Kids & Boating: Tips for young crewmembers onboard your boat rental

If your son or daughter seems more at home in the water than on land, they’ll probably enjoy your boat rental experience as much as you do. With some advance preparation, you can keep your child safe while they have the time of their lives.

Check our best tips for bringing your kids on boat rentals.

Set Some Ground Rules – Whether you rent a powerboat, motor yacht, or sailboat, your child might regard the vessel as their personal aquatic playground. In other words, they can’t wait to run track around the deck and treat the above-deck gear and furniture like gymnastics equipment. Before you hop aboard, explain how a slippery deck and moving furniture can contribute to falls, potential injuries, and even an unexpected trip into the water. If your boat has a swim platform above the prop, falling overboard there presents extra hazards. To minimize these risks, always keep younger children with you, and ask older kids to tone it down while the boat’s underway. Ask responsible teens to help you keep the younger crew in check. Life Jackets Are Non-Negotiable – Life jackets, or personal flotation devices (PFDs), will keep your child afloat when they enter the water. A snugly fitting PFD will also turn his or her face upward so they can breathe. An attached collar enables you to more easily pluck them out of the drink. Kids will often complain that they don't want to wear them...but it is better to be safe than sorry. Although you probably remember those bulky, uncooperative orange PFDs, newer comfy kids’ PFDs come in highly visible colors and sometimes feature cartoon characters. Attach a whistle so your child can get your attention if they need help. Most importantly, emphasize that your child must always wear the PFD while aboard. To increase their chances of complying with that request, wear your PFD as well. The reality is that when you need a personal floating device, you don't have to time to put it on first...if worn at all times, it will be where it needs to be in the event of an emergency. Swimming Skills Are a Bonus – If at all possible, get your child some swimming instruction before booking your boat rental. Chances are, your local YMCA or aquatic center offers “Learn to Swim” classes for the pre-school and elementary-aged set. After your child completes that class, they’ll be better equipped to handle themselves in the water. An important note about swim lessons, although this is a very important step in boating and water safety in general; it should never be relied on too heavily. Young children should never be left unsupervised while in the water. Pack a Cooler and Extra Clothes – Keep your child well hydrated by providing plenty of cold water during the trip. Add some ice pops and fresh fruit for variety. Also, if your child plans some swim time, pack an extra set of clothes along with their bathing suit. By doing that, they shouldn’t complain about being clammy, wet, and uncomfortable afterward. And don’t forget to apply and then reapply the sunscreen! Add Some Fun Activities – If your child tends to get fidgety, plan some onboard activities that will keep them focused. Bring along some fishing poles and bait, or break out a snorkel and mask if that’s appropriate. Depending on the length of your trip, you might want to bring some items like cards, drawing tablets or headphones for music to keep them entertained. Finally, harness their competitive spirit by announcing a special contest (with a prize, of course). See who can spot the most birds, fish, or different types of boat gear. When your boat rental experience concludes, and you arrive at the dock with your sanity intact, you might be ready to book your next trip. Introducing your kids to the world of boating is a great thing to do! It's active, connected to nature and a perfect way to de-stress and bond as a family unit! Testing the waters, by bringing kids on boat rentals is a great way to get them acclimated and instill a love for the water at an early age.  By following basic boating safety rules, your boat rental will be enjoyable for all. Ready to set sail?
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