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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > 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 05-14-2010
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What Interior Arrangement Really Works for Living Aboard with Kids?

My husband and I are beginning the process of saving up for a boat. We don't have the funds or the skill set yet for extended cruising, but my eventual goal is to reach the point where we can take long trips: coastal cruising would be wonderful, and blue water better still. We have discussed the possibility of living aboard.

I am about 90 percent sure I could handle extended liveaboard as a lifestyle: I could throw out everything I own right now, and I would be alright with it. I only own one pair of shoes. The only thing I would miss is my 1000+ books, but I also know how to acquire -- or create -- digital copies of all of them. They can go.

There are only two things I won't give up: my pet parrot, and possibly having children along for the ride.

We don't have children yet, but I hope to have them and of course want to be able to bring them with us without driving them nuts. This is very, very important to me: I had an offbeat childhood (home schooled, etc) and would like to involve future children in some experiences that build confidence and give them a different set of perspectives from the peers. Sailing & living aboard seems like a wonderful path to that parenting goal.

I am wondering what those who have cruised with children found really works in terms of boat size and interior layout. A lot of the boats that seem to be the perfect size for a couple of handlers also have two cabins or a cabin + quarter berth. For example: I am especially in smitten with the Tayana 37. When I picture living aboard as a couple, it is always the image the springs to mind.

It is easy to see how this arrangement could work with one child on board. But I keep wondering: what do you do with two? Would we need another cabin? Have you sailed with a couple of children and made a layout like the T37 work? What did you do?

I'd love to hear people thoughts on what works and what does not ....
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Old 05-14-2010
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I think that under 60 or so feet, privacy is an illusion no matter how many 'cabins' there might be. The key here is to have enough beds for everyone, and ideally to be able to do so without making up/breaking down a dinette arrangement everyday. That gets tiresome and can be problematic if someone wants to play some cards later into the night, or in other cases when someone else would rather sleep in than get up so breakfast can be put on the table.

We sailed (coastal) for some 10+ years on a 40 footer that was a 'crusified' racer - which still had 5 of the original pipeberths. 3 of them became kids' bunks - not especially private, but it was their own 'space' whether sleeping or reading on a passage or on the hook. This was a boat-partnership arrangement, and the 2 adult couples took turns with the vBerth and the dinette. Typically we would live for 3 weeks this way each summer, with weekends at other times.(so, if you're keeping track, that's 7, sometimes 8 bodies on a 40 footer for several weeks....) We're all still friends 10 years on.

Living with multiple souls in a confined space is definitely a learned skill/art - and it takes some effort to avoid getting on each other's nerves. Mind set and a good tolerance level will be as important as the 'layout' per se. Focusing the youngsters on the distractions and recreation available outside (swimming, kayaking, dinghy sailing, beachcombing, hiking, fishing, - who needs a Game Boy?) minimizes time below that might lead to feeling confined or penned in.

So you obviously need enough berths, but beyond that it's just a matter of making the situation work for everyone.
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Old 05-15-2010
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If the issue is not much separate quarters but comfortable berths, would it be crazy to use a quarter berth for one child and one of the settee that is opposite the dinette set +seats as the dedicated berth for second child? Or is that settee best reserved as an sea berth for use while underway?

Bunks sound like an excellent idea as well. Most boats don't seem to come equipped with them, but I suppose they could be installed in any location that had sufficient headroom.
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Old 05-15-2010
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Faster has hit the main point instantly...the kid(s) need their "own" space...no matter how small or inconvenient...when young ours relished the confinement and "fort" that was left by a PO of our house, where a duct crossed the closet space. I could get in by slithering on the floor, he had his bed space and toys...we did make him clean it up, standing by with dust cloth, polish and clean linens.

On the boat he loved the back of the quarter berth, even going so far as to use a foam board to "hatch" himself in. The quarter berth was storage, as it was too small for any real adult. This was on a Sabre 38. We did have a curtain.

As he got older, he did need some added space, and on our Ben 36CC he loved the vberth, it had a real door and then a partial door on the bulkhead, he could close both or just one as he needed. Again his space, we just encouraged cleaning and resorting on a regular basis.

