And it just hasn't been an issue (not to say it can't become one, that's just our experience).
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Old 02-05-2016, 10:25   #12
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Re: Practical advice sought - kids safety and security

When we were in the business of sail training youngsters, our greatest concern wasn't so much that they would fall overboard but rather that they would take to the rat lines and climb the mast without supervision.

One morning around 0500, while at a port visit in Erie, PA, we were starlted awake by a bullhorn with a fire marshal on the other end shouting "don't move' we're coming to get you." They had a hook and ladder truck on the pier and they were raising the ladder as I came on deck and looked up to see our four-year-old, Martin, sitting on the T-gallant yard, 120 feet off the deck. Martin lept out and grabbed the topping lift and slid down to the boom and jumped to the cabin top before bowing to the good men of the Erie, PA fire department. He received a rousting ovation from all present. I just shook my head and pretended to scold him. Seems some Good Samaritan with binoculars, many blocks inland had spotted him and called 911.

Kids really don't want to die anymore than you want them to and most often much less. It is important that they become familiar with all aspects of the boat and to feel at home there. They can't learn this if confided below. Much better to supervise them when you're awake so that you can sleep a little more soundly and have an easy method for them to get out of the bay on either side of the boat if they are too weak to scale the bob stay.
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Old 02-05-2016, 10:34   #13
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Re: Practical advice sought - kids safety and security

Despite the fact that such things are very rare, it is a fear of many parents, and a few simple precautions will make you, if not the little darlings sleep better. Simple things you can do to limit midnight rambling or intruders would be:
- limit the opening aperture of hatches using zip ties or double action snap shackles e.g.Gibb type. Remembering of course that the hatches may be the only way out for some emergencies, so make provision for emergency exit
- buy a cheap alarm for the companionway to trigger anyone crossing the threshold, particularly if will be warm and will want to maximise ventilation. They are sold as travel alarms but any battery operated one will do that with velcro.
On deck and in the cockpit we insist on lifejackets unless in the cockpit with adults in calm weather or anchored.
Practice man overboard drill with the full involvement of the children so they see for themselves the implications of going overboard.
We have sailed with our children and grandchildren since they were infants, and none lost so far, but there is still time.....
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Old 02-05-2016, 12:50   #14
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Re: Practical advice sought - kids safety and security

I took my 2 young kids (starting at age 4 and 6) sailing for many years. Often it was just me and the kids. So I am speaking from experience.

I used full body climbing harnesses. If they were on deck, they were in a harness and clipped on at all time. If you put up netting, they will trust the netting to save them, and it won't. If they wear lifejackets, they will float, but you will never find them among the waves. The harness keeps them ON THE BOAT.

At night, I slept in the main cabin/quarter berth, so they would have to go past me to get on deck. In addition, I always inserted the lower piece of the companionway hatch. This made enough of a barrier that they could not get out on their own, or at least they would make so much noise that I would wake up. But they never tried to get out. I was their source of safety and security. They only wanted to be near me. More likely I would wake up with them crawling all over me.

Also, give them their place. When my kids were little, the vee was theirs. To them, it was the best place in the world. Their own cozy, comfy place with all their stuff while on a real pirate adventure...just like Dora or Diego or any little kid cartoon. When they were scared, or bad weather, the vee was their fortress, their safe place. I could take care of the boat knowing they were safe.

Most important of all though, is trust. You have to trust your kids to follow the rules (make them simple and repeat them all the time) and do as you say, and they need to be able to trust you to keep them safe and not boss them around unnecessarily. This aspect of sailing will create a strong bond between you and your kids that will last a lifetime. This alone makes sailing with your kids worthwhile.

My kid's favorite rule was with regard to standing in the companionway (where everyone wants to stand): "up or down, don't stand around".

I also filled a special locker with dollar store items: small toys, crayons, colouring and activity books, squirters, etc. Whenever they were well behaved at a tough time they were allowed to choose one item. To them it was a magical locker of treasure. Also, if the sail wen't well, they would always get an ice cream cone (close by to my home dock) afterwards. My wife would take them, giving me time to square away the hate waiting for that.
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Old 02-05-2016, 13:33   #15
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Re: Practical advice sought - kids safety and security

The original poster is going on a 1 week charter, one would expect on a Sunsail or Moorings type boat.
So he probably is more after ideas that won't lose his Deposit...

Sent from a stupid phone that replaces words with weird stuff.

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