Three teenagers jump off a chartered yacht into the sea at sunset with another yacht anchored in the background

Yachting with kids

How to plan and pack to ensure smooth family yacht sailing in the sun-kissed Mediterranean.

Discover our top tips on family yacht charter holidays

Sailing with children adds a whole new dimension to a yacht charter holiday. The warm, calm waters and steady winds of the Mediterranean make it an ideal place to start. Travelling anywhere with children entails extra logistics, but there’s no need to be daunted by a sailing holiday with little ones in tow. Their excitement alone will be worth it. Read on for our top tips on sailing with children so you can relax and enjoy a wonderful adventure as a family.

Before you travel

  • Introduce yacht life before the big trip. Having a practise day or weekend on a boat before your longer sailing holiday is a good way to get children familiar with yachting gradually. Starting small means they won’t be overwhelmed when they arrive, and you can also discover whether anyone in the family is likely to suffer from sea sickness before you commit.
  • Be sure about life jackets. Most yacht charter companies will say they cater for families, but make sure yours can provide properly fitted self-inflating life jackets for the ages of your children. All life jackets come with a minimum weight so make sure each child with you will have a correctly fitting one. It is possible to find good quality life jackets for children as young as three months old.
  • Do your research. Make sure you book a family friendly yacht. All Time Yachting will let you know which yachts are safe for children, and what amenities are included on board to help your trip run smoothly. Look for a yacht with water toys, floats, snorkels and inflatables for extra fun on your holiday.

What to pack for a yacht charter holiday with children

  • Familiar toys. Children of all ages love familiarity. Make sure each child has their favourite soft toy or comforter with them for their cabin, as well as anything they usually sleep with to feel safe at night. While they will probably love spending time on deck in the sun, swimming in the sea or exploring the beach or town, there will also be times when they want to rest and retreat, so bring toys and games for those moments.
  • Entertainment for down time. Audiobooks are great when you’re on the move, and colouring books or tablets depending on the child’s age will help pass the time without making too much mess on board. If you are bringing electronic devices onto your charter yacht, make sure you will have enough power for recharging. Portable batteries are perfect for quiet nights when you have anchored by a beach and are not plugged in.
  • All the snacks and drinks. Being at sea can make you more thirsty than normal, especially in the heat of the Mediterranean summer, so be sure to stock up on drinks that your children will like and bring their favourite water bottles to encourage plenty of drinking. As with any trip, snacks are a must and the constant fresh air at sea can really encourage an appetite. Be sure to bring filling snacks which will last your sailing trip, such as granola bars and plenty of fruit.
  • An emergency meal (or two). It’s always a good idea to have a spare meal stashed away for emergencies: even the best laid plans to reach a marina by dinner time can be hijacked by a change in the weather or dip in the wind.
  • Think about the heat. The weather in Greece or Turkey in mid-summer can reach above 30 degrees, so see if you can charter a yacht with air conditioning on board for a good night’s sleep when you’re berthed somewhere with power. Alternatively, bring portable fans for your cabins to help take the edge off the heat.
  • Toddler-safe fun. For very small children or non-swimmers, a paddling pool on the foredeck can be great way to cool off in safety. So pick one up in the marina before setting off. If you’re worried about toddlers tumbling off the side, check whether your charter yacht can be supplied with netting around the deck and a gate for the stairs.

Yacht safety for children

Safety on board a charter yacht is often the biggest concern of parents sailing with children. From falling overboard to sunburn, the list of worries can be daunting. But don’t let that put you off sailing with your family.

  • The rules. Be safe and have fun by laying down boat rules as soon as you arrive. Naturally, it helps if children can swim, or at least tread water or float before their first sailing holiday. But that won’t always be the case. Introduce the golden rule of jackets, harness and hands from the moment you arrive: lifejackets must be worn correctly at all times, children must be harnessed in when on deck, and everyone must have at least one hand free to hold on at all times.
  • Safety netting installed around the deck certainly removes another concern. Other basic rules can include keeping hands off winches, always listening to the skipper and no touching the electric switches.
  • Sun safety. In the Mediterranean the summer sun is very strong so hats, sunglasses and plenty of waterproof SPF must be warn always. SPF needs to be reapplied every two hours or after every swim.
  • First aid. Make sure you pack a first aid kit containing after sun lotion, insect repellent, sting relief cream, sea sickness medication and rehydration sachets just in case.
  • Check your travel insurance. All marinas should have a well-equipped first aid centre too, so make sure your travel insurance is up to date before you leave home.
  • Make the boat child-safe on day one. Thankfully, the saloon and cabins below deck are usually designed in a toddler-friendly way with curved corners on tables and a space for everything to be packed away behind a door. However, make sure cleaning products or anything toxic are kept away from curious hands.
  • Swim safety rules for older children. If your children are old enough to dive in and explore, a briefing on the risks of currents, propellors and diving into shallow water is always a good idea.

How to make sailing with children fun

  • Plan plenty of stops. There are two words which will engage any child of any age universally: ice cream. On a summer yacht charter holiday, be sure to make regular stops for children to swim and run around on land… and if this is accompanied by an ice cream then everyone is a winner.
  • Spot fins. Engage with the nature around you: look out for dolphins or turtles in Greece and grab a snorkel and flippers to discover what’s hiding under the surface.
  • Encourage help. Older children may enjoy helping with navigation so looking at charts together and picking a route will help them feel involved, as well as using the VHF radio and helping with fenders and lines. Learning different knot types can keep kids busy for longer stretches at sea and creating hammocks or swinging out over the water with the halyard when you’re moored up are guaranteed to bring entertainment.
  • Embrace local culture. Exploring different cultures is all part of a yacht charter holiday abroad, so visiting a Turkish Bazaar or a Greek taverna will help teach children more about the country you’re in. Order local food to see if they like it and encourage interaction with local traditions such as bartering or Greek dancing.

A Mediterranean family yacht charter holiday can be extremely fun, and eye-opening for first time-sailors, if done correctly. With plenty of planning, packing and patience you and your family will be gliding through azure waters in no time.