Strategies for family life on board

• Well-fitting life jackets and/or harnesses for everyone on board, appropriate to your kind of sailing, are essential. It helps if you allow your little ones to be involved in choosing.

• A playpen or baby pod can be useful to keep your baby safe down below when both parents are needed on deck. A baby sling or soft-structured carrier is great for times when they have to be on deck with you but you need to keep your hands free.

• Invest in the highest-quality lifeline netting available with knots at every junction rather than glue, which can degrade in the sun.

• Give cloth nappies (diapers) a go; they’re much better for the environment and mean you always have a fresh supply on board.

• A clamp-on high chair is useful for keeping them secure at sea, as well as for meal times.

• Keeping small-fry warm and dry on any sailing journey is the first step to making them feel comfortable and happy at sea. Choose good-quality, well-fitting wets and waterproofs designed for sailing — the benefits will pay off.

• Ask other boat families what has worked for them. There is a huge community of sailing families out there, even Facebook groups like Kids 4 Sail.

• There’s a great book all about living aboard with children called Voyaging with Kids, written by parents from three different cruising families. Also, there is the classic Kids in the Cockpit by Jill Schinas.

• Full-time parenting without the surrounding noise of well-meaning friends and family may make you feel that traditional parenting practices are no longer relevant to your circumstances. From our position as attachment parents, we really recommend Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn as well as Dr. Sears’ The Baby Book as great resources.

• A growing family doesn’t mean you have to outgrow your boat. You can still meet the demands of higher consumption in your family on a smaller vessel by installing extra solar panels, adding a non-power-hungry form of self-steering like a Hydrovane, or a portable petrol-powered watermaker like a Rainman without the need for getting a generator to keep the creature comforts that make everyone on board happy.

• Don’t think that you have to stop sailing. Adapt your plans to what feels comfortable for the stage you and your family are at.

By Ocean Navigator