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peetoleeward

Mesh Lifeline netting

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My son will be about a year and a half this summer and thinking about adding mesh netting to the lifelines.  We didnt do it last season because he wasn't mobile.  Now hes walking.  It is obviously not very aesthetically pleasing but is it worth it with small children?  Is the netting redundant if he is always going to be tethered to the boat?  Not sure how I feel about letting him out of the cockpit especially underway.  However, we do have jacklines for him to clip on to. If netting makes sense, what is the best way to go about doing it?  I have a Catalina 42 MKII

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12 minutes ago, peetoleeward said:

My son will be about a year and a half this summer and thinking about adding mesh netting to the lifelines.  We didnt do it last season because he wasn't mobile.  Now hes walking.  It is obviously not very aesthetically pleasing but is it worth it with small children?  If so, what is the best way to go about doing it?  I have a Catalina 42 MKII

Simple answer is yes with a toddler. Tension a guide line from stanchion base to stanchion base and weave it in the lifelines. A removable section aft of the bow keeps toddlers away from the ground tackle at anchor. Add life jacket and a tether and jack lines. 

We kept netting up until the youngest was 5 and involved in swim team.  It’s a phase and you’ll get past it. 

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Yer all softies. Just tie the little one to the mast, rather than turning the boat into a chicken cage

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57 minutes ago, TwoLegged said:

Yer all softies. Just tie the little one to the mast, rather than turning the boat into a chicken cage

Yikes, where is your maternal instinct?  This must be your family photo:

129124013.jpg

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18 minutes ago, Ajax said:

Yikes, where is your maternal instinct?  This must be your family photo:

129124013.jpg

I was tied to the mast as a kid (via harness).  It didn't hinder my love of the water.

My family  was screwy in other ways.  But they was right about the mast

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My better half insisted on putting it on our boat for our 2 year old son last summer. It wasn't that hard, but a bit of a pain to install so it didn't look like shit. I bought a 500 foot roll of 1/8" solid braid polyester cord off of Amazon and the Diamond nets sold by the foot netting from Defender. I roughly followed the install video that Sailrite puts out. 

 

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The mesh keeps dogs and sails aboard too B)

* do some lifejacket testing. When our son was that age and younger many of the "baby/toddler" lifejackets seems designed to hold kids face down :o  The best one we had was a hybrid inflatable that was great until our son discovered how fun it was to jump in the water and make it inflate :rolleyes:

 

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When our daughter was younger we kept her in her tethered to a hard point in the cockpit. Now with the netting, we let them go up to the bow with mom while I sail the boat. I do feel a lot better about the kids being on the boat with the netting vs without. We also had our kids plus three of their cousins on board last summer and that day alone made me glad I went through the effort to put the stuff on. 

A few additional lessons learned. 

  1. If your lifelines are suspect or on the list to be replaced, do that before you put on the netting. You don't want to do it twice. 
  2. If you have spring lines that attach to the boat somewhere inside the lifelines, you'll want to think of a new arrangement. I ended up buying a set of the cs johnson toerail folding cleats. 
  3. If you race your boat even casually with crew, the netting basically makes it impossible to hike out.
  4. Buy a big bag of zip ties. They are indispensable for adjusting and attaching the netting in places that tying it on with cordage is difficult. Expect to replace the ties each season or so since they will break down due to UV exposure.    
  5. An electric hot knife will make your life so much better. See the video I posted above for how Sailrite uses it. Making little button ends by melting the cord to keep it from backing itself back through a lashing actually seems to work. 
  6. If a section looks like shit, spend the time to go back and adjust it. Try to get the little diamond pattern in the netting as consistent as you can or it looks funny. 
  7. Completely secure the last section of netting before you start on the next or you will be fighting yourself. I generally did stanchion to stanchion. 
  8. Gates suck, but if you think the plan through before you start laying out the netting, it can save you some headaches. 

Good luck. 

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Buy your netting from fishing net suppliers,  not marine chandlers. Fishing net is sold by the pound (kg) not by length. Order of magnitude cheaper than 'yacht' stuff.

