Topic: First Time on Broads - Child Safety Question

tonkatravels    -- Oct-27-2017 @ 12:21 AM
  Hi all,

We’re visiting the Norfolk Broads in April 2018 with our 11 and 13 year old daughters and are hoping people could please offer some advice.

We’ll be hiring a boat (for three weeks) and have got safety harnesses for the girls which they’ll have on all the time, but we’re wondering what lifejackets people would recommend.  We know the boat hire firms often provide them but we’d rather bring our own so we know we’ve got the best and most comfortable ones.  At the moment we’re looking at getting them the Crewsaver Supersafe jackets but are wondering if anyone has used them and if they’re good, or might recommend something else?

Thanks very much any help.

knowsitall    -- Oct-27-2017 @ 7:35 AM
  Welcome,You might want to try these people

who give Free advice,also they have package prices for a set of 4 complete with carry bag.
Or you could visit a chandelry and try them on,personal I would go for the automatic type that self inflate.


This message was edited by knowsitall on Oct-27-17 @ 8:53 AM

Regulo    -- Oct-27-2017 @ 7:54 AM
  Welcome. What do you mean by safety harnesses? If you're on a cruiser why would you need harnesses? I understand sea-going and racing yachts might require them, but it seems a bit OTT for a broads motor cruiser? Especially if you are thinking of investing in auto-inflating life jackets. Unless I am mis-reading your post.

Regards, Ray.

Whatever happens now, I'm blaming it on Brexit. Everyone else is!

steve    -- Oct-27-2017 @ 8:45 AM
  Hi there,
Welcome to the forum , can I ask what hireboat yard your hiring from ? Reason being that many of the hireboat yards do now supply comfortable lifejackets , it may pay to ring and ask the yard what type they do supply , it really is pointless in buying lifejackets when comfortable ones are supplied, few little pointers or rules I have in place when I'm afloat with the family , everyone inside when afloat going along , when either mooring up or setting off , lifejackets on , when crossing breydon water again everyone inside whist travelling,

steve and vicky
( apparently a moaner)

Marshman    -- Oct-27-2017 @ 9:17 AM
  I have just had a look at the Crewsaver Supersafe and to be honest I would not waste my money - they do not need the additional foam on the rivers. Buy two auto inflates - there is plenty on offer around £50 or so and the girls may enjoy having some of the more brightly coloured ones now available.

I have never insisted on mine wearing life jackets within the confines of the boat, but especially when moving, when on deck and coming into moor etc etc. A lot of commonsense has to be involved - you after all are ultimately responsible - even outside a golden rule is one hand for yourself and one for the boat!!

But with two young girls an absolute necessity is hiring a dinghy - kids can have endless fun teaching themselves to row and being safe they can quite happily go off doing that on their own with only minimum supervision!

And jackets under similar rules for the adults makes sense too - as has been said lots of yards now supply them but if they have been used a bit, on handover just ask the yard to check that the gas bottle is screwed in properly - they can work loose.

Helmsman1946    -- Oct-27-2017 @ 9:51 AM
  Hi Tonkatravels
I agree with what earlier posts say however here are a few points to add
When my daughter was 11 she and her 11yo friend crewed for me on the broads (first time visit for both though both could swim)no problem at all & back when 12,13 14 & 15 with 3 different friends!
Boatyard jackets bright orange and cumbersome and not popular and rarely seen in use (I have been observing from the quay all summer)
Just be sure they avoid the side decks when under way and don't play around till moored .North broads mean less time between stops though in 3 weeks do visit both
I dont think I have seen anyone  using tie-lines and most boats not conducive to their use use as designed no doubt for sea going type of boats and such vessels do not go under most bridges.
Let us know what you are hiring to allow members to sharpen their responses
Have fun!


annville    -- Oct-27-2017 @ 10:21 AM
  Hi Tonka I would suggest a auto one that is the easiest and most comfortable one to put on and wear,I have seen lots of children refusing to wear a jacket when its bulky and restrictive,especially if its hot and sunny and for three weeks!! it needs to be comfortable and automatic, One other thing try it on first before you buy if your child is big many jackets straps aren't long enough to be comfortable.John

Helmsman1946    -- Oct-27-2017 @ 10:46 AM
  Hi again
As if by magic since sending original message there were a family of regular boaters on the quay and they recommend Crewsaver Crewfit 150 which are red but their children are happy to wear as quite discreet they got them on line the children (about 9 & 11 were full of praise for them )They agreed harness not practical except if ever seagoing!
Hope this helps


Luise    -- Oct-27-2017 @ 11:06 AM
  Welcome... as I was drafting a response Helmsman beat me to it!

