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post #1 of 19 Old 07-09-2013 Thread Starter
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Sailing with 2 children on Chesapeake Bay Northern Neck

This year has been a little bit of a struggle making sure our two children are having fun while sailing, especially my 8 yr old daughter. My 10 yr old son is better, especially when we find a nice place to anchor on the way back to our marina, open up the lifeline gate and our sailboat is now a large swimming and cannonball platform. But my daughter is all about having fun with other girls and is struggling to see any fun in sailing or the adventure of being on the water. Unfortunately there are not too many families within our marina so we end up inviting non-sailing families to our sailboat. Nice at times, but it's a lot of work hosting additional kids and adults, and sailing the entire boat with people standing on the sheets and control lines, always in the way of sight....especially when docking or when you have many boats heading towards you or to your side, etc.... I think you get the point.

I am wondering what others do at this point. Keeping their interest in sailing and most of important, having fun.
I am trying to come up with a list of children friendly activities and then try them out.

To start my list:
1. We drag a power boat tube behind our sailboat and tow our two kids in the tube, bring up the tube to the stern, give them lunch and set them back again.
2. Read a book aloud within the evening
3. I have heard some turning their cockpit into a wading pool but not sure if that is a good idea....
4. Dinghy to shore and build stone piles before we leave.
5. My son likes to navigate / steer at the helm. He is actually getting good, like a human autopilot. Holds course on a close haul well. Just if his attention span was a little bit longer...
6. Thinking of creating a elevated chair over the water some how with our bosun chair. I really don't use it as I use a climbing harness so I figure I would try to use it for something. Just trying to figure out a safe means and method...

Creating destinations to unique places is difficult as they can backfire. Sailing to a fun place but it's going to take you 8 hours to get there, well, they become extremely bored and on the 6th hour, wondering why it's taking forever...

Any ideas, concepts or proven children fun activities that will guarantee to make them the next Dennis Connors or at least good memories?

Patrick

S2 11.0A 36'
Kinsale, Va
Tanzer 16'
Moseley, Va
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post #2 of 19 Old 07-09-2013
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Re: Sailing with 2 children on Chesapeake Bay Northern Neck

a full day underway can be a lot to expect of a pre-teens. sail for an hour, swim, sail for an hour dragging the tube, eat, and maybe instead of inviting whole families to go sailing, ask her to bring one friend.
Let them have the dinghy to explore , within eyeball range.
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post #3 of 19 Old 07-09-2013
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Re: Sailing with 2 children on Chesapeake Bay Northern Neck

I have 2 boys, 7 and 5. We tend to keep our (the adults) expectations low as far as sailing duration. 3 hours is about the longest I can expect to go before my boys get antsy and want to go back to the dock. We bring along games, books, puzzles, coloring books, etc., which helps. Toward the end of last season, we "discovered" the joy of swimming off the boat, and I think that holds the most promise for extending our day. My new plan is to sail for an hour or so, anchor, let the boys swim, sail some more, then take the dinghy to the beach. Hang out at the beach for a while, then sail back to the slip. That should just about kill a full day, get me some of the "on the water" time I so desperately crave, give my boys a chance to burn off some energy, and give my wife some quiet time on the beach.

- Jim
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1975 Albacore 15


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post #4 of 19 Old 07-09-2013
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Re: Sailing with 2 children on Chesapeake Bay Northern Neck

At that age, beaches were our best friends with our son and daughter. 2 or 3 hours of sailing was a good break after a half day at a beach.

One friend is a good idea too.

Tom Young sailing a 1961 38' Alden Challenger, CHRISTMAS out of
Rockport, Maine.
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post #5 of 19 Old 07-09-2013
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Re: Sailing with 2 children on Chesapeake Bay Northern Neck

Are you at Kinsale Harbor or Port Kinsale? Move over to Olverson's...a fair number of kids there. In fact, a lot more people to socialize with.

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post #6 of 19 Old 07-09-2013
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Re: Sailing with 2 children on Chesapeake Bay Northern Neck

I just lock them in the head and turn up the radio, seems to work well!

We had taken a break from sailing for two seasons and are now just getting back into the routine, in fact this past holiday weekend was our first real multi day trip in three years. With the need to finish up some major boat projects this Spring we were really only taking short day trips then coming back to the marina. It has taken some time to get back into the swing of things but the kids (and us for that matter) seem to be all good again.

I think your list is good, you could add to that
-a bird book for identification
-cooking
-fishing
-drawing
-writing, either their won stories or have them make their own "ships log" or diary of sorts, I have started doing this year and they love it, they record the weather, destination, and brief summary of what they did, what we ate, etc

Once anchored our kids really enjoy dingy rides (with nav lights on at night of course LOL) and beach combing. A trip to the nearest ice cream store is always well received

Soon I would like to get them into a kayak, I think my oldest (8) would really enjoy it, the dingy is not the easiest to row which she like to do. At the club I plan to bring down our plywood sailing dingy for them to use in the creek.