Toddlers have no inherent sense of self preservation. They will fall overboard and drown given the opportunity. Three stories to give you a scare:

We had friends who didn't even hear a splash as their 2 year old fell into murky water with strong current in La Paz, Mexico. Just a mom who sensed something was wrong, dove overboard, and grabbed his hair 8' under in near zero vis. He lived and thrived. But they stopped cruising not long after that. I suspect that the 'might have been' would have given them nightmares for years.


Another friend whose 5 year old daughter drowned from their boat in a marina. He was busy down below on a job and kid was unsupervised for like maybe 3 minutes (by marina video cam). She drowned.

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/In-Kemah-drowning-of-5-year-old-tears-through-6220673.php


When we first had our catamaran, it had no lifelines. Our daughter was asleep in the other hull while we played cards in the other hull (no bridgedeck cabin at the time). We hear a funny sound and our 3 or 4 year old opens the hatch into our hull. She had woken up, wondered where everyone was, and walked over to our hull to say hi. We didn't sleep well that night.

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3 hours ago, TwoLegged said:

Yer all softies. Just tie the little one to the mast, rather than turning the boat into a chicken cage

Well yeah, obviously!  Duct tape works well if you don't want to leave rope burns.  Besides, clever little ones can wiggle out of ropes, duct tape, not so much.  That's what I have heard, anyway.

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+1 on the fishing net.  I bought some years ago to make some killer soccer goals.  Lasted forever.

That said, we didn't do netting on the boat.  I put hard mounts on the cockpit floor.  Rule was harness and tether any time on deck.  In very calm conditions, wandering on deck with a life jacket was allowed with an adult within reach.  With our kids, that didn't cause a lot of conflict.  Turned them loose once they passed several swimming classes and proved they could swim 100 yds. and could tread water for a while (age 10-12 if memory serves).

The netting might keep a kid on board, but it won't keep them from doing a face plant into a winch.  Even with netting, I wouldn't let them wander around unescorted except maybe at dock or mooring.

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My son managed to fall into the water around the boat in many ways that his older sisters never achieved.  He never fell through the life lines.  I'm not saying you shouldn't net them, just he'll find other ways.

 

When I was a younger man I remember may father's constant battle to keep the netting tidy.

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Just.  Don't.  Do.  It.

I was there when the worst result imaginable took place while on a cruise with several other boats, many with young families, a lot of years ago...

All it takes is a moments' inattention, or a few moments' false sense of security, and the unthinkable can happen.  My friends, who may have been guilty of too much leniency in their young childrens' behaviour, knew their toddler son loved to climb, and the attraction of the mesh netting must've been so appealing when he found himself unsupervised and without any floatation for only a moment.  In the split second (or minute?) when nobody was looking, he climbed up and fell over.  Nobody heard the splash and we were only three boats away.  It could not have been more than two minutes he was unsupervised, but they lost him forever.

No safety device can overcome inattention.

My kids were introduced to sailing at 5 days and 2.5 months respectively, and a constant regimen of attention, safe spaces, harnesses with tethers, and life jackets is what gave them a comfortable and safe feeling, and kept them onboard when they were young.  My daughter fell in when she was 6, but that was off a dock so doesn't really count, plus she was wearing her life jacket and was back on dry land within 15 seconds due to her parents' vigilance.  Wet, scared, and confused, but safe...

Just.  Don't.  Do.  It.

 

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My kids only come on deck if lifejacketed - non negotiable. Even down below they wear it pretty much unless sleeping. Modern ones are much more tolerable to the kid than the orange lifesavers of yesteryear. Keeps the little ones warm and padded from bumps as well.

+1 on self testing. I’ve had the same jacket flip our son to inverted immediately when he was in the bottom of the weight range but work fine in the middle of the range a year or so later. Also always seek a crotch strap.

If you go netting... Careful that the net NEVER becomes trusted let alone habitual. Eg, never as a walkway to leeward nor grips to windward. Those cable ties and lashings and the nets are always degrading...

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All of the thoughts above are excellent, and nothing - NOTHING - can substitute for constant vigilance and a wearing good life jacket.

With our daughter, we did not put nets on until she was fully mobile, and even today they are only around the cockpit and pushpit (we can close off access to the bow via the dodger).  They're ugly but they offer a decent extra layer of protection. 

