But the biggest factor that makes taking kids cruising and the level of success is you.
Its how you approach the issues of safety, health, education.
And it’s your OWN expectations that are going to influence your life afloat.
In my mind, there is no doubt that taking your kids for an extended cruise is beneficial on so many levels.
Kids will accept things readily and adapt. It’s your own values and actions that often bring the conflict, especially as kids get older.
If you are the type that is constantly stressed, has a “my way or the highway” attitude or find it difficult to adapt, then cruising with older kids is going to be challenging.
Especially when it comes to what you consider to be the right way. As you know better, cos you’re an adult.
YOU’RE THE ADULT SO YOU HAVE TO LEARN TO DEAL WITH IT.
We have seen a number of cruisers with teenagers that have given up simply because they couldn’t deal with the kids “attitude”.
From where we were it was more a parent inability to just let it go. Laugh it off.
And I know it’s not always easy to be so relaxed. There is so much for you to worry about their imagined future.
What I have learnt is that cruising kids have a pretty good grasp on what life is really like.
After all they are traveling the world by sailboat, they learn that most people are poor, by our standards, that most people don’t have the opportunities they have, that most people have to work very very hard just to get by and that the world is a really big place and to succeed takes an effort. All this while they mumble, yell and say life’s unfair and sucks. Of course not all teens are like this 🙂
Safety is a biggy. For us the biggest concern is falling overboard while underway. Setting an example is key,
If they need to wear a lifejacket outside of the cockpit at all times, so should you.
If they need a lifeline attached, so should you.
Other than falling overboard, learning to swim and gaining confidence in the water is a must.
Being able to climb back onto the boat unaided
Swimming around with a fitted life-jacket is a great way to build that up, along with a knotted rope over the side.
Most other safety issues are obvious. you’re surrounded by water and often in a strange country, where language and customs are not like back home.
We have found that most places are “more” relaxed about children and they are more openly accepting of kids.
Being able to read the sea state, understanding waves, rips etc on beaches is also important as a lot of time will be spent hanging out at these places.
The “look” don’t touch Rule, which is not only good for their health but also good for the environment. Lots of pretty looking animals have parts that break off inside you, should you pick them up.
We found an essential piece of equipment was a good pair of jewellers tweezers and a freezing spray. Digging out see spines is difficult and painful without these.
Can use an ice pack but takes longer. Stainless Steel flat head and sharp nose tweezers. A sense of humour.
Get yourselves immunised. Lots of weird diseases.
Fortunately being on a yacht you can anchor off far enough that the worse of the mosquitos.
Although we did learn that an on-shore breeze bought the mozzies out as they knew they had an easier* time to get back to land.
So the usual cuts, grazes, sprains and broken bones.
Taking a first aid course is a good idea. Along with books that show you what to do. Have them available for the kids to look at the pictures or read.
The biggest health issue for us was infections from scrapes and ear-ache. Making our own ear drops for after swimming, a solution of alcohol, vinegar and water.
Things we have dealt with
Cuts n Grazes
Learn first aid. Let the kids be a part of it. Don’t make a drama about it and be prepared. And a sense of Humour
This is again more about the parents than the kid
Any of the established systems, like GSCE, Calvert for younger and the various Govt’ school systems will do well, it’s up to you.
We found that our kids did well, got through the work with high grades. Sometimes a day at school would take three hours, others 8, totally depends on where we were.
Friends and the beach, snorkelling close by and school would be done in dusted in 3 hours, other days it would be getting close to “ Dinner not ready until you finished your school work” 🙂
When we started out there was not the choice of internet-based schools we have now, also the internet was not as well developed.
We used Calvert, which we found to be fantastic, truly impressed with the material that arrived and the feedback from the onshore teachers.
When they out-grew that we moved on to Wolsey Hall and the English based GSCE system.
Did they miss out on areas, possibly, chemistry labs?
But that was made up for being in places where they could see geography, physics, history, biology, maths, reading etc had direct practical experience.
Obviously, everyone has different abilities and skills. Our middle son never wrote anything down, no notes nothing. But he always did well, passed with high grades, even today he still doesn’t write notes!
Cruising is as much about the community of cruisers as the places you visit.
With kids onboard, you meet others and friendships amongst the are made instantly.
And not just within their own age group, everyone helps everyone. It was great to see my own kids look after and play with younger and also get on and be part of a much older group as well, no peer pressure.
Also, they learn to talk and work with other adults, Helping cruisers with tasks and being treated as equals is great for their personal growth.
And as you cruise you meet so many different people with totally different lifestyles, from “freedom fighters” to owners of large global companies and everyone in between.
The old saying “that it’s as much about what you know as who you know” is very true, and you do get to know a lot of interesting people.
Cruising kids seem to turn out as well balanced, rounded kids with a good sense of what’s right.
You have a unique opportunity, no bubbles of peer pressure, allowing them to explore different ways to think. Listen to others.
Cruisers come in many many different shades, often shades that you would not normally have the chance to associate or hang with