Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Car Seat on a Boat

When I was pregnant, and we decided to move onto the boat and get serious about our cruising saving and plans, I did a lot of research about cruising with kids.  I bought every book I could find on the subject.  There seemed to be some general consensus that installing a car seat on the boat somewhere safe was a good option when you needed to put the baby down and do some sailing.  So, it only took us 7 months to make it happen, but we took our first sail with the car seat!  

I bought an extra, used, inexpensive infant car seat base that Yemaya's car seat clicks right into.  Ari installed two mounting rings that car seat LATCH systems can clip right into (so it will be good for the next car seat size up too).  Ari clipped the base in and snugged it down tight.  We plopped the car seat in and buckled Yemaya in safe.  

The sail took place a little late in the day, and Yemaya was not in the best of moods, but she was safe.  I hung some nice toys for her, but she really prefers the vang and cunningham lines.  I'm fairly sure that the fancy lines Ari bought are not organic cotton, but Yemaya does love sucking on them.  As we tacked up the estuary I played down below with the baby.  When we turned around and headed downwind, the wind was getting lighter and Ari wanted to put up the geniker.  So into the car seat Yemaya went.  We sailed nicely downwind for a bit as we watched the container ships and tug boats moving around.  And as it always happens, as we sail by, the container ships get ready to move.  Oakland is, after all, one of the busiest ports on the West Coast.  At that moment it was nice to have two hands on deck.  Not absolutely necessary, but nice to have the baby down below and safe so we could move to one side and take the geniker down, while the container ship was turned and pushed out to the Bay.  Yemaya cried a bit, but I sang to her, and she was fine.

I spent some time feeding her and playing with her down below before we docked.  But then, back in her car seat, grumpy and tired, for a quick moment while I helped with docking.  Again, we sang to her to calm her down and keep her happy.  I wondered if anyone heard us and was curious as to why the small boat was docking to "Itsy, Bitsy Spider" and "Five Little Ducks."  In case there are other sailing parents out there, I have used "Five Little Ducks" on two different crying children on sailboats and both times it worked like magic.  Not sure why, but a good one to know in an emergency.

In general, the car seat was great.  Yemaya was a little over tired from a busy weekend, so she did not show her love for the car seat set up, but I think it will grow on her.  Now we just have to get the same set up going for Macha.  After that, the next baby safety project is a harness and tether for when she is walking or crawling above deck (which requires both learning to crawl/walk, and for the rain to stop).

A while back, before the baby, I summed up everything I had learned from my reading about cruising with babies and kids.  If any of you out there have more suggestions or stories to share I'd love to hear them.


  1. SO happy to hear you had a nice time out. We never used a car seat on board, not sure why really. We had a huge convertible car seat and it was too much of a pain to bring on board. Also no pack'n'plays or anything like that. Our method I guess was to bring a friend along all the time in the early years, so there was always 2 adults for the boat and one for the babe. We have lots of eager boatless friends. I would put Zach in the Ergo when I needed 2 hands. And I would just try to "normalize" the whole experience, like we were having a day at home... which we were... just moving. I think we had netting the first year or two. And a harness that was on and off. But mostly, it was the constant hand holding of a grown up, teaching him the boundaries of the boat so he could gain confidence and learn his footing.
    And then they start becoming more sure footed than you before you know it :)

  2. Great idea!!! Just looking into car seats now. That's the best idea I've heard so far ; ) Leah

  3. Leah, does this mean the boat is for sure? I just got a used car seat for the boat for $10 on craigslist.

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