Children can enjoy sailing as much or more as any adult. Children as young as 7 or 8 years old are fully capable of learning the fundamentals of sailing, and many can learn how to handle a boat on their own. The trick to getting children involved is to inspire them, give them the latitude to discover what it is about sailing that is appealing – impressing upon them the importance of being safe at the same time.
If they are young and easily distracted, consider bringing along diversionary toys that can be used to stave off boredom, a bored child on a sailboat is no fun for anyone, and they will likely not ever want to come back. Yet, if the child is engaged in certain activities that are appropriate for their age, their comfort on a boat will develop and likely lead to an appreciation of sailing.
Many parents find success at inspiring their children to join them on a boat by having them invite their friends aboard. A child who would otherwise be bored will often find joy in sharing the uniqueness of a boat with a friend.
Many children, depending on age and attention span, will respond to knot tying. A book that shows how to tie basic knots can be the perfect way to engage a child’s inquisitive mind and capable fingers. Similarly, a book on basic navigation or sea adventures can be a source of amazement to a child. Local guidebooks which include information on various points of interest along a route are another great way to involve a child in the progress of the boat.
When teaching a child about sailboats, emphasis should always be given to safety. Life jackets should always be worn, by both children and adults.