Sailing with a Young Crew

Ready to set sail for a safe and fun holiday with kids? Parents often worry that children will feel restricted in the limited area onboard, be unhappy, and ruin everyone’s holiday. The truth is, however, children love being on the boat! No matter what their age is, what an adult sees as the ‘little space’ onboard is actually a playground for kids, with a vast garden which is the sea. Children naturally fit into an active holiday on the boat, you only need to take the safety precautions and be prepared for the kids’ needs.

Sailing with a Young Crew

Let’s think of the babies, for example. The boat is like a cradle for them. Preschoolers will find a lot to discover aboard, all you need to do is to give them some hints. And if you plan for some activities, children of primary school age will also love this holiday. The teenagers seem to be the hardest group. But if you can provide them the privacy they need, they’ll be just fine enjoying life on a sunbed under the shade.

Your sailing holiday will be your children’s closest experience with nature, broadening their horizons and enhancing their imagination. Plus, it’s going to be very good for their health. A sea holiday with happy kids will give your family an unforgettable time together.

If you’d like kids to have fun aboard

1. Try to keep the sailing distances short. Sail the long distances while they’re asleep. You can get assistance from your charter agency to plan a ‘child-friendly route’ with stops they can comfortably swim between short sails, and where you can also be back on land from time to time.

2. Take your kids’ favorite stuff along, the things they find comfortable and fun, like some books and music that they love, board games and plush toy friends… You’re the one who knows your child the best, so the list is yours.

3. Along with the toys they already love, plan to have some new ones that would be exciting for them. Check the sea toys such as SUP and canoes that you can provide.

4. Regularly explain them what’s happening: how do you prepare, how do you sail, how do you come aboard? In an age-proper way, tell them about the parts of the boat, and how the machinery works. Every once in a while ask them simple questions on what they’ve learned, or have them explain these to other people.

5. Let them take part in the chores onboard. When they’re a member of the crew, they’ll have a lot of fun and learn a lot at the same time. Most kids love to spot the buoys, take care of the rowing boat, and even steer. You can also teach them some simple sailor’s knots. They’ll feel motivated to be taking their first steps in becoming sailors themselves. By the way, do keep in mind not to be too strict with the chores. If you want them to be eager to join you on your next sailing holiday, let them do whatever they want and play as much as they can.

6. Your place of arrival is just as important as the sailing part. Roll out the maps and tell the kids about the places you’ll stop by along the way.

7. While landing, show children how to use the dinghy. It’s safe as you’re there with them. When they’re able to land with the dinghy, they well deserve a title like ‘the dinghy captain’.

8. Don’t forget to plan ahead for the activities on land as well. Although the kids will be happy on the boat, they wouldn’t say no to be on the land now and again. Instead of eating every meal on the boat, you might picnic on a nice cove or go to a restaurant in a seaside town or a fishing village, for example. You can also plan a trekking route to discover historic places and nature.

9. Babies enjoy sitting on a bucket full of water, just splashing water around. With this they can make you laugh every day and for many hours.

10. And don’t forget the fishing rods! Fishing is one of the most pleasant sea activities that you can share with any child four or more years of age.

Safety First

- Set the rules right away. Before setting foot on the boat, tell the children that they must be wearing their lifejackets at all times except when they’re inside or at the cockpit. They must always be accompanied by an adult as they walk from the cockpit to the front deck. Children should wear life jackets on the rowing boat as well –especially at nights. Don’t frighten them, but make sure that they do understand that falling from a boat is not the same as falling to a swimming pool.

- If your children are young, you should absolutely get a children’s netting from your charter operator. You can keep kids safe with a net that follows the guard rails from the prow to the stern. The prow and the stern are still not devoid of dangers, so always keep an eye on the kids.

Others things to keep in mind

- Sailings makes people, especially the kids, hungry as a bear. Make sure you’ve got lots of snacks to feed the kids –and keep them busy as well. Trust us, you wouldn’t like to have hungry children on board!

- If you have a child with sea sickness, she/he should rather stay on the deck than the cabins. Antinauseant pills and bracelets may prove useful, too.

- Make sure the kids drink plenty of water. If there are more than one child on the boat, write their names on their water bottles and follow how much they’re drinking.

- Put on more sunscreen than you do on the beach.

- Do take hats with you. For younger kids, prefer hats that cover the back of the neck and have flexible ties below the chin.

- Maybe you don’t normally go to the beach at the hottest hours of the day, but it’s just not possible to keep children away from the sea when you’re on a boat! You can make one of their t-shirts a swimming shirts, though. It will guard them from the direct sunlight as they swim during midday hours.

- Tell the kids how to use the bathroom on the boat.

- Take mosquito repellents and antihistamines that are OK for kids.

Share your story!

If you have any story, insights, advice, tips or experience to share with your fellow sailors, please send it to [email protected]. We will publish it on our website with your name!