From the Bay – June 2014
She will be filling in for me ever so often during the course of the year. Beth is an Annapolis sailor who sails with her husband and five children—or at least a few of them at a time—on the family’s Cape Dory 27. She also crews on a 45-foot Beneteau for Wednesday night races, sometimes with one of her children on crew, sometimes on her own.
Over the past few years, Beth has written articles about her sons’ learning experiences on dinghies as well as the family learning with a coach onboard and chartering together. We asked her to highlight some of the perks of family sailing for our Start Sailing Now guide at startsailingnow.com. Here is what she had to say:
Why I Love Sailing with Family
Sailing is one of the best forms of family bonding. Because multiple generations can sail together and teamwork is a necessity, few sports bring families together the way sailing does.
One of the best parts of sailing is that there are so few electronic distractions. Although our kids bring their phones aboard, they only use them for photos and music.
Limited space and 360 degrees of surrounding water mean that it’s hard for teens to hide. Sailing can bring even the most reclusive teen topside for some quality time with the family.
Sailing provides time for daydreaming and reflection. On a sailboat, the work comes in bursts. You’ll have moments where the whole crew is intensely busy, but you’ll also have long stretches of time when each family member can retreat into his or her own thoughts.
Sailing with my spouse is an ideal date. Spending time on the water away from work, household, and parenting responsibilities is a great way to relax and recharge.
Sailing is a great place to watch sibling interaction. Although they may squabble on land, they’ve got to work together to make the boat go.
Some of my fondest childhood memories are the hours my dad and I spent sailing. I hope my children will feel the same way someday.
Sailing is full of teaching moments. Crew work requires interpersonal skills, but sailing also provides a platform for parents to teach proper planning, accountability, engineering, math, chart reading, ecology, and more.
Sailing with children gives them an opportunity to see parents as individuals, not just as Mom and Dad. One of the interesting dynamics on a sailboat is the sense of equality among the sailors aboard. Skills matter more than age.
Sailing keeps our hands and our minds busy. It gets us out in nature. We leave our worries and commitments back on land. We come home tired and happy. Sailing is a mini family vacation.
Written by: Molly Winans