Sailing Holidays with Children: Your Questions Answered

We’ve been lucky to enjoy a few sailing holidays, including ones where we sailed ourselves, but that was in the beautiful Caledonian Canel in Scotland. What if you wanted your family to experience sailing in the warm waters of the Mediterranean? We asked sailing holiday expert James for some tips on how to go about it.


If, like me, you struggle to keep still in a resort holiday, and are always on the lookout for adventure, then a sailing holiday might be just what your family need. Sailing a yacht is a great way to see some planet’s most spectacular locations, and keep the whole family active, engaged and having fun. And hiring a professional skipper means you can get as involved as you like, or simply kick back and relax if that’s more your style.

Yacht in a bay in Greece

Can you picture yourself and the kids here in Greece?

Travelling by boat is an incredible way to see the world – as you take your ‘floating villa’ with you wherever you go, you have a real freedom to explore a different destination every day. Personally, I love snorkelling in clear waters, eating fresh seafood on the waterfront, and catching the sunset at anchor off a deserted beach you can only reach by boat.

Two people snorkelling in the Adriatic Sea

Snorkelling off the back of the boat in the Adriatic Sea

Here are some questions that you may want answered before setting sail:

Where can I go on a sailing holiday?

On a yacht, the world is your oyster (well, the wet bits are!).

Yachting holidays usually concentrate on locations with good summer weather, combined with beauty, culture, and good food. In Europe, this means Mediterranean countries like Croatia, Greece, Italy and Turkey.

If you want to go further afield, the Caribbean is great for kids, with its pirate lore, bright beaches and tropical fish.

Where you go depends a bit on when you’re looking to sail; Turkey, being further south and east, stays warmer longer than the rest of the Med, for example.

Sailing with a baby

Sailing with a baby in the British Virgin Islands.

Don’t I need some sort of licence?

In short, no, but you will need to hire a professional sailor to help you.

Sailing holidays can be broadly divided into 3 categories;

  1. bareboat (you and your family hire the ‘bare’ boat),
  2. skippered (with a professional sailor),
  3. or crewed (with a professional sailor and a chef).

To go on a bareboat holiday, you will need to have some experience and a sailing licence, usually an RYA Day Skipper certificate. There are lots of sailing schools both in the UK and overseas in Greece and Croatia where you can take the courses.

Crewed yacht charter

Living it up aboard a crewed yacht.

What makes a skippered yachting holiday great is that your level of skill and experience doesn’t matter. If you’re keen to get stuck in and learn, you can pick up some new sailing skills. If you’d rather just relax and keep an eye on the little captains, then you can. And if you want a truly five-star experience, you can go for a crewed yacht, with meals freshly prepared for you on the yacht.

How much does a sailing holiday cost?

Sailing around a sun-kissed Mediterranean coastline, stopping to snorkel in crystal waters, conjures up glamorous images of movie stars and an air of exclusivity.

But really, skippered yacht holidays are similar in cost to a luxury package holiday, and a whole lot more fun. And yachts are charged at a flat rate, with no per person price, so larger families don’t have to fork out more.

on the deck of a yacht

You could split the cost with a larger or extended family and friends, as you don’t pay per person.

Is it safe for the kids? Is there a minimum age?

In a word – yes, sailing is safe for kids! There is no reason why a child cannot join a sailing holiday. Obviously, parents tend to take precautions, and it is always worth teaching your child how to swim before the trip. But there’s no minimum age when it comes to yachting – there are even cots that you can bring on board, and many stories of young infants having great fun on boats in complete safety.

Little boy in safe life jackets

Always wear a life jacket.

There are some simple and easy to remember rules (always wear a lifejacket when outside, don’t leave the boat without permission), that can keep everyone safe, happy and relaxed.

 

How do we keep the kids happy on a yacht?

Family jumping off yacht

“1, 2, 3, jump!”

Sailing is superb fun for children, with new swim stops to explore every day and getting involved in the running of the boat. But keeping active children occupied for a whole week or two can be a struggle. Thankfully, you can hire paddleboards and kayaks to take on the yacht, and all skippers will happily mix up the route, stopping off wherever you’d like to enjoy the local towns and beaches.

water toys

There are lots of things to do in the sea!

What about the facilities on board?

Every yacht has bathroom facilities, including a toilet and shower, and the larger ones often have en-suites for each cabin (bedroom). Most modern yachts have electric toilets, which makes things nice and simple.

How do I book a sailing holiday?

You can either contact a yacht charter company directly, which is a little limiting, or book through an independent agent, who will act as a personal shopper to find you the best deal. These agents are completely impartial and don’t charge you a fee, but instead work off commission from the provider, so they are usually able to source the best deals.

Sailboats in a beautiful bay, Paxos island, Greece

Next stop this beautiful bay at Paxos Island in Greece?

 

Next steps? Click here to start building your ideal family sailing holiday, or visit www.helm.yt to find out more.

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James has spent many years travelling across Europe, mostly in, on, under or around boats of various shapes and sizes. A veteran of the sailing holiday industry, he has taken numerous family summer holidays in the Greek islands, Dalmatian and Turquoise coasts and beyond, and sees them as the ultimate way to explore the Mediterranean. If you’d like to know more, you can contact James at [email protected], on 02076327567, or visit www.helm.yt.

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