Cruising With Children
ALL SAILNET MEMBERS WHO ARE INTERESTED:
I have had MANY conversations over the last year with many of you regarding cruising with kidos. The conversations have ranged from what it is like, to the right boat, to the right gear.
I am currently in the process of putting together an Article on this. I have discussed the basic points of it with Sailnet and expect a lot of participation both from the outside and inside. I am currently enlisting other families that have cruised with children to give a lot of different view points, including Melanie Neale (and likely her sister), the daughters of Tom Neale whom I am sure many of you know from his coutless articles in Cruising World and his book: All in the Same Boat.
I want it to be informative, fun, and helpful to those that are cruising with their kids. You do not have to be a f/t cruiser appreciate this. Many of the things covered will be applicable to those that are just charterers, weekenders and those that plan to cruise with their families in the future.
What I would like are any thoughts or questions that you have. If you are a newbie, this is the time to come out of the closet and post. If you are experienced cruising with children and would like to help, please reply here or PM me and I will try and include you.
So.... WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW!!!! Put your thoughts and questions here and let's see if we can get this rolling. I will let it sit for a week or two and will try and keep it at the top so we can get as many responses as possible.
Thanks for your help and thoughts.
By the way, here is the fam:
This is a great idea and one that will be helpful to all of those thinking about cruising with their kids.
When my wife and I decided to cruise with our two sons and two dogs, we spent a lot of time planning every aspect of the trip - maybe a book would be better! When we first broached the topic of cruising with kids, years before we actually left, we talked about everything from where we planned to sail to medical issues and insurance. There was so much to think about that we split up the responsibilities so that we could get through it all. Here's my first stab at some of the things we considered. I will add to this over the next week.
Sailing with kids had a big impact on: the layout of the boat and where we were willing to sail - my risk tolerances when singlehanding are very different when sailing with kids.
Health and Medical insurance. My wife did all the research on issues related to health including: what to include with the medical bag - don't forget the dogs' issues; medical evacuation in case of a serious emergency; how to take care of wounds; good providers of health insurance; etc.
Kids love dogs and there was no way we were leaving ours home. We ended up getting "British Passports" for our dogs and were allowed into all islands in the Caribbean. This was a lengthy and expensive process but one that proved very helpful to us.
Transportation: the dinghy is the way around the harbor and we did not have the right one. I have thoughts on this and I am sure others do as well. Depending on the age of the kids, this may be a huge issue for debate.
Homeschooling concerns: what courses are best and how to get the most out of time with the kids in school. What impact does living on a boat vs. growing up in a traditional environment have - this is a big one for us.
Boredom - whether living on board or cruising for the week, kids need activity. One of the favorites of my kids was when I would read to them at night. I am no actor, but I did my best at different voices and they seemed to like it. We swam a lot and played constantly.
I will add more tomorrow - hope this is what you're looking for.
CD I'll participate in this.
We had a baby in March 2006, Little Luis. Now 15 months, and we have Fred, soon to be 10 YO, and a good sailor.
Every year we cruise for about 2 months, or better, we live aboard for 2 months and cruise the Southern coast of Portugal and Spain. I modify my boat for that purpose in June, so cruising is more confortable for the kids and wife, I even have a Lazy Bag and an ugly dodger, to provide shadow for the kids, and shelter for my wife against the wind. (other than that its useless, ugly and heavy).
Can't beat the hapiness in the kids eyes when they go inside the dodger, or "the tent" as they call it. (I admit taking a nap there every now and then).
So I think, before going inside the cabin, and describe what is best for us, or what works best for us, a good decent size (ugly) dodger is a key item. A Bimini is also important. I don't have one (thank God) because my rig does not allow me to have one. Besides, I think it would fly off, anyway..BUT, when we're not sailing I rig a canvas under the boom, covering the whole boat from the mast all the way back top the back stay. If we go sailing, its easly removed. We're all happy with it.
I also rig a Brasilian Net bed (don't know the name in English Hammock???) for the kids to use at the end of the day as a play thing. If adults are using it, I rig it on my spinnaker pole.
Last year, we spent August and September at sea with both kids. The baby was the "chalenge" which in the end was not a chalege.
He was 5 months when we started, and later 7 months old when we finished. it. He must have loved it too!! He's my son!!
First thing was a life vest, those with a thing behind his neck, to keep the head out of the water, otherwise with the diaper floating he turns around and drowns. Must have a handle to pick the bugger up should he go overbord.
Later a friend, a very good friend, but a poor sailor,and very uggly too, gave my son a Mustang life preserver that he now uses.
Second SUN BLOCK, lots of it factor 1.000.000.000 gazzilion, because even with cold air they get sunburn. We used factor 60 in summer. All good, but apply at least every 2 hours, because Luis would eat it of his skin.
