sailing with young kids.

Posted By: cbb

sailing with young kids. - 06/30/09 02:53 AM

I hope this summer to have the family out on our recently purchased Nacra 5.7. I realize this may not be the most family friendly boat, especially with young kids, but it's what we got, and we're going to try and make it work. The kids are 5 and 7. I'd love to hear some tips from other who have taken kids this age out. Both were out sailing last year in a Capri 14 and loved it, but this is a different beast.

My biggest concern is if we go over, how you deal with the kids. Obviously, we're not going to try and sail aggressively with them, but going over is always a possibility. I'm quite certain it will take both my wife and I to right the Nacra. Not too thrilled with the idea of the kids bobbing around in the lake as we do this. I've even though of bringing along a cheap kids inflatable raft and tying it off in front of the mast. Then, if we do go over, we can plop the kids in it while we tend to the boat. Think that might work? Any other ideas?


Posted By: erice

Re: sailing with young kids. - 06/30/09 03:08 AM

my kids are exactly the same age and i had the same worries last year

but it ended up not being much of an issue because i took them out in too strong winds and frightened them so they didn't want to go out again

this year instead of taking them out in winds i wanted to sail in i took them out very light winds and they loved it

esp. swinging from the trap handles over the side and trimming the jib for me

eventually the winds died all together and while i anxiously watched for any wind i had them jump off the boat and swim under the tramp and then racing each other around the boat etc.

it was actually great practise for them as it they learned how to climb back on the boat by pulling on the side-stay and swinging a leg up

they also learned not to assist someone on board by pulling their hands but by pulling on their lifejacket

i had to paddle part of the way back but that gave them a chance to helm

keeping them in a good frame of mind is essential at this age and light winds also give me more time to be relaxed and fun to be with. it will also allow them to increase their skills and confidence at a natural rate
Posted By: self_inflicted

Re: sailing with young kids. - 06/30/09 05:36 AM

I too went through the same thing, I sailed with my 11 Y.O we sailed really well together (sailing nacra 5.0), However we got caught in a 45 knot out of nowhere storm. i would check the forcast religously before hand, Ensuring no storms high winds etc
Neadless to say She doesn't want to have anything more to do with sailing.
So be VERY VERY carefull on how you approach this(speaking from 1 who knows)
Posted By: JeffS

Re: sailing with young kids. - 06/30/09 07:21 AM

I sail with kids under 10 regularly and they pick up on your tension, if you’re apprehensive they won’t enjoy it. The best thing I do with anybody new is take them in the shallows and teach them how to capsize and right the cat which is great fun to new people and gets rid of a lot of the fear. Most kid’s natural tendency when they’re capsizing is to climb high but that gives them a fall where they can injure themselves. When we’re going over the kids need to slide to the low side and grab any rope near the water so that they stay with the cat and they’re not allowed to let go until I come along and assist them onto the hull, as they get more confidant they scamper back on the boat quicker than I can. If your worried about righting, a power pole worked for me on my old Stingray, while I was hanging on the pole my daughters aged 7 and 9 at the time would stand on the hull and lean back holding the dolphin striker then as the cat came up they would scamper on to the tramp, if one didn't make it the other would pull them up. IMO definitely no raft, it would only increase the complication and the danger of getting separated. I think you’ll find the 5.7 an excellent stable platform for family sailing, it will carry the weight easily and steer normally as long as you’re not out in a gale. Enjoy yourselves
heres a photo showing a pile of kids on a 5.7

Attached picture kids on cats.JPG
Posted By: Mary

Re: sailing with young kids. - 06/30/09 07:35 AM

I would recommend putting a Hobie bob on the top of the mast to eliminate the danger of the boat turtling and trapping a child underneath.
Posted By: pepin

Re: sailing with young kids. - 06/30/09 10:58 AM

Originally Posted by Mary
I would recommend putting a Hobie bob on the top of the mast to eliminate the danger of the boat turtling and trapping a child underneath.
I'm not sure the Bob is a good idea. First it's fugly:) But furthermore if someone is separated from the boat you want to be able to turtle it to slow its drifting and giving the lost crew a chance to catch up. A bob will prevent you from doing that increasing the chance of losing you crew: Our trampolines are really good sails...
Posted By: Tom Korz

Re: sailing with young kids. - 06/30/09 11:07 AM

Take them out in conditions that are windy but not crazy. Buy and teach them how to trapeeze, they will learn very quickly. PFD, PFD, PFD.

