Asleep at the wheel
Join Date: Sep 2011
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Re: Introducing sailing to the kids
Brian has more experience than me, especially when it comes to raising kids aboard. My boys were 5 and 3 when we bought our Catalina, and we only day-sail (with occasional overnights). Getting them aboard wasn't hard, nor was getting my wife aboard. However, what we quickly learned is that one of you will always be on kid duty, and the other will be sailing. Or at least that should be your expectation.
My kids love to read and play hand-held video games (like Leapsters), but those only bought us 15-20 minute stretches where one of them would be occupied, and other than the first few minutes when they both dig/dug out books, it is/was rare for both of them to play or read at the same time. Our youngest hates wearing his lifejacket (we've since remedied that a bit by getting a bigger size for him - the Mustang PFD's Brian mentioned are excellent), so we're constantly (slight exageration) zipping and unzipping him as he moves into and out of the cabin.
That's our rule - in the cabin no PFD needed, but any time they are out of the cabin, especially while underway, the PFD's have to be on. Mulling around the cockpit while at the slip they don't have to wear them, but if they want to go on the foredeck, they have to put them on. That does create additional hassles, but for us, it's better than having a grumpy kid who ruins the trip for everyone else.
Because our kids didn't grow up on the boat, we started off only getting 1-2 hour sails with them because they would get bored/rammy and need something to do. They are 7 and 5 now, and we went on a 3-4 hour sail a few weeks ago, and that would never have happened even last year. Also, if the water is warm enough to go for a swim, or if you have a dinghy or other distraction, you may be able to sail for a while, swim/dinghy/etc, then sail for a while again. That seems to work well with our boys.
As for how to get your wife aboard, be sure to find days where just the two of you can go out, especially early on. Get her to understand what the end-game is, and why you want her and your kids aboard. This will also let her get a feel for the boat.
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Last edited by jimgo; 09-27-2013 at 12:15 PM.