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  1. #1
    Seaman Apprentice
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    Red face Minimum age to ride on boat?

    Hey,
    I have a 16ft bowrider which I've owned for 6 years but haven't ridden for a while, since we had our first child this year. We've been lending the boat to friends in the meanwhile, to keep it happy, but we'd like to take our daughter on her first ride next week. She's 6 months old and has very firm back muscles (she can sit up straight). We don't plan on doing anything more than cruising real slow on the Intracoastal (Fort Lauderdale), avoiding rough areas like the port.

    a) Can other parents of similar aged children provide tips (yes, even "are you nuts? Don't do it!!!" )
    b) Do they make life vests that small?

    I don't mind waiting a little longer, it's just that my sis-in-law's visiting next week so we're looking for some creative entertainment options, in our entertainment-starved city.

    Thanks in advance.

    ps - mods, if this topic belongs elsewhere, feel free to move.

  2. #2
    Petty Officer 3rd Class HyperFox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Minimum age to ride on boat?

    Hi there.

    I think it really depends on what you feel comfortable with. Personally I use my own made up rule of if they cant fit a life jacket, and get on their back by themselves they are too young. Keep in mind tho, This is my first boat myself, and its a little 14 foot aluminum which is probably a lot less stable then yours.

    My kids, 3 and 6 Ill bring on the boat with me, only because I know that they can use a life jacket. Im going to see how my 6 year old does first after a few test runs hopefully this spring, then try the 3 year old.
    HyperFox
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Minimum age to ride on boat?

    There was a thread asking pretty much the same thing before and there were a lot of different opinions on this topic. I personally say that as long as you are real careful, your child is probably safer in the boat then the car ride to the ramp...

    Anyway, here is a the link:

    http://forums.iboats.com/boat-topics-questions-not-engine-topics/how-young-too-young-boat-211604.html

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Minimum age to ride on boat?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cptkid570 View Post
    There was a thread asking pretty much the same thing before and there were a lot of different opinions on this topic. I personally say that as long as you are real careful, your child is probably safer in the boat then the car ride to the ramp...

    Anyway, here is a the link:

    http://forums.iboats.com/boat-topics-questions-not-engine-topics/how-young-too-young-boat-211604.html
    Ah thank you I did a quick search but couldn't find anything. Will take a good look at the thread.

    Funny how you mention "safer in a boat than a car", I'm a pilot as well and in the aviation community we also draw similar parallels. "Safer in the plane than in the car that took you to the plane". Always defending ourselves nail and tooth against the general public, ain't we?

  5. #5
    Honorary Moderator Emeritus tashasdaddy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Minimum age to ride on boat?

    the are better in a carrier, to support them, than being held. goggle PFD infant, and infant PFD. there are a lot of life jackets and info out there.

    the worst thing is sunburn, you will pay for it for 3 days of pure misery.
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Minimum age to ride on boat?

    Have we become over protective as a society? Maybe, but it did not stop me from taking my daughters boating from ages 5 months on. We had a 15' runabout, put little floaties on baby, and kept the speed down. Youngest is now 6 and has little, if any, fear of the water. Start em young, that's what I say.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Minimum age to ride on boat?

    Both kids were out on my boat at 6 months or less. Just please use common sense and follow the laws. Make sure the little one has a good fitting infant PFD. Keep it slow, and stay away from wakes, waves, etc. And yes, sunblock. Enjoy-
    2002 Wellcraft 290 Coastal
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  8. #8
    Chief Petty Officer Caveman Charlie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Minimum age to ride on boat?

    Sunblock is a good idea for sure. They have a much better chance of getting skin cancer later in life if they get burned at a young age.

  9. #9
    Lieutenant Commander arks's Avatar
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    Default Re: Minimum age to ride on boat?

    Quote Originally Posted by mattttt25 View Post
    Just please use common sense and follow the laws. Make sure the little one has a good fitting infant PFD. Keep it slow, and stay away from wakes, waves, etc. And yes, sunblock.-
    I agree. No wake jumping when they're little! Ours was only 5 weeks old when she took her maiden voyage. Stearns makes a "heads-up" infant PFD that fits pretty well and is secure.
    Back in the day, I modified our 23' cuddy's stern bench with a seatbelt to allow the car seat to be mounted (facing the rear). There's different schools of thought concerning this, but we felt the single most important concern had to be prevention of the little one form being jostled around. Mom ALWAYS sat right next to the child when underway and could release the harness instantly if ever needed. The car seat was used until she had the strength to sit upright in Mom's lap.
    She's now 18 and loves the water. She's enjoyed performance boating, jet skiis, and (now) our "slow" Silverton. She's a pretty good captain as well!
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Minimum age to ride on boat?

    I would feel comfortable with any child as long as their safety vests fit appropriately and you weren't taking them on a wild ride. It is the teenagers I would leave home.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Minimum age to ride on boat?

    Quote Originally Posted by tashasdaddy View Post
    the are better in a carrier, to support them, than being held. goggle PFD infant, and infant PFD. there are a lot of life jackets and info out there.

    the worst thing is sunburn, you will pay for it for 3 days of pure misery.

    Agreed. My two were introduced to boating at about that age.

    You have to remember some things.

    1. The boat ride is no longer about YOU. You stop when the baby has had enough. I would be willing to bet that he/she will sleep most of the time.

    2. As tashasdaddy mentioned, sunburn and windburn are real threats. Guard against it.

  12. #12
    Chief Petty Officer AguaSki's Avatar
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    Default Re: Minimum age to ride on boat?

    I would do it with a 6 month old. The other thread that was mentioned was for a 9 week old. At 6 months the baby has decent muscle development to support the head. Obviously a good fitting PFD will be needed, but you should not have trouble finding one.

    I still keep my infant PFD on board even though my kids are now in Youth PFD's. It seems that I frequently have a guest that still has a baby that can use the infant PFD. Go ahead and make the investment into a good PFD and you will be able to use it for guests after your child grows out of it.

  13. #13
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    Thumbs up Re: Minimum age to ride on boat?

    I think the water conditions really need to be considered here also, we boat primaraly on a river! I have an 18 month old that I would feel comfortable in a proper PRD and a reliable boat. I have seen some really scarey situations on the river for I am also a member of the local FD's Swift water rescue team. For the most part parental smarts take over (Hopefully). I think a lake is a different ball game than a river or intercostal? Just my opinion and use your head.....I say start them as young as you can, I was started before I can remember, even in the 70's there are pictures of me as a 1 and 2 year old in a PFD. Good luck and stay safe!

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Minimum age to ride on boat?

    I have been watching these threads with intrest. I no longer have a horse in this race, but as a post active bettor, here are some thoughts. In Shanghai there are many people that are born, grow up, marry, have children, grow old and die on sampans, most of which would make a couples bedroom in a small New York apartment look luxuious. I have been fortunate to meet one genuine "boat people" from there. I have heard corroberation from the more fortunate land dwellers in that city.

    Now those people along with the marginal dwellers in Jakarta, some cities in Cylon, Bangladesh, and other maritime cities in the third world never have a chance to consider if it is wise to expose their children to the hazards of being on the water. The simple fact that their numbers are increasing shows that they are more than capable of protecting thier children. Have we lost something here in the great US of A? Something like personal responsibility for us and our children?

    My son and many others grew up around steam machinery that is around 100 years old. Just like our grandparents, he is still alive along with his peers. This is despite the fact that he warmed his hands on cold days by holding them close to an open steam engine revolving with the force capable of taking his arms off and open spokes along with exposed connecting rods. He was taught the dangers of the machinery. He was also taught how to handle himself on the water.

    Was I a bad parent for subjecting him to such dangers and occasionally walking off, deferring to his sub gradeschool judgment?

    He has lost a more than a few of his highschool chums due to traffic accidents. All of which would have not happened if basic driving precautions had been followed. My son knows the recompense of bad judgement. He was exposed to it when he was an infant, and it was reenforced when he was a toddler. He is still alive when his chums that were shielded are no longer with us.

    Teach your children well, love them and care for them, and it does not matter if they live next to the water, the hood or dynamite, they will know what to do when they are capable. Until then if you are willing to step up to the task of keping them safe, then you could live in a coal mine, on the water, or the most dangerous place; the suburbs and you child will be as safe as humanly possible.

  15. #15
    Lieutenant Commander SgtMaj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Minimum age to ride on boat?

    Quote Originally Posted by tashasdaddy View Post
    the are better in a carrier, to support them, than being held.
    This makes me REAL nervous... if left unbuckled, ok... but I wouldn't buckle an infant into anything that doesn't both float and be self-righting so that there's no chance of your newborn being drowned in the event of an accident.

    As far as minimum age is concerned... I also have a young child (10 mo) and was planning to take him out once or twice this year, but since my boat won't be ready, will be waiting until next year... in the meantime we're going to take him to the pool and see how he does in "deep water" (3' is deep to him, considering that he's only been in bath water up til now) with a life vest and well supervised. If he's comfortable and I'm comfortable with him being on his own (of course we'll still be right there) in the water for a minute or longer, then I won't even hesitate to take him boating. A minute will be long enough for myself or my wife *who will be taking swim lessons before we go boating again* to swim over to him and assist him in the event of an accident on the water.
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  16. #16
    Seaman manofprawnz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Minimum age to ride on boat?

    We started taking our first child out on the boat at about 5 months, once his neck muscles were strong enough to support his head sitting up, and he had enough weight to be properly fitted with a good quality lifejacket. At that time we were in a heavy but small 14ft tin boat. We placed him in the infant car seat unstrapped on the floor, and he was in his glory.

    Of course we always checked the weather prior to setting out, and stayed away from boat traffic where we were liable to hit large waves. But even with the best intentions things can happen. We were once hit with a freak and unpredicted storm, when the boy was about 8 months. We were having the time of our lives surrounded by about 40 dolphins on glass like water, within 5 minutes the wind came up and we were in the ugliest seas one can imagine. As we ran for shelter in a following sea, 5 ft breaking waves, we placed the boy on the floor. He just rolled back and forth, giggling, while mom and dad were #$%ing their pants. Babies are tougher than you think, get them out on the water young, and enjoy, as they grow up fast.

