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  #1  
Old 02-26-2010
Aura Columbia 30
 
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Your best comfort advise

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.
Thanks. Al.
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Old 02-26-2010
S/V Lilo, Islander 32
 
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Hi Al,

We started sailing 5 years ago when our girls where 4 and 5 on a smaller boat, and now sail on a 32 foot Islander with the girls at 9 and 10.

When moving to a little larger boat, our main concern was having "a space for everyone." (Dedicated berths) It was tough to find without moving up to a 40+ foot boat, which financially was not reasonable, but we finally found a boat we liked with dual quarter berths for the girls and a V-berth for us.

Having three, this would be more difficult, and as you have a boat already, not to helpful, but a space for everyone's things might still be important. A cubby, drawer, etc for each kid to put their personal things (books, toys, collected beach treasures, etc) which they can fill up with whatever they want is good. Our basic rules is as long as it does not smell, and they can store it in thir space, it can come aboard. I think this really helps mentally to have their own space, even if it is not a whole berth.

Another thing we did last summer was to ask the girls to think about changes they wanted while we where out on a trip. What do THEY want me to work on?

This took a while for them to really understand as they tend to accept things the way they are, but with a few suggestions, they got it figured out.

The biggest thing they wanted was padding on the "bonkheads", the part of the bulkhead the quarter berth runs through which they continually bonk there heads on (this term has expanded to be lots of head bonking items on the boat.)

Second was good reading lights in there berths. Some other things they can up with were lockers that come open when and dump stuff while sailing, sticky drawers and doors, etc. Small things that I knew bugged me, but I could live with. I did not realize that some of these small items where issues for the kids too, and can make a big difference in there happiness on a trip whether they would have thought to mention them or not.

Stereo with CD player for music and audio books was a great addition for them as well.

Hope this makes sense and is at least a little helpful for you.

Happy sailing,
Bryan
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Old 02-26-2010
S/V Lilo, Islander 32
 
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Another thought, not directly comfort related, but happiness related...

Whenever possible, we like to include the kids in choices of where we go and what we do. It can get... interesting... when they disagree, but usually we can work something out. We have had the boat in Olympia Washington for the last few years, and there where several good places to go for weekend trips. We made it a point to include the girls in deciding what our destination would be.

Also, if we where out and the sailing was slow, we would ask them if they thought we should kick on the motor and just get there noisily, or if we should keep sailing and get in later, perhaps not exploring the island until the next day. Or sometimes they would get tired halfway to our chosen destination, and we would ask "Would you rather just head over to Hope Island? we could be there in an hour, versus 3 hours if we keep going..."

Of course we could not always make them both happy, and many times we made the final decision, going against both of their inputs, but giving them input, and following it often goes a long way to making the trip a family affair rather then being dragged along with mom and dad.

Hope this helps to...
Bryan
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Old 02-26-2010
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Go out on pretty days. Stay off sea sickness producing waters. Use a marina or campground with showers for the first overnighter. Use grinders-submarines-heros for meals. Soups are good. Cola drinks also settle tummys. Ginger snaps for snacks. Let everybody drive.
Once I cured a case of incipent seasickness by having her (17 yrs.old) take the wheel into smoother water. One is less likley to get sick while steering. Stay within sight of land for a while. It's comforting for a beginner. Anxieties about being lost at sea with her whole family aboard isn't good for Mom.Taking turns (watches) will keep the kids interested. Go someplace. Having a goal is easier for kids.

For me there is an inexpensive campground with slips about six hours away on the other side of a lock. That has always been a good first trip for my crew. Momma is much happier after a hot shower. Kids like campgrounds generally, and were quite thrilled with the lock and dam.
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Old 02-26-2010
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Excellent advise from all. We actually can afford to "assgn space" and the ten yr old already agrees - seniority has privelages. The snacks is another common theme I have heard - again keeping it simple. I found ncluding the youngns in crewing really worked, my lack of experience made that tense for mom but every trip got better.
What are your thoughts on harnesses on kids? Last year the then 1 year old HATED his SOLAS PFd. We were adamant and forced him to keep it on. I have been reading here and am considering a harness and safety netting this year. The 10 ur old has a good quality pfd he wears w/o issue and supervision is not an issue, but comfort has to be a factor. Of course this Practice is situation dependant.
I also like the have a destination idea. Goes with the "how much farther" syndrome. All on all.... Not a bad challenge to face -going sailing with a view to making your family happy?!!
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Old 02-26-2010
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If you plan on sleeping on board a lot (which it sounds like you do) a comfortable mattress is good to have. We sleep on board every weekend and my wife's wish list for this year is a high quality innerspring mattress.
A well equipped and functioning galley is another plus.
Remember a well feed crew is a happy crew and nothing beats a nice meal on board.>>
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Old 02-26-2010
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Pocket warmers, beanies, a cabin heater, thick socks and beanies are good things to have. Even in summer.

Another thing that makes a boat comfortable is a cozy cabin. Dedicate some places to storage and the rest of the boat becomes much more comfortable.
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Old 02-26-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boondoggle30 View Post
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.
Thanks. Al.
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.
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Old 02-26-2010
S/V Lilo, Islander 32
 
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Originally Posted by bljones View Post
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.
Agreed, and make sure both of you learn to sail and handle the boat. Even if you get good at it, she will be much more confident if she understands whats going on and can do it herself, even when she is not directly involved.

For instance, my wife was much more concerned about docking, even though she was not doing it until she learned to do it herself. Then she got a good feel for speed, direction, how the boat stops (or doesn't) and she became much more relaxed even when she is doing something else and I am bring the boat into a doc by myself.
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Old 02-26-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IslanderGuy View Post
Hi Al,


The biggest thing they wanted was padding on the "bonkheads", the part of the bulkhead the quarter berth runs through which they continually bonk there heads on (this term has expanded to be lots of head bonking items on the boat.)

Bryan

Oh, that's priceless, I love it. Bonkheads has now become a standard term aboard Laurie Anne. Thanks, needed a good laugh.

As far as comfort items go we really like those cushions that fold in the middle and can form a seat at any angle (forget what they are called, WM sells them) while at anchor. Five of them makes storage a problem for you, but maybe kids that young don't sit down long enough to want them anyway .
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