Preparing Pyxis for a Baby on Board
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Alex at 7 weeks - Click for Enlarged Image New Crew!
In May 1999 we added a new crew member. Alex was born on May 12. His first visit to the boat was at about 3 weeks (we just sat at the dock). His first ride was at 5 weeks and his first ride with real wind and waves was at about 7 weeks. He seemed to like all this but at that age we really only know what he doesn't like. I have spent a lot of time considering ways to keep Alex safe and comfortable onboard. On this page I will describe what I have done to prepare Pyxis for the new crew member.
Alex's in his swing hanging in the companionway - Click for Enlarged Image Alex's car seat strapped to the dinette - Click for Enlarged Image A Secure Place
While he was very young we decided the best way to secure Alex on the boat was in his car seat. I strapped the car seat base to the dinette table. This worked very well. Alex could see us in the cockpit and was protected from sun and water. He was also in a fairly central position on the boat. If it was at all rough we straped him in the seat.

We got a great Little Tikes swing and hung it in the companionway. I hooked the starboard side on a padeye just forward of the handrail (I mounted this for a light air preventer) and the port side to a loop tied to the handrail. This gets the swing pretty level, it can be tweaked by adjusting the lines at the swing. Alex really likes the swing. We found we needed to have a tether on the bottom to keep the swinging under control in chop. The tether is shock cord with snap clips. It has three attachment points to control it in both directions. It's pretty easy to squeeze past it to get below. Alex can fit in the swing with his life jacket on.
Little Tikes Swing

V-Berth/Play Pen
The V berth on pyxis is a pretty easy place to make kid safe. There are no dangerous corners and all you need to do is close off the opening to the forepeak and the opening to the head compartment to have a secure playpen. A bit wide for underway in less then flat conditions but great at the dock. I plan to make a canvas pannel with a netting window in it that attaches to the bulkhead around the opening with big velcro patches.

Lee Cloth for Settee
For underway I plan to make a high lee cloth of some sort to enclose the settee. That will make it a sort of secure bin to drop alex in. It's not so wide that he would have far to go when the boat heels from one side to the other and he can see the cockpit from there.
Photo of interior showing settee

Safety on Deck
Alex is more mobile now and almost ready to venture out on deck. I have a few methods in mind to keep him safe.

Alex's harness - Click for Enlarged Image Harness
The first line of defense from going over the side will be a harness and jack line. I have installed padeyes on the aft bulkhead of the cockpit below the traveler and at the front of the cockpit. I will install a nice husky padeye at the bow and one on each side at the front of the cockpit. I'll run some 1" webbing from one side to the bow and back on the other side. I will install additional padeyes in the cockpit to attach to.

The second line of defense may be netting. I haven't decided yet how best to set this up. Some experimentation will be in order. I see the netting as inferior to the harness.

Life Jacket
The last line of defense is the first to be put on - a good life jacket. It's the last because it's needed only after all the others fail and Alex is in the water. The rule will be the life jacket will be worn at all times on deck and on the dock. Alex's first life jacket was a Sterns Kids Type II for under 30 lbs. It fit pretty well at about 15 lbs. We would put him in it at the house every now and then to get him used to it. I took it off before he got uncomfortable thinking that way he would not associate getting out of the life jacket with getting relief. Whatever life jacket you get for your child I think it has to have leg straps. By the end of the season it was clear Alex would need a larger life jacket for the next season. The weight was OK but the chest size was too small.

We looked at every child jacket we could find. The best made seem to be the Mustang brand. But the fit was not right in the model that was speced for Alex at his size. The jacket was too long and he couldn't sit in it. He was miserable every time we tried one on him. Extrasport has two types of child/infant jackets. There is a type III vest and a type II with a head pad. The type II fits Alex very well (he's 24lbs, 32" tall). I got one and tried it on him at the pool when I took him swimming. It floats him basically on his back with head supported but tends to list to one side and dip his face a bit. He didn't like floating in it but tolerated wearing it so that seems OK. I think that when they are this small the center of gravity is a bit too high for these jackets to properly turn the wearer face up. More study is needed.

P26 Interior Layout Drawing
Safety Page