I’m a great Crewsaver fan, if they’re good enough for the professionals they’re good enough for me; my wife and myself each have Hammar hydrostatic auto-inflating jobbies with crutch straps (note I said “have”, don’t always wear, mea maxima culpa), and we keep a couple of non-Hammar ones on board for guests.

For our grandson we have a Crewsaver foam lifejacket, most importantly with a steel ring to attach a safety line, he’s not allowed on deck without one of us on the other end of it. But at four years old he’s already finding it uncomfortable and your daughters will NOT enjoy the Supersafe models. Crewfit 150 Junior might be more appropriate and Winter deals are to be had; “safety harnesses” seem to be a bit of overkill?

I can’t comment on the jackets now being provided by the boatyards, but if you intend to hire more frequently - I’m sure your girls will love it - purchasing comfortable lifejackets that will become second nature for them to wear might be an investment.


stumpy    -- Oct-27-2017 @ 4:48 PM
  Crewsavers are worn by Harwich pilot boat crew and are what HM gave customs officers for messing about in boats (I've still got mine (wink emoji))

Andy and Kathy (IP11)

Helmsman1946    -- Oct-27-2017 @ 4:55 PM
  Just seen a Norfolk Broads Direct cruiser moor up, the 11- 12 yo was wearing what looked like Crewsaver 150 it was definitely their first time but did not get a chance to ask about the life jacket


Marshman    -- Oct-27-2017 @ 5:58 PM
  Check these out - the new Crewsaver Junior with the new zip that "bursts" when it inflates - these are even more comfortable. Also have the indicator window showing "green" if ok or "red" if there is an issue

but even cheaper at Marine Superstore!!

tonkatravels    -- Oct-27-2017 @ 8:00 PM
  Wow! Thank you for all the welcomes and very helpful replies – we’re really grateful.

We’re not sure exactly which company we’ll be hiring from yet, but we contacted Barnes Brinkcraft, Richardson’s and Blakes.  We’re still deciding on the size of the boat we’re going to hire – we’d like one comfortable for 4 people and one we can practically and safely handle, but are still working through the choices (at the moment we’re thinking of something like one from the Barnes Brinkcraft elite fleet).

We’re sorry if we weren’t clear - the harnesses we’ve got for them are these ones (  They’ll have them on all the time so we can clip a safety line on whenever they go on the front or the deck to ensure they are clipped on or at least held onto by one of us.  Thanks for the tip about avoiding side decks when underway – we’ll definitely make sure they stick to the front deck or back deck only.  Please forgive us if we’re misunderstanding, but some of you said that harnesses weren’t a good option – is there a specific reason why?  Sorry for not knowing about these things!

And thanks so much for the recommendations for the inflatable lifejackets, but we’re not keen on these for the girls and only want the foam type lifejackets for them at their age.  We understand they’re a bit bulkier than the inflatable type, but we know also they’re 100% reliable (no chance of any issues with loose gas cartridges or any risk of them not inflating when they should or shouldn’t).  We obviously expect the odd moan here or there about them, but they will understand and they’ll do that with something any way!  We appreciate the suggestions but we do want them in the foam type and we found so many different ones online there must be one they’ll find comfortable.

We’ve been looking at the Crewsaver ones because they have the safety collar and looked not just the safest, but also best designed to sit/walk/move around in – at least to our untrained eye.  Is this what we should be looking for or are we understanding that this is not the safest type?  Sorry again for the ignorance!

If anyone has any suggestions for foam type lifejackets they have found worked well, or any tips on choosing them, we’d really appreciate it.  And thanks for the tip about trying them on – we’ll be sure to find a store which has whichever ones people recommend and have the girls try them on.

Thank you all very much again for the help and sorry if we weren’t clear and for our lack of knowledge!

Cocklegat    -- Oct-27-2017 @ 9:09 PM
  Its a bad idea to have clip on harnesses on the Broads. These are designed for offshore use. In my opinion the concept of using these on the Broads would be dangerous! Having brought up two children on the Broads we only ever used buoyancy aids.  With the exception of the lower Bure and Yare where more caution should be observed, the bulk of the Broads are very safe.  It's far better that should somebody go overboard they can be clear of the boat and thus be able to scramble ashore. Children love the Broads when they are able to explore themselves by using the likes of a dingy. It's not much fun when they are confined to simply sitting and not being allowed to do anything. An 11 and 13 year old should be helping moor up and feeling they are a part of 'the crew'  As I say, having a dingy and letting them learn  to row themselves, could be an important part of their holiday, and will pay dividends.
As a child this is how I got to love the Broads, both my children have fallen in, and I can't remember just how many times I've done it!  Take sensible precautions with life jackets/ buoyancy aids of which the self inflating type are the least restricting,and probably your best option, and above all enjoy yourself! The Broads have always been famous as the learning ground for would be sailors, as far back as Nelson, who learnt to sail on Barton as a child. The generally slow moving waters of the Northern rivers and shallow depths make it a very safe place.

