Beach time with children

Reasons for Going on a Yacht Trip With Children

Sailing with Kids

Kids from all backgrounds can have a whale of a time onboard a yacht charter. Whether they are already captains-in-training, fun-loving fishes or still overcoming some nautical nerves, there are plenty of ways to help foster a sense of security, fun and adventure onboard that every child can flourish within. When taking a yacht trip with children in one of our family-friendly sailing destinations, it’s even easier to entertain and support young sailors, from plotting the course to tying knots, navigating and setting sails.

Introducing kids to the joys of sailing and the lifestyle onboard a yacht is without a doubt a hand-full at times, and nothing to take lightly. But the magic of tapping their curiosity into a world of outdoor learning, natural beauty and empowering new experiences will bring exhilaration that you could never even imagine.

Pack the kids. Plant the seed. Share the love of the sea.

To help inspire your excitement and alleviate any worries about bringing kids on your yacht charter, I sat down with two of our Sunsail charter parents, Patrick O’Reilly and Bill Regan, who successfully survived and thrived sailing with their kids on their charter vacations in the BVIs and more! And they both agreed, they wouldn’t have it any other way…

Take it from the experts

Q: What was your general take away from bringing young children on charter?

Patrick: Since my son was born, we have chosen to bring him on every charter we’ve taken. As luck would have it, he genuinely loves being on the water with us. Who wouldn’t enjoy having dolphins jumping right off the transom in our wake, or snorkeling in caves surrounded by reef life, passing through squalls to be greeted with a double rainbow at the new anchorage, shooting stars in the Exumas, swimming with turtles, sting rays, and pigs. To see the light in his eyes as each and every one of these life experiences makes him grow into the man that he is becoming is an amazing thing.

Bill: Children are super adaptable and will find joy in most anything they do; whether spending a week on a boat or hiking in the mountains. It’s great to see them outside and enjoying nature, learning new skills, and experiencing things they don’t get to do every day.

Sailing with ChildrenQ: Do you have any tips and tricks that you’ve collected while cruising with kids?

Patrick: We found that once we determined the sailing plan for the following day, we would make sure that the kids were part of the discussion. We enjoyed pulling out the nautical charts and showing them the route, and then discussing the different activities, giving them something to look forward to. We also love to fish, so my son always brings his fish identifying chart so that he can figure out the names of the sea life that we catch or discover while snorkeling.

Bill: We had a little apprehension over anchoring or picking up a mooring with our daughter on board. Ultimately, my wife and I found by just taking a moment to explain to our daughter what was going on and why she needed to stay in the cockpit, she was fine with it.

Q: Is there anything that you would recommend bringing?

Patrick: My son packs a backpack full of necessities to enjoy: kite to fly, an array of puzzles, arts and crafts, card games, stuffed animals, action heroes, books, cars, and balls to name a few. On long passages, it’s a great way to keep kids entertained otherwise the “are we there yet?” comments reign supreme. Bringing kids movies to coordinate a movie night on board is also great, with the saloon table down and popcorn served.

Bill: We brought a comfortable life vest that my daughter was used to wearing, and also two inflatable life vests for ourselves. Onboard, we had a rule to all wear them while underway, to set a good example. We had our daughter pick out a few toys and books that she could bring so she had a little taste of some of her favorites from home. Also, bring some reef-safe, child-appropriate sunscreen and lots of sun shirts, rash guards and hats.

A note from the author: And camping hammocks! For overnight sleeping, mid-day snoozes and for having fun swinging! You can tie them up to the mast, the spinnaker pole ring or a shroud. Also, an underwater camera—the perfect way for older kids to engage with their surroundings, express their creativity and secure lasting memories. Not only do these items bring amusement for the whole crew on board, but they instantly cut through a child’s timidness or apprehension as a newer member of life at sea.

Visiting Thailand on a yachtQ: Which destinations did you take the kids to and would you recommend one location over another?

Patrick: My son’s first trip was on a Leopard 46 at 8 months old, where we departed from St Martin to sail up to Anguilla, and then down to St Barths. Since then, we’ve gone on to charter with our son in the Florida Keys, Thailand, the BVIs, Bimini, and the Exumas. Every destination so far has been unique in its own way. As an explorer, we like to try different destinations so we can take in the lifestyle and culture of those cruising grounds.

Bill: So far, we’ve just taken her to the BVI. It’s as great as you remember or dreams about.

Q: What was your kids’ favorite part about the charter?

Patrick: My son loves hermit crab racing, snorkeling at every stop, steering the dinghy to shore, helping work the lines, naps while under sail on the trampoline and fishing!

Bill: My daughter really loved snorkeling. We practiced ahead of time in the bathtub at home, and I got her an appropriately sized dry snorkel and mask to bring along. As she was only 3 and a half years old, I wasn’t expecting much. She did phenomenal though! We snorkeled at the Caves on Norman Island and she loved seeing the silver side minnows and parrotfish swimming by. She loved exploring the Baths, even with some of the more challenging terrain.

A note from the author: One of my favorite fun activities with children on a yacht charter is mastering the galley! There’s nothing quite as rewarding as teaching a kid how to prepare meals (sometimes for the first time) and properly stow food and coordinate provisioning than on a yacht, sometimes cruising at top speed. It’s amusing and thrilling, and creates memories you’ll never forget.British Virgin Islands with Children

Kid-tested, parent-approved

While voyaging with young sailors or sailors-in-training, every hands-on action or practical activity offers kids an opportunity to have fun at the same time as empowering themselves. From learning how to safely pick up a mooring ball, to secure a line to a cleat, to even conquering an offshore passage, there are opportunities at every step of a sailing vacation’s itinerary that inspire kids and fosters their self-reliance, which translates to their confidence on and off the water.

In a world where it’s far more common to feel disjointed from children, as relationships are more and more frequently infiltrated by copious screens and busy schedules, the world of sailing charters is beyond the opposite. Planning a sailing charter with kids on board is a special time allotted for enjoying each other’s company and making the most of your passion for adventure on the open ocean.

Author Name: 
Ryan Smith


Ian Pedersen

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