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Sailing with young children, the basics

Be safe!

Make sure that your child wears his lifejacket at all times on deck and near the water.

Set clear ground rules of behaviour on the boat:
  • no running on deck
  • hold onto the guard rails at all times when moving forward out of the cockpit
  • ask permission before moving forward, and only do so when an adult is watching.
Set a good example – wear your lifejacket too, and act responsibly.

Practice your man overboard drill so that everyone is comfortable with the process.

Make sure that your child can swim.

Have a back-up plan if the weather turns foul, or someone becomes ill.

Be prepared!

Make sure that your child is wearing clothes appropriate for the weather.

Take along an extra set of clothing, just in case.

Make sure that you have plenty of food and water, even for a short trip – you never know when the wind might die!

Pens, paper, books, reading tapes, small games, favourite toys, puzzles, and Gameboys will while away the time quite happily.

If you can, make lots of stops along the way.

Keep suntan lotion, sunglasses and sunhats stored on board – you never know when you’ll need it!

But above all – have fun!

Let the children be as involved as they want to be; coiling ropes, sorting the fenders, steering, charting a course, rowing the dinghy, scrubbing the deck…

Spark their imaginations – head off on an adventure of your own making.

Join in a muster, so the kids can meet other ‘sailing families’.

Keep a children’s log, full of pictures, sightings and comments.

Try fishing – but be prepared for a lot of mess!

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