Sailing with kids? Some of my clients who are parents of younger kids, pre-teens and teenagers often express reservations about taking the kids on charter.

They would often mention, “it would be a nice relaxing vacation for us but what will the kids do?” Other times it’s the kids themselves who express the age old: “how boring can you get, that’s for old people” or “can I stay in touch with my friends on Facebook?” or “Do they have Video Games or Movies on board?” Of course, it is a family vacation and everyone should have a great time, not just the parents.

Things to Do for Kids

So at the risk of offending the worlds youth, and if you’re sailing with kids, I thought I’d lay out a few observations of my own as to how and what young people do while they’re on charter and their past reactions to the experience.  Here are the things young people do while they are on vacation on a charter yacht.

  1. If you’re careful to book a charter yacht with a good selection of water-toys, the most favored activity seems to be wake boarding from the dinghy. Look for boats that have wake-boards, wind-surfers, water skis and kayaks. If water skiing is important, check out the HP of the outboard engine on the dinghy (you’ll find this information in the “specifications” section of the boat’s e-brochure. If the dinghy hp is under 40, it’s performance with water-skis will be suspect – something around 60 to 75 hp is optimal.
  2. The second most popular activity seems to be snorkeling (with or without parents in tow), the thrill of exploring all the nooks and crannies underwater in the clear waters of the Caribbean is fantastic for all ages. The BVI and the Caribbean in general has an incredible array of special places to snorkel.  A knowledgeable and experienced charter captain will know all these special places. For example, one of my favorite snorkeling places in the BVI are the Indians off Norman Cay. The water is very clear and there is a wall on the South side with marvelous corals and brightly colored fish of all sizes and shapes. Make sure you buy one of those nifty little laminated cards with pictures of the local tropical fish and their names.
  3. SCUBA diving:  pre-teens and teenagers who have not dived before can take a “resort” SCUBA diving course on a charter yacht that and offers diving and has an instructor on board . Not all boats offer on-board diving, but if this is something you feel comfortable with, make sure you charter a boat that offers on-board diving WITH THE RESORT COURSE experience.  Boats that do not offer diving can always arrange “rendez-vous” dives with a local dive-shop close to wherever you happen to be anchoring or mooring.  See our dedicated article on diving and fishing in this blog.
  4. Exploring and hiking on land. There are so many things to do and see on the water, it’s easy to forget the great stuff on land. The ruins of old sugar plantations, for example that go back to the days of slavery; walking along deserted beaches and collecting shells and flotsam. The Caves on Norman Island and the Baths on Virgin Gorda Island. The hiking trails in the National Park on St. John that take you through almost jungle-like conditions where you can see the wild Mongooses (Mongeese?) and Wild donkeys. The huge multi-colored chameleon-like lizards.
  5. Learning to sail and handle a boat. Most captains will be happy to let you or the kids, handle the wheel from time to time and also learn the basics of sailing, picking up a mooring ball or even anchoring. The dinghy is always a source of fun for the kids – with some elementary instruction, dinghys can be great fun.  Not all boats allow you to do this but if you’re interested in these basic nautical activities, choose a boat that does. Ask your broker.

Notwithstanding, all the outside activities, the majority of charter yachts now come equipped with their own state-of-the-art Internet hot-spots and I-pod connections and even local TV. The larger motor-yachts can access, via satellite, most TV channels in the world.  See our article on phone and wireless connections in our blog.  Most yachts and cats also have an incredible selection of modern movies, music and games for all ages.

In spite of the array of inside activities available, somehow I think the kids will go to bed every evening too tired to use them. Still worried? Let me know how it goes after the charter, I’d love to see the pictures and the video with the snores…!!

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