Introduce your kids to boating and they will learn valuable sea and life skills that will serve them well right through to adulthood. Kids can't wait to jump on board for the thrill of a fast ride or the chance of reeling in a big fish, so they need to be reminded to think safety first.
Use it as a Learning Experience
Kids can learn as much in a day on a boat as they would in the classroom. Talk about weight by telling them how heavy the anchor is or the importance of balancing the boat. Ask them to guess how long the fish needs to be to keep it then use a ruler to measure their fish for size.
Use boating terminology with explanations to widen their vocabulary.
Safety is a Priority
Explain to kids of all ages that boats can be dangerous places if passengers don’t listen to the skipper. Remind them of the boat rules every time they board to reinforce the importance of safety.
Purchase the right fitting life jacket and don’t leave shore until all children are wearing their life jacket. It doesn’t matter how careful you are or how short the ride, a life jacket is a must. Accidents happen and without a jacket on the consequences are often tragic.
Once your child is old enough, show them the EPIRB and other safety devices on board and tell them what to do in an emergency.
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Make sure children are protected from the sun with UV-rated long sleeve clothing, hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Kids may also need some shade so if your boat doesn’t have any, look at buying a bimini or string up a temporary cover.
Out on the boat kids need to keep up their fluids with drinks and foods with a high water content rather than just snack foods high in salt. Offer a mix of foods to keep them busy when the fish aren’t biting otherwise it could be a short boat trip because they will want to come in after 10 minutes of no activity.
Kids need to realise that there is hard work involved in boating. Give them age-appropriate tasks to do and keep them busy. While they are young, ask them to wind in fishing lines, coil rope and wipe down benches.
Older teens can start helping with more physical jobs if you can provide direction and supervise them at all times. Risks aren’t obvious to kids so you need to be watching all the time. Remember boating mishaps can have life-altering consequences so warn them of crushing injuries, falls and gashes.
Recreational Skippers Ticket
If your child continues to show an interest in boating in their teens tell them they can apply for a Recreational Skipper’s Ticket. With a parent’s consent in writing under 18’s can complete the assessment.
When kids are on land, they can continue their boating education through apps on their smartphone such as the Marine Education or Flash Marine. Search to find more boating and sailing apps that appeal to their areas of interest.
If your kids enjoy spending time on the water perhaps make it a sport or hobby. Look into joining a junior rowing or sailing club. Teens can become a navy cadet and broaden their network of friends and experience. Their hobby or interest may even help them make career choices in the future.