If you’ve ever dreamed of a family sailing holiday but weren’t quite sure where to start then this post is for you. Sure, the idea of sailing off into the sunset with the kids does sound idyllic but what happens if you can’t tell your windward from your leeward or your port you’re your starboard? And does it even matter? Sailing jargon can put off even the keenest wannabe skippers, not to mention the technical aspect of plotting a course and actually steering a ship. Fortunately, however, a sailing holiday can be whatever you want it to be. From courses for beginners and small sailing groups to week-long family-friendly flotilla holidays and chartering your own sailboat, there’s a family sailing holiday to suit pretty much every family.
What’s more, a family sailing holiday is suitable for kids of all ages (just take a look at this book about a family who sailed around the world, starting when their youngest was just two-years-old). Plus, it doesn’t have to be expensive. You’re paying for your transport and accommodation in one go and unless you’ve hired a superyacht, sailing can be cheaper than staying in a hotel or private villa. Most importantly, however, a family sailing holiday gives you the chance to really spend proper time as a family. Of course, the idea of being stuck on a boat for a week or more with all members of your tribe might bring you out in a cold sweat, but experienced sailors tell me that the time spent together as a family, working, doing and being on a ship, is simply priceless. Take a look at this post by the Family Adventure Project on the joys of sailing together as a family.
So, if you’re interested in booking a family sailing holiday then here are some options to try. And if you’re interested in reading more about sailing then take a look at this selection of books.
Chartering a boat
If the idea of sipping gin and tonics on the deck while someone else does all the tacking and jibing sounds like your ideal holiday then your best bet is to employ a skipper to charter your boat. If you really want to take it easy then you can hire a crew as well. Think of it like having your own floating hotel! Your skipper will be well versed in the local area and can plan your holiday itinerary exactly how you want it to be. Often these yachts come with paddleboards and even windsurfers to play around with. Others go one further and offer wake-boarding, water-skiing and other water sports. Either way, this is a very relaxed and enjoyable way to try sailing and to discover a new place
Small Group Sailing
For families that want a piece of the sailing action – but not all the responsibility for making sure the boat doesn’t sink – then a small group sailing holiday is a great option. On small group sailing trips you can get as involved as you like in the day to day running of the boat. Finding a company that offers small group family sailing holidays will also mean that you can be with other families, which the kids might really enjoy. Even better, arrange to go with family friends. These small group trips allow you to explore amazing coastlines, discover hidden coves and drop anchor in small bays to swim and snorkel. Some great places to try a small group sailing holiday include Croatia, the Isle of Wight and the isles off the west coast of Scotland where marine life including otters, seals, basking sharks and even orcas and minke whales roam.
Flotilla Sailing Holidays
Another option that works well for families is a flotilla sailing holiday. A flotilla is a typically a group of 10-20 yachts guided by one lead boat with a Skipper, Engineer and Hostess on board. The idea with these family sailing holidays is that you can enjoy the independence of sailing your own boat but you are guided and supported along the way. You’re given a full briefing on the workings of the boat covering everything from the sails to the engine. Some countries, such as Croatia, Italy and Spain, require a Royal Yacht Association qualification (or equivalent) while others don’t meaning that even families with next to no experience can join a flotilla sailing holiday as you’ll have a team to guide you along. Often during a week-long flotilla holiday, the hostess will organise some events where the various yachts get together for drinks or picnics, which can be a fun way to meet other families. Some good places to try a flotilla sailing holiday include the Ionian islands in Greece, the Azores in Portugal and, for slightly more experienced family sailors, Mallorca in Spain.
Learn to Sail
If your family sailing holiday has got you dreaming of life on the open waters then you should look into a family sailing course. The Royal Yachting Association has centres across the country that offer RYA-approved courses which are recognised worldwide. These range from beginner lessons to the highest ranking ‘Yachtmaster’ qualification. If you’re more of a fair-weather sailor then companies such as Learn 2 Sail offer RYA-approved sailing courses in the Algarve, Portugal. Great places to learn to sail include Weymouth in England, where the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic sailing events were held and Pwllheli in Wales. If your idea of sailing has to include sunshine and clear blue waters, then Greece.
Once you’ve got your qualification then you’re all set to sail the high seas with only your family to help you! If that idea excites rather than terrifies you then a bareboat charter is your best option. A bareboat charter (also known as a demise charter) is where you hire a boat with no crew or provisions and literally sail off into the sunset. You can go pretty much anywhere once you know how to sail, however some of the more popular places include sailing from St Lucia to the spice island of Grenada, exploring the 1,100 islands of Croatia and the beautiful British Virgin Islands. Who knows, you might love the experience so much that you’ll think about buying a boat!
So, are you ready to set sail? Let me know in the comments which family sailing holiday you’re going to try first!
Disclosure: This post may contain compensated links. All photos from Shutterstock, Pixabay and Unsplash.