As yacht crew, we are always aware of potential safety issues when new guests come onboard – this is exactly why we go over a debriefing with them as soon as they arrive. While we are lucky to have several guests who understand the dangers involved, kids and young adults who are brand new to the idea of boating, let alone are still learning the rules on land, can be another game entirely. Luckily, there are some fun ways to ensure kids listen to the rules and stay safe, all the while still having the time of their life!
Break Down the Basics of How Things May Work On Board – Child Safety and Peace of Mind
While I’m sure their parents will be right along side to help them, it doesn’t hurt to go the extra mile and explain things to the child / children that things may work a bit differently on a yacht, or appear differently than what they have learned on land. For example, latches on the doors, toilet flushing (if different at all), railings – and why we should really use them on a boat – the nonstick surfaces on the outside, why we wear a certain type of shoe or none at all. Obviously explaining to them all the safety precautions, and where to find lifejackets (and why they should always be wearing one while outside) are also a given. The great thing about explaining this to kids is they are typically curious and will ask questions, unlike adults who may have been on a boat once and believe they’re experts in all things ‘yachting’ – we’ve all been there. If all else fails, make it relatable and funny so they pay attention and obtain the knowledge, rather than having it go in one ear, and out the other.
Give Them a Job to Do – Completed Tasks Build Confidence
Surprisingly, kids will take their little assigned tasks seriously. So why not use that to your benefit while on board. Ask them to keep their eyes out for any loose objects that could fall, and whoever finds the most wins a special dessert later on, or gets to sit in the Captains chair. If it’s a particularly busy time for crewmembers, and may be hard to keep an eye on them while you’re docking for example, why not ask them to help keep an eye on the fenders with you, or ask them to help you hold a line. It will allow them to feel special and they’ll brag to their parents how much they helped!
Keep them Entertained
I’m not sure about you, but when we were kids and there was nothing to do, we went looking for something to get up too… most of the time it was something we were probably not supposed to do either. Keep kids entertained, with plenty of options to choose from and you’ll be winning. This includes things to do inside and outside. Games, movies, crafts, exploring, watersports, swimming etc. there are plenty of things for them to do onboard, and maybe they just need to be in plain sight for them to take advantage of.
Stuck for ideas? Check out our Yachting Toy Must Haves.
Set a Good Example Onboard
This one is probably a no-brainer, but hey… just in case. Kids will learn better by example, and if you want them to follow a safety procedure, by say ‘holding onto the railing when you go upstairs’ then don’t let them see you taking the stairs three at a time as you bolt up to the aft deck. It goes for a lot of things on board; so make sure to be on your best behavior as well just to set a good example for them and their future yachting careers.