Here are a few other things we have noted:

1) PFDs.  We tried a number of life jackets with her and found that the Canadian Salus brand (available via The Binnacle online) was the best for her safety and comfort.  Yes, it's not USCG certified, but I trust the Canadians, and I am aware that getting foreign PFDs certified in the US is more about bureaucratic hassle than actual safety measures.

2) Swimming.  We enrolled her in ISR - Infant Swim Resource - for a summer when she was 1 year old.  It's great.  All it does is get infants and toddlers to learn how to float and slowly make their way to the side of the pool.  It's not about strokes; it's about survival.  It's geared towards suburbanites with backyard pools, but the lessons impart to boating.  We would have kept it up, but there are no longer any certified instructors within a reasonable commute for us.

3) When down below, she gets the enclosed cabin to herself (her "playpen"), unless mom wants to join her.  We had lee cloths made to keep her enclosed as an infant and young toddler, which worked for a couple of summers.  Last year (approaching her 3rd birthday) she figured out how to climb over them.  We also have locks on the slats at the companionway hatch to help keep her down below at night.  I often sleep in the quarter berth adjacent to the hatch as well.

We're not totally there yet, and until I know that she can swim safely out of any situation I'll still be fully on guard.  But it has been a fun few summers cruising with her, and just a few weeks ago she started asking about when the boat is going back in the water (she's all of 3 1/2).  We all cannot wait to get back out there.

 

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I'd love to hear other safety advice about sailing with a kid.  Ours will be one and a bit this summer and we're trying to figure out what cruising is going to be like.  It was easy last summer when he wasn't mobile.

Our son loves to take off container covers.  How do other parents secure the bilge boards to keep them from playing in the muck down there?  Our boat's bilge is usually very dry in summer, but it is still kind of gross.

Lee cloths are a good idea, but I'm worried that he'll just stand up and climb over them.  I was thinking that we'd bring a travel crib (we have a very light one from Phil&Ted) that we can leave setup in the V-berth or the main cabin.  That'll work for sleeping, but he'll hate being that constrained while awake.  He is a climber and needs barriers to be upper chest high or he'll get over them.

I was not planning on netting, but we do have a tether and I was going to put more tether points in the cockpit and will leave a center jackline.

ISR class sounds good, but isn't offered in my area.  Are there similar classes structured around safety?

 

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We have only day sailed with our kids but when our daughter was little we would set up a pack n play in the cabin and tie it off so it wouldn't go anywhere and she would nap in that. Our son who is now 2 and a half would never sleep in one. Now that they are both a bit older, we're going to build some lee cloths and give that a try. 

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Nets, tested life jacket, tether and jacklines. Our rules were simple. Below deck (42 footer) requires no life jacket but we bungy’ed a blanket over the companionway ladder as son was a climber. Daughter, not so much. 

Life jacket in the cockpit. Tether required if underway. 

Life jacket and tether out of the cockpit. Never out of the cockpit underway unless directly under the control of an adult. No wandering. 

Sleeping?  Closed off in a sleeping cabin in calm or at anchor.  Car seat secured to table or mast if sea was up.  

Ours were water babies, grew up on swim teams, lived on the beach in Hawaii, surf kayaking and kickboarding at age 3-4.  Life jackets became optional when they could swim an 880 but they generally pulled them out themselves at about 15 Knots TWS upwind.  Just raise them to respect the water, not fear it.  Accept that you will @have to dial things down to the level that they are comfortable with and they will grow up to be comfortable on, in and under the water. 

Slick,  pm me.  I still have a “child’s sospenders life sling with harness” from the pre uscg certification days.  I pulled it out of the shed last year and tested it along with my newer stuff and it worked 100% when placed on the 23 YO I bought it for a long time ago. It stayed inflated for 2 days without losing any pressure. I was able to get the bobbin and a new Co2 cartridge and repack it.  It meets no DNR or USCG criteria but is great on those hot, sticky days.  I could be convinced to throw it on a trash pile next time you are in the area. 

No one answer works 

 

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Here is one thing - you need to be a singlehanded sailor. The deal was if anything sporty happened, my wife had no other job than keeping the baby safe. There was to be NO divided attention or wondering what to do next.

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1 hour ago, kent_island_sailor said:

Here is one thing - you need to be a singlehanded sailor.

