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
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.
-amshan (newbie to this board)