We are a new sailing family with a very broad question. With only one year under our belt, I am looking for your best advise on how to keep the family comfortable. In both sailing and life I have learned "happy wife, happy life". We have three boys (3mos, 2yrs & 10yr). I am an experienced camper but just can't seem to crack the nut on making things "comfortable" while aboard. I don't expect an instant formula, but I see so many experienced families with really cool ideas. I know experience will teach, but learning from others is always good.
I think our first mistake last year was that our boat (columbia 30) came with one of everything! That however was overwhelming as we had no idea what we were doing and further how to even use most of the toys!
This year my plan is to strip all the frills and start basic. We cut our teeth pretty good on sailing basics Last year but still lots to learn.
I'm just looking for tested methods and simple tricks of the trade that ahve made your family outtings/weekends more pleasureable. Looking at equipment, routines and the likes. Pretty resiliant and understanding family, but I want to set the conditions for success. It's easy to say "keep it simple" but your experience let's you do that... For the less experienced that takes time and guidance.
I see a couple of possible issues, one easy to address, the other one maybe not so much.
The easy one: With your boat and your family it doesn't sound like space is an issue, but maybe space allocation is. At the beginning of the season, pull EVERYTHING out of the various cabinets, drawers, cubbies and holes that are FULL of stuff. Now, determine what you actually need. Travelling with babies you need diapers, but do you need to have a whole box of them, for example. Toilet paper is another thing that takes up a lot of unnecessary space, Unless you live on your boat, you don't need to have ten rolls of paper, but it always seems like that is how many end up on board. Strip down the unessentials, BUT don't get rid of the essentials, like tools and spares. Buy and use gear hammocks, a great way to store gear, clothes, food, etc. I highly recommend picking up a copy of Don Casey's This Old Boat. There are tons of great ideas on storage and general boat stuff in the book.
The tougher one: The family confidence level. Comfort is directly related to confidence, and if you aren't confident in your crew and they aren't confident in you, ain't nobody having any fun and this is supposed to be fun, dammit! take the first few sails in the season without the kids. Focus on becoming a team with your wife, and trade off boatkeeping and sailing tasks. It can be a real challenge to try to learn how to sail a new boat while trying to manage kids as well, and the tension can ruin what could be a great sailing day.