Sailing Families: More Common Yesterday than Today? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 6 Old 12-26-2006 Thread Starter
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Sailing Families: More Common Yesterday than Today?

Early this year, we were complimented by another sailor as being a sailing family, which "aren't as common as they used to be," the person noted.

I've wondered about this. In this month's Cruising World, I have to admit that I enjoyed the Goodlander column about his father and his "sailing family" upbringing. It's relatively personal and well-written. Again, though, I wondered if sailing families aren't less common than they used to be?

So, what's the call? Are there more kids growing up on and around boats than their used to be, or fewer? With the growing trend toward Global awareness and opportunities, it seems like being in a sailing family could have more benefits than ever.

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post #2 of 6 Old 12-26-2006
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I took the easy way out. I met my future wife at the sailing dock at college.

That was a while ago. Our son grew up sailing, though we didn't always have a boat. now it's up to the next generation, which I guess is what you're asking about.

One of my concerns is that while boats can be had cheap, slips, moorings, boatyards, and waterfront property generally has become more expensive, so don't know if the next generation of families will keep it up or not.
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post #3 of 6 Old 12-26-2006
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We started sailing shortly before our son was born, but he sailed with us from 18 days of age. Today, 24, he is married to an avid sailor and after marrying last February they bought their own boat in March. As newlyweds in a very pricey housing market they set their priorities - got the boat first.

I think, though, that nolatom has an excellent point - in a time when most households need dual incomes just to keep a roof over ones head, it will be difficult for the average young couple to either get into or stay in sailing as boat owners.

Both my son and daughter-in-law race in OPBs (other peoples' boats) so should the day come that their boat becomes a downpayment on a home, they will still be able to sail, and will of course be welcome to cruise Mom & Dad's boat on occasion.

We were happy to see quite a few young couples with small children cruising in a variety of craft this past summer, enough to make us believe that the young sailing family isn't extinct just yet.
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post #4 of 6 Old 12-28-2006
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Options. About the time kids hit 14 years their options explode wide open. Just the extracurricular stuff at school boggles the mind. And it all takes up time. My daughter spent two months, four nights a week, three hours a night just for the high school play!
My wife and daughter wanted the boat. I'd seen enough water for one life. So, we got a boat. Looked around for a couple years and found a nice 21' Cal. After a year sailing, the daughter had "matured" (14) and wanted something she could tip over. She moved on the other things. Fortunately, the wife loves the boat. She can be in the foulest of moods until I get her on the boat, then she's all grins. So the boat remains. It's alot cheaper than marriage counseling with a better track record of results.
If I were to do it over I would have gotten the boat when the daughter was much younger-in the age bracket where everything they do is with their parents. Growing up with a boat the experience gets locked in and it's easy to return to later in life. My daughter may yet decide to sail with us again, she's only 18, but she's going to have to endure a refresher course.

I think a trailer-sailer makes sense for alot of families. It can be parked unused for a couple of years if necessary and doesn't cost too much to get into or keep maintained. I don't know if it's my imagination but it seems that most lake property is now only affordable to older persons. So I don't think I see as many kids growing up 'on the water' as what I used to. By that requirement, sailing becomes a rich kids sport. Maybe it always was, I don't know. One of the advantages to a trailer-sailer, versus a sunfish, is that it is a family boat. And out on the water all of the distractions that pepper kids from every angle are gone. I am all in favor of shanghai-ing the family. IMHO there is no such thing as "quality" time, there's just time and the quality shows up in unpredictable ways via the investment of time. I really can't think of many other activities where the whole family can be involved in a single activity with few outside distractions. Sailing is actually a fair amount of "work" and the fun just sort of happens. You haven't really had a belly laugh until your kid comes home and describes a classmate as not being sucha-much because they can't even tie a bowline!
BTW, I think there is some data out there that implies that families without TV sets are much more tight-knit. Gets the kids, and the parents, off the couch. Once you're off the couch which would you rather do; mow grass or sail?
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post #5 of 6 Old 12-28-2006 Thread Starter
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Great replies.

On the "cost issue," I think that slip costs, boat yards, waterfront property and other associated expenses are higher. At the same time, I also think the cost issue is irrelevant because disposable income for many middle class families is higher. My father, for example, built his boats because he had the skills and it was less expensive than buying a boat in those days. He had less disposable income than all of his now-grown children, and we have more options than he did for lower-cost luxuries like used sailboats.

The Goodlander article also pointed to this. His father's first sailboat cost $5 and he fixed it up. Their 36 foot schooner later on cost $100, and then they repaired it. Goodlander goes out of his way to note that his father worked his way up on OPBs and work, despite the lack of funds. Today, I think there are even more low cost entry points (read: inexpensive fiberglass sailboats) than my or Goodlander's father had.

I think Sailaway was perfectly on-target by simply saying "Options." It's not the cost of sailing that holds people back, but the wide range of other options they might pursue and invest in for recreation. Sailing is less comfortable and "seemingly" less safe than a lot of other options, such as riding motorcycles, camping, cruise boats, diving, yoga, running, kayaking and other "gear" sports.

In the end, it's not that these other sports cost more or less than sailing, but that they all take time. I also see couples with very young kids going out on sailboats, but sometimes it seems like they are pretty stressed out trying to "fit it in" with all the other things they need to do on the weekends. They like sailing and know its rewarding, but it can become "too selfish" to invest time in.

Anyway, my vote is that the hardest part of being a sailing family today is really committing the time to it (not the money). It means committing a day or several evenings or more almost every week in sailing season, and perhaps several weeks a year to cruise or take classes to improve your skills. It' also means that you don't have time for things like computer games, racketball, a lazy week at a beach house and other things that can also be relaxing. It also means your kids may not be able to have a massive Soccer schedule, etc.

Who knows-- maybe the real value of what we choose is increased by what we give up to focus on it. Sailing as a family, for good or bad, brings everyone together, but the time we have with the kids is so short a time anyway we might as well leave some sort of strong impression. I think sailing does this.

As for kids, they're sponges. On one day sail, my seven year-old daughter checked out the other sailboats and said, "That one is really heeling. Must not have much of a keel."

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post #6 of 6 Old 12-28-2006
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Over here the tendency is to have more familes sailing together.

It has also became more of a husband / wife than before. There were more men before, now, we see a lot more females.

I see more kids sailing with their parents now than 20 years ago.
Please note that the number of kids sailing their own boats in clubs, in national championships, salilng boats like Laser, Optimist, Hobbies, Tornados, 420, 470 etc. has also increased.

The explanation I see is that aquiring a boat nowadays is much easier than 20 years ago.

There are more models, thus more competition between brands thus the prices are governed by demand and supply laws.

Also, the wonders of leasing and renting with cheapper loans has allowed a boat, before a luxury item, to become a more accessible item.

Over here, honestely, I see more wifes sailing, and more kids, with the parents or sailing in clubs.

I raced 470's when I was young, and to be honest, I am thinking buying one again, just to go out and get wet with my son, only for the sake of it, and to do wet sailing we can't do in our sailboat. (unless you go overbord!!)
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