When you’re raising a family with young children, long-distance sailing can feel like it is a whole world away. However, it’s entirely possible to sail the seas as a family with proper planning in place, a positive attitude, and a commitment to creating lasting memories. Let’s explore the joys and challenges of family sailing and learn how to make your family voyage a success.
Safety first! Before embarking on a long sailing journey with your children, it is even more important than usual to ensure that your boat is well-prepared for the adventure. This includes:
Purchase life jackets that fit your children properly, and ensure they are comfortable wearing them. Familiarise your children with safety procedures, such as what to do in case of emergencies, and involve them with life on the boat to help increase their confidence.
Make your boat child-friendly by securing objects that could be hazardous or easily toppled. Use non-slip materials on deck to prevent accidents and educate your whole family on potential accidents and how to avoid or minimise the risks.
Carry a well-stocked first aid kit and know how to use everything in it. Ensure you have any necessary medications your children may require onboard, and arrange an emergency solution too – such as a 24 hour assistance helpline.
Set realistic expectations. Sailing with children is not a vacation in the traditional sense, and it’s important to set achievable goals and expectations. Be prepared for a slower pace – children may require more time to adapt to life on board and there will be ups and downs in the process. Create a flexible itinerary that allows for unexpected stops, and plan activities that cater to their interests. These can include fishing, snorkelling, stargazing, and wildlife watching – to name a few! Encourage creativity with art supplies and books, and use the opportunity to nurture their love and appreciation for the natural world.
One of the greatest advantages of sailing with children, is the educational opportunities it presents. Use the journey as a chance to teach them about geography, marine biology, meteorology, and navigation – they will see things from a completely different perspective than at school, as they learn by adventure. Involve them in tasks like chart plotting and weather observation, making learning an integral part of the journey.
Now, regardless of their lifestyle most children thrive on routine and structure. Create a daily schedule that includes meals, schoolwork or some form of education, playtime, and family activities. Having a routine can help children feel more secure and settled on board and help them to engage with the journey. Sailing can also be isolating, so it’s essential to maintain some level of social interaction for your children. Connect with other sailing families or locals when you make port stops – this is a great way to meet new people – or consider satellite communication tools for virtual play dates with friends back home.
Sailing with children is an adventure filled with unpredictable moments and flexibility and adaptability are key to making the most of these experiences. While sailing as a family does require thorough preparation and commitment, the rewards are huge and long lasting. With safety as a top priority, a sense of curiosity, and a willingness to adapt to changing circumstances, your family can embark on a life-changing journey that creates cherished memories for years to come.