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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related)
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Old 09-29-2010
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Kids think sailing is boring

So what is one to do? I bought the boat, hoping to build up some quality family time. Not sure where we went wrong, but the family thinks its boring. We did a weeks worth of sailing on Lake Monroe this summer. I had read about families who found that sailing was the only thing that the kids liked to do as a family. We have some friends at church who have a boat. Their kids love to sail. The first time we went out as a family, there was a small interest, but that interest diminished quickly. The wind was minimal, the boat was slow, I though it was a good way to relax, they felt trapped. I kept hearing start the motor and take us back. Not sure where things went wrong. Is the boat too small? Would a bigger boat provide more space for them to have personal space? Even when there was wind, they didn't like heeling. I know of others with small open bow boats whose whole family enjoy the boat. I don't know if part of it is that the boat seams to struggle to move through the water. So I wonder if a faster boat would help. Or do we go for a bigger lake with waves, such as Lake Michigan? Any thoughts?
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Old 09-29-2010
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What boat was it?
How old are your kids?
How much wind was out there?
What was the tempurature?

Were the kids bored? What were they doing? Try letting one trim, or drive. Usually will keep them busy.
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Old 09-29-2010
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Dave,

Refresh my feeble memory: What kind/size of boat are you sailing, and how many kids aboard?

One thing with kids, it needs to be more about the adventure than the sailing per se. There aren't too many kids that just want to ride along on a daysail as passengers for a few hours, then return to the same place they set out from.

Sometimes adults don't get this. For those of us who enjoy nothing better than sailing around on a boat for a few hours, then heading home, it can be especially tough to grasp.

Kids want to explore. They want to go places. Those places don't need to be far away, they just need to be different from where they set out from. And when they get there, they want to have some control over how they play and have fun. They need to have a chance to set out on their own, whether it's going ashore to play/explore, or putter around in the dinghy.

I cannot emphasize enough how critical it is to have a dinghy or kayak that kids can explore with at anchor. Teach them to paddle, row, and sail, and they will look forward to any chance to go sailing with you.

As far as the boat goes, kids do like to camp out. But they also need a bit of space to make up their own bunks and play areas. Our kids migrate around as we sail, sometimes sitting forward on deck, reading in the cockpit, or napping and playing games below decks. If they were strictly limited to sitting in the cockpit, I don't think they'd enjoy our trips nearly as much.
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Last edited by JohnRPollard; 09-29-2010 at 08:27 AM. Reason: typos
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Old 09-29-2010
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It's hit and miss with my 2 boys (aged 12 and 9.... wowo time flies)
They generally like it. But I keep them busy. Involved with the boat. Going over the wakes of big boats is fun too; although I hate it.
Depending in their ages, Give them tasks.. Sail trimming is a good one, a forward lookout.
You can always fall back to other "car" type games.

There are a lot of little islands to explore where we sail (Georgian Bay) and they love to go ashore and "find stuff"
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Old 09-29-2010
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Just my $.02 but in my experience it seems like it has just taken time. I have always liked sailing, and wanted to do much more of it. My wife is interested and enjoys it but not as fanatical as I am. We bought a smallish trailer sailor for this season and have tried to be out any chance we can get.

In the beginning we were hoping that our 7 year old daughter would really enjoy it, sailing I mean. We would go out on mild to moderate days, the wife and I practicing our skills while our daughter showed no interest in learning any of the names of the major bits of a sailboat or even taking the tiller. She just wanted to lay in the salon and read or draw or whatever. If we could get her into the cockpit it was just for a quick meal or to lounge around for a bit, get bored and head below again. She loves staying on the boat, and the places we go on it, but no interest in the process of sailing.

We just kept going with it, no pressure and no stress. The last few times we were out it was more spirited than we were used to and after half an hour of slogging through bigger waves at a good heal she came up to the cockpit and said the thought she was seasick. After she got doused by a couple good waves splashing up the sides she couldn't get enough of it. sitting in the cockpit begging me to crash into some more waves. She really got excited about the whole thing, and was having a blast, couldn't get her to stop smiling. Anyway, the other night she asked if she could do the youth sailing program that is offered in our area. Said she wants to take our little 16foot sailing dingy out by herself this next summer on our local lake and get more practice. And now when we are out in the boat she is in the cockpit trying to help in anyway she can.

Sorry for the long post, I guess all I really meant to say is, in my experience we just had to keep exposing her to it and eventually she found something in it that peaked her interest, and got her to participate far more. We have tried to make if fun for the whole family, lots of stops for swimming, lots of snack breaks, and when she had had enough for the day we headed home.

Good luck to you on your endeavor.
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I agree whole heartedly with the advice John is giving you. I was running into the exact same problem you are having. After the first few trips out on the boat, the magic of daysailing wore off for the kids, and even for my wife to some extent. The whining always increased as the wind speed dropped.

