Questions & Answers
Is Family Charter Sailing a Good Idea?
Through our reviews we are able to shed light on many of the chartering myths, but getting down to the nitty-gritty on family chartering has been somewhat elusive. In an effort to really, I mean really understand family chartering we went straight to the source.
Charter Advisors sat down with five-year-old Arabella (that's right, five years old) to help get some perspective on this topic.
Arabella is actually a veteran of family chartering. She's been on six different yachts, on six different charter trips, starting at the ripe old age of three. For many, the trepidation of sailing with young kids has kept families from charter sailing, especially sailing out of the county in a place perceived to be "out of reach" by some. There are all kinds of examples, good advice, and best practices out there. But what's the real scoop? The reality is that family chartering all about that little variable bobbing up and down in the life-jacket. We figured the only way to get to a real handle on family chartering was to find out from one of those little variables directly. Enter salty young Arabella.
CA: Arabella, wow! You do a lot of sailing. Are you tired of sailing yet?
A: No way! We have so much fun sailing, playing, swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. It's so much fun. And I get to ride in a jet and a propeller plane. And sometimes, when were flying out, we even get to spend the night in the San Juan airport hotel. It's my favorite hotel ever. It's almost as good as the one in Miami.
CA: So you like flying too? Isn't the flight really long?
A: It's not that long. I watch movies on the iPad and my iTouch, play games with my mom and dad, and see if we can figure out the names of all the islands we fly over. The propeller plane isn't a long ride. That's just silly.
CA: Ok, got it, you don't mind the flight. So, what is it like when you get there?
A: It's really warm and sticky. We get to walk on the runway. That's pretty silly too. After we wait in line and get our bags my dad gets a taxi and we go to our boat. Sometimes it's a Monohull. Other times it's a Catamaran. I really do like both of them. Catamarans were my favorite, but I really like it when with the other one [Monohull], leans on its side when we're going fast! Monohulls are awesome!
CA: Sounds like you really enjoy these trips. Do you think other kids would like sailing and traveling like you do?
A: YES! I do. One time my mom and dad asked one of my school friends and his mom and dad to come sailing in the British Virgin Islands with us. It was neat. It was their first time. I think that was my fifth trip. My friend had a great time. We both did. I think he got seasick once. But he was eating a lot before we left. I think it was something he ate. We had so much fun, playing, playing games, swimming, you know, fun stuff. He was a great swimmer!
CA: Do you always take a friend your age with you?
A: No. Not usually. My friend came that one time. It's mostly older people. Like 30 or something.
CA: Do you like sailing with "older people," or do you wish you could have a friend with all the time?
A: I like sailing with everyone! The older people that come with are usually going on their first trip and I know more than they do. I get to teach adults and tell them about boat safety! I had fun with my friend when he came with too. We played together, but sometimes we didn't want to play together either. It's a good idea to take a big boat when you have a lot of people.
CA: Well Arabella, you sound like such an experienced sailor. And it sounds like you have a lot of fun with your family and friends on these trips. Can you tell us more about what you guys do that's so much fun? Besides swimming and "games," what do you like to do onboard that other kids should try? What should the adults do with their kids? Now's your chance to teach a bunch if us "older people." What do you think?
CA: Sorry about that. How about this: What do you like to do on when you're out sailing with mom and dad?
A: Oh! That's easy. I like to help sail the boat. I get out the binoculars and watch for anything floating in the water. You know, like buoys, ropes, trees, you know, anything that my dad doesn't want to run into. I help pull lines and put them away so they aren't all over the place, and I like to ride up front on deck or in the trampoline if we have a catamaran. I even help my dad in the helm. But one of my most favorite things to do is crank the winch.
CA: How about when you're not helping to sail the boat. What do you do then? Do you get bored?
