More than 83 million Americans participate in boating each year. Offering a chance to connect with nature, being on the water helps people relax and enjoy time with friends and family. In fact, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, boating ranks in the top 3 of all stress-relieving activities. And according to The Nature Conservancy, 90% of children who spend time outside say being in nature helps relieve stress.
A day on the boat with your family can offer fun for all. Small, but significant tricks can turn an average day on the water into a real adventure. Consider this easy advice to guarantee your children enjoy a day on the water.
- involve your kids from the beginning
- plan some activities for your boating adventure
- bring sunscreen and even some shade
- bring snacks and drinks
- teach your kids nautical terms and rules
- leave home without life jackets
- take kids on an all-day boat ride
- let kids stand while the boat is moving
- leave trash after your visit
- bring too many people on board
Kids enjoy feeling included, and planning an outing can be as much a family activity as the actual trip. Depending on their age, give them small things for which they are responsible, such as pulling in the fenders, ensuring that everyone has their life jacket, or looking for wildlife.
Just like taking kids to the park, a boat trip works best with some planned activities. Bring a few fishing rods for the kids to cast a line (just don’t forget your fishing licenses). Consider bringing along an inner tube for swimming, or give water sports like skiing a try. Or even throw some snorkel gear in your bag to look for treasures beneath the surface. Activities will help the children enjoy a day on the boat without getting bored, and will have them asking for a second and third trip on the water.
Water can reflect the sun’s rays and make it more powerful on a person’s skin. Even if it’s chilly, or you have a boat with a cuddy cabin, you still need to lotion up. Apply sunscreen throughout the day and take some time under a sunshade or umbrella. This will help prevent an unpleasant evening of aloe and tears.
Time on the water can pass quickly and before you know it, stomachs begin to growl. Bring snacks and drinks so you don’t have to venture back to the dock too early when someone needs something to eat. Additionally, it’s very important to drink water throughout the day. Even though you are surrounded by water, a day of fun can leave you dehydrated. Make sure the kids are periodically drinking a cold water or beverage.
Boating is a unique activity that also has a lot of unique words, phrases and symbols. Turn a boat outing into a learning experience. Teach the kids the difference between starboard and port, explain why a boat pivots in the wind, and point out nautical buoys as you go so they understand why boaters navigate through.
The U.S. Coast Guard requires that all boats have wearable life jackets for each person on board and for safety, its important you wear them all the time. Little ones can accidentally fall in the water while the boat is in motion or rocking. Safety first.
Children have short attention spans, and are more susceptible to getting motion sickness if they are on the water all day. During your cruise, stop and visit a dock or a beach. Tie off and let the kids get off the boat to play and run for a bit. This will allow them some time on the ground and give you an activity for an hour or so.
When a boat is cruising, it’s easy to get jostled or nudged when you hit a wave. Never let kids stand when the boat is in motion. Instead, keep them safely in a seat, life jacket on, and holding on tight. This way you won’t lose any precious cargo on your trip.
Boating is not just a fun activity, but also can be a great lesson about the outdoors. Respecting our environment keeps it thriving for others to enjoy it in the future. Never throw trash overboard, especially plastics or fishing line, these can not only hurt the environment, but also the creatures that live in it. Additionally, if you see trash floating in the water, bring it on board if at all possible and dispose of it once you are back at the dock.
Make sure to limit the number of participants on board to the vessel’s capacity (not to mention, make sure there are enough life jackets for everyone). With too many people, kids are more likely to get bumped or not have a place to sit when the boat is moving. It’s great to take family and friends with you on a boating trip, just make sure you don’t exceed your limit.
A day on the water can quickly go from bad to worse if an accident occurs, so remember to boat safely. Always have life jackets, fire extinguisher, first aid kit, charts and a VHF radio on board. A day on the water should be enjoyable not stressful. Make the trip fun for your kids so that when you leave the dock for an adventure, you come back with great memories.