Whether you’re new to boating, new to kids, or you have a new crew of children coming onboard, knowing these 10 tips for boating with kids will surely come in handy. We had a slew of young boaters tell us what they needed to know – and what they needed us to know – before leaving the dock, and we made sure the important bases were covered. You can read them below, or watch the video to hear what those kids have to say firsthand.
Tips for boating with kids
1. Get me a comfortable life jacket that fits—those old blocky orange things are no fun at all.
2. Tell me the rules before we leave the dock. Make sure I know to keep both feet flat on the deck, not to lean over the rail, and those sorts of thing.
3. Help me stay safe from the sun. Putting on suntan lotion and drinking lots of water is a must!
4. Warn me about falling hatch covers. They pinch little toes and fingers, and are one of the most common causes of injuries for kids on a boat.
5. Keep me involved with running the boat. I like steering or holding lines, and even scrubbing the boat at the end of the day can be fun.
6. Be prepared for seasickness—and even though I can’t take Dramamine or socpalomine until I’m 12, some homeopathic remedies, like smelling peppermint, drinking ginger ale, wearing wrist bands, and going barefoot, are things we can try. They work sometimes!
7. Bring me a change of clothes. When a kid gets wet, we get cold a lot faster than an adult. So we need extra dry clothing onboard.
8. Show me how to hail the Coast Guard on the radio. If anything happens to you, I need to know how to ask for help (check out How to Use a VHF Radio).
9. Show me how to use the GPS (read How to Navigate a Boat, and Navigation Apps for Boaters for a few extra tips). I’ll need to know for when I get my boating license—since I know you’ll let me borrow your boat, Dad!
10. If you’re boating in saltwater and swimming or tow toys are in the plans, bring along some vinegar in case I get stung by a jellyfish! Yech, I hate them!
Looking for more advice? Check out 10 Tips for Boating with Babies and Toddlers, or read Boat Trader's 10 Boating Lessons Kids Should Know Before Coming on Board and 5 Tips for Fun Family Boating Trips on boats.com UK.
Editor's Note: This article originally published August 2012 and was updated in August 2017.