question: I've been sailing my whole life (some racing as a kid- cruising whole life). I now sail with my family- wife didn't grow up sailing and mostly when we cruise it's me doing all the boat handling/docking etc. Some of that will change now that our kids are getting a bit older (8, 6 and 2) (ok maybe not the 2 y/o) and she wants to get more involved.
We do all ches bay cruising at this point. Just sold our '28 caliber and are about to close on a catalina 42 that we plan to continue cruising ches bay with and some longer trips up to block Is, etc. In 2017 we plan to split for a year with the kids and head down to the islands.
though I feel comfortable with basic navigation, boat handling and boat safety stuff, I feel like now that we plan on doing somewhat more extensive trips I need to buff not only my own knowledge but also (maybe more importantly) have my wife learn all this stuff as well. Is it reasonable to do one of the online captain's courses? Are they "good enough?" I figure if my wife and I both do the course together (with what time right?) it would be at a nice pace and (hopefully) fun to do together. BUt I don't want to waste all that money if these courses are bogus. Just don't know anything about them.
We cruise and live aboard with our kids and have done it for quite some time (8 & 12 yo boys). We have a C400, btw. You will love the C42. Nice boat, comfortable cockpit, nice accomodations, and sails pretty good too.
I would focus my efforts on getting out as a family. I would try and get out for a few overnighters in waters you know and give the kids some responsibilities (our kids stand a watch). It will allow you to see what works and what doesn't. SPend as much time as you can on the boat as a family to see what things you might want to invest in (or do not feel are necessary). If possible, move onto the boat 6-12 months before shoving off to really see what works for you before cruising.
I wouldn't screw around with that capts course unless you plan on taking out people for a sunset cruise. But with a cruising boat loaded with kids, I doubt you would get many takers anyways. I also would not screw around with the ASA courses. You can learn as a family what you need to do, and it is all practice anyways. THe hard part is not sailing or doing overnighters safely. The hard part is living aboard as a family to make sure the gears all turn and everyone is happy. You will be in for quite an adjustment... but it is a good one.
If you need any thoughts on any of this, shoot me a PM.