At this point 7 years ago, Porter was on the verge of his first birthday and in the preceding few months had become increasingly mobile aboard Yahtzee. Holding onto the settees and cockpit coaming to stand up and take small steps; climbing the companionway stairs faster and faster; and crawling on deck in a life jacket that made him look like a hot dog were all part of his movement repertoire.
With this expanded mobility and full-on walking soon to come, Jill and I made the decision to buy and install lifeline netting around the boat. Putting up netting is a decision not all live-aboard families with newly mobile infants choose to make, and a false sense of security is usually the top reason why. In our case, we figured it couldn’t hurt and, at the very least, it would also keep errant tools, toys and possibly sails from falling off the deck into the water. Decision made, we bought 80-feet of lifeline net from the Seattle Marine and Fishing Supply Company and I set about the task of stringing it up during a series of beautiful spring days in our slip at Shilshole Bay Marina.
Lifeline netting set, we departed the marina later that summer with Porter fully walking and embarked on our cruising adventures. Along the way, Magnus joined our crew and he too learned to crawl and walk on deck with the lifeline netting in place.
Now, thousands of miles later, Magnus is 6 and Porter is about to turn 8. Hard to believe, I know. Having grown up on Yahtzee their entire lives and spending countless hours on deck, the time finally came to remove the netting. (Honestly, we probably could have taken it down far sooner). Thus, on Saturday morning at a Nicaraguan marina oh so far from where I put the lifeline netting in place in Seattle, Porter and I took it down much faster than it had initially gone up.
The occasion itself wasn’t remarkable in any way, but it did flood back so many memories of watching them crawl and walk on deck, play with toys, and help us with any number of boat projects. I can’t remember the netting ever actually saving them from falling overboard, which, in the end, is a win that we’ll take. As expected, the netting did save a few tools and toys along the way — and that’s a win-win.
Plus, Yahtzee looks a lot better without it.