Taking children on a sailing holiday can be a fantastic experience. A sailing trip can be an excellent opportunity for kids to learn something about the life on the sea, nature and possibly other countries. However, having children aboard can be as tricky as it is fulfilling.
Children can get easily bored and need to get entertained, so you need to take plenty of entertainment to help your kid keep occupied. Also, bear in mind that children, especially toddlers, are curious and they would probably want to explore the boat. They can even get reckless, so you need to implement some safety features for your kid to safely explore the yacht.
We have prepared some pieces of advice for you if you are thinking about taking your child sailing.
First, you need to set clear safety rules that you have to discuss with the children before the trip and reinforce them once you are aboard. As children get easily bored, make sailing distances short. You could also try to chop up your route by stopping on a beach to run around and play.
Learning about Sailing and Environment
If your kids are interested (and we see no reason why they wouldn't be), teach them about sailing. Show them the charts and instruments, explain the different types of sails, teach them about wind, and have them participate in anchoring. This will make them feel involved and likely spark an interest in sailing.
Also, expose them to their surroundings by incorporating some biology and geography lessons into your sailing trip. They will learn new things while having fun.
Safety Measures and Supervision
When it comes to safety, physical safety is the main priority with children aboard. One of the most important tips is the installation of a lifeline netting or a safety net. Safety rules must be strictly followed, especially when boating with toddlers. All children must wear a life jacket when on deck, no child goes on the foredeck when sailing, and if the weather gets too rough, children must go down below. For extra safety, a harness is also a good idea. However, besides all these safety measures, the best one is parental supervision.
Of course, all this does not mean you should tie your children down and not allowing them to move a muscle. Let them be kids. Let them run around the boat freely and let them have fun, but never forgetting their safety.
So, can children sail? The answer is a big yes, but only if all the safety measures are satisfied.
One of the most crucial sailing tips for sailing with children is the installation of a safety net.
A safety net or lifeline netting is a net that is advisable to be hung onto the boat's railing especially when sailing with small children and animals. The safety net is meant to stop toys, pieces of equipment, animals, and children from falling overboard. The safety net should be attached to the toe-rail as firm as possible.
How to attach the safety net: remove the lifeline between the first two stanchions, weave it through the top edge of the netting, and tie one end of a line to the bottom of the first stanchion. Weave this line through the bottom side of the net, pull the net between the stanchions, pull the string attached to the stanchion bringing the netting down as low to the deck as you can get it, tie off the line to the second stanchion, then begin on the next section.
When attaching the safety net to the boat's railing, make sure to get the netting as low as possible to prevent anything from sliding underneath it. Or you can simply order installation of the net from your yacht charter company.
Ensure Fun and Games
Do not forget to bring plenty of toys. Bring snorkelling equipment (unless your boat already has it) and remember that a dinghy is not only for decoration; you could take your children to the shore with it or organize a fishing excursion. Introduce your children to their "floating home" for the week, always considering children's safety. Show them how to use the head properly, how to move around the boat, warn them about the boom, show them where the handgrips and handrails are.
Extra Tips When Sailing with Kids
Sailing can be a tiring activity for children and can make them hungry. In that case, stock up on your child's favourite snacks. Stock the galley with easy and quick treats that can "fool" the child between meals. Of course, find a balance between the good and the bad snacks.
Be sure to take enough of their clothes. Children cannot be expected to take extra care of their clothes just because they are aboard a charter yacht. Small accidents happen, and you may not always have the opportunity to do the washing.
Band-Aids and Medicines
When it comes to children's health and children's safety on a boat, it is needless to say that it is of the uppermost importance. Bring plenty of band-aids for small cuts and scratches, do not forget medicines - in case of seasickness, fever, sore throat. Take extra special care if the child is on some prescribed medication. Also, do not forget sunscreens, especially waterproof ones.