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Old 12-15-2001
JWag JWag is offline
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KIDS

We started each of our three girls (now 10, 7 and 3) when they were infants. At that age, they didn''t distinguish between being on the boat versus dry land, even under sail in challenging conditions. Once they reached 2 or so, we had to get more savvy about exposing them to wind and waves. For day sailing, we were very particular about the conditions we went out in (2 to 3 foot waves max in a 32 foot boat). And then, we limited the sailing time commensurate with the conditions. If there was no wind, we didn''t mind playing motor boat so that they''d get time out on the water in their life jackets. In port, we made sure we had plenty of things to do, including keeping our bikes at the marina. Our choice of marina type and location was important in that we chose one that had plenty of amenities and access versus a standard boatyard. We wanted to keep their entire experience on the boat as positive as possible. On our vacation trips (2 or 3 weeks), we again were very choosy about our travel days and even though we would cruise 600 miles, we didn''t leave port if it was blowing more than 15 knots, unless we caught an offshore breeze and were going to be within a couple miles of shore. We were not bashful about shortening sail to increase comfort at the compromise of performance. If we absolutely had to get somewhere and we were behind schedule, we even resorted to motoring at night to cover the necessary ground if the daytime didn''t provide suitable conditions. All that care has caused them to consider the boat as a special place to go on weekends and vacations. Once in a while we''ve got caught in some unexpected rough stuff, but we got ourselves in to port as soon as possible, usually within an hour. My expectation is that as they get older, they will want to stay with it and will graduate to more challenging sailing. That has already started to occur with our oldest. We''re also starting to bring their friends with us (one at a time) to allow them to stay connected to what would otherwise be going on "back home". We used this need as justification to move up to our current 41 footer (no better rationalizer than a boat owner). The life jacket aversion seems to be standard for the toddlers because they feel it restricts their new found mobility, but we just forced the issue for that summer and they were fine the next year. Finally, as has been said, include them as much as possible in the operation of the boat (sail handling, steering, navigation, maintenance, etc.). My girls don''t regularly pick up their rooms at home, but they really enjoy helping wash the boat.
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