Regulo    -- Oct-27-2017 @ 9:14 PM
  No need to apologise for lack of knowledge, there's ALWAYS something to learn!
I really don't think safety harnesses are necessary for 11 and 13 year olds. Especially if they're going to be wearing life jackets (of whatever design) at all times on deck. To be realistic, they're only going to be on deck when casting off or mooring up, anyway. But whatever gives you peace of mind without being over-protective. Kids need a bit of freedom in today's climate, in my opinion.  Smile

Regards, Ray.

Whatever happens now, I'm blaming it on Brexit. Everyone else is!

Matt40    -- Oct-27-2017 @ 9:33 PM
  I grew up messing about on the River Thurne at Potter from 76 to 93! we never wore buoyancy aids or lifejackets on cruisers, if we were messing about in small dinghy's, learning to row or use the outoard etc, but rather than restricting what they do teach them river safety, never ever have I fallen into any of the rivers. Relax, the river can be incredible freedom for kids and may just become their favourite place on earth

This message was edited by Matt40 on Oct-27-17 @ 10:35 PM

Jeremy-Aslan    -- Oct-27-2017 @ 11:05 PM
  Hi  -  another welcome from me, too.

We have three children, and have been boating on the Broads since before they were born, and ever since then  -  they are now all in their twenties, and all keen sailors.  I am also on the senior leadership team of a venture that takes youngsters aged 11 to 16 sailing each Easter.

There has been much good advice so far, and opinions will vary slightly.  What I think we all have in common is that some form of Personal Flotation Device (PFD) should be worn by children when there is a risk they may fall in.  

So here is my opinion:
I would recommend buoyancy aids rather than true life-jackets for children, whether the LJ is foam-filled or self-inflating.  The reason for this is that a buoyancy aid is much more comfortable than a foam-filled life jacket (which has all the buoyancy and bulk at the front) and safer in a dinghy than a self-inflating type (which can lead to entrapment if the dinghy rolls over).  Also, lets face it, youngsters are pretty likely to fall in at some stage, and that's expensive if it's an auto-inflate Life Jacket.  A buoyancy aid can also be used for other watersports, such as kayaking and canoeing, or dinghy sailing (in 'proper' dinghies).  The difference between a buoyancy aid and a life jacket is that the former does not guarantee to roll you face up if you go in the water unconscious  -  but that is extremely unlikely from a motor cruiser.  I struggle to think how someone could be knocked out and fall overboard, let alone without being noticed immediately by someone who could jump in and assist.

I would not recommend any form of life-lines for children aged 11 and 13 at any time on the Broads.  All boats have handrails to hold onto, but no jack-stays to attach a short line to; and having a child dragged along behind a moving cruiser would (in my opinion) be much more dangerous than them falling clear.  There would be a few occasions when it would be too dangerous for them to be on deck, such as crossing Breydon Water;  then it is simply the case that everyone stays in the cockpit.

Others have said that walking along the side-decks under way would be too dangerous;   my opinion is different, in that I consider it safe as long as the water is calm (almost always true on the Broads) and you are able to hold onto the handrail.

Another aspect is that persuading children to wear their buoyancy aids is much easier if the adults wear a PFD at all times as well  -  for adults a self-inflating life jacket may be the most appropriate.  My rule is that if you are outside the cabin and the boat is moving - wear it!  

The situation at moorings needs care; it can be easy to say that we've stopped moving and so there's no danger, but guess when most people fall in (!).   Of course, carefully stepping from boat to bank (to eat in a local hostelry, for example)  should be OK.  Then again, playing games which involve running around the deck of a moored boat, or even playing ball on the bank nearby can all too easily end in a dunking Frown   Basically, you need to do a quick risk assessment and decide whether an activity should be allowed at all (without curbing youthful enjoyment too much), and if is, whether PFDs should be worn (erring on the side of caution, where feasible).

