Sailing is a great recreation. I mean, you’re outdoors, you’re constantly on the move, you’re on fresh air, you can always go for a swim… What’s there not to like. Plus, you can go wherever you like at any time. For sure, those are some reasons sailing is our favourite activity. But, more and more often we get questions if you can take your whole family onboard, involving small children. In other words, is sailing with children safe?
To be honest, we were a little taken aback by the question. Maybe because we’re so used to kid-sailors that we have forgotten that some people may find it challenging. We often assure them that there’s nothing to worry about and that having kids onboard is a great deal of fun. And in reality, why should your kids miss out on such a great adventure as a sailing vacation?
Sailing with Children
Many people have cancelled or postponed their sailing holidays because “their kids were too small” for it, or sailing with children would be “too exhausting and demanding” for small children. But the truth is sailing with children can be an exceptional experience. A sailing trip can be an excellent opportunity for kids to learn something about the life on the sea, nature and other countries. However, having children on board can be as tricky as it is fulfilling.
Two Things to Keep in Mind
There are two main things you need to take care of, or be beware of, if you’re planning on sailing with kids. Children can get easily bored and need to be entertained. That’s why you need to take plenty of things that make your kid busy. Also, bear in mind that children are curious and they would probably want to explore the boat. However, they can even get reckless, so you need to implement some safety features for your kid to safely examine the yacht.
Keeping those two things in mind will make your sailing trip with children as pleasurable as it can be. Kids tend to be messy and clumsy, but it is all a part of their charm. And by having these two main things in mind, you can make sure your kids will have the time of their life.
But let’s break those two things into pieces and take a closer look at what can you do to ensure your kids are safe and entertained.
Tips & Trick while Sailing with Children
Since there are no regulations on the age of passengers on a sailing yacht, taking children on board is definitely up to their parents’ decision and responsibility. Still, there are some tricks and tips which would make sailing more relaxed and easier for both kids and their parents.
Ensuring children’s safety while sailing
Safety first! Being safe on board is important for all the passengers, let alone little kids. As we mentioned, kids tend to be a bit reckless and clumsy. So, the possibility of them getting injured is much higher. It is important for you to make everything possible to lower the chances for that. That way kids won’t get injured during the trip, you’ll spare a lot of unnecessary tears, and you won’t need to go to the land if a kid gets injured more seriously. Also, you will have a perfect sailing holiday and your sailing kids wouldn’t be able to wait for the next sailing trip.
Here are some tips on how to make a sailboat and sailing safe for the kids.
Talk to Your Child Before Climbing Onboard
Much like in your home, there must be rules. By setting the rules, the kids will know what they are allowed and what they aren’t allowed to do. We suggest sitting your kids down and go with them through some basic rules. For example, no leaning overboard or while sailing the kids must be sitting down unless you tell them otherwise. You will probably know more than us.
It all depends on the character of your child and you will know best what ground rules to set before going sailing.
Ask Your Charter Company for Small Life Vests
As there exist big life vests, there also exist smaller ones for the kids. It doesn’t matter if your kid can or cannot swim, the idea of having life vests their size on board is for you to be sure they’re safe if the emergency occurs.
Ask your charter company for vests and they will make sure they are waiting for you on the boat. It is advised for your kids to always wear a vest while onboard.
Put up Safety Nets
For ensuring for your kids not to fall overboard, put up safety nets, especially on the front of the boat; but it’s just as important to put it on the sides, too. That way you will feel much safer. It is because the safety net is pretty tall. Well, not compared to the adult, but compared to the small child, it’s more than half their size. That height will be sufficient and prevent them from falling into the sea.
Bring Plenty of Sunscreen
There’s not much more wisdom to it. Kids’ skin is much gentler than the skin of adults, so they tend to burn up more quickly. Another thing is that they don’t usually take notice in how much time they’re spending in the sun. As long as they are entertained, they can be playing in the sun for the whole day.
So, take a lot of sunscreen with a high SPF factor and make sure you’re applying it to your kids every now and then. Sunburns tend to be pretty annoying and uncomfortable, so you’d simply want to avoid that from happening altogether.
Don’t Forget to Bring Medicines for Flu, Headache, Stomach ache, Seasickness…
You know your kid and you know what tends to trouble them. So, when going sailing, don’t forget the medicine they respond to the best. Especially the ones for headache and stomach ache. Also, bring something for motion sickness. Maybe your child has never had problems with motion sickness and seasickness in the past, but sailing is something different and you can’t know how your child will react.
Entertaining Children Onboard
Entertainment to kids is as important as their safety. If the kids aren’t entertained on board, they will have a bad time and wouldn’t want to go sailing again. Naturally, we want to avoid that and show them all the beautiful sides of sailing.
Once again, you know your kid the best, but we have prepared a couple of tips you might find handy and wouldn’t have thought of. They’re not set in stone or anything, they’re just a couple of advice to keep in mind if your kids get bored or to make sure he or she wouldn’t get bored.
Make Routes Short
In the beginning definitely. You wouldn’t want to shock your kids with the full day of sailing the first day. Make your first routes short and sweet. Take plenty of time to just go to the beach and play on land. It is because kids might find the boat pretty confined which is something they’re not used to.
Once they get used to sailing, spread your sails and sail down wind. Your kids will love it and they will be amazed. Show them all the amazing sides of sailing. You can even let them take control of the rudder for a bit. Under your supervision, of course.
Make a Play Area
It is important for a child to have a play area. And the best play area for a kid on board is the indoor table or their room. There they will have enough room for colouring, playing, watching cartoons and doing whatever they like and want to do.
Sketchbooks and picture books are ideal for sailing! And they can keep a kid occupied for hours. In short, make enough room for your kids to play.
Engage Them in Fun Games
You can engage your child in all sorts of activities while sailing. For instance, you can explain them what each part of the boat is and what it does and turn it into a game. That way, kids will learn something and play at the same time.
Another fun game is to talk to them about the scenery. Play I spy with my little eye or invent a game of your own. Comment on the things you’re seeing all around you.
Since little kids’ attention does not last very long, try to keep them interested in what’s happening around them. Explain to them the equipment on the deck, speak with them as you sail, comment other boats and the scenery around you and try to make the sailing trip as interesting to them as possible.
To summarize, children would enjoy their stay on the yacht as long as they find it funny, interesting and exciting. I’m sure that their parents would enjoy their sailing trip as well!