Whether your children are three or thirteen, getting them excited about sailing is the best prescription for success. Here are five tips for introducing kids to sailing.
Fun is the goal. Young kids don’t care about the technicalities of sailing. Make it about them. Treat your first trips together on a Hobie catamaran like an outing to the trampoline park. Let them jump on the tramp, or use the sailboat as a big dock. Let them hop off and climb around. It’ll familiarize them with the boat. Soon they’ll identify it as a fun place.
Break things down to the basics. Ask them where the wind comes from, and demonstrate how to harness it. Make it tangible. Use everyday objects such as hands, a leaf, or a handful of sand to demonstrate the power of the wind.
Make it approachable and enjoyable. Let them pull on the ropes and steer. Make sure they’re not just along for the ride. Make them active participants. Give them something to do. Involve them in every aspect of the outing, from set up to helping put the boat away at the end of the day.
See to their comfort. Let them choose their own PFDs. Ask them which one they want, then size it correctly. If they think their PFDs look cool, they’ll wear them on the beach. Dress them properly, in long-sleeve rash guards and tight-fitting hats. Choose your day carefully; go when the water and the air are warm. Cold kids aren’t having fun.
Safety is number one. Kids new to sailing need to listen carefully to whoever is in charge. Make it a fun game. Ask who is boss, who is the captain. Start on days with light winds, and gradually work up to more challenging conditions. Remember to keep it fun, not scary.