Hi, My husband and I were planning to do the 2013 ARC Atlantic crossing in November on our friends boat which is a First 40.7. However, I have discovered I am now pregnant which complicates matters! The baby is due in June and will be 5 months old when we would set off. I am desperately keen still to do it and the other members of crew are happy to have the baby on board (they were the ones that suggested I still came). My husband however thinks it is too risky.
We have done quite a bit of yacht racing and a few longer trips including a crossing from Cork in Ireland across the Bay of Biscay to Spain which was very rough at times but would not call ourselves experienced sailors. Our friends who own the boat are much more experienced. We are both doctors so have medical knowledge and would take a pretty comprehensive first aid kit.
I plan to still be breast feeding at 5 months and wouldn't want to leave the baby for the 2-3 weeks it would take. We have found a few blogs on the web of people that have taken babies on long sailing trips but don't know if we are being stupid to even consider it?
Any advice would be gratefully received!
Hello! First off- congratulations!
Now to your question~ no, you're not being stupid to consider the trip! Babies are great on boats (we brought our baby home to the boat straight from the hospital!). There are however a few things to consider. 1) At five months, you'll definitely be in a routine with the baby, but you'll likely still be pretty tired, especially after rough nights (with the baby). 2) Since your main job will be taking care of the baby, you might not be quite as useful aboard as a regular watch-standing member of the crew. 3) Since it's not your boat, will you have enough time aboard beforehand to get everyone comfortable?
If you decide to go ahead with the trip, definitely spend as much time sailing over the summer as possible, especially with the baby, so you can get things figured out (sleeping, bathing, cooking, eating all on a moving platform).
Jen Brett, CW associate editor
I agree with Jen on all counts. Not at all "stupid" in terms of the baby’s safety, but there are things for yourself to consider. We have cruised extensively since our youngest was 5 months now14 years ago and 30,000 miles later. Babies are all different and that will in part dictate how much time you can contribute to the boat and how much time you will spend with the baby.
Since you will be the main caregiver with breast feeding, meaning you will have to stay in rhythm with the baby, you will find yourself down below more than you may want to as the main place for the baby will be down below. Some babies are easy and others demand more attention. If you go into the trip accepting that you could be a passenger and not all that “useful” on board then go right ahead.
So, to sum up, the real problem with doing the crossing with a 5 month old is not the safety of the baby but what you expect of yourself, what your partner expects of you and what the owners of the boat expect. If everyone can stay open about it as the situation changes, then it’s all good.
What exciting news - on both counts! We, too, had a baby on board when she was only 2-months...so you are not crazy. You may have already heard this before but I appreciated the advice when I was given it: Another cruiser recommended having 2 baby car seats on board, one strapped down below and one strapped in the cockpit (this one may not be feasible -or welcome- depending on the size of the cockpit and the number of crew - but I think you will want at least one) so that, if there was a situation that required all-hands-on-deck, you could pitch in and help, knowing that your baby was safe in his/her car seat. I know it gave me piece-of-mind...Good luck and congratulations!
I suggest starting to think now about your contribution aboard. What can you do that is readily time-shifted? Do you have a good enough grip on weather to interpret weather fax and provide a recommendation once a day? Do all the dishes? Lion's share of the cooking?
5 months should be old enough for you to have an assessment of whether your baby is easy or difficult. If s/he is difficult, doesn't sleep well, cries a lot, demands huge amounts of attention, or such you may want to stay home. If no one is getting adequate rest your boat will be at risk.