    I will indulge a bit further: A few years ago when I was Commander of our local Power Squadron, I recieved an inquiry from couple with a extremely handicapped daughter. They wanted her to experience boating, but were concerned about how she would cope due to her condition and her need to be in her chair with her equipment and so on. I was able to put them in contact with the local disabled sailing association, and they were able to come up with a solution that would work for their situtation. In the end they were able to enjoy boating as a family.

  17. #17
    Lieutenant Commander SgtMaj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Minimum age to ride on boat?

    My thought is, it's not wether they are big enough to survive the ride, it's wether they are big enough to survive an accident (with the help of all the proper safety gear). That can be younger for some kids, and older for others (just like some kids are walking by 6mo and others aren't walking for 2 yrs), only you know your own child well enough to know if they are at that point.
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  18. #18
    Moderator QC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Minimum age to ride on boat?

    With a properly fitting, infant PFD you don't have to worry about accidents more than any other passenger, and the PFD will take care of the neck muscles . . . For us six weeks was OK, let alone six months. When baby happy, momma happy, when momma happy, daddy happy . . . on the beach or on a cruise. Stay close to options for getting off or going home.

  19. #19
    Chief Petty Officer arboldt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Minimum age to ride on boat?

    Consider the legal side. Any under 12 years of age must be wearing a properly fitted 'heads-up' PFD. (Not sure if that's federal or just Michigan law). So you must find one that fits well for that age, and replace it often as they grow. Beyond that, type of boat and waters you'll be in make a big difference. I'd be leery of strapping a baby in an infant seat / carrier that the life jacket couldn't support IMHO. I'd also be leery of anything other than a calm inland lake for someone that small.

    That said, our boys -- and now our grandkids -- have been in both pool and lake from when they were 4 months old. Yes, infants that age *can* actually swim before they can walk. Or you can just take a 'drown-proofing' water safety approach like some YMCA's for kids that age.

    As for comments about people being born, growing, aging, etc on boats, that's fine. Thousands of Inuit did the same on Arctic ice, but I wouldn't care for it.

  20. #20
    Chief Petty Officer Caveman Charlie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Minimum age to ride on boat?

    It's funny someone doesn't make a floating car seat. Maybe somebody should. Most car seat are designed to withstand some shock. I wonder if you had the infant in a proper life vest and some sort of floating device on the car seat . (That you tested in advance of course) If that would not be the best way when the boat was moving?

  21. #21
    Petty Officer 2nd Class m&m252's Avatar
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    Default Re: Minimum age to ride on boat?

    your kid your personal choice just watch out for the other boats creating big wakes around or close to you. I'm sure you are a safe boater and responsible parent if the kid gets sea sick go back home . prevent sun burn dont need to use sun tan lotion just keep him/her covered out of the sun even if overcast thats the worst. heck see for yourself how the kid reacts the MRS. will have her say for sure....it just maternal instinct....if the kid enjoys it you are set for a fun family life of boating...good luck...

  22. #22
    Rear Admiral RubberFrog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Minimum age to ride on boat?

    I'm with QC, both my kids were on the water by 6 weeks. Neither of them drowned. As a matter of fact, my son took his first steps on a boat- talk about sea legs!

    Hello, don't do anything stupid. Use your best judgement. They'll be fine.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Minimum age to ride on boat?

    Hello and happy new years, it's been a few days since I've seen this thread and what a pleasant surprise! Thanks for the feedback.

    I'm looking very forward to our small excursion this weekend. (provided of course she doesn't have a teething-fit or similar, which can happen anytime). Weather is supposed to be nice and the intracoastal, around our area, is all "no wake zone" so that should quell any fears of a rough ride. 1-2 hrs at most, as far as duration.

    The only remaining concern which was not brought up in any of the previous' posts is reaction to the salty air. Anyone who's been on the intracostal knows that the air is just as salty as the ocean itself, and usually at the end of our rides we can feel the itchiness on the skin. Moisturizing cream, perhaps? As for the sun we have a bimini and baby's got a little hat.

    As for the large post from Ext. Combustion, I couldn't agree more, I grew up my first 10 years as a sheltered suburban kid in the States, then we moved to rural Brazil where I lived the next 10 years of my life. After many bruises, countless stitches (due to my city-boy clumsiness) and lessons learned I feel I'm a safer and conscious person. The more sheltered the child, the more fragile shell they will grow with. One of the reasons I want my little daughter in the pool come summer time!

    Thanks again for the posts and I will certainly provide a write-up of my experience.

  24. #24
    Honorary Moderator Emeritus tashasdaddy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Minimum age to ride on boat?

    salt air won't bother her. do use sun screen even with the bimini.
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  25. #25
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    Default Re: Minimum age to ride on boat?

    If you had a concern about the salty air, then you are obviously being very precautions about everything. You'll be fine..

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