Sailing with kids on a charter is highly recommended. It provides an opportunity for quality family bonding without the obtrusion of ‘screens’ which has become a huge part of the young population plus it is a holiday that won’t be forgotten!
If you have simple rules the children have to follow and advise them before the holiday when boarding and each morning (if required) safety can easily be followed and will be second nature each day of your charter.
Teach them respect for the water, wind and surrounding elements. Don’t scare the children but remind them that falling into the ocean from a boat is not the same as into a pool. They may be more comfortable with their own snorkel gear that they can practice with before the holiday – in the pool or even in the bathtub.
• All children under 12 must wear a life jacket when on deck or stepping outside the saloon area.
• We provide children life jackets in sizes – 10-15kgs; 15-25kgs and 25–40kgs (these are free of charge, but must be ordered in advance)
• No children on the foredeck when under sail unless accompanied by an adult.
• If the weather is too rough, kids stay in the saloon or in their cabins. They may find themselves more comfortable in the saloon where they can see outside and it is generally the smoothest ride.
• Have the older children ensure their younger siblings are wearing their life jackets correctly and make them in charge of ensuring this. It provides the older child with a sense of responsibility.;
• While at the dock, explore the vessel with the children and explain the different boat terms, show them the handgrips and handrails. Have them practice moving around the boat whilst holding on using the age old saying – one hand for you, one hand for the boat.
• Show them how to use the equipment, such as the head.
• Explain the preparation process from sailing to anchoring procedures. This enables them to understand the times you may be busy and unable to ‘jump’ to their commands. Have them assist where able so they feel involved.
• Have your child in your lap whilst you’re steering (conditions permitted) and explain what you doing and what you are looking out for. Ask them to let you know if another boat is nearing which will make them feel important.
• Explain the functions of the main parts of the vessel and why it is important. Then have them explain it to one of their siblings.
• Show them some knot tying skills and ask them to utilise it.
• Point out the different fish species that they have seen after snorkelling and talk about them.
• Have your children clean and tidy their own quarters every morning explaining that a tidy boat is a safe boat.
• Include your child in the navigation planning for the following day. Listen to their suggestions and explain why it may be a good idea or not such a good idea.
• Whilst underway, have your child assist with steering with you whilst explaining how the wind is working with the sails, the compass and the wind direction indicator.
• Ask the child to help with the winches and coil the lines to put away in the bags when the sailing is done.
• Get them involved in speaking over the radio, advising of your location for the day and night!
• Older children should be quite capable of being able to steer the tender so let them do this and give them the title of ‘Tender Captain’.
Keep your sail time short. A 4 hour sail may seem short for an adult but to a child it’s like a long car ride! Make sure you have plenty of snacks and water for the kids and explain the importance of placing litter in the bin so it doesn’t blow overboard.
Everyone will need free time, even the adults so it’s great to make a conscious effort to include it in your plans. Ask your children for their input into the day’s activities. This will make them feel special if you can include one specific activity from each child on each day of the charter.
Do bring some family board games and some colouring books to keep the family and the kids busy together in the evening. Bring some beach and water toys. Rent some equipment such as a kayak or stand up paddleboard, the kids will have loads of fun on these (go in the water in pairs and wear life jackets).
The most important thing to remember is have fun. If the adults are having fun, the kids will have fun too. Avoid negative reactions such as yelling at the kids or becoming panicky or grumpy. Stay calm, fun and enthusiastic and the children will follow suit and want to sail again.
Sailing with kids is one of the most rewarding activities you can do as a family.
Safety is something to consider but it is not something that should stop you and your family from getting on the water and hiring a charter.
If you have any safety concerns or questions, get in touch with our team at Whitsundays rent a Yacht, we tailor chartering holidays to everyone’s concerns and experience.