When they were younger we had a DVD player on board and it was very useful on rainy days or longer sails of 6 hrs or more, but it died and dont plan to replace it, I could always let them watch a movie on the smart phone as a last resort. They get a kick out of the Google Sky App at night, sheet I do too!

I am encouraging them both to invite one friend at a time out for a weekend, that should be interesting.

All in all, considering how busy their and our work weeks can be most of the time, I think we all enjoy just getting away from the TV, phones and most of all other people and just having some good family time. We rarely raft up with others, we mostly prefer to get away from all the crazy's. They seem to enjoy the down time too as they get older.

Hope that helps a little.

Cheers,
Shawn

S/V Windgeist
1982 Tartan 37C

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Last edited by T37Chef; 07-09-2013 at 07:14 PM.
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post #7 of 19 Old 07-09-2013
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Sailing with 2 children on Chesapeake Bay Northern Neck

We sail with two kids ages 3 and 1 out of Rock Creek. Both still take at least one nap so we work day sailing around nap time usually leaving the dock by 11:30AM and sailing until around 4-5PM with a 2-3 hour nap in between. Nice break for everyone bookend by some sailing exposure for the kids pre/post nap. We are stocked with toys (fun in the v-berth), kids binoculars for helping Dad spot crab pots, and and iPad for rainy day movies. We usually do overnight trips and carry a kayak on deck to explore or reach the beaches. We've been hunting for reachable anchorages with little beaches nearby. We also usually make an effort to mix in fun activities like getting ice cream or some other special activity ashore or even on the way home after we dock. The positive association is helpful. The kids also love swimming off the boat while anchored. We keep a collapsible bin that we fill with water in the cockpit for the 1 year old. Plugging the scuppers is a pain.

Speculating here but some activities for older kids might be:
-Scavenger hunt
-Maybe incorporate a school project (say for science class)
- A friend aboard with a fun stop (maybe a dinner out where you pull up at the dock)
- Anchor out with ghost stories and marshmallow roasting
- Stop in Baltimore at the free dock and hang in Fells point


Would love to hear other great ideas for the coming years
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post #8 of 19 Old 07-09-2013
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Re: Sailing with 2 children on Chesapeake Bay Northern Neck

Treading lightly here, not trying to sound authoritative. it's " my opinion

Patrick, Maybe some sort of "your off course" buzzer would keep your son's attention a bit longer? Is your daughter really not interested? Just saying,

Girls learn real quick to not assert what they really want/like/wish when males are present. Yes even because of Daddy!

Just wondering (I don't know your real world situation) Would your daughter be mirroring the Admiral's or another females interest or non interest in the boat and sailing? It seems many SOs and Spouses have detached "interest"

Involvement, Involvement, Involvement, is the only way to get kids interested in sailing. (or anything) imho The kids should/could be Crew members Imagine the kids bragging to other kids "My mom and dad trust me so much; I can even drop the anchor/tie off/ sail/ steer our big boat when we find a place to swim/fish/play!" Mom could let son or daughter take turns in the galley too. Mom & Dad need to be acutely aware that anything they say, even offhandedly, can have disastrous results. "Daddy can I steer?" she may ask... how will daddy answer? More over, will Mom yell at her (and not at the son) because "girls don't do things like that" Mom and Dad should also realize that when the kids are with them on the boat; It's Kid time.. not Dad's Mom's or parents time. (imho)

Hmmmm....
"Took my son fishing.. I paddled the canoe while he fished" My daughter made dinner .. She didn't make the dinner I told her to make, she planned the whole thing" My daughter can't sail? My son can't cook? "

"No" is the most damaging word Parents can use with children. (imho)

Value given to Children's words and deeds is so overlooked by adults.

"Let's drop the anchor here kids! Please look around remember what a good anchorage should have?"

Yes, kids can read charts.. especially if they are on a computer...

Oh.. then there is sibling rivalry ... (another discussion!)
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post #9 of 19 Old 07-09-2013
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Re: Sailing with 2 children on Chesapeake Bay Northern Neck

Denise, you just gave me some more good ideas...kids are picking our next anchorage

Cheers,
Shawn

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1982 Tartan 37C

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post #10 of 19 Old 07-09-2013
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Re: Sailing with 2 children on Chesapeake Bay Northern Neck

I've had a few kids as young as ten in our USCG Aux boating safety course. They stuck it out for the entire 9 weeks and did great on the 130-question test (and some did better than mom and dad). I don't know that the parents expected much out of them other than the exposure to boating safety and doing something together as a family, but it was a joy to have them.

On the other hand, I put my then-13 YO niece through the course and after it was done her response was "Can't I just pay one of my friends to do all the sailing work?" Although she was really interested in the navigation and chart plotting section despite doing her best to play down said interest.

Donna


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