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Old 03-08-2009, 22:57   #1
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Sailing with Two 18 Month-Old Boys

Hello all,

thank you for letting me participate on your forum. It's my first time.
I'm not too much of a good sailor, but I love it anyway. And never winked before accepting an invitation for sailing anywhere, any time.

We are now in Tanzania, and after a month refurbishing Lo Entropy, we are ready to go for a month sailing from here to Mozambique.
Are we?
Suddenly I realised that we have these 2 bundles of joy, who won't make life on board easy.
There's no shops on our way, just beautiful islands with no potable water, no doctors, no comforts of any kind except for the paradisiac location and the snorkeling...
These boys always get over excited, don't sleep through the night, and never stop quiet and silently for a second! and this will be their first experience on the sea (except for the beach, which they love).

I am not so worried about safety, as I'm netting the boat all around, to the top! and there will be harnesses.
I am actually worried about myself and daddy. I think it will be a stressful time with impact on their emotional stability and routine. Daddy says it will be fine (like all daddies say, I imagine).

Does anyone ever tried to sail with 18 month old twin boys for the first time? How was it? Any tips?

Thank you for your help. I really need some reassurance from someone who did it before... (or it is actually a stupid idea altogether to sail with them?!)
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Old 04-08-2009, 18:35   #2
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Friends of ours cruised with 3 children, the youngest was 9 months, then 3 years and 6 years old when we met them. We were impressed. They told us that when things were not going right with the boat the kids would quiet down, stay out of the way and observe.
Other friends of ours moved onto a 28 ft catamaran when their youngest was 3 or 4 months old, basically the same storey. She is now 13 and has never lived in a house, swims like a fish and can find dinner in 30 minutes or less.
Another couples 4 year old and 6 year old would be in charge of raising and securing the dingy. The parents never checked.
All the kids I met who grew up on a boat are amazing. They learn so much more than their counterparts ashore. They are more responsible and self reliant.
You are right to worry more about how you will handle it. Your two boys will do just fine. There is nothing better for kids than seeing what their parents are doing and how they manage or deal with problems that arise.
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Old 04-08-2009, 23:00   #3
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Yes, looks like children of great parents tend to be great children! I am not so sure if I am that great parent...
Thank you for sharing those experiences you know with me, Mesq. - Gave me the hope that more than possible, it is enjoyable to sail with small children! (although you didn't mention any case of two children with exact the same age, like mine, ...)
Now, lets hope they don't get terribly sick in the middle of nowhere. Malária is frighteningly common in this part of the world...
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Old 05-08-2009, 01:15   #4
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When all else fails there is a great game you can play with them


Guaranteed to quiet them down for a while

Seriously, The best part - the self reliance and commonsense

Something that does need to be worked on - socialising with other children. I read somewhere of one family that would book their children into a local school for a month or so wherever they were. I am not sure that t hat would work, as an introverted child would find that a terrible strain. There are no generalities that cover this, as you HAVE to take the nature of the children into account. Being twins, they will normally work together against the rest of the world anyway, so the need to have them socialising with others of their own age becomes more important.

If I was in your situation, I would try to chum up with another vessel with similar plans, and with children around the same age.
"Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors - and miss."
Robert A Heinlein
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Old 07-08-2009, 15:58   #5
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It's been years since our little girl was little.. but I recall how seasick she got in the least chop... I would start with short voyages and see how they did. A seasick kid is a pathetic thing...

hummmm... and now that she is 16 maybe the threat of a good keelhaul would be a valuable addition to the parental arsenal!

ain't what ya do, it's the way that ya do it...
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Old 11-08-2009, 04:27   #6
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Thank you all for sharing what you know. But now, I also know a little bit about sailing with small kids: Never again in the next 3 years, at least!

In spite of all my fears, here we go with the twins. Tanga - Zanzibar. Bad luck with the currents out of Pemba Island. Against the wind. 4 very long skew days!
They are just learning how to walk, shame, they were the most frustrated little things you can imagine, couldn't walk, hardly could move without falling, tripping on their own harnesses, waking up at every tack, etc.

I'm ending our trip here! Will try again in some years again, but for now they will stay will granny next time we go sailing... Much more joy for everyone!
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Old 11-08-2009, 05:18   #7
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Any time you are in the dinghy with them they need lifejackets and so do the adults...Hard to save them while you are drowning.

