Yachting with Youngsters

Travelling has always been a great way to bring families together. Parents often take their children with them when visiting new countries and continents as a way of introducing their kids’ young minds to new and diverse cultures. However, the 8 hour road trips and overnight, international flights can turn a journey to any dream destination into a nightmare. Similarly, sailing is an amazing opportunity to see the world for both young and old; but cabin fever and sea sickness can make babies, toddlers and teens difficult to manage. As a crew member; when exhausted parents have reached their wits end, the onus falls on you to care for the children. When this happens, it’s all hands on deck trying to keep their busy bodies out of trouble.

If you’ve ever seen a tourist couple travelling with their red-faced wailing baby, you’ve asked yourself, “why did they bring the kid along if it wont remember this anyway?” And you might be right. With a rucksack full of diapers, teething toys, baby food, spew napkins, pacifiers, bibs, Ziplocs, milk formula, a sippy cup and a favourite snuggle toy there’s hardly any space for anything else. Between changing diapers and the little one’s second meal time of the afternoon, there is little to no time to see the sights. But any couple will tell you that spending quality time with their child is priceless. Family vacations are so important and as a crew member, ensuring that families create memories as part of the experience on your yacht is a great responsibility. Things like child proofing the vessel and ensuring there are board games and playing cards on the yacht, before you leave the shore, will go a long way in impressing the parents and pleasing the kids.

There are a number of universal rules to follow when it comes to child minding, and although the parents will be the ones primarily responsible for their children it wouldn’t hurt to keep a few things in mind. Sleeping schedules, for example, are imperative. Tots and toddlers work best when this structured routine is implemented. A good night’s rest and regular nap times throughout the day will ensure children are well rested and happy. It gives parents and crew a chance to relax too. Older children are often expected to be able to care for themselves, this often leads to them getting into unexpected trouble. So although they might seem like they can handle themselves, it’s always a good idea to keep a discreet eye on their movements.

Remember: silence, of any kind, is never a good sign. You should either hear laughter, spirited chatter or crying. Children who are quiet are children who are up to no good.

It is advisable to keep children who are experiencing sea sickness topside as much ass possible. The change from walking on land to the living on the water can be quite jarring for anyone, kids experience more discomfort. Making sure the little ones are comfortable will keep the tears and tantrums at bay. Kids also tend to bore easily; keeping them entertained with books, toys and fun games will uplift the mood of the entire yacht. The play areas should be spacious enough so that kids don’t feel cramped but safe enough that they aren’t put in harms way if stormy seas arise.

Chefs; although we have no doubt your apprenticeship in a Michelin star restaurant will be appreciated by the adults on board, caviar on a savoury shortcrust with a caramelized onion chutney might not be to a 7 year old's taste. Keep the children in mind when creating the menu. Pizzas, sliders and fries are favourites for kids and teens. You could either integrate these into the menu or create a specific one just for them. And you needn’t be concerned about having to do extra work because the children will surely want to help by putting the toppings they want on their own personalised pizza’s.

Lastly, exercise patience. Whether you’re trying to get through your daily deck checks and a 5 year old boy is asking you why and how you are making every move you make, or you just want to turn down the cabin a 17 year old refuses to leave; these are children after all. You might inspire the 5 year old to go into competitive sailing with your exciting stories and knowledge. The 17 year old could be particularly sulky because she’d rather be in Cabo with the rest of her girlfriends. Their energy levels and moods fluctuate, you’ll need to be sensitive to this.

Yachting with children can bring great joy to the entire crew and all passengers on board. All it takes is a crew that has prepared and considerate of what the parents are trying to do for their family.