Thursday, February 14, 2013

Installing Lifeline Netting

So this is what they call "baby proofing"
Baby-proofing.  It's a pretty big deal in a home and a huge deal on a boat.  The funny thing is that boats are actually pretty well "baby-proofed" by design;  all cupboards lock, there are very few (if any) outlets within reach, limited hard edges and corners (no coffee tables here), nothing heavy on walls/shelves that can fall on an unsuspecting child and few (if any) electrical chords running here there any everywhere like in a house.  There is, however, one very big way a boat is not "baby proof":  we are surrounded by water.  Kind of a biggie there.

The number one rule on our boat is "stay on the boat".  That might sound funny, but it is no joke. While we do have a number of safety features available in the event of a man overboard situation, we'd rather not use them.  Truth be told, getting someone out of the water on a good day is hard at best, on a bad day it can be almost impossible.  So, yeah, "stay on the boat" is rule numero uno.  Keeping our baby on the boat?  Well, I think it goes without saying that this is a top priority.

A such, we joined the ranks of thousands of boater parents who have come before us and installed lifeline netting which is the (unofficial) universal boat symbol for "Baby on Board" and the nautical equivalent of that famous car sign suctioned on rear windows across the country.  Installing this netting might seem like a pretty simple and straightforward job, which is exactly what we thought too.  Be warned:  this is NOT a simple and straightforward job.  It took Scott two full days to complete, one for each side, and it was way more work than Scott envisioned.  Not hard, just...laborious.
Securing the bottom line of the netting with double hitches to ensure it stays very tight.
Here are some detailed instructions on how to install this netting if you are curious.  We didn't use wire along the bottom as the instructions suggest, but 1/8th diameter dacron cord purchased in 50 foot increments at West Marine (we also used this cord to attach the netting along the top lifeline as well).  If we need to swap it out down the line we can, but this will work for now.  The final product is awesome and we now have a boat that Isla can cruise around on with a significantly lower risk of falling overboard.  And yes, she will be watched very closely any time she is on deck.
Zip ties helped to keep the netting even and taught in between sections.
The top of the netting, attached with dacron cord
Starboard side
This boat screams "Baby on Board" and we're okay with that!
So many of you have asked how we have "baby proofed" the boat for Isla; where she sleeps, eats, how she stays secure underway...etc.  I am working on a post to share all those details with you so hang tight!

7 comments:

Carolyn said...

Netting is also for dog boats! Got it the day after we got Paz.

But looking at your photos -- and not to make more work for Scott, as I know what a job it is -- but you might want to run the center life line through the netting. We found that the line near the deck kept stretching and without the lower lifeline through the netting, someone could pretty easily go under it. Might be similarly 'fun' for a baby to squeeze under.

Robert Salnick said...

This is another good candidate for SmallBoatProjects - may I copy it to there?

bob
s/v Eolian
Seattle

Mike Gravel said...

Not sure if you will end up in any of these international locations but all 3 of our daughters are Infant Swim self rescue graduates. A bit more comfort for us when they were around docks, pools etc. Check it out (Video)http://vimeo.com/26021157# and International instructors http://www.infantswim.com/instructor-locator.html?searchby=intl

John Amren said...

What an exciting playpen for lucky Isla !

Brittany Meyers said...

@Carolyn - thanks for the tip!
@Robert - you are always welcome to share, as long as you link back to us as the authors :)
@Mike- I wrote a post on ISR a while back, I was considering it with Isla. I didn't end up doing it because we ran out of time and didn't have the six consecutive weeks they needed. Very cool it worked for your children!
@John - she is one lucky, happy girl!

Chelsea said...

I love it! Thank you for the instructions! :)

Chris said...

We actually found that it was pretty easy to un-thread the lifelines and pass them through the netting instead of lashing it. It made for a cleaner install and gave us an opportunity to inspect the lifelines themselves.

The other thing we added was a little netting gate just aft of the windlass to keep our 14 month old out of the anchoring gear. It unclips at one side for easy access during anchoring when he's back in the cockpit and strapped in a chair or to a parent.

Chris
SailMentor.com

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