The question of child-proofing is one we are asked quite frequently these days. People seem genuinely concerned and a bit confused about how a boat could possibly be made safe for a child.
In the short term, we won’t be doing any special child-proofing. This is because infants are completely dependent upon their parents. Outside of eating, pooping, sleeping, and crying, they really don’t do much of anything. So, whether we live in a house, a boat, a car, or a box, as long as the baby is cared for, it is just fine.
The issue of child-proofing really doesn’t come into play until the child is able to get itself into trouble (i.e., becomes mobile). One of the advantages of living on a boat is that, unlike a house, boats come child-proofed. How is this possible? Because unlike homes, boats are made to move and are therefore designed to keep people (even small ones) safe and injury-free even under the most violent of conditions.
Unlike a house, one thing you won’t find on a boat is a sharp edge. At sea, you tend to get tossed around a bit, and if you are down below in rough water, you usually bump into...everything. This is why the interior wood found aboard Sea Gem features soft, curved corners, instead of sharp, eye-gouging, edges.
|Navigation Desk Top|
|Kitchen Counter Top|
Even Sea Gem's ceiling is designed for impact. In the highly unlikely scenario of being rolled by a wave (360 degree flip), our ceiling's soft, padded cover would protect our noggins from serious injury (although we'd likely have bigger problems than bumped heads given the weather conditions that would lead to this scenario):
Another thing you don’t have to worry about on a boat is a child opening a cabinet filled with toxic cleaners or breakable objects. Why? Because all of our cabinets, cupboards, and closets have special latches that would be quite challenging for a tiny hands to navigate (most adults have trouble):
These types of locks and latches are necessary on a boat. Imagine what would happen if our cupboards and cabinets didn't shut securely. Every time we sailed, they’d swing open and spill their contents onto the floor.
The obvious child-proofing concern is, of course, the water surrounding our boat. People really seem to freak out about this, which I totally get. Well, have no fear, like all (safe) sailboats, Sea Gem has lifelines surrounding the deck:
These sturdy wires are made for holding onto while walking on deck, and also serve as an obstacle between you and the water. Don’t get me wrong--even with lifelines in place, it is entirely possible to fall into the water (we know from experience). The wires are a simple barrier, not an impenetrable wall. Once the baby starts crawling, we’ll enhance the security of our lifelines by adding nets, similar to what our neighbor has:
Now don't panic--I'm not suggesting that the addition of these nets will make the exterior of our boat child-proof. Nets or not, a strong-willed child could still find their way into the water. In order to ensure the boat is as safe as a house, we'll need to rely on one of the oldest forms of security known to man--a set of parents with watchful eyes! Just as a house-dweller wouldn’t let their child play outside, unattended near a car-filled street, we have no intention of letting ours play on deck, unattended, near a water-filled ocean. Just like our dog, Moishe, our daughter won't be allowed on deck without supervision, and she'll always wear a life jacket while at sea. Most importantly, however, unlike Moishe, our little girl is going to learn to swim.