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rbyham 01-06-2013 10:20 PM

A family day... what do sailors do?
Thinking about and even taking some steps to get into sailing, my wife asked a question today that I did not have a good answer for. So I thought I would turn to the experts. We are a 50-something couple who live in Charleston, SC. Our married son with 3 kids also live here. The grands are 9, 5, and 2 years old. So today "grandma" asked, "so what would a day of sailing look like for us all as a family?" Now Charleston is probably about as diverse a sailing environment as one can imagine. We have the harbor, lots of things to see around the shore of the harbor, fort Sumter, and other historical things to visit, the ICW, and several barrier islands that are quite close. But to be honest I was not able to draw a picture for grandma of what we would do with a day on the boat and 3 little ones. So let me ask those who sail with children/families. What does a typical Saturday or Sunday outing look like? How do you keep children occupied/engaged beyond the first 30 minutes that they may be content to wander the boat? I would like to hear from any families who sail together anywhere but it would really be neat to hear form some Charleston-based folks in terms of an average day's itinerary with the fam. Thanks.

Sabreman 01-06-2013 10:37 PM

Re: A family day... what do sailors do?
Wow... that's an open question because the possibilities are so varied. But we had our daughter on the water since she was 3 months and now she's 18 yrs. So we've seen all the stages. Just go sailing, maybe overnight once they've been on the boat a few times starting with the eldest first and take it from there. Like any kid, you have to keep them occupied. Don't expect them to love it on day one or in the same way for each kid, they'll like some things and hate others.

2 yr: stay close to mom/dad. Toys in the cabin or cockpit. Not much different than on land at that age. They scare easily so keep it calm and not loud (sail changes, tacking, no shouting), easy days. If you see weather coming, get in. Naps in the V berth surrounded by pillows. They roll around easily and don't get banged up. Our daughter would fall asleep within 30 minutes leaving the dock and sometimes slept for hours. Changing a diaper at 20 degrees heel is a thrill. :)

5 yr: - more possibilities depending on whether they can swim. Swimming from the boat, fishing, small boat jobs, learning a little about water creatures. But they still like their toys, so keep them around. NO electronic toys or videos. Play on a sand beach digging holes..... Keep it calm because 5 yrs is still tender. If weather comes up, explain what a big wave is and isn't. Our daughter asked this all the time.

9 yrs: - you have a mini mariner. They can definitely tend jibs, tack the main, learn to steer, learn basic weather, plot a simple course (it's not PC, but consider doing this electronically because electronics are like catnip to kids, especially boys). Definitely kayak solo, row a dinghy.... all stuff our daughter did. Can handle bigger weather, maybe up to 20 kts. depends on the kid, but introduce more aggressive conditions incrementally.... don't go from a series of 10-15 kt days to 30.

Some other considerations that I posted recently:

HeartsContent 01-06-2013 10:39 PM

Re: A family day... what do sailors do?
Short trips to a destination that the kids would like - for us Caladesi Island a nice a short trip.

Fishing - kids could care less what they catch. Baitfish off the back of your boat is good.

Find dolphins! They are just magical to children.

Fun food!!! My jerk chicken is legendary!

Put life jackets on them and let them have some space to explore and ... Get this ... Do nothing.

Kids will likely get restless just sailing for hours on end. So there has to be activities. Jumping off the boat and swimming will occupy them for hours. Roaming a beach they swam to or you went by dinghy.

My kids are grown up and waiting for me to actually buy that bigger boat so the adventures can continue. We have wonderful memories of growing up on boats.

Mjfossler 01-06-2013 10:41 PM

Re: A family day... what do sailors do?
Well, my kids are older, so in the summer , the boat is a mobile swim platform. That, allowing them to bring friends, and plenty of food adds up to a great day. When it's too cold to swim, we usually go to a particular destination/town. Baltimore, for example, is always a hit for my boys.