+1 on this.

But feed the kid a small handful of candy (non choking type) when you are anchoring or docking and both mommy and daddy need to give the boat some attention at the same time. They quickly learn that docking/anchoring time is treat time.

Our rule was a 720 swim around the anchored boat with typical sailing clothes (shorts and t-shirt) before you can leave the cockpit without a lifejacket. Lifejacket goes on when mom and dad's start to wear them.

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2 hours ago, kent_island_sailor said:

Here is one thing - you need to be a singlehanded sailor. The deal was if anything sporty happened, my wife had no other job than keeping the baby safe. There was to be NO divided attention or wondering what to do next.

We got that part down last summer.  It is tough for my wife who is a very capable sailor, but not as interested in singlehanding (so I tend to singlehand the boat and she plays with our son).  

I like your lifejacket rule Zonker.

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On 3/7/2018 at 5:53 PM, CriticalPath said:

Just.  Don't.  Do.  It.

I was there when the worst result imaginable took place while on a cruise with several other boats, many with young families, a lot of years ago...

All it takes is a moments' inattention, or a few moments' false sense of security, and the unthinkable can happen.  My friends, who may have been guilty of too much leniency in their young childrens' behaviour, knew their toddler son loved to climb, and the attraction of the mesh netting must've been so appealing when he found himself unsupervised and without any floatation for only a moment.  In the split second (or minute?) when nobody was looking, he climbed up and fell over.  Nobody heard the splash and we were only three boats away.  It could not have been more than two minutes he was unsupervised, but they lost him forever.

No safety device can overcome inattention.

My kids were introduced to sailing at 5 days and 2.5 months respectively, and a constant regimen of attention, safe spaces, harnesses with tethers, and life jackets is what gave them a comfortable and safe feeling, and kept them onboard when they were young.  My daughter fell in when she was 6, but that was off a dock so doesn't really count, plus she was wearing her life jacket and was back on dry land within 15 seconds due to her parents' vigilance.  Wet, scared, and confused, but safe...

Just.  Don't.  Do.  It.

 

I am going to agree and disagree with this advice.  NO SAFEY DEVICE WILL OVERCOME INATTENTION!   Rather than a recommendation I will tell you what my wife and I did.  We raise two kids successfully, living summers on a boat.  

First, before you take any advice, you should realize who is giving it to you.  I was racing on my J/24 in a PHFR race, my daughter 4-5 and my son 2.  He is in an umbrella stroller strapped to the mast.  The boat is bottom 3rd in the rating and we are just killing it in this race.  It started light, but wind built, found favorable current opposing the wind.  It was a “bumpy” ride.  He was crying by with 1000 yards to the mark and leading the fleet, well we re-assured him as best as we can without taking weight off the rail.  We rounded the mark and my wife went down and used her shirt to clean the puke off him. Didn’t see that from the helm, lighting is pretty bad on those boats.   Who had paper towels on a J/24?  Well we won that race, so if you think I am a bad dad, then ignore everything I am going to post. 

We moved up to a bigger boat and installed netting.  My wife did a stem to stern job.  We did one full replacement as it degraded for us.  

!) If you the kids came up on the deck, they had to wear a life vest.  No Exceptions!!!  We enforced this no exceptions.  Mess up, no treats.  If you do this the kids know they have to do it. It becomes like brushing their teeth

2) Same thing from Car to Dock.  When my kids got out of the car, they had to put a vest on.

3) The had to go down the companion way backwards.  That was as scary as losing them overboard.  Never turn your back on the companionway.  

4) The neting will catch everything.  Spin pole, check, kids latch on their vest, check.  That thing on your expensive sailing shorts you never noticed, but causes a big rip, check.  Netting is a pain on the boat.

5) Our meeting had gaps near the bow and the stern.  As other posted,, kids will find a way.  

6) Eventually we only had netting in the back third of the boat.  Figuring, they never left the cockpit underway and if they feel it would catch them.  

7) Crotch Strap.  Plus, spend the money on the most comfortable and cool lifevest. You might have to buy a new one yearly..

Now Make it Fun, kids will follow the rules if they like it.

1) Watch how much you yell at the the kids.  If they only get yell at, its not fun and you wont get the cooperation on the lifevest.  