TAke them out in light wind and tip the boat over, let them jump off the top hull, just have fun swimming around the boat.

I reccomend racing in a low key manner, with getting them involved in timing the start and spotting boats and marks.

I now sail/race almost exclusively with my daughter (13 y.o.) in all levels of competition. She loves it and has made many friends from around the sailing world. She can't wait to go to the next regatta. She raced her first National's (barefoot, no less) with Mike Siau (17 y.o. at the time) in 06 at 10 yrs old. HUGE WIND and WAVES!!! Never really worried about them, even after flipping multiple times.

Pics are her and her mom racing in a little wind (15+) when she was 11.

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Posted By: Tom Korz

Flippin at 10 yrs old. - 06/30/09 11:13 AM

1-Flipped in RI-10 yrs old
2-Ready to go on the I20-7 Yrs old
3-Sailin with Dad-12 yrs old (yeah its cold out)

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Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Flippin at 10 yrs old. - 06/30/09 02:43 PM

I have sailed with my GF's 7 year old 2 times this month. She did enjoy it, but i had to be extra sensitive to her needs. be sure to have a dry bag with warm cloths for the kids. Even in 90* sun, she got cold in the afternoon and started crying.

Be sure the kids will listen, behave, and sit still (at least not jump around). If they can't... they shouldn't sail. You NEVER know when the weather can change... *quickly and they MUST be responsible enough to listen to the skipper.

Perhaps practice a few times (capsize) with the wife first... make sure she is comfy with it.. then the kids.

I think a raft is not a good idea.. everyone should stay with the cat... and you wont have time to inflate a raft...

My friend has a 6 year old. She has been around the water and cats all her life.. and she is very calm and still on the boat. He is VERY safe, careful, and basically she calls most of the shots.. if she wants to go in (home)... they do. if she wants to sail with a hull up... they do. he does everything he can to make sure its fun for her... I expect her to win Gold in 2020 olympics! smile
Posted By: waterbug_wpb

Re: Flippin at 10 yrs old. - 06/30/09 02:51 PM

First, no one (not even you) without lifejacket on at all time. Second, make sure everyone is a good swimmer and is capable of treading water for 10 minutes (with lifejacket) and won't freak out. Try tossing them off the dock a few times smile

I second the notion of letting them experience a "controlled capsize". Go out in light wind a few times to get them used to the boat, and then show them what happens when the boat goes over, how to stay clear, and what to do while you're righting it (hold on to bridle, rudder, or some tow line)

In light air, they'll probably have a great time and want you to flip it again (especially if the water's warm). Act all dramatic to get them to laugh about it.

We did this when I was around 7 or 8 (but I was a good swimmer, too) and us kids had a ball. We started flipping in a sunfish, and once us kids could successfully flip and recover the sunfish, we could go out on the H17.

If I recall, conditions were usually less than 10 knots and very little chop on the lake when we went out. Usually this meant a boring sail anyway for us kids (even worse if the lovebugs were out in force).

Times like that, the skipper became "Mr. Drama" to make it fun for us. He'd speak in slow-motion "OH NO WE'RE GONNA CRAAAAAASH!" and slowly let the boat go over (he sat on the low side). Probably took 20 seconds to finally hit the water.

Knowing what I do now, it was probably pretty hard for him to get the boat over in those conditions like that, but it sure was fun...