For me, it is about living in the moment, not having high expectations , and enjoying what comes. The wife and I get out plenty by ourselves, so we can do what we want then.

bljones 01-06-2013 10:43 PM

Re: A family day... what do sailors do?
Herer's what we discovered- your experience may vary.
1. Everybody is crew- if everybody has a job, no matter how little, nobody gets bored.
2. Fishing is fun for kids even if they are not catching anything. So let them hang a line off the transom.
3. Have a destination in mind, less than an hour away where there is something for the kids to do. Even if it is just a different beach or a different marina/wharf where they can get ice cream or french fries.
4. Inflatable dinghies are amusement park rides for kids.
5. have a spot for kids to nap.
6. Keep an eye on weather.
7. Accept that somebody is gonna puke and don't make a big deal out of it. keep lots of ginger-related food handy.
8. Go some place you have been before, in comfortable familiar waters- nothing ruins an afternoon like running aground or fumbling a docking.
9. When in doubt, "I Spy" can keep everyone entertained for hours. "I spy a boat with two masts"... "I spy a trawler"
10. Keep binoculars handy- pick up a couple of pairs of sacrificial cheapy binoculars for the kids.

have fun.

Faster 01-06-2013 10:56 PM

Re: A family day... what do sailors do?
Like so many, our son was sailing from infanthood on.. without gadgets like gameboy, Ipod/pad etc.. he learned early to pay attention to what was going on outside.. did like to read and spent lots of time reading on longer legs. We built a sailing dinghy when he was around 4 or 5 and he 'learned' to sail that on his own. Beachcombing (crabs under rocks) is an easy way to amuse children of all ages. Learn something about beach critters so you can pass it on.

Kayaking, swimming when appropriate, helping to steer/watch/trim as they become able and interested.

Now 30, our son is a boat owner himself, our granddaughter has been sailing since she was a week old.. now at 5 and going to kindergarten she's only just realized that not all kids sail....;)

Minnewaska 01-06-2013 11:03 PM

Re: A family day... what do sailors do?
Teach them to sail. A skill they will use for a lifetime.

Short trips, anchor, BBQ lunch, swimming, dinghy to explore, return, repeat.

chef2sail 01-06-2013 11:48 PM

Re: A family day... what do sailors do?
Good question.

My daughter was 8 weeks old when she went out for the first time. Nnow shes 30 and has her own Cataline 27. I really enjoy seeing families and kids together on weekends around the Chesapeake enjoying time together away from the electronics, tvand fast world stuff.

Games to play
Helping to saill if they are old enough
Dinghy rides up creeks
Bringing friends
Getting them off the boat for a walk
Swimming and exploring coves beaches
I used to try and make it fun not a teaching experience
MOB drills

Just hanging out and laughing usually makes it a good time.


TomMaine 01-07-2013 08:54 AM

Re: A family day... what do sailors do?
Great question and you have all the ideas I'd recommend after we've coastal sailed with two kids from babies, and still going today at 21 and 22.

But your question intrigues me. I'm assuming you and family may be pretty new to sailing?

If so, I'm thinking how we now take nieces, nephews and toddlers and kids of friends onboard for a day sail. A few extras I'll throw in. I sail for the most problematic and inexperienced onboard. They're the ones I want to see have the most fun. It's a real challenge to me. So watch them like a hawk for any signs of seasickness right off the dock. You as captain have almost complete control over their health.

Stay in protected water. Most kids live from beach to beach we have found(with ours, those beaches were sometimes a hundred miles apart...) But get them on a beach for the bulk of the day to run and play, wear themselves out. Naps come easily and those taken in a rolling vee berth have made more sailors than anything.

For years, we had one drawer full of the remnants(mostly our sons) of toys like cards, legos, dominos(huge with kids, standing them up). You might ask your son for a bag of stuff like that to squirrel away somewhere. Below is the playground, especially for young boys.

And fishing is a real treat for kids. I have a great tip there; take a pair of needlenose pliers and close the barbs on all the hooks.

First, it eliminates the carnage of profusely bleeding fish you try to release(very little kids have very big hearts). Second, kids, with fishing rods whipping around,....nobody goes to the emergency room, and that includes the dad(and granddad).

boatpoker 01-07-2013 09:33 AM

Re: A family day... what do sailors do?
2 Attachment(s)
There is simply nothing more important on this planet than a day with the grand daughters. Fortunately they love the boat and it's the prime venue for their birthday parties when they get to bring all their friends. Swimming fishing, putzing around in the dinghy, sight seeing at various local destinations. Both girls have cruised the Bahamas and Great Lakes with us and have never been disturbed by rough weather but both were cruising within a week of birth. At 8yrs. old one even did an epoxy repair and both are always interested in working with papa. The girls are 8 and 11 now and still ask mom & dad if they can go stay on the boat with ama & papa every weekend. Days on the water where my wife and I get their total, undistracted attention ... God I love it. Get the boat !

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