Originally Posted by AnneP
Now I am sure that by the age of ten our son will have enough short trip experience to keep watch on his own and do a fair amount of other sailing stuff befitting his age....... but I am wondering at 7 if that is too young an age to have so much responsibility as watch and if it would be wise to have another adult come along with us.
Not extended cruising
- but me father has had boats since I was around 2 foot tall, so my time "before the mast"
dates back a while. Some of that time onboard as a kid was very longgggggggg
But most of the experiance was fun (and longterm useful when it comes to my own boat stuff).
Standing a watch alone at 7 years of age? Choose the watch period carefully and 95% of the time would not be a problem. 5% of the time you run the risk of the kid dropping overboard
(from a misjudgement) or boat getting run down / hitting something.........if something appears and requires the watchkeeper to be paying attention. Kinda like letting yer 7 yo drive to mall unaccompanied (or simply crossing the road by foot), most could cope as long as nothing goes wrong or not on the freeway. The answer I guess largely depends how attached one is to the kid / boat and how much you value your own rest and comfort.............
10? I would say pretty much the same, even if you are by then up to 98%.
Of course accompanied watches are a different thing, and a good and useful part of his learning
curve both on boat specific stuff and in dealing with responsibility. The art is keeping an eye on him / what is going on whilst he feels what he is doing has a genuine purpose / is valued. Not to say that on a voyage away from land / shiipping that a 10 yo could never be left on watch alone (depending on the child / sea condition / boat / safety equipment
used) - but in my book that would be for stuff like putting the kettle on or having a dump
.........making lunch would involve wandering into the cockpit
to have a look around now and again - even if done surreptiously
Of course most of your / his time onboard won't be on passage
- In addition to any onboard "chores" and routines / schooling by cruising you are bringing him a big world to explore / enjoy - with and without you. Albeit no doubt different attitudes between folks - from those happy to let the kids
roam free onshore 24/7 to those who adopt the "Fritzl's Afloat" approach
........or somewhere in between............
My experiance as a kid (day long voyages only, mainly to nearby France
- from weekends to a few months) was that passages were tedious, tedious, tedious
Onshore though could be fun, depending on where / the weather / who with / events
/ adventures..........peace and quiet didn't have quite the same attraction at 10 as it does now..........FWIW back then I too was energetic and rumbunctious. Indeed I was often diagnosed with CF PITA
.......not completely worn off that one
But expressed more sedately nowadays
The good news is that from around 10 onwards they make excellent deckhands when docking
(small & nimble - shore side rock scrambling is a useful training ground
). If not rapidly entering into the realm of expert
, soon enuf even beyond the skills of the skipper
- when yer can't use brute force and ignorance yer get the chance to use da noodle
......or simply to learn from the Skipper's mistakes
Anyway, post wayyyyyy longer than I intended - and somewhat rambly