Mine had frequent ear infections so we carried pediatric antibiotics with us at all times

Phil who was a pediatrician before he was a sailboat bum!
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Old 13-08-2009, 12:16   #8
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I wanted to reply with this link a few days ago but I had lost it.Please read their blog, both parts. It will take you all day but so worth it.Very informative and sincere. It made me laugh and cry. I wished I could crew and sail with them on that voyage. The kids have been so fortunate for that opportunity
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Old 20-08-2009, 22:03   #9
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I understand where you are coming from Isa M. Sometimes I wonder at the lop-sided amount of stories of kids sailing in blue water or cruising extensively. It seems that everyone has a success story, but you never hear the other side of the coin. I'll bet that a lot of sailing parents out there have seen it, though.

As a parent, there are somethings I'd like to do that I simply don't because of our kids, ages 1 1/2 and 3...take today for example. After work, we went for an evening sail, and planned to drop the crab pot and try our lucky at Humpy Hollow (pink salmon are now running). The winds picked up from 8-10 up to 20+, gusting to 25+, seas maybe 4-6 ft max. A small craft advisory was posted while we were out. Could my wife and I have stayed out? Sure!! It was fun sailing, and great practice for me as I was single-handing while Jody was cooking dinner. BUT, the kids were tired since they didn't get a nap today (they went to a picnic instead). This made them a little uncoordinated and cranky, and the seas started to make them seasick to the point they couldn't eat dinner. So, time to haul down the sails and head back in.

I admire families that can blue water cruise with their little ones, but we're just not there yet as a family. That said, we're getting there. My little son no longer has issues walking, tripping, or falling underway, and only rarely wakes up on a tack anymore. For us, patience is important. My goal is to give challenges to the family in manageable increments. I want to keep it fun for the kids, because once that is lost, it is all pointless!
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Old 20-08-2009, 22:54   #10
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Hi Anjou, I didn't read the blog yet. I will but out mere curiosity. I made my mind about sailing with small children, at least with my small children.
Thank you GeoPowers for supporting me.

I'm not uptight and fearful. I knew Luc and Max were safe on board and also carried with me all kind of medicines they could ever possibly need. Could have carried on our sailing, It was not catastrophic!
The point is: are we having fun?
No! Sometimes I did fell like playing Keelhauling with them, as Talbot suggested.

The kids didn't have fun, as I said, they couldn't walk, didn't have their learning space nor any autonomy. Daddy and myself had to have our eyes constantly on them if not our arms. No time for a ciggy or a quick shot of brandy, nor anything at all, it was all about babies!
What's the point?! To say that we did it against all the currents?! It doesn't worth it...

I learnt that kids should not be treated as luggage that parents carry with them through airports and harbors, for their own exclusive pleasure. And then always only see the bright side of the experience.
For other hand, we all know these other kind of parents that decide to abdicate of their lives for the children's 7 o'clock bath, that can't be done at 7:15. It's also not for me.
Completely agree with you, GeoPower, we must find a balance, where we all have something to win and not only survive it.

We will try again. I sure don't want to sacrifice our sailing pleasures for the kids and don't want to sacrifice the kids for our pleasures. We just have to plan it in a different way...

Isa & sus muchachos
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Old 20-08-2009, 23:59   #11
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I count myself lucky to have had not only a priveledged upbringing but such a practical one too. My childhood experiences of life on the farm and on water made me face a lot of situations that have taught me more than school ever could, and thats proven by the things I can take in my stride which my peers baulk at. Besides practical things like being able to change a car wheel, kill and butcher an animal, drive any type of machine and do any kind of days work, its made me self reliant, independent, adjusted and equiped to cope with hardship. I dont need to look my best, or cry when i break a nail, I dont wait for someone else to take the lead and I know Ive got the mental strangth to handle any thing that comes along. Since leaving school and being on my own in the world, ive met many thousands of envious people who, because of a cosseted, less fortunate exposure to lifes opportunities, cannot think or act outside normal situations and are at a loss in hands on circumstances. I owe it all to a childhood where i wasnt prevented from having a go, in the face of nature and reality. The best education anyone can get and one which is increasingly being used to treat people from all walk of life who have no confidence in themselves or others. In UK, it started with 'Outward Bound', back in the 70s. A programme to take people on water or mountain climbing training type courses to improve confidence and team leading skills. Push people harder and see what they are made of. Now its used to treat disabled, shy and corporate managers alike. Your kids are growing up with that from day one and with your guidance, its the best thing for them
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