Great story, thank you for sharing. Love the happy ending!
I remember taking my 'big' boat out with my kids. They were pretty small but I gave them each a very specific task to do on the boat. It was somewhat useful to me but it was also very important to them - they did not feel like passengers, but like a crew. They have great memories from those sailing days. If I was to comment on your trip, that is what I would have done differently - give all these folks something 'important' to do.