Welcome to the UKWA Home Page Forums Cruising Cruising with children

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    The season is upon us and no doubt there will be some very keen Dads and perhaps not so keen Mums with two or three youngsters in tow (not literally) about to set off for far horizons and new adventures.

    I just thought that between us there is a lot of experience and we know what works and what doesn’t. So how about sharing those pearls of wisdom.

    What are your top tips for sailing with children? Mine include:

    Keep them dry.
    Make your first sail short. Twenty minutes can be a long time for small non-sailors.
    Don’t put too much sail up.

    I could go on but what do you think?

    Dave Barker

    A few suggestions:-

    Give them a job to do – this requires sensitivity, as some confident kids will love to take over helming straight away, but others would be put off for life by the idea. “Keeping a lookout” can be adapted to circumstances, and you can easily concoct a situation in which they save the day, e.g. by you steering a bit close to a mooring buoy “by mistake”.

    As young teenagers our two enjoyed a commando-style raid on Padstow a few years ago, launching from just over the estuary at Rock. I can’t say too much about this for legal reasons 😉 .

    Incorporate food/drink at some stage. A picnic or even a pub meal makes for a memorable day out.

    As someone pointed out on this forum a while ago, very young children (and boat owners) are put off by flapping sails, so avoid this if possible. Toddlers might be happier just playing on the boat at the beach for a few minutes with no sails up and no intention of going anywhere. My little nephew didn’t even get into the boat last year – maybe next time!


    Hi John and Dave
    As someone who has spent far too much time on this website for his health and being in the middle of doing the fish fingers for the kids I have not the inclination to put my experiences down here now. But I would highlight the SEARCH key at the top line and put in kids (not sailing with kids). However I realise plenty of other parents have resisted the opportunity to add their most embarassing moments etc etc so far. Also as a UKWA member I accessed the logs and got some vintage advice which I don’t think has changed really. One of these logs included a dream account of sailing out of Rock with kids and round the headland on the north side of Polzeath (Pentire point?). Did you read that one Dave? I have also taken our Wayfarer to Porth Tilly Cove next to Rock, that Camel has a fine current! Better get the FF’s out


    As Dave said, keep them busy.Toys in the boat might help, cheap binoculars, towing a toy boat, fishing rods etc. Very small children must be kept inside the boat, I took out a 9month old and he and his mum sat on the floor in the aft part of the cockpit( no rear seats) and the little boy spent 20 minutes fasinated by the sail. Chasing Swans, Geese etc is fun, they all seem to know that if they paddle upwind you can’t catch them.


    1.Read Swallows and Amazons to them (or let them see the film/DVD)
    2. Find a big lake with lots of islands (easy if you live in Ireland but not impossible elsewhere)
    3. Explore.
    4. Make sure that there are large stocks of pemmican, grog and other essentials on board.
    5. When it gets cold, windy, wet and generally uncomfortable – go home!

    Seriously, lakes have many advantages when sailing with kids – the absence of tides, easier conditions for launching, getting ashore etc

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