2-night crewed sail with pre-teens?

Old Nov 20, 16, 6:41 am
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2-night crewed sail with pre-teens?

I'm taking my kids, ages 9 and 11, by myself to Australia next year. We will visit the Great Barrier Reef and I'd really like to do an overnight sail trip around the Whitsundays. The trips I'm looking at have 10-20 people on the boat. My kids are good swimmers and we will practice snorkeling in the pool beforehand. As an alternative, we could stay on land and do day sails, but this is such a cool experience and I'm told sailing is a way better way to see the Whitsundays.

Am I going to regret doing the sailing trip? Any tips to make it easier?
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Old Nov 20, 16, 9:53 pm
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What kind of boat will you be on? Is it an actual sailboat?

If so...

I would suggest that the kids wear life jackets anytime they are on the deck. Depending on the size of the boat and the typical conditions, you might ask the charter company (or whoever handles the coordination of the boat and crew and equipment) about whether they'd recommend your children be clipped into harnesses and lines when on deck and underway.

Most families who take out charter sailboats on their own tend to observe a "double digits" rule, where they feel comfortable taking children aged 10 and above along. However, this would be on smaller sailboats, designed to accommodate maybe 8-10 people. If your 9-year-old is reasonably good at following instructions, then it seems to me on a larger boat he would be ok. Do you know if it's a monohull or a multihull? A multihull would offer more room on deck and a little more of a feeling of safety, imo, since the sides of the boat would be a bit farther away.

The most important thing, I think, will be for the kids to be in life jackets on deck. In some parts of the world this is mandatory for certain types of vessels. You'll want to check with the company organizing the trip about their recommendations. If they do advise that life jackets be worn, also make sure they have a marine whistle attached. You could bring your own.

It sounds like a fabulous opportunity and a wonderful experience for your kids, and I do believe you could pull it off. You probably just need to check with the people who do the trip first to find out about any additional safety protocol.

Also, full disclosure: While I have done bareboat charters and have some sailing experience, I haven't yet taken my children on a sailboat overnight. Right now, my 6-year-old spends most of his on-the-water time on an Optimist dinghy, and my 4-year-old falls asleep on just about anything that floats on the water.

One other thing that comes to mind: pack some ginger in some form (candy, soda, capsules, gingersnaps, whatever that you know your kids will eat), some dramamine or bonine, and maybe some Zofran for seasickness. A lot of times the spots that are good for diving and snorkeling are rather rolly, and they can turn you green pretty quick.

And as for the snorkeling prospects, we took my son snorkeling in Cabo when he was just 5, and he did great! So I think yours will be able to handle it just fine.

Last edited by swise; Nov 20, 16 at 9:58 pm
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