Ahhh the sea. The wind is in your hair, sea spray is hitting your face, and the weather is absolutely stunning. What could be better than to be on a boat on some sparkling blue water on the coast? How about sharing it with your whole family?
You may have taken your child on short boat tours in the past. Maybe they’ve seen some alligators, or maybe they’ve even gone on one of those short pirate-themed cruises. But what if you really wanted to get your child into one of your most favorite hobbies, actually learning to sail your own boat out on the water?
Educating them about the port of sail or manning the helm might seem daunting at first. Here are a few tips that you can use to help introduce sailing into their lives and (hopefully) making a strong impression.
Get them used to the water early on
It’s going to be a lot harder for a child to get excited about being on the water if they’ve never had the chance to swim up until now. They may have reservations or even outright fear if they don’t know how to swim or if they’ve never been in a vehicle that floats and makes bobbing motions.
Your family experiment could be short-lived if they get sick immediately. With all of this in mind, it’s a worthy investment to slowly introduce your child to being in and around the water when they’re as young as an infant.
Whether you’re trying to teach your child to swim or speak a language, infants are able to adapt and grasp knowledge a lot faster versus when they are older. While at this age they may still be averse to the cold sensation of the water itself, with enough exposure, practice, and ample encouragement and participation from you as their parents, they will learn to love it!
Besides getting used to the water, it can also help younger children develop knowledge and respect for water safety. They will be able to conduct themselves better on a boat and not run around without regard for their safety or those around them. They may even be able to help others if they need it.
One of the best ways to help your child enjoy something is to let them have some freedom with the activity. If they’re just watching you hoist the sails and navigating the boat, pointing things out in the water, they’re more likely to get bored. Try to incorporate different games or activities that get everyone involved.
One way you can do this is by giving them small titles like “first mate” or “engineer”. Let them steer the wheel, undo the knots tying the boat to shore, or even navigating with a map. This will help boost their confidence as well as their self-esteem. It will also make them be able to work better in group projects, whether it be at school or other outside group activity.
By letting your child learn the ropes (both literally and figuratively) and getting enough practice with it, they will be able to lead others and maybe even teach their younger siblings. Maybe they’ll even be inspired to save up for their own Catalina or J/99 someday so that they can be their own captain.
Consider the health and mental benefits
Everybody knows that fresh air is good for you. However, it’s good to know just how beneficial it is to your overall health. Sailing on the open water with fresh sea breeze filling your lungs isn’t just healthy for your child, but it may help with any lingering conditions that you or someone else in your family might be experiencing. This creates a win-win scenario for all who get involved!
If you’ve got a little athlete in the making who may be prone to injuries, exposing them to fresh air can help improve recovery time. So next time you come home after your little ball player has a rough doubleheader game, take them out on the boat for 30 minutes or even an hour. Whenever they’re sick with a cold or regular seasonal allergies, fresh air can also help alleviate the symptoms and help them heal faster.
Did you know that by taking your child out sailing, you could be helping them do better at school? By consuming more fresh oxygen, people can improve their focus and memory recall. You can always have a study session out on the boat with your child. This provides them free from distractions and a helpful dose of mother nature’s finest in order for them to achieve academic success.
Open them up to career opportunities
Getting your children started on a new hobby at an early age can open up many doors for them further down the road. The activities that they get involved in now might inspire them to pursue related careers when they grow up. If you get them started on a goal now, there’s a high chance that they will carry it with them all the way through their professional career.
There are plenty of jobs related to sailing. You don’t even have to be rich in order to captain a luxury cruise ship. If you want to add diving or snorkeling to the mix whilst teaching them about sailing, you could inspire them to become marine biologists or get them into conservation with their local community.
If your child is interested more in the boats themselves rather than sailing them, there are plenty of viable options too. They can get into marine architecture so that they can build a wide variety of boats and ships. Maybe you’re out on the water and the engine suddenly stops and they have a knack for fixing things. In that case, they can consider a career as a motorman.
However, you look at it, the most important part of getting your child involved in anything is to make it fun for them and you. Have them draw a map of their own and let them navigate the boat all around the lake. Come up with lots of different sailing-related songs to sing and pretend they’re on a pirate ship. For any kinds of tasks that you assign to them, make them feel like they are a valued part of the crew.
If your child is a bit reluctant to give it a try now, try proposing it to them this way. Assuming you have a boat, that automatically would help them become friends with their classmates, whether they’re starting at a new school or just transferred.
An invitation to be on a boat is something that not many other kids would want to pass up. When they get to college, they can join rowing teams and have even more opportunities for social interaction. At the end of the day, that’s the main point of trying to get into sailing with your child in the first place, so you can be even more present in their lives.
Gabe Nelson is a content specialist of over 7 years of experience, currently working with sailsav.com. Just out of high school he set off crab fishing on the Bering sea in Alaska. From there he went back home to finish his college degree at the University of Montana. He has written hundreds of content pieces in numerous niches. Currently, he lives in Missouri with his wife and kids.