PBO features editor Jake Frith introduced his son Daniel to boating quite young, in a quite wet boat. Here’s how…


Mahogany Bob, our 55-year-old LH Walker mahogany on oak clinker dinghy looks lovely and attracts admiring comments everywhere we go, but because she doesn’t get used as often as she should, her lands dry out and so she leaks like a sieve.

Being kept adjacent to the river in the local dinghy park and easy to launch, but safe and very stable, this boat was often first choice for spur of the moment short duration adventures.

When Daniel was a baby, we kept him clear of Mahogany Bob’s wet floor by keeping him on a lap or in a car seat wedged up at the bow.

Small babies are a doddle in good weather even on open boats as they seem to sleep most of the time with the gentle lapping motion, and tend to stay wherever they’re put.

We found it was usually enough to keep him happy if he was suitably warm and dry, not forgetting the appropriate hat, suntan lotion and buoyancy aid.

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When he got to toddler age, I created a simple marine ‘playpen’ for him at the bow from a piece of scrap PVC advertising banner and a few press-fit eyelets.

The boat has its own bow infill raised area and I simply cordoned this off. This gave him an area of his own where soft toys and bottoms could be kept clear of the, usually wet, rest of the boat.

It also kept him well clear of adult elbows when conducting operations like rowing or starting outboard motors. Needless to say, at eight, he now rows and steers the boat himself.


Jake, Daniel and Mahogany Bob

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This feature appeared in the June 2022 edition of Practical Boat Owner. For more articles like this, including DIY, money-saving advice, great boat projects, expert tips and ways to improve your boat’s performance, take out a magazine subscription to Britain’s best-selling boating magazine.

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