Remember, boating is actually very safe.  More people die of drowning in their bath than in boating accidents!  Also, while you may know your own children very well, my experience is that children are not stupid  -  if you explain the dangers and how they can avoid getting wet and cold, they will usually understand and comply.  Letting them have freedom and find out the magic of boating for themselves is (IMHO) one of the greatest benefits you can give them.

'We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty' (HHGG)

uitmis    -- Oct-28-2017 @ 9:22 AM
  There is absolutely no reason why anyone hiring a cruiser needs to buy their own lifejackets.  As far as I know all the hire companies provide automatic inflatable lifejackets for the adults and foam ones for children.  

Dreamer    -- Oct-28-2017 @ 9:30 AM
  There has been much good advice given here, particularly in the last three posts. As an ‘older’ boater, I am now in the habit of wearing my life jacket whenever I go to moor up or cast off. That is because I am not as agile as I once was and, although I have been boating for many years, I feel safer with the LJ on. Boats are hired by thousands of people every year, all hire yards hand out good quality buoyancy aids or LJs but you won’t often see folk wearing them. Those that do are the sensible ones. Yes, insist that the girls wear their LJs but I think that by putting them into harnesses you will inhibit them and to an extent probably spoil their enjoyment of what will be a new adventure. I think it safe to say that they will be the only ones wearing them. Also, as has been said above, they could be dangerous in the wrong circumstances.
Have you chosen your boat yet for April? If you do need any information on hire boats, there will be plenty of members here to help. Whatever you choose, I hope you will have a wonderful time.

This message was edited by Dreamer on Oct-28-17 @ 10:31 AM

annville    -- Oct-28-2017 @ 10:30 AM
  Hi If you insist on a foam jacket the yard will supply a good as it gets one plus as it will have been worn before its likely to be a little more supple therefore more comfortable and not as stiff as a new one plus you can try on for fit. if bought on ebay you wont be able to try the fit first.get the yard to email you a picture of the one they will be supplying when you have decided on what yard/boat you will be hiring if suitable you will have a choice of fit when you pick the boat up.John

Limbury1    -- Oct-28-2017 @ 1:50 PM
  If you do buy your own buoyancy aids get the crutch straps to go with them ,these stop the aid from rising up to the head and neck.

Limbury 1
If you can't see it it's not there ,if you
can see it , it's still not there,the world
is all Illusion.

tonkatravels    -- Oct-29-2017 @ 1:54 AM
  Thanks again for all the welcomes and extra advice – we’re really grateful for the help and tolerating our beginner status!

Thanks for explaining about the harnesses; we understand much more now and are starting to think again about the idea.  That they’re clear of the boat should they go overboard makes a lot of sense and we understand now that some boats might not have anchoring points and that they’d likely be the only ones wearing harnesses.  The reason we got them was so they could sit on the front or the back deck when we’re underway and be safely clipped on with short enough safety lines to keep them away from the sides of the boat so there is no chance they could go overboard.  We understand that might seem a bit restrictive for them, but we actually decided it would be the opposite and be better because they could enjoy sitting on the front deck or back deck completely safely without needing to wear a lifejacket. We certainly won’t be letting them sit very near or on the sides with their legs over the edge under any circumstances, so we thought if they have the harnesses on it would be much more comfortable for them than a lifejacket when sitting on the deck (or laying down frontwards and reading as they love to do).  Also, if the weather is nice (fingers crossed!), then their harnesses would not make them overly warm or uncomfortable like a lifejacket might do.  We also figured that if they want to move around to take photos or videos my wife or I would hold their safety lines and they could move a bit easier than if they had lifejackets on.

We asked about lifejackets because when it’s colder, getting darker in the evening, and definitely always at boarding/mooring we’d have them come inside the boat and put them on beforehand.  We’d also figured that they’d keep them on when having fun and/or walking along the water’s edge if the path or grass is muddy or slippery.

Thanks for the recommendation about the buoyancy aids but we looked up the difference and while we really appreciate the idea, I we’d feel much better with proper lifejackets.  The girls are not strong swimmers and if the worst were to happen and either hit their head and fell in unconscious having the collar (and as was noted the crutch straps as well) would provide better protection for them.  Also, part of the reason we’re looking at the Crewsaver ones was that they have built-in harnesses and an attachment point for a safety line at the back so we could still use the safety lines with them just like we thought about with the harnesses.  Thanks for the idea – and we absolutely get what you’re saying, but being first-timers and unfamiliar with docking, mooring, etc., we’d much rather have the extra protection of a proper lifejacket.  And now we understand that with lifejackets the buoyancy is at the front, then that might be a reason to keep the harnesses for when we’re underway – but as we said we’re now rethinking the harness idea.  We hope we love the Broads as much as everyone here on the forum does and if we come back we’ll maybe go with buoyancy aids then as we’ll have more experience.