Good prep for college dorm life, he respects and expects some privacy no matter how the space is laid out.
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Old 05-15-2010
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For younger kids, ideally a separate aft cabin with two bunks would be great. However, if the kids are teens the ideal arrangement is to simply tow them in the dinghy. There is only room on a boat for one person who thinks they know everything, and that person is me.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seaparrot View Post
If the issue is not much separate quarters but comfortable berths, would it be crazy to use a quarter berth for one child and one of the settee that is opposite the dinette set +seats as the dedicated berth for second child? Or is that settee best reserved as an sea berth for use while underway?

Bunks sound like an excellent idea as well. Most boats don't seem to come equipped with them, but I suppose they could be installed in any location that had sufficient headroom.
Quarter berths are great kid zones, as indicated by kd3. Some boats have them P&S. The challenge is then where to put all the gear that most boaters cram back there!

Settees will work but of course you're in the middle of things. Using a settee as a kids berth when in port doesn't preclude using it as a sea berth when underway. Kids can probably sleep anywhere.

The pipe berths worked well for us, the ability to level them was handy underway, and the kids loved the rigging and that they could 'close' themselves up in them. But unless you're prepared to buy an older relatively spartan race boat you're unlikely to get them. On the flip side if you are willing to do so you'll tend to get more boat, better performance and better gear (though less comfort and fewer amenities) for your money.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bljones View Post
For younger kids, ideally a separate aft cabin with two bunks would be great. However, if the kids are teens the ideal arrangement is to simply tow them in the dinghy. There is only room on a boat for one person who thinks they know everything, and that person is me.
LOL.... why didn't we think of that? (would have needed a bigger dinghy!)
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Last edited by Faster; 05-15-2010 at 09:45 AM.
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Old 05-18-2010
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Wow! Sorry I missed this.

What works for an arrangement? Well, everyone does need their own space. We were able to seperate the V-berth and our two boys sleep sto each side of a board.

For us, we needed as parents, a place that was our own and that we could escape to. A place where we could go and get away and sit up and read or talk outside of the salon. As such, I really think two staterooms is critical.

many of the Tayana 37's have a open quarter berth just behind the nav station. That would not work for us. After teh kids go down, we might want to sit up and watch a movie or enjoy a glass of wine, etc. Some of the T37s do have a seperate SR - but I would venture to say that most do not.

ANother option if you like that type of boat would be a Tayana Vancouver 42. THat is what my parents ended up buying. It has the warmth of a 37, but two seperate SR's and a LOT of storage.

That brings me to the next thing: storage. WIth kids, your storage needs will over double. Wehtehr it be dolls, stuffed animals, board games, legos, matchbox cars, etc... you have to find a place for all of that stuff. THat eats up a lot of cabinetry. Be thoughtful of where and how you could store all the things that kids need.

Regarding your parrot, if you plan to leave US waters, you might reconsider that idea. I owned a parrot too. It is one of the most highly trafficed (illegal) items of any 'animal'. The amount of red tape to move a parrot in/out of foreign countries (and actually return to the US) was too much for us. Anyways, you may know better about that than me... but that was my first hand experience. We ended up finding ours another homen which was probably the best thing for all involved. Sorry... just make sure you speak to a vet about that and research what countries you might visit before determining that you will bring your parrot.

Good luck with it all. Let me know if you have any questions. And yes, for us, living aboard with kids has been wonderful. We really enjoy it and the places we can go and see together that other families never get the chance to do. Takes the right attitude though, and I would suggest doing it earlier rather than later.

ALl the best,

Brian
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Old 05-18-2010
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Maybe 2 boats?

Both adults and kids need their own space, if you can get separation in a 3 cabin layout even better...
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Old 05-18-2010
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Having infants aboard vs. older school aged or teenagers are two completely different stories. A single stateroom (SR) boat would be fine with children from 0-5+/- years old, then after that I'll agree with the majority that everyone will be wanting separate staterooms, mostly mom & dad.

Then again there's always boarding school
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Old 05-19-2010
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I would think that younger children would enjoy the adventure of sleeping in their very own hammock, which can be tied up just about anywhere, over the seats, etc.
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