Steve, Sue, and Wil – Sailing Vessel “Serena”

Tips for cruising with an infant ¦ a toddler ¦ pets or back to Meet Four Couples page.

Greetings from S/V “Serena”, our 1976 Pearson 365 ketch and home since 1984. Our crew consists of Steve (age 38), Sue (age 37), Wil (age 3), and Rudder the Wonder Dog (age 13).

Our desire to cruise was instilled early as both Steve and I grew up cruising with our respective families on the Chesapeake Bay. We had owned several boats individually and, after we married in 1989, we sold all but “Serena”. We spent the next four years preparing the boat for sea & saving every spare penny for the cruising kitty.

We’d planned to depart our home port of Urbanna, Virginia in the spring of 1993 but this was delayed by the birth of our son, Wil – not in our original plans!! As he was a healthy baby and we were “almost” ready (no one is ever completely ready), we left in the fall of 1993.

In our first two and a half years we’ve sailed the U.S. East Coast to Florida, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, USVI and BVI, Leeward and Windward islands, the Venezuelan Coast including its remote offshore islands, and Bonaire.

Needing to replenish the cruise kitty, we sailed from Margarita to St. Thomas, USVI, arriving in time for Christmas 1994. We have been here working over a year as our diesel engine died, etc. Steve has found a job in his “stateside” profession (attorney) and I’m a boatwife/mother.

When we departed, Wil was eight months old and I was a bit anxious about caring for him as well as my geriatric, but boat-savvy, dog. Wil has remained healthy with a few exceptions and Rudder has needed a Vet only once.

Cruising with an Infant (BACK TO TOP OF PAGE)

Assuming the child is normal and healthy, this age is as easy as it gets. They can’t move around and the motion is similar to the womb. I’ve read seasickness in infants is highly unusual. Breastfeeding is possible under most all conditions and you don’t have to worry about tainted food or water. A carseat strapped in the cockpit and one below is a great help

Cruising with an Toddler (BACK TO TOP OF PAGE)

As on land, life becomes more complicated. The use of canvas enclosures to keep the tyke in or out is important. They need a safe, confined place to play when the seas are up. Restraining seats no longer work. Toys must be boat-size and completely stowable. They should also be larger than your scuppers! Most kids of this age delight in being topside while sailing to watch the waves, fish, etc. Have a good harness and tether. At anchor, Wil is required to wear a lifejacket while on deck. Teach them to swim EARLY!

Cruising with a Dog (BACK TO TOP OF PAGE)

If your dog is part of your family and enjoys your current cruising, take him. A thorough checkup and discussion with the Vet regarding medications for injury/illness should ease any anxiety; be sure to get a valid rabies certificate and a “letter of good health” which several island Governments insist upon. That being said, we haven’t run into any Governmental hassles in the Caribbean. Get a good self-treatment book. Don’t forget a lifejacket. Even the oldest dog can learn the new trick of “going” on deck. Rudder didn’t like it but she also didn’t let herself get sick before she gave in to the inevitable.

Steve , Sue, & Wil Russell, Norfolk, VA