Good memories there...
Posted By: Brian_Mc

Re: Flippin at 10 yrs old. - 06/30/09 03:55 PM

Tom, Love the pics. The success you 204 folks have had at making it a family sport is fantastic! I was really impressed meeting all the sailing generations from 204, in RI that year. I think I was a little concerned about the barefeet at the time, but she's tougher than I am!
Posted By: brucat

Re: Flippin at 10 yrs old. - 06/30/09 04:11 PM

Listen to Tom...

Only thing I would add is stay with the light air until they are ready for medium. Before going out in more breeze, you want them to be totally familiar with the boat, the correct terms for the basic boat parts (you can teach that on the beach, at home, etc.), so you can communicate with them if there is an issue on the water. Make it fun, and use sailing as the reward.

Once they get into it, the racing is key, even just fleet races. It gives them something to focus on, other than being afraid, etc. Even better would be if there are more kids on the other boats, they can "debrief" with their friends later.

As for safety gear, I agree 100% with the PFDs at all times. I would also have a throwable PFD, with a line tied to the boat, and easy to access.

With kids, you really only have two enemies: boredom and fear. Keep it fun and safe, the rest will take care of itself.

Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Flippin at 10 yrs old. - 06/30/09 04:21 PM

Originally Posted by brucat
Listen to Tom...

As for safety gear, I agree 100% with the PFDs at all times. I would also have a throwable PFD, with a line tied to the boat, and easy to access.

With kids, you really only have two enemies: boredom and fear. Keep it fun and safe, the rest will take care of itself.


I agree 100%. When I was a newbie in relatively light air I got an unexpected gybe that cold **** me by the boom. I had no PFD and fell back on the boat. I was close to shore and the boat just sailed itself down wind in to beach. If I had fell off I would have been a goner.

Posted By: Tom Korz

Agree with Andrew - 07/01/09 12:54 PM

Andrew Scott is spot on with the let them call the shots, re. comfort level. This covers warmth and conditions. The first two seasons of racing with my daughter if she got too cold or the wind/sea state got out of her comfort level we would go in, PERIOD. (Pat B from 204, also used this mantra when starting his daughter, Sara.) By the third season I was rewarded with a willing crew who now loves to sail in BIG WIND and WAVES. (I think she likes heavy air more than I do!)

Pat & Sara-MAdcatter 33 in a REAL 25+

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Posted By: Doug_P182_LKN

Re: sailing with young kids. - 07/01/09 02:09 PM

I would echo everyone here. My kids ar ethe exact same age and I just took them out for their first sail. My rules would be:

1. Baby steps: Start off in very light wind so they get used to the feel of the boat and what it takes to operate it.

2. EVERYONE ALWAYS WEARS A PFD! And everyone wears a safety whistle. Things can happen quickly when your attention is elsewhere. An orange safety whistle makes a LOUD noise.

3. One adult crewman (my wife) has one and only one responsibility - watching out for the kids. I sailed the boat, she watched the kids. I essentially solo-sailed.

4. Explain to them how to uncleat sheets and how to turn the boat into the wind (if for some reason I'm seperated from the boat).

5. Practice #4.

6. Exude confidence and let the kids see that you are controling the boat, it is not controling you. Let them feel enjoyment and not anxiety.

7. When they're older we'll practice righting in the shallows.

8. Give them a chance in light air conditions to hold the tiller and sheet in and out.

9. Specifically for your question about righting - I would avoid anything involving additional lines. Just more to get entagled. People have asked me about leashing kids to the boat, but that's too dangerous. I would simply practice in the shallows and teach the kids to swim over to the hull in the water and stand/sit on it while holding on to the crossbar. NEVER LET THEM GET AWAY FROM THE BOAT! If there is current or wind, it's suprising how fast people can become seperated from the boat and not be able to swim back. Position all crew and kids first before taking any and all actions. Take it step by step and verify everyone's position before each and every action. Takes longer, but it's safer.

10. Make sure the kids enjoy cat sailing!

Here's my 4-yr-old two weeks ago:

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