We also got one of those cloth chairs, (see in photo, in front of the port wheel), so that he could be outside while we were sailing. It was attached to the floor so when heeling he would be confortable, and not moving around. The chair was moved inside for feedings, and when we needed him still while we were doing something else. Sometimes he felt asleep on it and it was ok, so don't go cheap on his chair. However, remeber, it must be securely attached to the boat, BUT easy to remove should you need to abandon ship.
Get a lot of kids toys and hang them where he will be most of the time. Luis loved the end of my ropes and kept them moist for me most of the time!!!:eek:
For his bath we got an inflatable tub!! We have hot water in the heads so if you don't have hot water, get a heater.
We got him several pillows and he used to sleep first in his cot, and because he was 24 lbs then!!!, he was too big, so we covered one of the aft cabins with pillows and sheets, so he could move around. In case of bad weather, my other son would go down with him and keep him company, but he allways felt asleep in bad weather!! Pulls after his mum.
Remember, when alone they move, so cover everything where he might hit his head, with pillows, lots of them.
That was last year. this year he has his own bed room in the boat, I covered the floor with pillows and his bed with all kinds of toys. When he is sleeping I rig a net from West marine so he does not fall from his bed. He learnt how to get out of his bed, but so far only while he is awake. When sleeping he stays inside!!:p :p
We got a nice beach tent for him and a sun umbrella, and we only go to the beach after 4 pm, when the risks of the Sun are less.
We used to carry gallons and gallons of water for his bottles, and I allways kept them bellow his bed to keep the water cool. My wife got a blender, and used to make his soups at the marina because it is 220V, then keep them in the refirgerator in small flasks. This year I bought a 12V blender in the USA. So that is also done.
Get him a spare hat, they fly off really easy. And insect repellent.
Sometimes we would cry, and my wife used to get him on a marsupial bag, see photo. This one actually floated!!. She could then seat confortably with him, while we sailed.
My son was too small to move around, but for my other one, when he was small I covered my boat with nets on the railing.
He never stopped us from going anywhere, so do that to yours or you'll regret it later.
Sometimes we would give him RUM, but he would allways fall asleep at the wheel, when it was time for him to take the boat, so he got fired.
And occasionally he was allowed a girlfriend or two so we had a litle boat filled with water to cool them off!!!
remember this. Its a family trip or holiday, not just yours, don't be selfish and want to sail or do only "your" things.
Everyone on the boat is entiteled to do his/hers thing...many days the wind was perfect for a sailing day, but..the kids wanted to play or swim or anything else. Living on a boat is almost 100% of give and take, if its only take take take...you end up alone.
Keep the kids happy, do fun things for them, like this...
Let them drive...
Use the life vests...
and let the wife rest whenever she can....your holidays will go by like a charm...
Visit desert islands and bury treasures...do treasure hunts like I do with my kids...(of course you need to go bury the treasures at midnight, while they're sleeping,) but in the next day, I would leave an old map of the treasure in a bottle, and pretend it was attached to my rudder....they love it.....I would let them find the bottle, and retriev the map...Thre treasure?? Candy, (remove the wrapers, they're not stupid, and crappy stuff I bought in fairs...
I let my kids use the dinghy, after they proved they can row and know how to get by with the engine. Safety first. Fred is at ease in the water, so he drives the dinghy...its his job.
You can't imagine the joy of a child when he finds a treasure and it contains a whistle!!! (thanks Val!!!):D :D
I think I've solved the mystery behind why Giu actually broke his boom... he tried to do this,
but being much larger, the boom couldn't handle it. ;)
Giu & Sialia,
GREAT! THis is what we are looking for!!
I will also try and add a bunch to the equation! I also urge anyone who is interested in cruising with kids to post with any questions and thoughts and concerns.
On a side note, of interest to me and many others, will be what happens when you come back and how do you integrate back into society? This would be a great one for the Neale's.
Thanks for all the thoughts. Keep posting. I will try and keep this thing going for a while to get as many views or questions as possible.
My daughters are 6 and 8, and as I think I've mentioned on this forum, we're looking to take a six-month cruise in a couple of years. Being school-age, I'd like to get the gist of home schooling aboard. I'm sure it's not terribly different from home schooling at home around the kitchen table, but I'd think it would only be enhanced while afloat. Any info in that arena would definitely get my attention. By the way, excellent idea, and lots of luck. It's going to be a fantastic piece of work...
Thanks SH. We will add that to the equation.
I was standing around the docks here at Manteo the other day, watching all the kids, and found myself thinking how much I would have liked to be a cruiser growing up. The learning experience, to me, would be well worth the seperation from land based activities.
Good idea CD. Looking forward to watching you flesh it out.
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