Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Trapping the Baby

Inside the cabin, Helina is as a safe as any baby that lives in a house.  She's maybe even safer.  We don't have hard corners, stair cases, open windows, electrical outlets near the floor, or other common household hazards.  On deck, however, we need to watch Helina like hawks and make sure she is in a confined space, strapped into place, in a life jacket, etc., etc.  After all, on deck, she is a stumble away from falling into the water.

In summary: inside cabin, safe; outside on deck, unsafe.     

Our challenge, then, is to make sure that Helina remains trapped inside the cabin so that she does not end up on deck without our knowledge.  Since Sea Gem has a very steep staircase/ladder separating the cabin from the deck outside, and since there is a fairly complicated latch/lock keeping the door closed, we figured we'd have at least  3 or 4 years before Helina would be able to climb up and open the door to the deck.

As it turns out, we were perhaps a little optimistic.  Helina is 14 months old, and she can already shoot up the ladder in the blink of an eye.

The Art of Escape
We are constantly pulling her off the ladder after turning our backs for only a few seconds.  And that complicated latch we are relying on?  Our friends with small children who just visited informed us that, as soon as she can reach the latch (probably when she is two), she'll have no problem opening the door.  And we certainly can't have a two-year-old Helina letting herself outside.

And so we realized that we need to make the complicated latch mechanism a little more complicated.  After some trial and error, we settled on the following configuration:

To unlock the door, the stainless steel handle swings to the right.  To unlock the handle, the pin is removed by pushing the button in and pulling down.  That much was already in place.  Now, to unlock the pin, the grey child lock needs to be squeezed on both sides and pulled down.

That should buy us some time.  But if she learns to open the child lock earlier than we'd like her to, we can always replace it with a combination lock.  That will make it harder for us to get out, too, but it will sure keep Helina in place.  Another option we thought of is to add a latch on the outside of the door that would require enough height to reach over the door to unlatch it.  So, one way or another, we'll be trapping Helina in the cabin for the foreseeable future.

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