We love yachting, we head out to sea whenever we can, but then all of a sudden our kids are born. Does that mean we should stop going yachting? Or should we palm the kids off at the grandparents and go without them? Is it possible to combine parenthood with our passion? Well, it is surprisingly easy.
Yachting with kids is a bit different than yachting with friends, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is worse.
Plus, a voyage together can greatly enrich family life. It helps us build stronger bonds between parents and children and provides amazing experiences that will last a lifetime.
But what if the kids can't swim? Can't something happen to them on board? And won’t they get bored? And how will us adults cope with them? These and other such questions have probably been asked by all parents when they first consider taking their children on a boat.
If you sail with your family, there are a few basic rules to follow. However, if you do stick to them, nothing will stand in the way of a family trip which is guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience.
Each age category has its own specifics, so let's look at them individually.
Infants on board
Parents are most concerned when sailing with young children and infants. They seem so fragile and helpless to us, they require the utmost care and we are afraid we’ll do something wrong.
Yet it is actually the littlest ones that are ideal for sailing. For example, did you know that until children can walk, their sense of balance isn’t developed enough to get seasick? On the contrary, the repetitive rocking of the boat actually has a calming effect and helps children fall asleep more easily. In the evening, the child will sleep below deck while the parents can take a break up on deck with a glass of wine. And they’ll always be near their little one - even without a babysitter.
In addition, small children need very little space. Until they can move, a well-placed secured cot or something similar is enough. They won’t get under your feet and you will always find them where you left them. For older children, using a car seat is a good tip. In it, you can freely move your children around on board and they will always be safe. If you have your own boat, you can even install an isofix in the saloon or cockpit. The seat will then sit securely in place and won’t move. But you can also use it with older kids too, for example during port manoeuvres or in an emergency. It may not be possible without a bit of encouragement, but you’ll be sure that your child will not get in the way.
Sailing with toddlers and older kids
As children begin to move around a bit, safety requirements increase. The perfect boat is one with a central cockpit. One of the most useful additions is a safety net along the railing to prevent them from falling overboard. Young children should only move around the deck in a life jacket and never without adult supervision. Experience shows that children instinctively listen much more on a boat, respect the authority of the captain and generally do not try to get themselves killed.
However, with age, the demand for fun also increases. You can't do without toys on board. But before turning, don't forget to move the DUPLO blocks in the cockpit from one side to the other in time. Card games are ideal, board games can be a bit problematic. No one wants to be hunting around the salon for pieces in the middle of the exciting game. But there are also magnetic solutions.
Of course, the cruise itself is also exciting. Little biologists among you will be fascinated by the marine life, and if you're lucky, you'll come across some dolphins. Those more technically gifted and inquisitive children will explore the equipment on board, turn the winches and love steering the boat. It is definitely necessary to set them tasks and engage them. But this is definitely an opportunity to strike while the iron is hot. This year, the junior under your command will take the helm for the first time, and maybe in a few years, they’ll be successfully assisting you in the regatta.
At this age, heading to the mainland
Just like bringing them up generally, sailing with teenagers is the biggest parenting challenge. Everything parents do is utterly boring and annoying. And such a family holiday brings everything to its peak. A good solution is to take another family on board with children of a similar age, so they can then have fun together. You won’t be able to get a WiFi signal away from the mainland, and young people will eventually start getting involved in route planning or steering. Plus, a photo at the helm is much cooler than one at grandma's. When you anchor, children can practice diving, and on the mainland they can take a break to explore the local sights and sweet shops themselves, and for larger ones, even the nightlife.
So, in conclusion, there is really nothing to worry about and it is about time you booked a boat with us for your family cruise this year.