Here are the rules for a safe sailing experience with children on board
The real problem of sailing with kids? Their parents! For many of them, sailing with kids is dangerous and difficult. Actually, it’s the opposite. The boat is the ideal environment where to have a family holiday, on the condition of course that some basic rules are respected.
Rule number one. Be aware of your limits. There are those who have travelled all around the world with their kids, maybe having another one during their travel, but, of course, experience and caution are required. A normal boater should be aware of what he can do independently: the stupidest thing is getting into situations over your head; so don’t be afraid to turn to a professional skipper or a more experienced friend to organise your cruise.
Rule number two: have a good knowledge of the place you want to go to. Don’t let yourself be tempted by the desire to explore new places; prefer a destination where anchoring posts, harbours and, above all, weather conditions are not something new to you. It’s important to know what to do when weather is bad, the exact location of hospitals along with emergency numbers. If parents are serene, children, too, will feel good.
Rule number three: always involve your children. Of course, always with regard to your and their knowledges. But let them do something. They must always be able to perceive the boat as a place of theirs: they can help in doing the easiest things, they must never be “guests”.
Rule number four: share. Children left alone will be bored and whiny in the same way as adults without anyone to talk to or have a drink with. So, arrange some intelligent crews, maybe with some “friend” boats.
Rule number five: avoid harbours, as much as possible. Wrongly, many people think that marinas are a good occasion to let kids walk and run. Actually, it’s better to find some quiet safe anchorages and avoid harbours. Kids, in fact, like diving, exploring underwater and playing with the tender. On the land, cars, docks, shops are only a source of stress.
Rule number six: no running. If it’s important to involve them and make them feel free, it’s equally true that some basic rules are respected. Most of children get injured when they kick cleats and bitts (broken fingers) or they slip on steps (painful noses and bottoms). So, they mustn’t run and you have to keep the dangerous surfaces of your boat perfectly dry.
Rule number seven: make them wear a life jacket when sailing. Too exaggerate? Absolutely not, it’s a rule of good sense, also because inflatable jackets are not so bulky.