Sailing/rowing/motoring boat for kids - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 27 Old 11-23-2018 Thread Starter
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Sailing/rowing/motoring boat for kids

I have an almost 3 year old and a second one coming. We have a house on a nice protected estuary, about 1x3 miles in size with islands and marshes and my dream, in a few years, is to send the kids out in the morning and not see them again until evening.

So I'd love to give them the a do-it all boat:
-About 8-13' (<10' I'd store upside down on the shore, bigger would be more complicated)
-Light enough for 1 kid to drag and beach, 2 kids carry
-Sails/rows/can take a motor (in that order)
-Big plus: sailing rig stows in the boat
-Low maintenance
-Centerboard better than dagger board for grounding
-Self bailing would be great but unrealistic in this size

Ideas?

Side question: What age did you start venturing out on your own or let your kids do it? I think I was rowing at motoring sometime between 5 and 9 but don't remember exactly. I got an inflatable with a 9.9 when I was about 13 I think and tore around all over the place with that.

Precision 18, Massachusetts
Former boat: Contessa 26
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post #2 of 27 Old 11-23-2018
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Re: Sailing/rowing/motoring boat for kids

I think a Walker Bay 8 is a great kids boat. Sails decently, rows well and will take a small motor. Even looks half decent. My kids are about the same age 4 and <1.

I have been sailing the WB8 with my son since he was about 2. I think he might be ready for supervised beach sailing this summer, he will be 5. But if he isnt ready, I wont rush him as he already has his own 6 foot oar only inflatable that he really likes.

I cant remember how old I was for going out on adventures on my own. I am thining about 10 for sailing on my uncles Quazar, but I think I was kayaking on my own (with a buddy) in wetlands younger than that.
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Last edited by Arcb; 11-23-2018 at 12:38 PM.
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post #3 of 27 Old 11-23-2018
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Re: Sailing/rowing/motoring boat for kids

Dyer Dhow checks all your boxes & would be a good tender for a bigger cruising boat, if you're headed in that direction. Also great for exploring harbors you visit on a cruise. Can fit 4 people, especially if some are pre-teen. 8-9 year-olds should be strong enough to handle, but perhaps not heavy/strong enough to hold it down or row into it if the breeze picks up too much.
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post #4 of 27 Old 11-23-2018
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Re: Sailing/rowing/motoring boat for kids

If you get a Optimist (or even better two!). You will be setting them up to enter into the racing world with a huge head start, if they get interested.




Then a few years later:

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post #5 of 27 Old 11-24-2018
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Re: Sailing/rowing/motoring boat for kids

As young as you are comfortable. Obviously in the place and conditions you choose for safety. Ours were sailing alone (under our eye) at around 7-8. This is a 9'6" Nutshell pram, very stable and sure feeling.



I second the Dyer Dhow, if you can find one. You'll all be happier if the dinghy is big enough that a young kid, or two, can't possibly capsize in light conditions.

Err on that side, big enough to feel stable and safe, instead of the dinghy that is easiest to move around on land.

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post #6 of 27 Old 11-24-2018
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Re: Sailing/rowing/motoring boat for kids

Opti's size is right, but have never seen an Opti with an outboard or oarlocks. When the wind dies you would need a "mothership" to retrieve cranky, dehydrated, sunburned urchins. The corners (and there are four of them!)are not "mothership-friendly" (though that wasn't stipulated by the OP), and can also be damaged from hitting docks & other things. Getting more than 2 people (even kids) into one Opti can be an issue because of the space available and how the boat trims. Don't refuse one as a gift, but perhaps not something to seek out.
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post #7 of 27 Old 11-24-2018
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Re: Sailing/rowing/motoring boat for kids

If racing is of interest a boat that can do it all and the kids can really grow with would be a Mirror. 11 feet, 100 pounds, sails well, can be rowed and take an outboard. In the UK folks even use them for coastal cruisers. If I didnt already own my Walker Bay and my PDracer, I would consider one of these for playing with the kids, although they are a lot more boat to handle for a little one than the 8 footers.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_(dinghy)
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Re: Sailing/rowing/motoring boat for kids

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arcb View Post
If racing is of interest a boat that can do it all and the kids can really grow with would be a Mirror. 11 feet, 100 pounds, sails well, can be rowed and take an outboard. In the UK folks even use them for coastal cruisers. If I didnt already own my Walker Bay and my PDracer, I would consider one of these for playing with the kids, although they are a lot more boat to handle for a little one than the 8 footers.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_(dinghy)
MA is a long way from UK. For racing it's a good idea to see what's already sailing in your neck of the woods, so that you have competition.
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post #9 of 27 Old 11-24-2018
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Re: Sailing/rowing/motoring boat for kids

Quote:
Originally Posted by pau[I
[/I]lk;2051565930]MA is a long way from UK. For racing it's a good idea to see what's already sailing in your neck of the woods, so that you have competition.
I will leave that to the OP, since he knows where he lives.

Here is a link to the international mirror class association wich contains a link to the United States Mirror Class association. National Class Associations

Last edited by Arcb; 11-24-2018 at 05:26 PM.
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post #10 of 27 Old 11-24-2018
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Re: Sailing/rowing/motoring boat for kids

Started with a small rowboat around 7 year old on a small lake. We moved to a larger lake when I was 10 where my boat was a 12' skiff with an 18hp Mercury when I was big enough to pull the cord and get it started. Could pull a light skier with it and planed easily for exploring the long narrow lake we lived on.

As far as a sailboat, depends on how long of a season you want them to sail. I started on a Sailfish around age 12. Unsinkable so not a worry that it will go to the bottom or be too much for them to bail out. Not a boat for cold water sailing as it was a bit wet. You can probably get one cheap, though. If racing is on the horizon, a laser would be a better choice abut more expensive. A dinghy around 8' would be an option especially if they are actively raced in your area. There are a number of good designs like the Walker Bay, Optimist, Dyer Dhow, Sabot, etc. depending on your area's active racing fleet. If they don't have oar locks, easy to add them and you can make a bracket up out of wood for a small outboard.
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