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Old 06-03-2013, 18:25   #1
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Families with young children in the Chicago area?

I was curious if there are any sailing families with young children aboard in the Chicago area that would be willing to give us pointers on safety with children?

We are a couple that has been taking sailing classes for one season on Lake Michigan. We are planning on continuing those lessons into at least a second and probably third year but eventually (perhaps as early as next year) I would like to buy a boat and do some family sailing time on Lake Michigan. We are looking in the 32-36 foot range, maybe a cat if budget allows, but that's not set in stone. The plan is to do daysails at first, then once comfortable with the handling of that specific boat, moving on to weekends and perhaps longer trips doing a lake crossing and then along the Michigan shoreline and points north. Eventually, perhaps years from now, I'd love to be able to spend a month or two each summer cruising the Great Lakes as work allows.

Here's the special consideration: we have a 4-year old daughter. My wife is basically not comfortable with the idea of our daughter aboard a vessel of any size, and she cannot see when she is going to be comfortable with the idea. And here is our biggest disagreement. I tend to think it would be fun to bring her along, starting in small measured steps of course, and setting out for longer trips only when we are all comfortable and ready. Whether that takes a few months or a few years is fine with me. As an introduction to the concept, I'm even interested in chartering a captained vessel for a few days so we wouldn't have to worry so much about where the boat is going 100% of the time while we pay attention to what the little one is doing.

I have been doing a lot of reading on how to make boats a safer environment for children, including (but not limited to) life vests, tethers, setting up strict rules, and providing constant supervision. My wife wants more than just reading about it and actually to talk to someone that's been there and done that. So, anyone nearby that might be willing to meet up sometime and show us how it's done? We'd love to meet someone with experience going over the various pitfalls, cautions, rewards, and so on of bringing children of that age aboard. Any help would be greatly appreciated...

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Old 06-03-2013, 18:37   #2
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Re: Families with young children in the Chicago area?

This is a fun thread you can share with the better half.
Kids In the Cruisers & Sailing Photo Gallery - Is It Just Me?

For what it is worth, every cruiser kid I've met is well adjusted, confident, and articulate being able to converse with adults, change gears and socialize with peers.

USCG Unlimited Tonnage Open Ocean (CMA)
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Old 06-03-2013, 20:37   #3
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Years ago my wife a I started sailing. We meet a couple with two kids, one a baby, and one a 5 year old. Basically the five year old had been sail his pram since he was about 4. Lot of kids sailed prams. They had strict restrictions, but ever summer several adults taught sailing. We have seen lots of families over the 20 plus years we have been doing this. The successful ones have set strict rules on safety, but allow the kids to learn and have fun. For our family the kids were older, but some of the best family time we ever had was on the boat. Buy a good harness, jack lines, and life jacket. Let us know how it goes.
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Old 11-04-2013, 05:51   #4
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Re: Families with young children in the Chicago area?

our kids have been on board since baby's, did all the red cross swimming lessons they could do, then next thing you know they were jumping off a perfectly good Old boat to discover what lay beneath the waters of Lake Michigan and her sisters as were avid divers, next at 10-11 they took boaters safety in Wisconsin you need to be 12 for card but no age limit on class (can do on line course kids loved it but best to do class in person if you can)
Kids learn by seeing and doing, take them to the sailing classes , In winter we take sailing center courses for sail tips ect,, ours were on helm as soon as they could read the compass and hold the wheel!

Our main rule on the small ones before they get down to boat life vest's ON even on dock!
and never out of eye shot at marina, in cockpit only at sail, the rest is common sense if your new boaters learn with out the kids on board first, realize how fast conditions change
Lake Michigan will have to be respected! Once you grasp this key point of respect often this takes years to do, then bring your kids out!

Good luck one question your better half's issues could this be because she's afraid of the water? or a poor swimmer? I had to get rid of my last wife due to this! well she really got rid of me as I / were on , in, or below the water over 6 months a year and she neglected to tell me she was afraid of the water and she met me on my boat years back!
Good Luck,,
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Old 18-04-2013, 04:45   #5
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I had two of my four on board this week. My 5 year old had a blast till we got back at dusk. We grabbed the sail cover and a spider fell out. She lost sight of it and could not get off the boat fast enough. My son that is 12 was doing great. Listening to all the rules, helping dock. He was terrified a couple of years back in a row boat. We had light winds so it was nice and easy. My 9 year old will not listen so she can stay home till then. First rule life jackets before the leave the car and stay on all the time. Second three points of contact with the boat. My 14 year old will not step on it along with my wife so I am not pushing it.
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Old 18-04-2013, 05:08   #6
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Re: Families with young children in the Chicago area?

My 7 year old twins have been on board since they were 18 months old sailing on Lake Michigan. They got their own sailing dink last year at 6. They sail on lake Mac together and my son took it out solo but found out it is easier with his sister.
Put her in a life jacket clip her in the cockpit and sail. Pick your day and keep it short your daughter will pick up that mom is nervous keep mom busy sailing you entertain your daughter. The first sail may be your only chance PICK THE RIGHT DAY.
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Old 18-04-2013, 05:13   #7
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Re: Families with young children in the Chicago area?

Of course, it's expected that everyone would recognize the cautions to be taken with the water by wearing life jackets and being attentive to the risk of falling, but some might overlook the risk associated with the running rigging. When comming about or gybing, coils of loose line can suddenly stress taut. Flapping sheets, lines tight on winches or heavy winch handles can be a risk. With small children it is very important to protect them from the running rigging and to keep the cockpit neat and organized.

Take care and joy, Aythya crew
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