Safety harnesses should, ideally, be incorporated within a child’s life jacket. At Nipper Skipper we offer life jackets with built in harnesses. However, you can also purchase adjustable separate child safety harnesses that include the necessary ‘D’ ring or clip points for safety lines.
Safety lines consist of webbing strip and quick release hooks or clips at either end. The reliability of the line lies particularly in the strength of the hook which has a child safety feature. The safety line should ideally be attached to your child via the ‘D’ ring on either their life jacket or safety harness – which can be found at either the front or, which helps manoeuvrability, at the back. The other end of the line is then fixed to either ‘D’ rings which are generally secured in the floor of the cockpit (see example below), or for older, more competent children, fitted jack stays (secured webbing that runs along the deck next to the coach roof). As a rule, younger children will only need a long enough safety line to allow them movement around the cockpit. Older children may be moving along the topsides, attached to the jackstays, in which case the length of safety line must be such that they would be kept out of the water should they go overboard. Safety lines can give adults the reassurance that their little ones are going to be staying in the boat whilst allowing them freedom of movement.
Adults may also wish to consider deck netting that attaches from the guard rail to the toe rails for added security on deck. Additionally, a number of parents we have spoken with have found transferring car seats to the boat useful. Strapping little ones into the seats when manoeuvring short-handed can really help keep things more organised and safe. However, you need to consider very carefully how the seat is attached in the cockpit or down below in the main saloon. It may be as easy to use harnesses and safety lines, or put up lee cloths on the main benches to provide an instant play pen if you are able to supervise.
Whether you are pottering along a river, sailing up and down the coast, or making a sea crossing, make sure that you and your child have the appropriate safety equipment. Remember, if we encourage little ones to act safely on boats, they will grow up thinking that that’s the norm. Sailing is about having fun on the water – so make sure you’re all safe and comfortable. Our range can be found at http://nipperskipper.co.uk/category/safety-gear/ And just to repeat…a life jacket only works when it’s worn! Get afloat, have fun and stay safe!