A: Noooo! I don't get bored. I do cup stacking! My dad bought me a big stack of cups from Saba rock. Every time we go back he buys me another stack of cups. My mom says we have enough already, but we get more anyway! I like to stack them up, knock them down, and play in them. It's so much fun! I like to play with racecars too. You know those small fast ones. The table on boats is like a racetrack [lip around the edge of the table]. Or I like pretending to cook food in the galley oven and have a tea party. I also like to watch movies, TV shows, and play on the iPad and my iPhone. My dad got me one without the phone in it [iTouch]. I keep my favorite shows on it. Sometimes I read or draw or color in coloring books.
CA: Wow you really keep busy! What would you say is your favorite thing to do onboard, besides helping run the boat, of course?
A: Safety watch! My mom and dad taught me the safety rules a long time ago. Like when I was three. I know how to be safe. When other people come with us, I like to make sure they're safe too.
CA: How about off the boat? Do you like to get off the boat too?
A: Sure. On or off, it's fun.
CA: What do you do for fun off the boat?
A: Snorkeling or swimming with my mom off the back of the boat or beach with my life jacket. Sometimes we tie a line off the swim ladder to hang on to if there is a current or if we just want to float and hang out. Noodles are fun to float with too. Even the adults like those. Before I learned how to snorkel I used these floaties with windows in them. My mom or dad would push or pull me along when they were snorkeling. I could see all the cool fish and coral. I use a mask now, but I still like to take my floaty with the window.
CA: You said you like to go kayaking?
A: Yes! I have so much fun paddling with my dad. I've been practicing with the paddles. But they're kinda heavy. We paddle to shore at the baths and surf the little waves on the way in. And one time, my mom and me took one of the kayaks into a little cave by Monkey Point. It was really neat.
CA: Well Arabella, you've definitely got this sailing thing figured out. Not to sound scary or anything, but what about the times that might not be so much fun. Like storms or big waves. Or when the wind is really blowing?
A: I love the roller-coaster waves! It's fun to hear the rain. It's exciting getting the boat ready for a storm and listen to it drip drop on the boat when it starts. You can even hear the waves on the hull from the inside! It puts me to sleep if it's nighttime. What was the other thing you asked me about? Oh yea, waves. The waves are fun. Big waves are even more fun. It's like riding a roller coaster. It's even more exciting in a Monohull all leaned over! One time I got soaked on a Monohull. The waves were big, it was real windy, and we were leaned waaaay over. We were going fast though the waves and some timed the waves would get water everywhere! It was sooo much fun!
CA: Does that stuff ever make you seasick?
A: Nope, I've never been seasick. Sometimes the waves make me sleepy and I fall asleep. It's like they are trying to rock me to sleep. It's exciting, but it's relaxing too.
CA: Is there anything you'd like to tell other kids out there about a sailing vacation?
A: Tell all the kids I love it. They'll love it too. I especially like visiting all the islands and meeting all the nice people and seeing cool animals. Mike, the huge iguana on Virgin Gorda. And Berry the barracuda at the caves on Norman island. Arabella and Pricilla the seagulls. My sharkey friends over at Jost Van Dyke. And that huge red starfish we found once or the 8 foot worm dad dug up, or all those conch and colorful fish everywhere under the water. There are sooo many cool things. Sometimes there are jellyfish. I don't like them, but I hardly ever see them.
Kids get to meet all kinds of nice people. They are really nice to kids in the [British] Virgin Islands if you have good manners. If they don't, I'd leave the kids on the boat with an adult. I made friends with all kinds of new people. Like Milton and Ashley in Nanny Cay and visiting the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (Bitter End Yacht Club, they have a clubhouse she has dubbed the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse) like Andre and Sherry May and Ms. Kristine and my new friend Asia. She's 4.
CA: It's been wonderful talking with you Arabella. You've taught us a lot. Thank you.
A: Ok. Thank you too. You know if you need help you just need to ask people. I'm a first mate now so you can ask me now too.
CA: Well all right! We'll be sure to do that.
So there you have it folks. The inside scoop on family chartering from the family side of the equation. As for us here at Charter Advisors, we learned quite a bit.
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