How to Sail With Kids – Best Tips

How to Sail with Kids – Best Tips

A family vacation isn’t complete unless you bring the kids, but I have been asked many times how to sail with kids. Won’t they get bored? Is it safe to sail with children onboard? Can children learn how to sail?

The answer is “yes” to all those questions. Kids are easily bored, so I keep things onboard to entertain them. As for safety, take the proper precautions and everything will work out well. On the other hand, teaching a child to sail depends on the interest of the child and the teaching skills of the adult.

I enjoy teaching young ones the ins and outs of sailing, but I know when to back off if their interest is fading. Here is my crash course in sailing with children.




How to Entertain Your Children

Kids bore easily and need something to do at all times. I know of some sailors who ban video games and such from the boat, but I think it’s fine for a rainy day, or downtime at night.

Kids need a variety of options to hold their interest. We have game and movie nights like we do at home, and everyone enjoys our contests for who can do the funniest trick! Be creative, listen to what the kids want to do, and remember that their attention spans are much shorter than yours are.


What to Bring for Your Children


  • Toys
  • Board games and Card games
  • Coloring books, crayons, and markers
  • DVDs
  • Video games
  • Favorite snacks
  • Clothes for all types of weather and pajamas
  • First aid supplies (band-aids, children’s medicines, and sunscreen)
  • Extra batteries
  • Comfort items (a blanket or stuffed animal that the child sleeps with)
  • A “friend”


Keep in mind, a boat is small for a child and there may not be a lot to do if the weather isn’t cooperating, so be sure you have all the child’s favorite things onboard. Also, be prepared for injuries, dead batteries, and homesickness.

I always invite the kids to bring a “friend” to keep them company. This can be a doll, a teddy bear, or an action figure. This is an especially useful trick if the child will be the only kid aboard.

children on boat 2


Teach Children the Basics of Sailing

I have found that kids tend to be fascinated by the workings of a sailboat. By no means does that suggest that a child will sit and listen to a long lecture about the fine points of sailing, but kids love to help.

Take advantage of their curiosity and willingness to pitch in, and teach them little things that are easy for them to master.

Teach them about the sails, the role the wind plays, how to anchor, and the different parts of the boat. Kids also love learning the names of the different parts of the boat (galley, helm, etc.)


Safety Rules with Children Onboard

The first thing I do is go over safety rules with kids before we ever set foot on the yacht. Make the rules clear and be sure it is understood that there will be no negotiations.

The rules are set in stone. Life jackets must be worn on deck at all times, but below deck, that precaution isn’t necessary unless there is an unlikely emergency.


A safety net is a safety precaution I always recommend, even for older children. The net is installed over the railing around the boat and will catch anything that falls into it, be it a toy or a child. Keep in mind, a small child will chase after a falling toy into the water without a second thought.

These nets prevent a lot of accidents, and will give you peace of mind. Always check that the net is properly secured and replace a worn net every few years or as needed.




I believe it’s more fun to bring the kids along on a sailing trip. They add to the thrill and excitement of the holiday, and I never grow tired of seeing the water through the eyes of a child.

Sailing holiday with kids is an experience not to miss out. Choose one of our spacious and safety catamaran charters to take you, and your family on a wonderful sailing getaway you will never forget!


Click here to read more about sailing with a baby


Have you sailed with kids? Would you like to share your experiences by leaving a comment t below, I’ll love to hear your feedback!

10 thoughts on “How to Sail With Kids – Best Tips”

  1. Nice one !
    The best thing about it is it is so well explained with cute pictures that makes me wanna read more.
    Moreover you have look upon each and every detail and I think not even one point is missed which we usually do miss out during our trips so yea this page has to be bookmarked for future reference

  2. I retired from the Navy and love the ocean, I now live no where near the ocean but take my kids out once a year.
    We did not sail but have gone boating, your tips are great for boats too, wish I had known them in the past. We did have some long days of boredom for the kids, but overall still very memorable for all. thanks for your insight

    • Hi Bob,

      It’s very easy to fall in love with ocean, my children and I, have the same illness 🙂

      We also live near the ocean and thus it’s very easy for us to go on a sailing trip even for a day.

      I am glad you found my tips useful

      Thank you for the comment and wish you to sail again with your children.

  3. This is really informative, some great tips her. I like your suggestion of taking advantage of the kids curiosity and willingness to pitch in. Would it be wise to make a game out of learning names ans sailing techniques, or is their already such a thing? The first thing to teach them is water safety, but should kids already know how to swim before they step on deck?

    • Hi Michael,

      My kids always asked me questions about sailing terms . They love it! I am sure they will ask you too 🙂

      It would be better if they could swim of course , but it’s not necessary. Children have to put a life jacket on deck.

      Thank you for the comment and wish you a nice day!

  4. Great post! I love the part on teaching kids to sail, learning by doing is the best approach, their confidence grows and they see effects of their work straight away, it must be so exciting for them. I wouldn’t take any DVDs or video games though, I want them to immerse themselves in the nature, listen to the sea, feel the wind in their hair, watch birds and fish and enjoy family time. They would miss out on so many things if they spent the time on the boat watching DVDs.

    • Hi Kams,

      I personally think that everyone should take some DVDs or video games just in case the weather deteriorates. Also not every children will want to be on the deck, sometimes they prefer to stay inside and watch a short movie . I always took some videos for my kids. It happen that one of my children got sick and we couldn’t come back right away, so I put a video on and believe me, it helped me a lot:) I was glad I took those DVDs with me.

      Movies are just a precaution not a hobby at least for us.

      Thank you for the comment and wish you a wonderful day!

  5. How I wish my biggest problem was sailing with kids. That I could easily handle ( I did take three kids under six for a trip to Africa from the USA). I have a huge phobia of any large water body (may be because I don’t know how to swim and do not like feeling helpless). Of all the nightmares I have ever had, 70% has been about being stranded in a boat or some vessel. Do you have any ideas on how to cope with this fear? Do I need to learn how to swim before I try to sail?

    • Hi there,
      Many people have phobia of the sea which is understandable because it’s huge and unpredictable. Not having control of something scary us “Human”. You can cope with any fears in life, and the best way to do it is by doing what you are afraid of. Just start slowly, which mean sail near the shore for an hour first, and then you’ll see how you feel.
      If you really want to sail then you won’t let the fears stopping your!

      You don’t need to know how to swim to go sailing, you only need to wear a suitable life jacket for non swimmer. That’s all:)
      I hope it helped

      Thank you for the comment and wish you a wonderful day!


Leave a Comment