The Swing

Are life jackets at all times absolutely necessary? Not in the Robertson's' book. Literally.

When Behan, Sara, and I wrote the Voyaging With Kids book, we decided from the onset that we would not shy away from presenting differing points of view. Not only would this approach be more valuable to readers, it would save us from reaching consensus on every point. The safety chapter is where I thought we'd discover the most differences between our points of view. After all, safety is kind of at the heart everything, everyone's biggest pre-cruising concern, something that concerns the lives of your kids. I was wrong; we were all pretty in-sync. The only real differences we had weren't really differences of opinion, but differences of approach simply because of the differing ages of our kids.

I’m thinking about all of this because of the video I’m sharing below and a couple articles I read recently.

So the video is a fun one from this past August: our family on deck, under sail just off the coast of Moorea, Eleanor helping Frances swing from the bosun’s chair.

Note the girls aren’t wearing life vests. Is this a safety concern? Not in our book (get it?) Windy and I are strong advocates for life jacket use. We are strong advocates for harness use. All four of us own at least one of each. We all use one or both, but not 24/7, not even all the time that we’re underway and out of the cockpit. Situations and conditions vary. Our rules are firm, but apply situationally.

On this day the water and air were warm. The water was flat and the wind was light. The motor was off and we were under headsail only. The girls are strong and comfortable in the water. They had a blast.

Related is a pair of articles that I recently read on the Huffington Post. Writer Janis Couvreux was a cruising mom aboard Cowabunga. She wrote this article first, about a 30-day crossing of the Atlantic with her family. It's great. It features photos of her very young kids on deck without life vests. She got a lot of critical comments. So she followed up with an assertive article: "No, My Kids Didn't Wear Life Jackets for 10 Years at Sea." I don't agree with Couvreux's arguments in this second article—and if I remembered any of my philosophy classes, I could identify by name the fallacies—but it's a perspective on the topic.

I know a lot of planning-to-go-cruising families read this blog. What do you think?

In our twenties, we traded our boat for a house and our freedom for careers. In our thirties, we lived the American dream. In our forties, we woke and traded our house for a boat and our careers for freedom. And here we are. Follow along with the Roberston's onboard Del Viento on their blog at