On a Leash

Kids aren't dogs!  There is nothing worse than going to a mall or public place and seeing kids tethered to their parents by a piece of nylon.  Call my crazy, but this is just downright stupid.  Heck, I rarely put a leash on Buster, and it's the law!  I can't imagine putting a leash on my kids.

Oh...wait a minute.  We will be on a boat.  They aren't the best swimmers.  It can be hard to find much less recover a kid overboard.  Hmmm...on second thought...

Safety of kids and crew is a huge concern.  My biggest nightmare is losing someone overboard.  Sarah and I have both been doing a lot of reading on this topic.  Making our boat safe for little ones is critical.  I just finished reading an excellent book on the topic - Kids in the Cockpit.  Highly recommended if you plan on sailing with kids. 

In short, I will provide everyone with our current plans for kid safety on the boat.  This is subject to modification, but is our starting point. 

Standing Rules Effective 100% of Time
  • Never climb on lifelines or netting
  • Never lean over lifelines
  • Ask permission to enter cockpit
  • Ask permission to leave cockpit
At Anchor

In this situation, our biggest concern isn't having the kids fall overboard and not being able to find them..but falling overboard and sinking.  Michael especially concerns me.  Anytime he sees water he is ready to 'jump in'.  The key rule when at anchor:
  • Wear life jacket at all times when entering cockpit and walking on deck
Underway

In this scenario, wearing a life jacket isn't really the best plan.  Keeping the kids onboard is of utmost concern.  This is were the 'leash' comes into play.  It is our plan to have the kids tethered to the boat at ALL times when underway.  They key rule when underway: 
  • Never leave the salon without putting on safety harness
  • An adult must 'click in' tether
Dinghy Rides

This rule is straightforward:
  • All kids must wear life vests
We will never tether our kids to the dinghy.  If it were to flip over, and that can happen, I would not want them tethered.  That could be dangerous.  The real pain point with life vests is what to do with them when you get ashore.  It isn't fun carrying life vests around town, much less making the kids wear them while shopping (grin).  We will find some way to secure them in the dinghy so they are not stolen.

Foul Weather (determined by captain)

Rough weather is not a fun time to be on deck.  It is also potentially hazardous to everyone, adults included.  In these conditions the rules are:
  • All kids inside boat, no exceptions
  • Adults must have on life vest & safety harnesses, no exceptions
Will these rules be modified over time?  Most likely.  Until we get a feel for the boat, our kids romping around, and general experience sailing with kids, we are going to be conservative.  One thing I promise will NOT change....we will never, ever put a harness on our kids ashore, and walk them around like dogs!  Whew!  Time to take Buster for a walk.......

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