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Cruising and Sailing with Children All things sailing and kids related, from safety to life aboard.

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  Topic Review (Newest First)
12-15-2001 02:43 AM

We started each of our three girls (now 10, 7 and 3) when they were infants. At that age, they didn''t distinguish between being on the boat versus dry land, even under sail in challenging conditions. Once they reached 2 or so, we had to get more savvy about exposing them to wind and waves. For day sailing, we were very particular about the conditions we went out in (2 to 3 foot waves max in a 32 foot boat). And then, we limited the sailing time commensurate with the conditions. If there was no wind, we didn''t mind playing motor boat so that they''d get time out on the water in their life jackets. In port, we made sure we had plenty of things to do, including keeping our bikes at the marina. Our choice of marina type and location was important in that we chose one that had plenty of amenities and access versus a standard boatyard. We wanted to keep their entire experience on the boat as positive as possible. On our vacation trips (2 or 3 weeks), we again were very choosy about our travel days and even though we would cruise 600 miles, we didn''t leave port if it was blowing more than 15 knots, unless we caught an offshore breeze and were going to be within a couple miles of shore. We were not bashful about shortening sail to increase comfort at the compromise of performance. If we absolutely had to get somewhere and we were behind schedule, we even resorted to motoring at night to cover the necessary ground if the daytime didn''t provide suitable conditions. All that care has caused them to consider the boat as a special place to go on weekends and vacations. Once in a while we''ve got caught in some unexpected rough stuff, but we got ourselves in to port as soon as possible, usually within an hour. My expectation is that as they get older, they will want to stay with it and will graduate to more challenging sailing. That has already started to occur with our oldest. We''re also starting to bring their friends with us (one at a time) to allow them to stay connected to what would otherwise be going on "back home". We used this need as justification to move up to our current 41 footer (no better rationalizer than a boat owner). The life jacket aversion seems to be standard for the toddlers because they feel it restricts their new found mobility, but we just forced the issue for that summer and they were fine the next year. Finally, as has been said, include them as much as possible in the operation of the boat (sail handling, steering, navigation, maintenance, etc.). My girls don''t regularly pick up their rooms at home, but they really enjoy helping wash the boat.
11-19-2001 01:41 PM

I have 4 boy, 9, 7, 5, and 2. I know what you''re going through. I was able to get them interested by keeping them involved even when they''re off the water, books, pictures. find another couple with children their age and they''ll want to share sailing with them. If I take the boys out with a guest they scramble to raise sails, handle the sheets, and "show off" what they know. They do enjoy the snark more than our 26'' but we make sure they get recreational time also; beaches, swimming, picnics and walking the docks to look at other boats. Don''t give up! Children want to share your interests they just need to know what''s so fun about sailing, show them.

Good luck,

10-03-2001 03:01 AM

My suggestion would be to keep the sailing (and motoring) to a minimum but use the boat to quickly (no more than 30 - 45 minutes) get to an anchorage where your children can play on the beach , swim , mess about in the dinghy, fish for crabs etc. With kids aged 2 and 4 you are kidding yourself if you think they will enjoy the sailing part. Get them to enjoy using the boat for activities they think are fun and in time you''ll know when to extend the cruising part and explore anchorages further afield. When your kids are old enough - say 6-8 enroll them in a sailing school so they learn to sail small boats - you''ll then have keen crew until boyfriends / girlfriends appear on the scene!

10-03-2001 12:48 AM

Try to make your kids look at the sea and not at the boat''s bottom. Also give them things to do like trimming the jib.
10-02-2001 11:22 PM

Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can get my 2 year old boy and 4 year old girl to enjoy sailing?
How to keep them from getting sea sick?
My 2yr old can''t stand wearing the PFD,
and crys when we put it on him. So I don''t take them. I don''t want him to have bad memories of sailing from his early age.
I just bought a Hunter 290.
I would like my whole family to enjoy it.
Please Help

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