Kids Sailing Vacation!
By Donna Wolfson

There is always something special about shared family time and kids sailing. A few years ago, my husband and I decided to take our niece (then 8) and nephew (then 10) on a seven day sailing vacation to the British Virgin Islands.

Living in Florida, we wanted to provide them with an experience other than Disney. Although I was excited to share a sailing vacation experience with them, I had three main concerns.

Three Main Concerns! 

  • First, would they be bored without their television, GameBoys and Playstations?
  • Second, would the normal sibling spats escalate being in a relatively confined space 24/7?
  • And finally, how would they handle different foods when they primarily subsisted on pizza and buttered noodles? I did not need to worry.

Melody at ViSailing made the arrangements through the Moorings to charter a 47' Catamaran for our sailing vacation. The squeals of delight from Tori and Kacey when we met them at the Redhook, St. Thomas ferry dock, with our dingy, were quickly surpassed by the exclamation, "SWEET!" as we pulled up alongside the anchored Cat.

This was the first time they had ever been on a catamaran. After a quick tour of the boat and a head lesson, we all retired early so that we could begin our BVI kids sailing vacation first thing in the morning.

When I went to check on the kids, Tori inquired, "How can you sleep on this thing?" But, I assured Tori that the gentle rocking of the Cat would soon have both children soundly snoring. We cleared the kids through customs in West End, Tortola, and then began island hopping through the BVI.

"I'm bored" was simply not a factor on this trip and my initial concern on kids sailing was a non-issue. Prior to leaving on our sailing vacation, I made journals for Tori and Kacey filled with maps and photos of the BVI.

Each morning we would discuss various topics including the history of the BVI, the culture, music and language. The kids had an opportunity to write down their thoughts and the journals later proved to be wonderful keepsakes for Show and Tell.

What Activities for Kids Sailing?

The kids loved exploring pirate caves on Norman Island, jumping off the Willie T at the Bight, and snorkeling for hours around the Indians.

They enjoyed the "main drag" on Jost Van Dyke. They decorated and hung a pair of underwear at Foxy's; Tori had her hair braided and beaded at the beauty shop; Kacey was introduced to Ting ( a carbonated grapefruit drink) at Abe's By The Sea; and played with Annie's new puppy.

Both kids became fast friends with Anna's children and are still pen pals. The crossing to Marina Cay was occupied by learning to man the helm, plotting a course on a chart, and playing hide and seek on the Cat.

The Baths on Virgin Gorda was one of their favorite spots. Climbing through, up and around the boulders without adult supervision was a highlight of the kids sailing vacation.

Did They Miss Technology? 

I thought Tori and Kacey might appreciate the Bitter End, mainly because I figured they would need a fix at the outdoor big screen television. To the contrary, they wanted to leave because the resort was, "too fancy" and "not islandy enough." (I think that meant they had to wear shoes and shorts to go into eat, rather than be in swimsuits and barefoot!)

They delighted in playing in the sand at the Beach Club of Cooper Island, chasing goats on Peter Island and swimming with the sea turtles in Great Harbour.

Days were spent snorkeling, swimming, jumping on the trampoline of the Cat, cannon-balling off the aft, telling pirate stories and making up pirate names for each of us. 

Playing boule and singing with the donkey at Dick's Last Resort, searching for iguanas, and exploring various coves while learning to steer a dingy were also a great hit.

They learned how to raise a sail and participated in the daily chores of living aboard. Both kids were provided with disposable water cameras and Caribbean fish guides so they could identify what they saw while snorkeling.

By nightfall, they were exhausted and often barely made it through dinner.

Second Concern!

My second concern regarding sibling fighting was also a non-issue. We were pleasantly surprised to see how well Tori and Kacey got along. The only argument in seven days was a brief spat having something to do with "backwash" in a shared can of Ting.  Overall, the kids sailing vacation seemed to bring them closer together. 

Last Concern ... What to Feed Them?

My last concern regarding taking the children on a sailing vacation had to do with what would Tori and Kacey eat since their main diet was pizza and buttered noodles. Since this was my vacation too, other than breakfast, I did not cook aboard.

Fortunately, almost everywhere we went had BBQ chicken or ribs, which the kids ate. They tried and liked rice and beans, fried plantains, and a variety of new fruits like mangoes.

We were shocked because they even actually ate triggerfish sandwiches at Foxy's. Tori did get her buttered noodles on Cooper Island, while Kacey unfortunately developed a taste for fresh Anegada lobster (sorry, Sis!).

Both kids slurped nightly virgin Pina Coladas or Daiquiris - better than any state side slurpee. They thought it was pretty cool to mix their own drink concoctions at Sidney's Peace & Love. Neither child starved. With all the activity and fresh air, they had good appetites at meal time.

Tori and Kacey were very sorry to see the kids sailing vacation end. My husband and I have spent many vacations with them, but this was definitely the best. The "BVI" has become as much a normal part of their vocabulary as "pepperoni pizza" and "iPods."

Recently, my nephew had to write a paper for his sixth grade language arts class about his idea of the most perfect vacation. He did not need to fantasize - he already knew.

A sailing vacation on a 47' Catamaran in the BVI, of course! Since then, we have had several more opportunities to take a BVI sailing vacation with the family.

Luckily for all of us, we are going back again this summer.


Donna Wolfson also know as "Sailgirl" at Virgin Island Sailing, has been sailing in the Caribbean and writing about it for years.

 Learn more about a Sailing Vacation on her site!  

Article Source: Ezine Articles


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