Also, thanks for the tips about Breydon water – we looked up more about it and we’ll definitely all be inside if and when we cross it.  We’ll also contact each company and ask them to send photos of the lifejackets they can provide.  Thanks so much again for tips and advice – we really appreciate the help.  Given what everyone has said, we are rethinking the harness idea, but still aren’t sure if we’re comfortable with them just in lifejackets and we do want them to be able to have fun on the front and back deck and enjoy themselves as much as they can.

Sorry to add another long message when everyone has been so helpful.  We don’t mean to sound like we’re rejecting tips and advice – quite the opposite – we are very grateful!  We just wanted to explain our thinking more fully so we can do the best and safest thing.

We really appreciate any input and thanks again for putting up with our novice status!

Dreamer    -- Oct-29-2017 @ 10:10 AM
  Thank you for taking the time to explain your thinking, there are so many differing views on the subject of life jackets etc. Have you actually booked your boat yet? If not, do you have any idea of what boat you fancy? There are many boat reviews which you might find helpful and, of course, there will undoubtedly be a member who has actually hired the boats that you take a liking to and could answer any questions you may have. If you are reasonably close to the the Broads, you could always visit a couple of the boatyards and look at the various types. You might then get a better idea of what would suit you and be safe for the girls. Do make arrangements with the boatyard though, that will ensure the boat/s are available.
You did mention the girls sitting on the back deck whilst harnessed. Whilst not wishing to go over the subject of harnesses again, I would just point out that the greatest danger at the stern is the propeller. Although they may not actually go totally overboard, there is a danger of legs dangling and the body being held in one place by the harness.
It must be obvious from the replies to your queries how hooked we all are and how much we like to help others to catch the bug too. Addiction follows I’m afraid!

This message was edited by Dreamer on Oct-29-17 @ 11:11 AM

bikerinky    -- Nov-3-2017 @ 1:57 PM
  hi tonkatravels
even if you do buy the slimmer style life jackets the boatyard might not approve them and insist you take theirs anyway. i bought my 2 boys the slim type jackets to save storage space on board but the ones i bought didnt have any saftey markings on them, it was on the packaging which id left at home. therefore had to have 2 bulky bright orange life jackets on board filling up valuable storage......the boys never did wear either!!! they are older than your 2 at 13 and 14. mind you they spent most of the time in their cabin on their tablets, though still say they had a great 2 weeks
we had the boat in my pic, broadland orion

Ian boating since 1961

This message was edited by bikerinky on Nov-3-17 @ 3:00 PM

knowsitall    -- Nov-4-2017 @ 8:05 AM
  We are hiring a boat next year for two weeks and have just purchased our own life jackets, reason is a simple one,we know what the lifejacket has been through etc.
We chose Crewsaver,they come with the crotch strap,automatic and will self right.
Very comfortable and lightweight.

boatgirl    -- Nov-4-2017 @ 8:45 AM
  dont worry as long as ythey have boyancy aidS ( life jacketds as they were told and you a nd trherm are sensible here sre a few simple rules my frikends children always follow
keep off the deacks when boagt is moving
use one hand too hold on to rail when moveing arround the boat
if your boat HAS A WELL STAY IN THERE WHILE BOAT MOVVING your kids will lovewthe bfroads i allways did and srill do

uitmis    -- Nov-7-2017 @ 5:04 PM
  In my opinion the safest option for inland waters has to be a buoyancy aid.  It's OK saying 'we've bought our own automatic life jackets', but you can't be 100% sure that they will function properly until they're utilised, whereas you can be sure that a buoyancy aid will keep you afloat.  In the case of an adult it is a matter of personal choice, but where a child is concerned I know where my preference would lie.

Garry1973    -- Nov-7-2017 @ 9:50 PM
  Hi there. What a great thread you have opened up Tonka...
We were on nbd fair sovereign this summer with 4 and 6 yr olds. Our rule was life jackets on when outside cabin but never tied on for reasons explained in the great responses above. Self inflating jackets supplied by nbd were moaned at by the kids for half a day but the deal was wear it or stay inside!
Other point is we booked a boat with a good top deck to keep the kids safeish while under way. At 11-13yrs old they could be fine climbing all over the boat.
Enjoy! We loved it so are back again at Easter

Part time Boater

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