‘What keeps you from boating?’
- ‘It would be boring for kids’
- ‘It’s not the kind of thing that little kids would be entertained by for very long’
- ‘I have to wait until the littles are a bit older. With mine who have no fear, being on the water is terrifying’
The above seems to be the most typical response from potential clients in the 25-35 age bracket; at least that was the common response when I posed the question on my Facebook wall in December. Majority of my friends who answered were within that age bracket and we all have younger children (ages 7 and younger).
It’s true, the thought of entertaining younger children on a vessel can seem a bit intimidating and the safety factor if there are very young children aboard can just be an additional weight to bare.
What are they going to do all day on the boat?
Won’t they feel cooped up in such a small space?
There’s nothing for them to do!
For myself, these types of questions are easily answered because I grew up cruising in the PNW. My youngest sister spent her first summer aboard at the age of one. When my parents bought their 24′ Hunter, every single weekend of the summer was spent aboard, as a family, sailing the islands.
So really… why take your kids boating?
- Put simply: they’ll be boating! One of the most beneficial things you could do for your young ones is to introduce them to the world of boating. The community is small, yet vast.
- Cruising distances are short– majority of the island destinations can be reached at a maximum of 2 hours of cruising, even at a mere 7-8 knots.
- When in doubt, break it out! The days of hand held devices can be quite a blessing when attempting to keep little kids busy while under-way. We had board games (like Sorry!, checkers, chess), journals, books, etc to keep us busy. But let’s face it… even my little 4 year old steals away with my iPad to play when boredom strikes.
- Nature’s playground – Beyond crabbing and fishing, there is so much wildlife to see in the San Juans. Orcas, sea otters, seals, eagles, blue herons, deer, owls, starfish, perch the list goes on and on. And it’s all right in front of you. I still remember waking up with
my dad, early in the morning, to drop our crab pots. It was a very foggy morning and we had grabbed a mooring buoy at a state park the evening before. As we were emerging from the companion way, we spotted a sea otter, sitting in our dinghy, eating the bait from our crab pot that was left over from the day before. I was about 10 years old when this happened… so you can imagine how much of an impact even that experience had on me.
- Scientific properties – If you’re doing any homeschooling, or even if you’re not, there is a lot to be learned: anemology, aristology, bionomics, botany, cetology… just to name a few. Teaching sail trimming on a sailboat is a great way to learn about aerodynamics.
And have you ever witness phosphorescence? Just sitting on the hookin a quiet and dark cove, you can bare witness to these amazing critters who, when agitated, glow.
- Head to port – Beyond things to do with the kids aboard, there is SO MUCH to do ashore! A few to point out are:
- Rosario Resort, Orcas Island – Beyond the excitement of the pool, there is quite a bit of history here. Step back in time to learn about the Moran family, a Seattle Shipbuilder who built the U.S.S. Nebraska in 1902.
- Friday Harbor, San Juan Island – A bustling port with grocery and lots of quaint boutiques, this harbor is also home to The Whale Museum. Take a tour of the museum with your kids, of any age, and I guarantee you’ll be drawn into the majesty as well!
One of the best things about the islands is the plethora of activities. From outdoor adventures (trail hiking, zip lining, wildlife watching) to historical museums… there’s a wide array of things that you can entertain your little ones with. If you’re still at a loss – ask one of our friendly Reservation Specialists how you can accommodate the needs of your young one.
Those summers aboard as a family were some of the best summers of my life. And looking back, had my parents not taken me boating, I wouldn’t have developed the love for sailing that I have today. I would have never joined Sea Scouts, I would have never gone to summer camp on Orcas Island and taught kids how to sail through college, and I probably wouldn’t be working at AYC in the capacity that I am now.
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DID YOU KNOW? There are tons of resources out there that give first hand advice on taking your children cruising?! Many even take their littlest children (under a year) out cruising with them – and why not? If the life jacket fits – wear it!
Discover Boating | Boating with Children
Discover Boating | Traveling with Toddlers
Boating Local | Safety Tips for Boating with Kids
US Coast Guard Boating Safety | Little Boaters
Kids Aboard | Boating with Children