My family has chartered a 47’ caterman for a 7 day trip in the BVIs. We are traveling with four small kids under the age of 6. I’ve heard netting can be secured to the perimeter guard rail of the boat for added safety but I can’t find anyone to provide the netting. BVI yacht charters responded they don’t provide this service.
What are the ages of the children? If they are over 3 enforce a simple rule that they do not leave the interior of the boat without a life jacket on. If younger and mobile it gets more difficult. How many adults will be on the boat? Will there be alcohol use by the adults? These are all factors in what I would be comfortable with in regards to the children. I don’t think the netting provides much added security. You could certainly purchase netting and bring it down with you. Plan on a couple hours to rig it but kids can easily circumvent it. Keep the adults sober and the kids in life jackets. Anytime you are underway keep the kids in the cockpit. If they want to go out of the cockpit an adult has to go with and remain with them. Most important is to bring life jackets with you for each child that they are comfortable wearing. Don’t rely on the charter company for the jackets.
We just got back from a trip with three little children. Some charter companies will do the netting for a fee. I know navigare will do it at $450.
We chose to look for a boat that has a walkthrough layout, such as the Leopard 45 (what we chose - http://www.thecaptainscompass.com/images/SM_Fwrd_Cafe_2.jpg) or the Bali. Then the kids dont have to walk the side decks ever, even at a slip or on a mooring. Also, fewer worries with open hatches either.
I took my extended family with four grandchildren on a trip this past June. Reflecting on this experience, I can wholeheartedly agree that the young children must wear life vests when underway, unless in their cabins or the main salon area with an adult. I would be concerned that having netting would lead to the adults becoming complacent and less watchful, a potentially bad combination. Nothing replaces the mantra that everyone should be taught one hand for themselves, one hand for the boat. If the kids have any issue with sea motion, the best place is outside in the cockpit getting plenty of fresh air.