Chartering a boat and sailing with your children can be a fun family bonding experience. It can be great fun to teach your children about sailing and about maritime matters, and you get to spend some time in some breathtakingly beautiful places while you do it.
There are many ways to ensure that you have an enjoyable, and above all safe, time while out on the open water.
Here are just a few safety tips for parents planning a sailing holiday with the kids:
As always when chartering a vessel for your holidays, preparation is key, but the importance of the planning stage cannot be overstated when sailing with children.
Make sure that you know exactly where, when and how your holiday will pan out. The more prepared you are the less likely things are to go badly wrong.
Preparation is not just about knowing the details and making sure you bring everything with you that you will need, it is also about taking sailing courses (especially if this will be your first time on board too) to be prepared for emergency situations and thinking how the holiday will work for the kids.
Consider getting them enthused about the trip before you go by showing them where you are going. Maybe they will enjoy creating ‘treasure maps’ or imagining they are a pirate or adventurer heading off on a quest. Engaged and happy kids stay safe, so prepare to deal with any moments of boredom of annoyance quickly and calmly.
Making sure you bring enough food and drink is only part of practical provisioning.
Though you must of course make sure that all family members are protected from the sun and remain properly hydrated, and fed, it is also important to consider how much happier everyone will be with their favourite foods on-board.
Don’t forget little snacks to eat throughout the day – everyone will be hungry will all the fresh air and healthy exercise.
To make an extra-special treat for the children, why not bring fruit juices for virgin cocktails that they can enjoy while you enjoy your sunset tipple of choice.
Make food fun by having a picnic on deck once in a while, and encourage adequate hydration by giving everyone their own special water bottle with their name on it.
It should, surely, go without saying that everyone on board the boat should have proper safety gear, including lifejackets, non-slip footwear, sensible clothing, sailing gloves, hats, sunglasses, and lots of sunscreen.
Let kids help to find and select their own gear, and make sure it fits them properly and is comfortable.
Tell them the rules firmly, and make sure they understand that they are not arbitrary.
Finally, set a good example. It should never be one rule for them and another for you! Lead by example, and they will follow. In any case, the kids will be having so much fun they won’t even be thinking about being irritated by what they have to wear!
It is really important that kids of all ages feel involved, and don’t feel that they have just been dragged along on your holiday.
Kids of all ages can be given really important jobs to do, both with the day to day running and maintenance of the boat, the actual sailing, and also with such other duties as ‘pirate lookout’ and ‘flag waver’.
Kids can learn more by doing than they can by just sitting around watching you, and you can better keep an eye on them if they are as engaged as you are with the sailing.
Encourage kids to keep a log of their sailing adventures.
Keep them entertained with physical activities like swimming or diving as well as mental pursuits like board games and quizzes for the evenings.
Play I-spy with sea-life or devise games of bird spotting.
Tell each other stories or adventure on the high seas, and imagine together, making forts and dens in cabins, fleeing pirates, or heading off on a quest to look for treasure.
There is no reason whatsoever why a child on a sailing holiday should ever be bored.
For your own wellbeing, as well as for the kids, it is important to schedule enough time off the boat, spending time on shore not just looking at the sights but also just relaxing together on a quiet beach, or on a pleasant ramble.
Respite will allow you all to enjoy your time on the boat all the more, and no accidents will be caused by tiredness or irritability.
So, go sailing with children and you will be bound to have lots of fun. As long as you bear the above in mind and remember that you are a team, all in it together, you may well have the adventure of a lifetime that can be repeated, again and again.
About the Guest Author: Article contributed by Romeo Demes, a passionate sailor from Croatia who works for Charter Croatia, one of the leading charter agencies on the Adriatic.