Tag Archives: Babies on boats

Orbit’s sunglasses go ‘plop’

A few months ago, I was walking to Medina with Orbit in his backpack. Everything was going well, Orbit was happy, sun was shining, it wasn’t too hot or humid, it was high tide so the ramp to the floating pontoons was at a easy angle to walk down, I even had the groceries evenly balanced. If someone was watching, they might have thought I was picture of an organised boat mum!

Orbit with his old sunglasses on

Orbit with his old sunglasses on

We were about halfway to Medina when I heard, ‘plop’, something had fallen in the water. When something falls in the water, I instantly get a feeling of dread, I know I am not going to be able to retrieve it.

The source of the ‘plop’ was Orbit’s sunglasses hitting the water.

As I watched them sinking slowly to the bottom of the marina, a thought passed through my head.

I could drop the shopping, lie on my tummy (with Orbit still in the backpack) and try to reach for the slow descending sunglasses, maybe, just maybe I could retrieve them?

But reality hit a) the sunglasses were probably out of my reach b) Orbit would probably fall out of the backpack as I was reaching for the sunglasses or we would both fall in the water with his weight counterbalancing me forward.  I would rather replace the sunglasses then have us fall in the water! So there I stood, watching the sunglasses descend, no longer feeling like I was the picture of being an organised boat mum.

Living on a sailing boat, and already having had one BCC removed, I am conscious about sun protection. Not only for myself but for Orbit and the Skipper too. Sunglasses are an important part how we protect ourselves from the damage caused by the sun.

This is why I had the feeling of dread watching Orbit’s sunglasses sink to the bottom of the marina. If it was a non essential item, I would not worry about it, but sunglasses are pretty important, so they would need to be quickly replaced.

Orbit modelling his new sunglasses while waiting to get in the tinny

Orbit modelling his new sunglasses while waiting to get in the tinny

Trying to learn from my mistakes, I found a pair of children’s sunglasses that float! A brand called Squids, baby sunglasses are called Mini Squids. I purchased mine from an Australian company, Eyetribe.

I chose the Mini Squids because they are designed for babies and toddlers, aged 0-2, provide 100% UV protection (which meets the relevant Australian Standard), have shatterproof polycarbonate safety lenses, are light weight and are extremely flexible, Orbit hasn’t been able to break his yet. And did I mention that they float?

Now he Orbit is getting older, the sunglasses are staying on longer, and he sometimes asks to put them on, especially if the Skipper has his sunglasses on. 

So I think we maybe winning the sun protection battle, sunscreen – tick; shirt – tick; hat – tick; sunglasses – getting there!

The magic of sailing …

Orbit checking out the headsail

Orbit checking out the headsail

Each time Orbit is on deck he discovers something new.  On a recent sail from Moreton Island back to the ‘mainland’ or Manly, we had the perfect conditions for Orbit to be on deck and this time he discovered the sails. It was the first time he has really taken notice of the them, stopping, watching and contemplating for a significant period of time.

As he was doing so, I did my best to explain the magic of sailing.

How, in the seconds just after the engine is turned off, there is the apparent silence and then as our ears adjust, the lack of engine noise transforms into the noises of sailing and the boat being pulled through the water.

Orbit checking out the main sail

Orbit checking out the main sail

I went on to describe how I have a feeling of my immediate world altering and not just by heeling over to varying degrees! It’s a like a weight has been lifted or a sense of peace descends. Maybe it’s being one with nature, like an unconscious connection back to the environment, as we are driven by the wind and not the engine. I asked Orbit if it could be described as a feeling of freedom?

Or maybe its just as simple as the lack of engine noise, the relaxation that comes with the beer after the sails are up and the wind in our hair …

Orbit patiently listened as I rambled off my attempts to explain the magic of sailing. I am sure he will come up with his own explanation in time (which will be more articulate than my own), but now just the look of joy on his face is articulate enough.

Orbit telling the Skipper how to trim the sails

Orbit telling the Skipper how to trim the sails

The Skipper and I are really looking forward to the day that we can have Orbit on deck so he can see the magic happen. At the moment Orbit is just hearing the magic as he is tucked up in his bed out of harms way. He is usually asleep by the time the sails are up and trimmed. But when he does wake during a passage, he is keen to be in the cockpit and to be on deck (if the conditions are appropriate) and have the wind though his hair.

One of the wonderful things about sailing with a toddler is the opportunity to see things through their eyes. It makes me look at things differently, to re-evaluate what I think I already know. Although I still ‘get’ the magic each time we are sailing, watching Orbit looking at the sails was an opportunity to try to articulate the magic and a reminder to appreciate our adventures, no matter how big or small and for this I am truly grateful.

