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Broad Reachin'
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I've two young children (3 & 5) with birthdays coming up. Anyone have any boat/sailboat type gift ideas that the little ones might enjoy or get some use out of? Basically the only boat-related items they currently have are life jackets.
 

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My kids' birthdays are in the winter too, December and January. We always got them presents they could enjoy right away, rather than summer things they'd have to wait to use. Since they pretty much get their birthday and Christmas presents within a week, we have a tradition of getting them graduation presents as well at the end of the school year. Nothing major, just something so they don't have to wait 12 months to open a present again and it takes care of the summer things they want.

For 3 and 5 the only boating things I can think of that they could use right away are age appropriate books and / or movies.

Do you think if you got them an assymetrical spinnaker and a chart plotter your motives might be questioned?
 

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kwaltersmi,
Get them -- and yourself -- a bosun's chair if you don't already have one. My little one's love going aloft. I only send them up a little ways, well beneath the spreader, so that I can get them down quickly in the event that a wake is on its way.
 

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Birthday Gifts

I bought tiny sailing gloves for our 5 year old - though the store I found them at no longer exists. There are also a few books that may be appropriate. We recently acquired "Little Rat Sets Sail" - I think that it may be available on the US Sailing or Team One Newport site. Also, since this age group usually loves crafts, there are a few kits where you can build little sailboat models and let the kids paint them.

It's not easy to find sail related items for the youngest ones!
 

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We were dockmates with a young sailing family with 3 girls - aged 4 & up. They were apparently very well equipped by their parents with all sorts of toys to amuse themselves with.

However, when idle at dock, their favorite diversion was harvesting critters with an inexpensive fine mesh net with a long handle and a plastic bucket. They spent hours snagging small fish and crabs that dwelled within the sea growth clinging to the PVC floats, supporting the marina's finger piers. It was educational for them to hear the various comments passers-by made as they inspected the kid's daily catch, which was displayed in buckets beside their boat.

I thought it was great that they would rather do this, than watch DVDs or play video games in the boat's cabin.
 

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I like True Blue ideas.

also for around the docks water canons, the kind that works like an hypodermic needle. just make sure they are in their vests at all times.
great fun for dad too!

While sailing, Kites if the boat is making way flying an kite off the stern is easy. this would hold my sons interest at that age. he enjoyed flying "his" kite, putting on different tails, trying out new "designs"

only problem is i lost one of his kites when going under the Tappen Zee bridge and forgot to bring it in a little.
 

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Kwalt,

Great idea for a thread!

I will second TrueBlue's suggestion for the nets. Our kids get a lot of mileage out of theirs in much the same way TB describes.

Also, Sailhog's suggestion for the Botswains chair is good too. Lots of fun (and escape) can be had aloft.

Another short story that's nice to have aboard, along the lines of Driver's Little Rat Sets Sail, is called "Sarah's Boat". It's about a little girl who fixes up an old sailing dinghy with her grandfather, then sets out to learn how to sail it. It's a good story and a good reference to keep aboard as kids are learning to sail on their own.

If you are looking for other book suggestions, my highest recommendation goes to Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series. The series consists of about a dozen different stories that take place during the period between the World Wars in and around the Lakes District, the Norfolk Broads, and even on the high seas (Peter Duck). The main characters are the young Walker children and their friends, and the stories involve camping and adventures in small boats. They are magical tales (not "fantasy") that describe kids having good, old fashioned, wholesome fun and adventure. They are far and away the best children's books I ever read to my kids, excellent for the long winter ashore.

One other thing my kids really like having aboard the boat is their own personal headlamp for reading at night. If I had known about the ones with the red filters (to preserve night vision) I would have got them those.

Looking forward to reading other suggestions.
 

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dock neighbor has a young boy that plays with his radio controlled boat right off the swim step. I'm always going over and joining in on the fun.

Kwalter, did I miss something or did you not state weather they are male or female? The responses will be different.

My girl's would never want a radio controlled boat, but for them the book ideas are great.

Also, way back when, I remember I got my girl's a couple of kids wet suits for the chilly Lake Michigan waters. They were the hit of the beach for about a month, than of course the waters warmed up and by the next year they had out grown them. They were definitely a hit for a while.
 

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How about a simple critter identification book to go along with the nets? Even young kids can search for a picture that looks like their latest find. My younger daughter has always wanted to know all about her "pets."

You may be lucky enough to find a kid's version, or there are lots of pocket guides for adults that include just the most common beasts. These wouldn't be too overwhelming for a kid. You may also find a waterproof identification card, but there isn't much information on these beyond the creature's name.

Both my daughters would have liked a radio controlled boat, and probably still would now at 10 & 12.
 

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Get a cheap pair of binoculars for each of them...I mean like $10 plastic ones... and send them forward (tethered, naturally) to "officially" identify birds, nav markers and other boats. Get the five-year-old to I.D. possible collisions by teaching the usual "if the relative angle isn't changing" rule, and to give you info via the "boat at 10 o'clock, 10 boat lengths".

Basically, give them a boat job, whether it's needed or not. Also, under benign circumstances, let them work the boat for real. I let my kid (now 6 years old) round up in eight knots of wind because it won't damage anything and he gets to see the relationship between sail set, course and sheet tension.

In light air, even a child can hold a sheet, and in my admittedly limited experience, once a kid feels that sheet PULLING them with every puff, they start to think the boat's alive in some fashion, and they take a far greater interest.

Just remember to put in a stopper knot...
 

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Small inexpensive plastic kayaks can provide hours of diversion and seem impossible to tip by the younger set. And they get a good laugh when Mom or Dad roll the thing over trying to get in off the stern ladder!

A sailing dinghy once they are 6 or so (with limits on conditions to start, of course)

If your children love to read it's a godsend for the long, drizzly days and the longer trips when there's not a lot to do. There is a real good selection of nautical childrens stories. Current favourite for the young ones is "How I became a Pirate" and "Pirates don't change Diapers" - Melinda Long. Great books to read to little ones. Encouraging them to read early works well.
 

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Fishing rods my 6 year old girl loves to fish. Bubble blowers are fun when sailing. She has her own ( red floating) winch handle she loves to sail. A basic book of knots and some rope she loves to practice and show everyone how she can tie knots.
 
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