Part 2: The solution was—and still is—perfect.
By Diane M. Byrne — September 2002
The car seat was a lifesaver (imagine trying to cradle a newborn in your arms for a few hours on a moving boat while simultaneously balancing yourself), but there was no way to secure it the way it's done in a car. So Koeppel turned to Bob Fay, Dan and Pat Schmidt, Pat Canary, and the rest of the Davison's Boatyard crew in East Rockaway, New York, for help. He'd known many of them on a personal level for years, and the yard had always maintained and winterized his boats. No one asked him why he didn't just leave the baby at home with a sitter; in fact, Fay, who's a father himself, says his initial reaction was, “It’s common-sense stuff.”
The solution was—and still is—perfect. Seatbelt-like fastenings on the flying bridge's benchseats let Koeppel keep an eye on Harrison while he's driving and keeps Harrison (a.k.a. "Mr. Trouble") from wandering or falling into danger. The fastenings clip into Harrison's car seat just like a vehicle's seatbelts do, and because they're located on both sides of the flying bridge, the car seat can be relocated if the sun is too intense. Sahara's design integrity stays intact, since the straps tuck away between the benchseat cushions when not in use.
The Davison's crew welcomed the chance to create more babyproofing solutions with Koeppel. For example, Fay conceived an extra canvas-and-EZ2CY partition for the flying bridge that would prevent Harrison from accidentally slipping through the space between the conventional enclosure and the first rung of the ladder. Fay, Canary, and the folks from EZ2CY designed the panel to zip around the top of the handrails and the opening above the first step. Just like the car seat fasteners, the partition is easily stowed away when Harrison isn't aboard.
Other modifications took a bit more design ingenuity and expert joinerwork. Koeppel wanted a way to put his son down for a nap that wouldn't require either him or his wife to stand watch over Harrison to prevent him from being tossed out of bed by a wave. Canary devised a makeshift crib from the lower bunk in the forward cabin. After building up the outer edge of the berth with a few inches of wood, varnished to match the original, Canary attached a standard crib panel that when raised meets the lower edge of the top bunk. Better yet, Canary attached it with just three screws, making it simple to remove when Harrison gets older and therefore having minimal impact on the original berth. There's also padding along the outer bulkhead to replicate a traditional crib bumper pad.
Another safety modification by Canary that had minimal impact was the creation of a safety gate for the steps leading from the saloon to the galley and staterooms. Harrison began walking at age 11 months and discovered the joy of stairs four months later, so the steps presented a world of temptations. Canary installed two pieces of wood molding on either side of the companionway that blend with the overall decor. A solid white panel slides into tracks down the center of the molding, looking like it's another part of the traditional nautical design and effectively keeping Harrison from getting underfoot.
This article originally appeared in the November 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.