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k1j2g3 06-14-2002 08:55 AM

Sailing with small children
I am not an experienced sailor by any means, but my husband and I have owned a 30-foot sailboat for 2 years. It needed lots of work, so now that it is ready to sail, I am a bit hesitant because we have 2 small children, 2 years and 4 years old.

I am worried about two things:

1. Safety...I don''t want to have to worry about my children falling overboard.

2. Boredom...I don''t want to play babysitter down below while my husband does the sailing or have my children bug me because they are bored!

Any thoughts for me...a novice? Thanks!

MaryBeth 06-14-2002 08:53 PM

Sailing with small children

If you are worried about your children "bugging you" while onboard - don''t take them.

Having children on sailboats is a glorious experience. They are so eager to learn and everything is fascinating to see through their eyes. But you sound as if they would get in your way of sailing, instead of adding to the enjoyment. If you are not equal partners in your child rearing (i.e. your husband taking equal responsibility for your children''s enjoyment of boating so you are not ''stuck below''), how can you teach your children anything about the water?

Netting can be strung between the lifelines to insure noone goes tumbling overboard. And life jackets should be mandatory. But the real concern I hear in your post is that you do not want to be "stuck with the kids". Please do not think of it that way. They are still so young that they most likely will fall fast asleep after a few miles.

As for entertainment, coloring books work just as well at sea, as long as the water is calm and the children are somewhere they feel safe, snuggled into a bunk, etc...

And be sure to provide plenty of snacks and spill proof drinks, of course.

Other than that, wait to take them until you and your husband get the parent thing worked out. Don''t feel like you are stuck below. Feel like it is a wonderful experience for you and your kids to share, not a party trip for you that was ruined, and things will go much smoother.

Fair Winds,

k1j2g3 06-17-2002 10:56 AM

Sailing with small children
Oh, dear, MaryBeth...did I sound like some party animal that was annoyed that my kids were going to ruin my sailing fun???!!! Far from it! I want my kids to enjoy the sailing experience, but am worried that they will be bored. Just wanted to hear from those "that have been there" for some reassurance, I guess.

I want the whole family to have fun together, but I don''t want to be worried about my 2-year-old going overboard the whole trip...that would be fun for no one!

If you only knew how much I enjoy spending time with my children...then perhaps you would have worded your response differently. I would never even think of leaving them behind so that I could "live it up" on the sailboat without them!

Just wanted to hear those who have had some experience with is all new to me. I guess I was envisioning it like a long car trip for little kids who would keep asking me "When do we get there?"..but obviously that thinking was very wrong!

amshan 08-28-2002 07:39 PM

Sailing with small children
Dear k1j2g3,

We have two kids ages 5 and 7, and we sail with them regularly on weekends here in Boston, and believe it or not, boredom is rarely a problem. But MaryBeth is right... with younger ones like yours, they mostly sleep when underway! It''s a pretty reliable phenomenon.

As far as the worry about them bugging you, I know just what you mean... (Sorry MB, from your blithe idealism about the equality of parenting, I am led to believe that while you have some experience sailing with children, you have no children of your own... but that''s OK... I would have said the same thing before I had mine :) LOL!).

Fact #1 is that usually, a whiney and uncomfortable child will persist for relief from Mommy. And it''s darn near impossible to do anything but deal with said child when you are said Mommy. And this is not pleasant, no matter how much you love spending time with your babies, etc.

Fact #2 is, unless you are at anchor, *someone* has to tend to the boat, and that person is likely to be the skipper, who is likely to be the daddy.

The biggest problem is not likely to be unsettled children while underway, but trying to settle them for a full night''s sleep while at anchor or tied up. Especially if they''ve been sleeping away most of the day!

MB had other great advice... coloring books, or other favorite activities that can be handled on a boat... baby dolls, favorite cuddly toys, and yes, even videos or dvds can keep kids occupied, along with plenty of appealing snack food and drinkage.

We don''t have the netting but our kids are a little older and know the addage "one hand for you, one for the boat". And obviously, life jackets are non-negotiable when on deck (not required down below). Even so, I still have a vivid fear of one of them tumbling overboard. I''d install the netting and have some peace of mind.

Have fun!

-amshan (newbie to this board)

Sherry L 10-08-2002 09:34 AM

Sailing with small children
We have sailed for years on our little 22 ft Venture and now recently moved up to a larger boat. The kids have been pretty much raised spending weekends on the boat.

For entertainment when things are getting windy and hectic...I have always brought coloring books, dolls, etc. (now that they''re older they bring game boys)

But, if the weather is nice, put a life jacket on them, have life lines..and give them a sponge and a bucket full of water! We let our kids clean the cabin top and I have gone up to the bow with them so they could clean up there. They always feel like they are getting away with something, they''re entertained and I get the spider poop off the decks!

My husband is awesome with the kids, but I agree sometimes the mommy just has to step in.

MaryBeth 10-11-2002 06:50 PM

Sailing with small children

To reply to Amshan, albeit a little late, but I''ve been moving and offline for a bit.

I have sailed with quite a few kids both while working and during sailing trips with friends, but I am a mom (don''t worry, I won''t hold it against you). My oldest will be 22 next month, my grandson turns three next month, and my baby (but I can''t call him that in front of his friends) had his 17th birthday last April.

Experiences with my own boys led me to be quite popular as a skipper for day trips and overnighters with kids of all ages. Seems like I was the only one who thought of something for the kids to do. My favorite was watching the faces of teenagers who try so hard to not be interested in anything their parents are "making them do". When that grin breaks across their face, it makes your heart soar.

But thanks for the kudos to my ideas.

Fair Winds,
Mary Beth

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