My husband and I wanted to do something special as a family. Life was certainly simpler then. Yes, the children did play football and baseball on school teams and little league teams, and our daughter was on a YMCA co-ed swim team from second grade, through high school and on to college. But there were not as many activities for students to choose from as there are now. Most importantly, you do have to let them seek out the experiences that they enjoy and wish to play. That still does not exclude them from the thrill and fun of sailing, fishing, and traveling by boat to fun places where they meet other children with similar interests.
Life aboard is not that much different from summer vacation on land. You are in charge of where you are going and what activities will be available to your family. Many activities on aboating vacation are similar to when camping: You can cook and eat outside. You can visit marinas or anchorages that have areas just for children, such as docks for fishing, grassy areas to play ball, swings and playground apparatus, and clubhouses in which to play games.
Familiarize your family with some of the anchorages that you plan on visiting. Get them involved and make up a list of things to do, and what special things they want to bring, such as baseball gloves, balls and bats, table games like Monopoly, bingo and card games. Bring swim gear: floats, swim fins, and goggles; and don’t forget the music, both yours and theirs. Books and current magazines for all ages should be included. Puzzles, word games and any made up game that they devise is always fun. Some games do not need props. Remember when you were a kid? We played games like “I’m thinking of a certain animal” or “twenty questions.” Let your imagination run free and you’ll see how much fun you can have.
Be sure that each one has his own foul weather gear with his name written inside it and keep it onboard so that it is always there when youhead out of the harbor. Another learning experience you can introduce to your children is showing them how to read the chart of where you are and decide how to get to the next point. You can do this with flat charts as well as electronics. Show them the charts and let them see how water depths are marked and how to navigate safely through the waters from point A to point B.
Also, teach them as much as they can comprehend on navigation, sail trim, handling a motor, steering, and the effects of wind and current on your vessel. Have your family involved with the whole boating experience and not just be passengers. Our oldest son was eighteen at the time that he was a member of our five man crew that sailed from Connecticut to Bermuda. The lessens learned are not just sailing, but navigation, weather forecasting, how to read weather charts and the results that the weather creates. Your skills get sharpened when you need to figure out time, distance and speed to accomplish your destination.
Sailing can be a part of camping, boating, sightseeing and fun. If children are part of the crew, they won’t get bored and keep asking, “When will we get there?”