For many parents, buying a boat is an investment in their family. Kids grow up way too fast. For parents who want to make the most of their kids’ childhood, boating together is a wonderful way to bond with their children, to share amazing experiences together and create lasting memories. Days spent catching fish, enjoying watersports or exploring the coast will stay with children forever.
But as wonderful as boating with kids can be, it isn’t without its challenges. Children can be excitable, have short attention spans, and they sometimes don’t exercise the best judgement. That kind of unpredictability on a boat can create a difficult – and sometimes even dangerous – situation.
That doesn’t mean leave your kids at home. You just need to keep a few things in mind when boating with children. Here are a few tips to help you and your kids have fun and stay safe on your boat.
Always wear lifejackets. Wearing PFDs is always important, but it’s especially important for kids, whose inexperience makes them prone to accidents on a boat. It’s also important for adults to wear them, too. You’re not just setting a good example, you also need to keep yourself safe to keep them safe.
Set rules. Before you go boating, make sure your kids understand that while boating is fun, it does have its dangers. Boats can be unstable and slippery. Set clear rules about no running on the boat, no draping their feet over the bow and other rules.
Have lots of food and drinks. Kids have a way of being bottomless pits when it comes to eating and drinking. If they’re hungry and thirsty, they’re not going to have fun. Make sure to bring more than enough food and drinks for them.
Pack sunscreen and bug repellent. Kids aren’t going to enjoy boating if they’re getting cooked by the sun or eaten by annoying bugs. Bring lots of sunscreen and bug repellent, and remember to apply it to them often. Prepare for the weather. Even if the weather forecast looks nice, conditions can change on the water. Keep your kids comfortable by packing sweatshirts and rain gear. Also bring a change of clothes in case they get wet.
Plan activities. Children often have short attention spans. Keep kids interested when boating by planning fun activities. Fishing is always a big hit. Have them look for birds and marine life, or help navigate by spotting markers and buoys.