Monday, January 22, 2018

Letter to the Editor

May 1, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Dear Editor:

Should you ship out with your kids? The short answer, of course, is yes. Recreational boating revolves around family fun on the water. An afternoon cruise on a sunny day is a grand opportunity to introduce the small fry to the wonderful world of boating. But the question takes on a larger perspective with the recent ocean rescue of a family of four, including two toddlers,900 miles off the coast of Mexico.

I won’t second guess, draw conclusions,or point fingers. Suffice it to say the Coast Guard and other government agencies performed admirably. No lives were lost although the damaged boat was sunk by the authorities as a navigational hazard.  But the story in the media, on sailing blogs and other maritime forums focuses on when it’s time to include junior in the crew.

Thoughtful skippers may want to ask themselves some tough questions. Can my child walk or stand alone?The most popular pleasure boat in Long Island waters is an open runabout, not more than 25 feet in length. Even in the best of conditions, this is not a steady platform. High speed, waves, wind and current make for a bouncing rock ‘n roll ride. What happens to a child who can’t hold on?

If junior needs constant adult supervision, what happens if there is an emergency? If there are only two adults aboard — a common crew makeup — if one member must hold, restrain, or constantly watch over a little one, he or she is not going to be available should the vessel suddenly need all hands.

Is curiosity a good thing?  There are lots of ropes to pull or untie and buttons to push for eager little fingers, not to mention crawling on the foredeck or perching on the rail.

Are you suitably equipped to safeguard tiny bodies? All children 12 and under in New York state are required to wear a life jacket, but there’s a finite limit to children’s sizes. A cradle is no substitute for a PFD.

Can your tiny passenger swim?  Everyone on a boat should be able to.

Have fun with the family this weekend, but play it safe as to who’s aboard.


William C. Winslow

Division 5 – Staff Officer Public Affairs

First District Southern Region

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary


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