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Sailing With Children. Our experiences from long ago on the East Coast Rivers…

Sailing With Children.

Sailing with children on a Cobra 850
A Cobra 850 — similar to our boat

Sailing with children is undoubtedly an added challenge to the normal every day demands of yacht life we all know and love. The major plus side is of course, that the next generation can begin at an early age. They then appreciate the sometimes intimidating, but always rewarding needs of the boat and its crew.

In my sailing career I always seem to be sailing with children on board. My first experiences were back in the 1980’s and included my then stepson who was aged around ten at the time. Most of our sailing then centred around the East Coast Rivers of England. My boat, a bilge keeled Cobra 850, was based in a small creek between Two Tree Island in Leigh on Sea and Canvey Island in Essex She was moored on a drying swinging mooring with three hours either side of the tide.

Sailing with children our cobra 850 layout
Our Cobra 850 — Interior layout

One of the first things we did was to prepare the boat. The first job was to net the guard rails. We also took our dog with us, a nutty Labrador who loved sitting at the bows in all weathers and at any angle of heel. The netting stopped him literally throwing himself in the water. Useful when we pulled up on a friendly sand bank for a barbeque with the other boats we cruised with.

The main rule was that up on deck, we all wore lifejackets at all times. There were no exceptions to this, which made this seem normal to us all. Let’s face it, it’s good practice anyway, but most adults don’t follow it. In light winds, kids were allowed out of the cockpit as well, so long as they were hitched to lifelines. Again, this is good practice and common sense.

Crewsaver Lifejackets for use when sailing with childrenAs far as lifejackets go, our advice is to never scrimp on the purchase. Make sure it is comfortable and read the reviews from the yachting magazines. It never fails to amaze me how the quality and even more importantly, the effectiveness and functionality of these lifejackets vary. Some will not even, for instance face a child nose up in the water, if they fall in unconcious! We believe the RNLI know best and they use Crewsaver lifejackets so that is what we generally buy these days.

Harness when sailing with childrenWith children, the most important thing is to keep them engaged, and that is what we attempted to do. Another article coming soon on this!

2 thoughts on “Sailing With Children. Our experiences from long ago on the East Coast Rivers…

  1. There’s a certain satisfaction with kids, if you make their experience of sailing fun. Give them plenty of hands on time at the wheel. Get them to feel where the wind is coming from, and understand why its making the boat move. Above all, sail in company, with other families with kids, and have a ‘race’ along the way. Kids love competing, and so do the adults! You’ll soon find they learn how to squeeze that extra knot out of the boat!

  2. As a mother of two small girls (5 and 7), I was quite apprehensive of taking them on our boat. I really thought they would fall into things and be covered in bruises. After a few days though, they seemed to adapt and remembered to hold on at all times. They like steering the boat, but dont yet have the strength for winching or any of the heavier stuff. Racing with the other families is a must on our boat now! It’s a great experience for them

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