This article was written in collaboration with Attenti Al Boma.
A sailing holiday is the perfect moment for sharing some good quality time with your family. If you're new to this industry, we know the drill: you are planning your next sailing holiday but you are unsure about taking the kids with you. You are afraid they will get bored, that they won't share your passion for the sea, or that they won't enjoy the time spent on the boat. Our suggestion is: take them with you!
It is easy to put a child or a teenage off sailing as they are quick to decide if they like something or not. With a little preparation, you can make the best out of a sailing holiday and make sure your kids will cherish this amazing time forever!
Start slow and at the right age
If your kids are new to the sea and boat life, the best advice is to start slow. There's no limit for age as this really depends on you and your children, but our suggestion is to wait for kids to be at least able to walk alone so that they can explore by themselves and you can enjoy a more relaxed holiday.
Take some time for them to accustom to the sea by organizing a few trips to the beach first and having fun in the water. Once you pass this step, you should do the same on a boat. Start with short trips and make many stops along the route, so that they can enjoy the surrounding nature, learn how to swim in deep waters and avoid the impression that sailing is unpleasant.
A good idea would be to build excitement towards adventures. Leaving the harbour, reaching a defined spot, letting them choose the next stop, looking for big fish in the sea: these challenges can turn a normal sailing trip into an amazing experience for your kids.
Safety on board
Safety is essential and it's important that you establish a few rules on board. Make sure that your kids learn to wear a life jacket while sailing: sailing boats are designed to tilt on their sides, which can be dangerous if kids are not seated in the right spot. The safest spot is usually the cockpit, so teach them to remain seated when the boat is moving. Some boats are also equipped with safety nets around the perimeter, and you can check this before renting with a charter.
Below deck a life jacket is not necessary, but it's important that they understand when to wear it and why. You can also establish other simple rules, such as they are not allowed on deck without an adult, what parts of the boat should be not touched, and so on. Establish these rules without creating tension or anxiety around the matter, or you will get the opposite effect. If your boat is skippered, you can take advantage of the authority of a stranger person (a captain), which your kids will be more likely to listen to without complaining!
What to carry on the boat
The sun is not a big friend of kids, especially on a boat. Here, the risk of getting sunburns or a sunstroke is higher so the attention for this matter should be doubled. Always carry with you sun protection, sunglasses, hats, and even UV protection clothing if your family' skin type requires it. Rent boats usually provide first aid kits, but it is good to always bring band aids and disinfectant for small cuts.
Even if towels are provided, bring others with you to use on deck and after swimming, so you can keep the boat ones clean for showering.
Toys and spare time
During a sailing holiday there are many chances to reach the shore, so it's always good to carry your kids' favourite toys to play with sands along. Some boats are already provided with toys that previous families forgot or left behind, you can ask your boat rental for more info. In case you bring toys on board, ask to store them in the deck compartments along with some inflatable toys and snorkelling gear: this way, you can safe space below deck and, most of all, you won't carry copious amounts of sand to the bedrooms!
Boat life is an amazing adventure for kids. A simple binoculars and a bandana can make them feel like real pirates sailing the seven seas!
When the weather changes or there are a few temporary rains, some papers and markers can easily keep your kids busy. Books for kids are also a valid choice during these "dead moments".
Sleeping and living comfortably on board
You will notice that your kids can enjoy the boat life more than you, when it comes to spaces. A sailing boat is filled with small spaces kids can crawl into, which can be great fun for them.
Marilisa from Attenti al Boma tells us that, in her experience, the boat can facilitate sleep for her kids. The gentle rocking of the waves can makes kids and adults sleep, to be honest - unless you get seasick, but that's another story. According to the type of boat, there can be cabins with double or bunk beds. In case of the second ones, these are provided with side barriers so your kids won't fall off. Depending on how they are used to, you can choose the bed allocation that best fits for your family.
Sleeping at anchor is an experience that everyone should try at least once in their lifetime. The freedom of being independent from timings, having a swim at sunset, having a quick shower and getting ready for dinner in the cockpit is what really makes a sailing holiday unique. Sleeping in the port depends on your holiday's budget availability and on the weather conditions. If the skipper decides that it's safer to spend the night in the port, the best suggestion is to follow his directions. There are many advantages of sleeping in a port, such as electrical supplies, water and the possibility to get off the boat and visit a town. A good occasion to stretch your legs and spend some quality time together!
These are only some of our best suggestions to enjoy a sailing holiday with your kids. The time spent together is a great gift and a holiday is just an alternative way of being together. Your kids will build core memories that will forever keep in their hearts so make sure you all have fun without stressing too much on the potential issues. The sea is a great source of adventures and learning, and a sailing holiday can enrich your small ones with useful lessons and experiences.
If you are planning your next sailing holiday with your family, check our boat availability. Your next adventure with your kids is just a few clicks away!