2) Have boat only toys.  Let them have toys kept on the boat.

3) Have treats.  We had jiffy pop for night, moves on a DVD player, and ice cream at every location we visited.  

4) Give them a job while underway.  Tie a paintbrush to the boat.  Let them drop it off the back, pull it in and “Paint the Boat”.   Toy boats work well too.

5) Over trim the boat, get heel on, let him straddle a stantion and get his feet wet. Kids love it.  

6) Make the boat fun!!  When underway, plan treats at milestones

7) Let him bring friends.  He will enforce the rules on his friend.  

8) Give a goal.  We set a rule, if they could swim 1 lap around the boat without a lifevest.  My kids worked to it.  The older kid enforced the lifevest rule on her brother once she didn’t have to wear one.  

9) Make it fun.  You want them to WANT to go to the boat.  Safety first is second nature, then its all fun

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I’ve witnessed three mob. One unlifejacketed kid at mooring. One lifejacketed kid sailing in heavy weather - quickly followed by his unlifejacketed father to save(?) him who then shared a child’s jacket for 45mins while we unclusterfucked.*   One unlifejacketed adult during moderate weather racing. 1st and 3rd didn’t go in cleanly but banged en route and I’ve never assumed swimming skills will be available. If you’re lucky it’s just shock rather than unconscious or panic terror taking a gobful of seawater.

*learnt a lot a very hard way watching as a kid: never start engine during mob without checking for lines. Prop fouled almost instantly on the trailing halyard that went over with the kid - no motor, half doused main effectively screwed.

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Good list Ed above. Also keep little kids happy and warm with lots of chippies/crisps and sweeties/candy and sugar drinks.

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On 3/7/2018 at 9:45 AM, Innocent Bystander said:

A removable section aft of the bow keeps toddlers away from the ground tackle at anchor. Add life jacket and a tether and jack lines. 

We kept netting up until the youngest was 5 and involved in swim team.  It’s a phase and you’ll get past it. 

Using it to fence off an area is a good idea. I put this on our pontoon boat:

toon-boat-net.jpg

The piece stretched across the bow wasn't ever much more than a visual barrier and our grandson is big enough to just step over it now, but he also knows that touching it or going beyond it while the engine is running is a HUGE no-no. It's about 4 or 5 feet from the bow and it would be way too easy for him to simply run off the bow and get run over without it.

As for all the comments about learning to swim, I'd just say that kids drown quickly and quietly. Kids who can swim drown quickly and quietly. I almost saw it happen right here in my pond recently. Fortunately, two of us figured out what we were looking at: a kid who could have easily swum out of the situation was trying to get on a surfboard while two others kept flipping each other off it. All good fun, but the little kid trying to use the surfboard for floatation tried past the point of exhaustion and the other kids didn't notice what was happening (of course). The kid just quit trying and started sinking! It happened practically under our feet and didn't really look like a drowning in progress. Looked like kids playing.

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On 3/9/2018 at 8:41 AM, Alex W said:

I'd love to hear other safety advice about sailing with a kid.  Ours will be one and a bit this summer and we're trying to figure out what cruising is going to be like.  It was easy last summer when he wasn't mobile.

Our son loves to take off container covers.  How do other parents secure the bilge boards to keep them from playing in the muck down there?  Our boat's bilge is usually very dry in summer, but it is still kind of gross.

Lee cloths are a good idea, but I'm worried that he'll just stand up and climb over them.  I was thinking that we'd bring a travel crib (we have a very light one from Phil&Ted) that we can leave setup in the V-berth or the main cabin.  That'll work for sleeping, but he'll hate being that constrained while awake.  He is a climber and needs barriers to be upper chest high or he'll get over them.

I was not planning on netting, but we do have a tether and I was going to put more tether points in the cockpit and will leave a center jackline.

ISR class sounds good, but isn't offered in my area.  Are there similar classes structured around safety?

 

Hey Alex,

Safe and Sound on Westlake had a similar class.  I looked at their website and all I see is 2yo and older.  We enrolled Sam in an infant class there.  Maybe they still have it and haven't put it up on the web site.  Worth calling about maybe.