Over the course of the first year, I started to notice what John already has figured out. On trips where we went someplace, the kids had a blast and would talk about it for days afterward. The kids were happy with just about any destination, a marina pool or an anchorage where they could swim. For bonus points with the wife, I have to find a place with a spa nearby. : )

In our 3rd year now, I try to save the out and back daysailing trips for days when I know we're going to have lots of wind to keep it exciting. For the light wind days, I plan a stop somewhere along the way to give the kids something to look forward to. Fishing gear helps too. Letting the boys troll while we drift along at 3 knots helps keep them busy while I experiment with ways to get another 1/2 knot out of the boat. Just keep working at it until you find the right combination for your family. Pretty soon you'll have them asking you when the next trip is.

Best regards,

Chris
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Old 09-29-2010
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Thats hard, I wish you the best in getting them interested...sharing our experiences may help...

For us, we wanted a boat thats comfortable for us and our two kids. Its safe and provides enough room for all of us to have our own space, something that I think is very important.

We were able to start them very young, Elizabeth was born in November, Olivia in February, both were sailing with us the following Springs, so you could say they have grown up on the boat. We provide many things they can do while we're sailing. When its hot we may fill a tub for them to play, they love puzzles and games, much the same things they play with at home. Although we do not have a TV on board, never will, I hate to admit it, but a DVD player is useful, especially comes in handy when the weather is not so good and they can go below and be entertained while we sail the boat. When we finally anchor somewhere we usually attempt some fishing, or go for a dingy ride and explore a nearby cove or creek...this is one of their favorite things to do. Beach combing is a family favorite. These are all things they look forward to doing when we go out. There are places we have been several times now and when we plan to go there again they remember the fun times they had. Getting there becomes part of the fun. For example, if we tell them we're going to go to St. Michaels they know we're going for ice cream later and they get to play on the playground "ship". If we go to the Inner Harbor they know we're going to get ice cream and they can go for a carousel ride. Do you see a theme here?

The oldest is starting to help sail the boat, she often wants to take the helm or help grind some winches, I feel getting them involved in sailing the boat is the future for us. This has been the hard part for me, but I am learning to chill and not worry about the sail trim so much

Weekends are pretty much all we can do right now, although we do plan a couple weeks in June or July, but someday I hope we can spend the entire summer on the boat. Time on the boat is the best family time of the week for us, distractions are wildlife, cooking, eating, reading, etc...not TV, phones, Internet, etc... Going somewhere is key I think, just going out for a sail is not only a lot of work for little time, but not so interesting for them...its all about the adventure

We are very fortunate, and hope we can continue to do what we love.




















Last edited by T37Chef; 09-29-2010 at 09:02 AM.
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Old 09-29-2010
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For sailors, it's about the journey, not the destination. For kids and non-sailors it's the opposite.

From what I saw on Google, Lake Monroe is in Indiana and half of it extends into a national forest. Pollard is right, a kayak for the kids to explore on their own, is one option. If your kids like to camp, a trailer sailer with a cabin (20-25') to overnight in, is another option.

I have twin 16 yo daughters. I got them interested by bringing them out on the 35' boat I race on. Pounding through the Chesapeake chop, chasing other sailboats, screaming downwind at 10 knots on an IOR-influenced lead-sled really got their blood pumping. They were assigned tasks and felt as part of the team, so they kept coming back for more.

As chefs often say, "It's all in the presentation."
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Old 09-29-2010
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Not to make another "what he said" post but.

In my experience with my 4 (yikes!) a ride is a ride is a ride. Tooling around in a boat is pretty much like going for a drive. If there is nothing in it for the kids, then they won't enjoy it. The key, I think, is making sure there is something they will look forward to.

- fishing
- swimming
- explore some little beach
- "cool" waves, and getting soaked (or "soaped" as my 4-year-old would say )
- a picnic
- lunch and ice cream at our favorite wharf. (commercial alert! Five Islands Lobster Co. )

Otherwise this is how they will see the day:
1. Ride in the car to the boat
2. Ride in the boat to the car
3. Ride in the car to home

At least...that's my plan once I actually get a boat, and frog-march the kids on board.
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Hey Dave,

Make it as fun as possible while under sail. Bring a Water balloon launcher, let them play their music. Stop for swims often, bring some good junk food, Let them go low side and stick their feet in the water while under sail.

Make trips short with destinations you can spend good time on land or on the beach, rope swing from a tree etc. If you make the whole thing an adventure they will start to equate sailing with those adventures and the boat will become a connection to something really cool and exciting. Also depending on how young the kids are go to the store and get them some good Pirate get ups complete with swords and play up the whole thing, If they are boys under 8 or 9 they will likely love the pirate thing. You could even do a buried treasure adventure where you plant a sealed chest full of chocolate coins and goodies and then tell them you found a map with an X on it and there might be treasure then go find it. Basically add adventure to it. If all that fails bring a DVD player. I have a 5 year old that likes sailing but likes it more because of the adventure than the sailing itself but he grow a bit in that every trip to the point where he is now bragging about being able to steer the boat. Also look for other boats and race them. Just make it action packed.
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