Tips for Sailing with Kids
Sailing with children is not only managable, but will be one of your best family holidays and a little preparation will help this.
Before I worked on a yacht, I never would have thought that having children on board was a good idea, or even possible. When I thought about a boat + children, my initial thoughts were about:
- The dangers
- How to keep kids entertained on board
However, after three years as a hostess on a yacht I saw that having children on board and family holidays really was something special (not to mention I love children). So here are a few things I thought to share that may make your life a little easier on board, or help with your planning and preparation.
Will children get bored on a boat? Not likely, but remember that while there will be a lot of swimming, there is also the time spent sailing between each destination, so it pays to have some extra activities on board. Being on a boat and out of ‘ordinary life’ is also a good chance to break away from technology, so where possible get children back-to-basics (aka away from their iPhone, iPad etc). Here is what I saw worked on a boat for children:
- Cards – normal or UNO is always a winner
- Colouring: bring some colouring books, printouts, crayons and pencils (avoid felt-tip pens on a boat for obvious reasons)
- Board Games, depending on the age, Trouble is a fun, interactive game and last year – bananagram was a massive family favourite (ages 14+).
Then, once the boat has stopped there are water-sports:
- Kayaking/canoeing (some boats have them included, others you can rent onshore or to have on board for the week)
- SUP – great for the whole family, again, check what is included with your boat rental, but you may want to hire this for the week if it isn’t included.
- Water-ski, wakeboard, jet-ski: these again of course depend on the type of yacht you charter, but many boats, particularly gulets come with an array of water-toys
- Noodles or inflatable toys are a good idea to bring
- Water Parks: at various locations along the coast, there are brilliant inflatable water-parks, which cost roughly 40 kuna per person, but they are a tonne of fun!
Clothing, What to Pack
If you are coming to Croatia in high-season (end of June until September), you can mostly rely on hot, stable weather, so light cotton clothes and changes of bathers is basically all you need, but also:
- Water-shoes are a good idea because of the rocky beaches here in Croatia
- A pair of sandals and one pair of trainers if you want to go for any hikes
- One water-proof jacket or windbreaker, just in case there are any cool nights or storms.
- One pair of long trousers for the same reason as above
If you are coming out of season, be prepared that the morning and nights can be fresh, so bring at least one jumper and pair of long trousers.
If your child needs any special medicines, remember to pack it all, because while there are pharmacies in most every destination, it is not always guaranteed. Then,
- Seasickness tablets or bracelets are a good idea
- Allergies: if your child has any allergies, ensure 1.) the crew are aware 2.) you have packed all required medication. Be aware that the coast is known to have bees and wasps in wilder areas and particularly around National Parks, like Mljet.
- Panadol or aspirin
- Insect repellent – the Croatian coast is lucky in the fact that there are very few insects, though the odd mosquito is not out of the question
If you have a very young child, either bring your own lifejacket to fit your child, or inform your charter agency that you will require a small sized vest.
If you have chartered a crewed yacht, the captain will no doubt give a short safety briefing, or maybe you are skippering the yacht yourself, in which case it is up to you to think about safety regulations. Either way, it always pays to brief children on the safety required aboard a yacht so they are aware before boarding.
Whether you have a crewed yacht or are doing a bareboat charter, in regards to food for children,
- Let the chef know if there are any particular requirements in advance, eating habits etc – i.e. cereals, yogurts etc for breakfast
- Again, inform of any allergies
- Snack, snacks and snacks. Being on the water is hungry business, so ensure you have enough snacks during your sailing times. There is nothing worse than being hangry in a small-confined space.
Get off the Boat and Explore
While you may love the idea of being on a boat 24/7, there is definitely such a thing as cabin-fever, so be sure to get some ‘shore-leave’ at least once a day; get out, explore, walk around… there are also great activities you can do as a family like biking, kayaking in National Park Mljet, the Military Tour on the island of Vis… do some research or ask your crew for recommendations. Plus, getting off and going for a walk is always a good excuse to ‘test’ ice cream and gelato in every location!
Some familiar friends won’t go astray
While you want to limit the amount you pack, because you are on a boat, not in a hotel, a few familiar friends always help.
These are the basics to be aware of if you are going sailing with children, don’t be nervous, just be prepared. A holiday with children is not only manageable, it will be one of your best family holidays.