 

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Not fond of the way it looks, but in our case its grandkids. Sailed for years without netting once the kids were good swimmers. Everyone of them is a waterman/waterwoman in their own right. Thats what happens when you grow up on/in/under the ocean. In fact on calm days with just a puff of wind or two we've been known to troll for sharks. :lol: Now that we have a steady supply of grandkids (5 kids) there is always one too young to trust without netting. I think I'm in for a longer stretch with the grandkids than I was with the kids...........

 

 

 

 

P0000264.jpg

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11 minutes ago, Point Break said:

Not fond of the way it looks, but in our case its grandkids. Sailed for years without netting once the kids were good swimmers. Everyone of them is a waterman/waterwoman in their own right. Thats what happens when you grow up on/in/under the ocean. In fact on calm days with just a puff of wind or two we've been known to troll for sharks. :lol: Now that we have a steady supply of grandkids (5 kids) there is always one too young to trust without netting. I think I'm in for a longer stretch with the grandkids than I was with the kids...........

 

 

 

 

P0000264.jpg

Netting them seems much kinder than using hooks.

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1 minute ago, Ishmael said:

Netting them seems much kinder than using hooks.

Do you want to catch some or be kind..................

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11 minutes ago, Point Break said:

Do you want to catch some or be kind..................

I like them to be alive when I boat them.

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1 hour ago, Point Break said:

Do you want to catch some or be kind..................

OK, now I'm confused.  Are we talking sharks or kids or both, here?

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On ‎3‎/‎7‎/‎2018 at 1:21 PM, Zonker said:

Buy your netting from fishing net suppliers,  not marine chandlers. Fishing net is sold by the pound (kg) not by length. Order of magnitude cheaper than 'yacht' stuff.

Toddlers have no inherent sense of self preservation. They will fall overboard and drown given the opportunity. Three stories to give you a scare:

We had friends who didn't even hear a splash as their 2 year old fell into murky water with strong current in La Paz, Mexico. Just a mom who sensed something was wrong, dove overboard, and grabbed his hair 8' under in near zero vis. He lived and thrived. But they stopped cruising not long after that. I suspect that the 'might have been' would have given them nightmares for years.


Another friend whose 5 year old daughter drowned from their boat in a marina. He was busy down below on a job and kid was unsupervised for like maybe 3 minutes (by marina video cam). She drowned.

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/In-Kemah-drowning-of-5-year-old-tears-through-6220673.php


When we first had our catamaran, it had no lifelines. Our daughter was asleep in the other hull while we played cards in the other hull (no bridgedeck cabin at the time). We hear a funny sound and our 3 or 4 year old opens the hatch into our hull. She had woken up, wondered where everyone was, and walked over to our hull to say hi. We didn't sleep well that night.

Toddlers definitely have an unrealistic understanding of water. When our daughter (now 22) was 2, she suddenly walked into the deep end of our friend's pool. My wife fortunately was keeping a sharp watch and jumped in fully clothed to pull her out. About a year ago, we asked our daughter if she remembered this incident--she did, and said she remembers the water looked so nice, and she was surprised when she sank to the bottom. She said she doesn't remember being scared, just surprised and wondering why she wasn't floating on the surface....she had never sunk before, because there had always been someone in the water to catch her....

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Those years before they are watersafe are pretty paranoid around water......and rightly so. Not just around boats. Drowning is the leading cause of death in children under age 5? as I recall. In my mind.....and heart having attended quite a few childhood near drownings and drownings over my career.........it’s critical to make children at least watersafe if they have any exposure to pools/lakes/rivers/ocean. 

Critical......

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1 hour ago, Ed Lada said:

OK, now I'm confused.  Are we talking sharks or kids or both, here?

Well.............

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On 3/7/2018 at 4:39 PM, Ed Lada said:

Well yeah, obviously!  Duct tape works well if you don't want to leave rope burns.  Besides, clever little ones can wiggle out of ropes, duct tape, not so much.  That's what I have heard, anyway.

What are you people, from the stone age?  Have you not heard of velcro?

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Kids falling overboard, choking on a candy, unsupervised whilst mum & dad are tossing back cold ones in the cockpit with their new cruising buddies...

The "Charles Darwin was spot on" thread.  

Jesus Christ.

 

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