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8 tips for sailing with children

Enjoying a holiday with children can be a great experience and also a good opportunity to instil our love of the sea and sailing into them.

Our initial aim is for the kids to have fun, treasure fond memories and wish to repeat the experience. To achieve the above, we need to change adult habits and exercise greater safety. 

1 – A net is our ally

Consideration should be given to installing a net in the bow area and along the side passageways. It can be useful for preventing falls into the sea, but it also relieves stress due to the constant vigilance required by children on deck.

2 – Safety and fun are compatible

Make sure that the boat is in good sailing condition, the tanks are full of fuel and all the safety equipment is in good working order. Particular emphasis should be placed on life jackets and harnesses in children’s sizes.

3 – The weather matters

It’s crucial to know how to adapt sailing to the wind and sea conditions, particularly in the case of sailing yachts. Sailing at an angle at up to 20 knots with swell can be terrifying for children, as can the constant lurching of a motorboat. Planning a route with adults must take the weather into account, but with children it’s vital to be more anticipatory and flexible. We shouldn’t mind spending an extra day in port or at anchor if it can prevent poor experiences at sea.

4 – Don’t forget an S size in the first aid kit

Medicines and equipment specifically for children should be included in the first aid kit. Remember that a plaster for an adult is too big for the wound of a 4-year-old child and that the doses of pills for adults exceed those recommended for kids. Don’t forget insect repellent, sun cream and remedies to alleviate jellyfish stings either.

5 – From the chip to the knot

If you want it to be a different experience, you’ll have to make them play with the “nautical toys” on board and prevent them from spending the day watching videos or hooked on their electronic devices. They’ll discover something new and attractive if you know how to handle the situation. Teaching them the names of things and the purpose of each rope, practising knots and proposing simple games with small rewards to motivate them can prove to be interesting activities. Come to the bow and help me pull up the anchor”. It’s easy and safe, and it will make them feel important to watch the anchor approach and be asked if they can see it. There are lots of things that children can cooperate with, and things we can make them think they’re cooperating with. “Whoever helps me to wash the dishes can come with me and take the rubbish down to the bin”.

6 – Adaptation

Children of different ages are challenging because they change the rules of the game. It’s necessary to know how to adapt them, especially if the age difference between them is considerable. A 4-year-old doesn’t have the same skills as an 11-year-old, nor the same understanding, the same ability to do things or the same way of having fun. Consider inviting a friend, because it will make the holiday more enjoyable for the children and adults alike.

7 – Take care with meals

Part of the success will depend on the meals, from the eating times to their favourite flavours and foods. It’s also a great opportunity to arouse their curiosity and help their gastronomy to go beyond ketchup and pizzas (or make home-made ones). Being on a boat means a break from the daily routine and this makes it easier to change some habits, but beware of taking too many risks. You shouldn’t forget their favourite soft drinks, snacks and sweets, because they like them and it will make them feel safe. Although a Guys, how about a sandwich and ice cream when we reach land?” can be magic words in certain cases.

8 – Their things and ours.

They should have things to play with and entertain themselves with. Therefore, drawing books, coloured pencils, ludo, puzzles and board games are musts on board. But let’s think of new things for them. A simple card game or learning chess or backgammon are sure to interest them. We need to restrict their use of mobile devices, although a good film is recommended.

If you’ve done things properly and, once the holidays are over, they ask you Is it over already?” or “Will we come back next year?” … you’ve succeeded!

     5 Basic Details

  • Equip them with life jackets
  • Help them to embark and disembark
  • Monitor their hydration
  • The sun is dangerous; sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses that fit them
  • It’s forbidden to sail at the bow with dangling feet