We just got back from a sailing vacation with the kids.
The destination, as always, Gocek in southern Turkey.
The party was, Alona, my wife, our 2 kids (8 and 5) and another friends family with their kids in the ages of 4 and 2. And of-course the skipper... me.
Sailing vacation in Gocek is always fun but with 4 kids in varying ages is, somehow, a challenge to get prepare to. As with every sailing vacation it is essential that you will pick your party adults carefully and make sure you all can get along together. If you miss that... especially with the kids - it can ruin a lot of the boat atmosphere. On our case, the choice was terrific and we all got along very well.
Unlike many other vacations, sailing vacations put people in slightly different conditions like boat movement, lack of "personal space" and privacy. It is sometimes tough for adults but fortunately kids are much more "adjustable" and get along very well.
Some tips for boat behavior with family:
- kids that experience sailing the first time are "unpredictable" in terms of sea sickness. better have the right drugs that you know may help them and if you feel they are getting "unhappy", get a bucket next to them.
- Yacht toilets are not the standard they know so they might need an escort every time they go. always good to have a bucket with a bit of water at the cockpit in case of "emergency need".
- In tougher conditions it is better for kids to not wonder below deck. moving objects and closing doors might harm them. The last thing you want is a bandage over kid's finger.
- Kids are happy when busy, bring them toys, books and other games.
- Boat furnishing is rather expensive - try to use toys like books, cards and figures that wont scratch and hurt furnishing.
- Going a shore for a little trip or having dinner in a restaurant can get beyond the kids hours. Get yourself a stroller for just in case.
- The water in the turkish coast are simply great for swimming so take all the inflatables you have at home and ask for foam Noodles.
- Important info, every restaurant in Turkey serves Schnitzel and fries so... you are safe with kids dinner. If you like to try seafood - turkey is a great place for it.
Here are some tips for the skipper.
- The first rule for family vacation skipper is... be patient!!!
- It also worth to plan ahead with your adults crew who will do what and when. Brief them about anchor handling and mooring procedure.
- Be aware that at least one of your crew members will have to stay in the cockpit watching the kids so 2 hands are off your stuff.
- Don't push yourself to the limits. You have limited crew that can help and some don't have any experience so try to keep out of tough maneuvers like, windy anchorages or tough sails handling.
- Jib riffing is much easier then main riffing. If you want to set sails (recommended) prefer Jib.
- When sea is a bit wavy from the side, I always prefer to set the main sail to prevent the boat from rolling all the time. That's usually make people feel better.
- In Turkey, at many anchorages you use anchor and a stern line to shore. Usually the guy that swims to shore is doing a knot around a rock or a tree. If your man is a good swimmer but not that experienced in knots you better use my trick. I brought with me a spring shackle with a little floating buoy which made the whole maneuver much easier and faster.
Most important - Don't miss the Turkish Ice-cream show. the ice-cream itself is not that good, but the whole show makes the kids lough a lot.
The film below shows some more photos from this great time we had: