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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Cruising and Sailing with Children
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Cruising and Sailing with Children All things sailing and kids related, from safety to life aboard.


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Old 09-25-2013
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Introducing sailing to the kids

I just inherited a Pearson 30 after my dad passed away. I grew up sailing and am looking forward to teaching my 2 boys how to sail. Any pointers on introducing them into sailing? I want to make sure its a good experience for them.
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Re: Introducing sailing to the kids

Not sure where you are at or what age your kids are - but I will give some general advice as someone who also has two boys and raises them on the water.

Plan your trips for your kids, not you. GO to swimming holes. Keep your passages under two hours. Let them drive. Teach them to sail. Take food and snacks that would be considered a treat. Take games. DOn't be afraid to take electronics or legos or other things that they enjoy when they get tired of sailing (as they will). GO fishing or drag a line. Let them plan out the destinations. Don't go out in high winds or no winds.

In general, make it a special (special being the key word), fun, imaginative experience that is all about the kids. They don't really want to see sunsets or listen to Buffet. Their attention spans are short. SO think like a kid. When you want a fun, quiet, romantic sail, get a sitter and take the wife.

Brian
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Re: Introducing sailing to the kids

Thanks for the good advice. The boys are 9 and 12 and Im looking forward to next season. Luckily, the marina is family friendly and has a pool, etc. Good idea about fishing, they love that!
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Re: Introducing sailing to the kids

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Originally Posted by jmurdock View Post
Thanks for the good advice. The boys are 9 and 12 and Im looking forward to next season. Luckily, the marina is family friendly and has a pool, etc. Good idea about fishing, they love that!
Mine are 9 and thirteen (just turned thirteen).

Have fun with it. They are great times with kids.

Brian
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Re: Introducing sailing to the kids

I think you either start 'em young, or wait until they are about your kids age before starting. We started with our boys at 5 and 3, and that has posed issues because it wasn't something they were used to. It has been 2 seasons, but we're starting to see more comfort and interest now. At 9 and 12, I suspect they will be both physically and mentally more "into" sailing.
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Introducing sailing to the kids

I've got a just under 2 year old and 3 mo old. Any suggestions for getting them and most importantly my wife on board next season. We are done for the year up here in Maine.
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Re: Introducing sailing to the kids

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Originally Posted by seaner97 View Post
I've got a just under 2 year old and 3 mo old. Any suggestions for getting them and most importantly my wife on board next season. We are done for the year up here in Maine.
At that age, it is EASY! EASY, EASY, EASY!!!

A few suggestions:

Have a protected place they can sleep and go into with ease. We used the V-Berth and it was completely padded. Over the end of the V Berth, we constructed a Crib Side. The kids had their toys in there and could roll around, sleep, etc in safety. You can just see what I am talking about to the right in this picture...



Buy a Mustang Lil Legends Life Jacket. These have a lot of flotation, flip the child face up, have a head float to keep the head out of the water, a crotch strap so they cannot slip out of it, and a grab handle to pluck them out of the water. Get them used to it (they will hate it at first), but over time, will become very comfortable in it. Just so you know, my kids have boath fallen into the water... and both times were at the marina. Food for thought.



We used a playpen (seen to the right of my wife here) for when they were in the cabin. I do not know if you can still get these, but it was great because it had toys that hung down and had a bug screen. It was moderately stable, so more for supervised playing than being left alone. While under way, we often put them in their car seat which you can strap to the compression post/mast down below.



Two year olds (and three) love to wander. I highly suggest finding a way to lock the companion way doors from the inside. Having our child crawl out of them when we were not paying attention/asleep was a constant nightmare for us.

Any other questions, let me know. It is great having the kids aboard and memories that neither of you will ever forget.

Brian
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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.
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Re: Introducing sailing to the kids

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimgo View Post
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.
Nice writeup Jim!!

Brian
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Introducing sailing to the kids

Thanks for the great advice. My wife and I sailed before the kids, but now she's a bit worried about one of them getting hurt or drowning. A combination I'm sure of her own fears and us being together for a decade and a half and watching me do one boneheaded thing after another. They being said, we actually sailed well together. May be as simple as having another hand on board for awhile, but now I can't swig to go again!
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