My wife and I just bought our first sailboat, a 1980 Watkins 27, and we have a 5 year old and a 3 year old. My goal in the next couple seasons is to sail from our home port of Guilford, CT to West Hyannis Port, MA. Does anyone know how long a trip this is in the summer and any suggestions for sailing this distance with the children? Thank you.
At that age, I would make sure you are using Mustang Life Preservers, with the grab handle, right-side-up flotation, and crotch straps. Super products and well worth the money.
The kids will get very bored after a short period of time at sea. Make sure you have a lot of toys that will work for them. These include matchbox cars, dolls, the large lego blocks, adn anything else that your kids love. We also included their favorite stuffed animals which they were really attached to.
They will need a place to roll around and play while at sea. It needs to be protected and safe. For us, this was the V-Berth. We heavily padded it on all sides and put up a crib-side for the end. This isn't just so they can play safely, but also because you and your spouse may both be needed above decks and you need to be able to put the kids securely (where they cannot or will not get out) below decks. I find this a safety item.
Lastly, get some good DVD's they can watch. I reccomended the Annie Ocean Life in a thread in this forum. It is great and really gets the kids into the mood of being at sea and excited about it. Any other movies they like are great too. The little TV's (even laptops) are so miserly on power anymore that I see little reason not to make them a part of a boat. THey are also great in stressful situations (storms) where the kids attention can be replaced.
Cruising with kids is absolutely wonderful. A little preparation and thought beforehand, and you will all four have the time of your lives... and one you will never forget.
Feel free to ask any other questions. Take care,