Many times we receive questions and worries from parents who would love to go on a sailing holiday but are not sure if it’s a good option with kids. Well, we believe that sailing with kids is actually the best way you can spend your holidays! :)
Just imagine fresh air, no traffic, helping and learning around the boat, swimming, fishing… And on top of that sailing does miracles for reducing screen time.
The only usual concern is safety, but sailing with kids is far from dangerous. With some experience and by following our professional tips this concern is just a concern and your sailing holidays can become a beautiful reality for you and your kids.
Planning the trip
Of course some compromises are needed, but nothing too drastic. When planning an itinerary, do it with your kids in mind or even include them in the planning process. Adopt the sailing route to kids, especially on their first day when it is crucial to present sailing in a good way and bring it close to them.
You don’t want to take them sailing in strong winds, big waves and cold as you want them to get trust for the boat and sailing. Once on the boat, give them some small tasks and responsibilities, in this way they will feel an important part of the crew and this could be a game-changer when turning your kids into eager sailors. Just because they are small and not strong enough to hoist sails, they can still help and get involved. Let them help you catch fish, read wind direction and speed… With years their roles and responsibilities can evolve and so will their interest. The knowledge that they are contributing gives them a great sense of satisfaction and self-worth and this will make them love going on sailing holidays.
For first-timers we would suggest to go with a catamaran as it is more stable during sailing as well as in port and on anchor. It also offers more space inside and outside and provides an amazing playground for the kids. This of course doesn’t mean that sailing yachts are out of question, if your kids are more adventurous they will definitely like a bit of a heel on a sailing boat during the sail. If possible, go with a bigger boat so there’s enough space for kids to play around in.
Safety is the most important thing on any kind of holiday and it is no different when we are talking about sailing.
First of all, equip or ask your charter manager to install safety net all around the boat. This will protect your kids from accidentally falling in the water under the rail. Make sure you ask them in advance as it takes some time to put it on the boat. It will come with a little extra cost but it is well worth it, as it provides safety for your kids and holidays without worries for you.
The next thing is to secure life jackets that will fit your kids and also have a harness ready. Let your charter manager know on time that you need life jackets for your kids, make sure you provide them with weight and height of the kids. All the charter bases have them, but if they don’t know you are sailing with kids they might not put it on the sailing boat as boats are usually equipped with life jackets for adults.
A few rules for safety
Once your sailing boat is ready, it is important for your kids to understand a few simple rules:
- always wear the life jacket when outside
- whenever they want to go to the bow (front of the boat) they must let you know about it
- never leave the boat alone
- never go swimming on your own
- don’t touch any buttons, ropes and sails in use
Choose or ask your skipper for a shorter passage. When sailing for too long kids might get bored. This doesn’t mean your overall daily millage needs to be reduced, but instead just make a stop on a nice beach or in a nice town so your kids can find something new and interesting to do and then continue to your desired destination. When planning the itinerary, check if a nearby island has a theme park or anything that kids would love to visit and see.
Kids are no different from adults when it comes to sailing and seasickness. It is a possible treat so make sure you bring pills or wrist bands. But the best is to avoid it in the first place, to do that keep your kids outside on a fresh air, the sail is much more comfortable and harder to be seasick.
Make sure your kids are always protected from the sun. They should wear UV lycras, and hats in combination with sunscreen, even when swimming.
While sailing people often forget to drink enough water. The best way to make your kids drink enough is to give them named bottles, they will love having their own bottle and for parents that means easy tracking if they had enough drinks.
Of course you should pack all the medicines they usually need at home and some more, especially pain killers, drugs for fever and band aids.
How to overcome fear of heeling
Some kids are afraid when a sailing boat heels, which is perfectly normal (for the boat to heel and for the kid to be afraid) as it is not natural for them and they don’t understand physics behind it (as many adults don’t). It is important to explain to kids how the sailing boat works and why she heels as well as why this is perfectly normal. If you explain it to them, it will be much easier for them to get confident. It also helps to give them the wheel and show them how easy it is to play with a heel and for them to understand that the skipper is in full control of the boat.
All in all sailing is a bit different, but with the above knowledge we are 100% sure your kids not only will have fun during sailing holidays, but they will also learn a lot and will love to come back. All you have to do is prepare and put some effort in their entertainment.
Keeping kids entertained on a sailing trip
Like mentioned boats offer a lot of entertainment for kids. Swimming, snorkeling and a big hit lately is stand-up paddling. Taking your kids on a dinghy ride to the next beach, cave or some other attraction is also great experience if not an adventure and they will love it. Sailing is definitely ideal for gadget-free holidays and from our experience the reduction of screen-time during sailing is unbelievable – which parent wouldn’t want that?
Despite everything the boat and life on a boat offers, make sure your kids have their favorite toys and books with them, so they can play if they get bored, or on a rainy day when their choices are limited.
On a rainy or any other day, it helps if you include kids in the daily routine and boat operations, make them an important part of your crew. You can even assign them different titles and tasks that they are in charge of. Make it a game, take them to the pirates time or anything that is close and interesting to them.
Or for example, make a list of animals or places you want to see and then play a game to find them all and let the kids take notes as you discover them.
It is also a great idea to bring your kid’s friends on your trip as well. When the kids have company for playing, discovering and adventures, it will keep them entertained and busy for a long time.