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  #1  
Old 06-25-2007
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Question Starting kids - structured or free form?

I took a couple of my young kids (2 boys age 7) out in a little Snark yesterday on a small lake in almost no wind. Frankly, they were bored most of the time and paid little attention to what I said. Mostly they just pointed to things they wanted to see closer and complained when I could not turn immediately and accelerate directly toward it. I tried giving them turns at the sheet and tiller under instruction and they didn't care for that much. I started thinking about articles I have read here and elsewhere that talk about giving a kid a boat and in half an hour he would figure out the basics to control the boat. So I am thinking about trying that. I would just sit in the front and answer questions if asked but mostly just let them try to figure it out. I would do it one at a time in light air (but more than we had yesterday; I saw a few rental sunfish get towed in).

An interesting anecdote from the day...
They wanted to see a buoy that was out in the lake up close. It was just a race practice buoy about the size and shape of a basketball so I sailed over to it. One of my boys was convinced that it was not anchored. I gave up arguing with him after a couple of minutes. A little later, we were running down wind back toward the car and as is normal for sailing down wind, it felt like we were barely moving, if at all. My son informed me that we weren't moving. I tried to explain about moving at close to wind speed making it seem that way, but he wouldn't believe me. And he said he could prove to me that I was wrong about the buoy also because it was drifting away behind us...
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Old 06-25-2007
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Just wait until they're 17, you'll be the stupidest thing on two legs.

I don't claim to know what is best, but my son took sailing lessons with kids his own age and he loved it.
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Old 07-01-2007
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I just got back form sailing in the Snark with my 7 year old daughter (I have triplets, the aforementioned boys and her, and an older 11 year old daughter) and I went pretty much "semi" free form. I gave her pointers and told her where we were trying to get to and turned over the tiller and sheet (yep, she single handed ). She got there, tacking 3 or 4 times when only 1 was required. In her defense, she likes going fast and a couple of times she just adjusted for speed and enjoyed it for a minute or two before looking where we were headed. She asked the magic question "Can we get a boat that the whole family can ride on?". We are one vote closer!

Last edited by arbarnhart; 07-01-2007 at 09:09 PM.
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Old 07-01-2007
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So, basically, you're getting the kids hooked, and planning on using their votes to bludgeon your wife into agreeing...

Quote:
Originally Posted by arbarnhart
I just got back form sailing in the Snark with my 7 year old daughter (I have triplets, the aforementioned boys and her, and an older 11 year old daughter) and I went pretty much "semi" free form. I gave her pointers and told her where we were trying to get to and turned over the tiller and sheet (yep, she single handed ). She got there, tacking 3 or 4 times when only 1 was required. In her defense, she likes going fast and a couple of times she just adjusted for speed and enjoyed it for a minute or two before looking where we were headed. She asked the magic question "Can we get a boat that the whole family can ride on?". We are one vote closer!
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 07-02-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog
So, basically, you're getting the kids hooked, and planning on using their votes to bludgeon your wife into agreeing...
Bludgeon is such a messy word; I am shooting for something a little more subtle but equally effective.
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Old 07-02-2007
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LOL... I notice you're not saying that bludgeon was inaccurate in anyway...
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 07-02-2007
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This could backfire on me, though. My daughter asked about kids who sail and I showed her the Sailing Training Video with Yelmar (sp?). Now she is asking about Oppi and Opti racing. That could burn a big hole in my boat budget. But, I would happily feed that fire. This is not an overnight strategy. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to drag my wife along kicking and screaming. I think she will take to it if she gives it a chance. But it's a catch 22; without a reasonable budget I won't get a boat she will like (it will have to something where you sit normally and don't have to duck under the boom when seated) and without her liking the idea I am not likely to get a decent budget agreed to. One of the many 16' to 19' designs with the small forward cabin and the benches in the back would probably work. Of course, if we used it a lot we would start finding it cramped and then...

Last edited by arbarnhart; 07-02-2007 at 11:44 PM.
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Old 07-02-2007
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Arbarnhart,

I have managed (with some degree of success) to get a few kids into dedicated sailing, along the course of the years, in fact some are now sailing Optimists and other boats on their own.

I can tell you, that pretty much all of those kids still sail today. What I do, is simple, I let them get interested into doing it, not by pushing them into it, not by making them follow me or see me sailing for hours (they think that is boring), but rather let them do what they want, the way they want. It might take several days, but you will see results. Let them be kids, not grown ups.

Its simple, if its a kid that has never sailed, I go slow and easy the first times, I mix them with kids that sailed before, and ask them to play around, then I get them interested and confortable with being on a boat that is heeling and going fast, by making them "feel important", request them to do stupid little things, like "hey hold on the wheel here for 20 seconds, see that thing there?? point at it..., but stay there with them", or hey "you´re the right guy to hold this line"..." ok guys everyone seat on the side so we can go faster "....etc. Make them do things, that although insignificant to you, are a big deal to them, and encourage them. Kids are very smart, and if you empower them, you succeed, just keep them occupied doing things they enjoy (do not make them work for you, getting you drinks, making sanwiches, cleaning bilges or stuff you don't want to do, keep them outside).

Gradually, you will feel the kids grow more confident and soon they will want to take the rudder on their own. Play with them "who tacks better"..or who sheets faster...

DO NOT:

a)fall in their little "I'm scared games", that is BS they are giving you, as an excuse because they are not having fun
b) make them work for you
c) tell them to sit and hold on or be still
d) show them you are not having a good time
e) boss them around

be creative with them, make the boat look like a toy for them, a tool to play, not the focus of the activity...

Hope this helps, its wonderfull to sail with kids, I do it a lot.
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Old 07-02-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arbarnhart
This could backfire on me, though. My daughter asked about kids who sail and I showed her the Sailing Training Video with Yelmer (sp?). Now she is asking about Oppi and Opti racing. That could burn a big hole in my boat budget. But, I would happily feed that fire. This is not an overnight strategy. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to drag my wife along kicking and screaming. I think she will take to it if she gives it a chance. But it's a catch 22; without a reasonable budget I won't get a boat she will like (it will have to something where you sit normally and don't have to duck under the boom when seated) and without her liking the idea I am not likely to get a decent budget agreed to. One of the many 16' to 19' designs with the small forward cabin and the benches in the back would probably work. Of course, if we used it a lot we would start finding it cramped and then...

I was writting you other stuff when you posted this.

Have a look at these threads and show them to your daughter, might inspire her to sailing optimists.

I made it to the Nationals Final!

I have a big regatta

Want to see an Optimist sail? Here's Fred's boat

By the way, the same "let them feel important" theory works with the wife, just don't fall in the "I'm scared game"...
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Old 07-02-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Giulietta
By the way, the same "let them feel important" theory works with the wife, just don't fall in the "I'm scared game"...
She used to go fishing with me in a 10' rowboat and has talked about getting a pontoon boat in the past, so I know she is okay with water and boats in general. When I talk about sailing, she always talks about worrying about the boom, capsizing and not having enough space as being issues. I have sailed really conservatively with the kids so far. My daughter actually went faster and heeled over further than I did yesterday, but that is her style. She learned to ski last winter and by the end of her first day I was looking at helmets (riding the lift up she would point out the 2 or 3 spots she turned on the way down; mostly she just barreled down the mountain).

I am going to a local sailing club meeting this coming Sunday. They have a kids' Opti fleet and I have been told it is easy to get a loaner to learn and then get one used from someone who is aging out and sell it for about the same money a few years later when she moves up.
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