Medina, between Moreton Island and St Helena Island

Medina, between Moreton Island and St Helena Island (Orbit was asleep when this photo was taken)

Thanks to Cam and Kim from Trio for the photo of Medina

Orbit – from Medina to the tinny and then back again

One of the regular questions the Skipper and I get asked is, ‘how do you get Orbit into the tinny’?

Step 1

Step 1

We only put Orbit in the tinny when the conditions are appropriate. We have often had wonderful plans to be put on hold until the wind or swell drops. 

Step 2

Step 2

We use a pretty simple process, one that has worked to date with no major mishaps. The biggest mishap so far has been associated Orbit’s enthusiasm to assist with loading the tinny. Orbit was passing a water bottle to the Skipper and let go before the Skipper could grab hold of it. Lucky it floated!

Step 3

Step 3

Once the tinny is in the water and secured to the transom, I pop Orbit into his lifejacket. I have learnt to have what ever we are taking in the tinny ready to go and on deck before putting Orbit into his life jacket. Going in the tinny is one of Orbit’s favourite things to do and once his life jacket is on, he knows he is about to go on an adventure. Orbit has the usual patience of a nearly 2 year old (i.e. not much), but even this is severely limited once the life jacket goes on – he just wants to go!

Step 4, and off we go!

Step 4, and off we go!

While I am in the cockpit putting Orbit in his lifejacket, the Skipper hops into the tinny and transfers the majority of our gear and any large or heavy items. Once Orbit is in his life jacket and on deck, he helps the Skipper load the tinny, passing each of the remaining item or bag at a time. Once the tinny is loaded, I then pass Orbit to the Skipper. When they are happy in the tinny, its my turn to hop in. Then the Skipper passes Orbit to me and starts the outboard. The Skipper then undoes the lines that are holding the tinnie to Medina and we are off on an adventure!

Coming back on to Medina or onto another boat, we go through the same process but in the reverse order.

Our adventures usually fall into three categories, a shore excursion (and swim when its warm enough), visiting friends on their boats or a spin around the anchorage. We all love going for a ride in the tinny, it breaks away any of the niggles of cabin fever. The Skipper and I are already talking about when we’ll let Orbit take the tinny out by himself, but that is going to be for a long time yet!

A big thanks to Andrew for taking these photos for me!

Follow up on the Jackstay post

Kinetic Energy

Kinetic Energy

A big thanks to Andy for his feedback on my post on installing jackstays. Andy is the skipper of Adelaide based Kinetic Energy.  Andy and Les (Andy’s partner in life, co-owner of Kinetic Energy and foredeck guru) gave me the opportunity to race on Kinetic Energy when I lived in Adelaide. They are two of the most adventurous and generous people I know.  To have crewed for them was a wonderful learning experience in sailing and in life.

Below is some of Andy’s e-mail which I wanted to share.

“The currently teaching in SSSC is “intelligent tethering”. A tether is meant to keep you on the boat, not just attached to the boat. I suppose this is especially true for toddlers when you may not be able to get to them if you need to handle the boat in a crisis. Using a 3 clip tether so you always have a short tether available. Moving the jackstays further inboard. Terminating the jackstays to the centre line on the bow so they are further from the edge are all good considerations. This approach came from the “Lion” incident where the skipper went overboard from the foredeck on his tether and was dragged along with his lifejacket inflated. The helmsman did not tack the boat and he drowned. You only need 1 knot of boat speed to drag someone under when on a tether.”

When I first read this part of Andy’s e-mail, I thought you are right (Andy is rarely wrong).

But …

Either the Skipper or I will be with Orbit when he is on deck, plus, we would never let Orbit on deck if the conditions weren’t appropriate …

And then …

I thought about it some more, and things do go wrong. Even when you are on guard, even when the conditions are perfect, even when you are doing everything to prevent them, accidents do happen.

Les and I on the foredeck of Kinetic Energy

Les and I mid sail change on Kinetic Energy

So it is based on Andy’s feedback that I am reviewing our gear to see if we can make it and the way we do things safer. It is also another gentle reminder to be careful, not only looking out for Orbit and his safety, but the safety of the Skipper and myself.

Another learning from the “Lion incident” was the importance of practicing man overboard drills. This is particularly important in our situation, with only two adults on board and if one adult goes over the side.

Thank you Andy and thank you to others who have provided feedback – it is all welcomed and accepted with gratitude and appreciation.