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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Destinations > Chesapeake / Central US east coast > Chesapeake Bay
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Old 10-22-2010
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Tips for sailing with young children: their first time out

Hi guys,

I'm planning to take the littles (5.5 and 3 y/o) out for a quick cruise next weekend. We have life jackets for both kids but this would be their first time out on the water. They've been on the boat and were extremely excited. They wanted to shower and were fascinated with the head.

I imagine that it could be cold next weekend so I'll make sure they are layered up and have warm gloves.

Does anyone have any tips for keeping them safe but also making their first cruise an enjoyable one? I want them to really love it and I think they will but just looking for any mistakes to avoid that you have learned along the way.

Cheers,

Sean
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Old 10-22-2010
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Keep the entire trip to a reasonable duration. No epic cruises.

I would suggest you motor upwind initially, on a reasonably protected body of water (do you have a wide river or bay?). Then sail downwind to let them experience the feel and pleasures of sailing without the heeling to windward.

If it ends up being an extremely windy day, you might consider just motoring to a sheltered cove, anchoring, and letting them play around on the boat. Even if it ends up being a good sailing breeze, remember to give the kids plenty of time to play at anchor - for young kids it's more about playing on the boat than about the sailing.
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Great tips John. Thank you. I think the conditions will dictate the cruise and I'm thinking 1.5-2 hours max. Just want them to get out there and experience being on the boat while we're underway.
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We started off when our kids were roughly 4, 2, and 2. Many of our first "sails" were gentle runs downwind under a small roller furling headsail, only. Didn't even bother with the main usually. No drama, just nice easy sailing.

The only caveat here is that, while running downwind is a nice easy point of sail, motorboat wakes will tend to rock the boat more than when sailing upwind with a full spread of canvas. Just something to keep in mind with the little ones. You might brief them ahead and have a "command" that they should follow if things get wobbly. Maybe tell them to sit down where ever they are and hold on.

This time of year, some thermoses with hot cocoa would probably go over well too. Hope all goes well!
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Let them have their own space below. Also they should bring ONE of their favourite toys, but nothing that involves ear plugs. They should be in tune with your voice and boat, not music or games.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidhbladhnir View Post
Great tips John. Thank you. I think the conditions will dictate the cruise and I'm thinking 1.5-2 hours max. Just want them to get out there and experience being on the boat while we're underway.
Fortunately, it's a very short hop out of HH to get to your sailing grounds.
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@john - good call on the cocoa
@jack - thanks, good tip. I'm thinking a stuffed animal or something. Something that can be tethered to them.
@bubblehead - very true. we used to be at Shipwright a few years back with the old boat and i hated that ride out of the channel into Herring Bay.
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The most important thing, in my mind, is to make the early trips short and VERY pleasant. Do not try to scare them, near windless days are best, until they get accustomed to the boats movements. Remember this is a strange environment to them.

Come up with some "Boat Only" activities and or meals/treats. These would be things that you only do on the boat so when they want to play with that or eat that they associate it with the boat (a good thing). Remember that you need to make this a pleasant event for them for it to be a pleasant thing in your life.

Also, try to involve them in the process even if in small ways. Give them titles, and small jobs to help make the boat go. Show them that no job is too small or too big for everyone. Show them you do some of the little jobs and they too can do some of the same jobs.

DO NOT MAKE them the boat gofer (hey kid go for this and get me that, etc).

One really great tip is to plan a surprise 1/2 year birthday, complete with cake and presents. We did this for my daughter when she was 5 1/2 it is remains her favorite birthday of all time (she is now 38).
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Old 10-25-2010
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Great tips Joe! Thank you!

I think I see a birthday party in my future this weekend.
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