Dockwalk - Staying Sane with Kids on Board Untitled Page

Staying Sane with Kids on Board

Jan 4th 11
By Rubi McGrory

Penny snuck an hour of ironing into her afternoon as the guests lounged and snoozed off a wine-saturated lunch. Well, not all of the guests. Industrious Beatrice, age three, took the opportunity to express her inner artist, using indelible ink to “create” all over the cockpit cushions. Beatrice’s mom sat not four feet away reading a book and shrugged off the incident with a “Laundry technology is so advanced today, I am sure there is some product that removes permanent marker. Besides, you shouldn’t have left the marker where she could find it.” Beatrice helpfully noted that she found the marker in her mom’s handbag.

While children can be a lovely addition to a family, they can be very difficult to accommodate on board, especially if they come without accompanying nannies or babysitters. Frequently these jobs will be left up to the crew, who just as frequently, are not prepared. But don’t worry…as the boss insists, these kids are no trouble at all.

In order to prepare, first have a chat with the chef. Children are picky eaters. They don’t care if the chef is Cordon-Bleu-Bain-Marie-Foie-Gras-emulsion-foam certified. They want simple, simple, simple. Mac and cheese (no truffles), hot dogs, grilled cheese and pizza – not caramelized onion and goat cheese pizza with semolina crust, but cheese and pepperoni on a Boboli crust. Their favorite starter is pigs in a blanket. Dessert should contain two or more of the following: Rice Krispies, chocolate chips, peanut butter, marshmallows, graham crackers and M&Ms.

An advanced version of this involves a DIY project to get the kids involved: build your own pizza bar, cookie decorating or ice cream sundae party. Not for the faint of heart or yachts with white wool carpet.

Having the right amusements on board can be tricky. Most children travel with a hand held video game and dvd player with a variety of movies. But, just as when you were a kid, you were more interested in the toys at somebody else’s house, you will want a small supply of movies, games and crafts. Don’t be scared of having art supplies on board. Kids really like crafting and many companies sell project sand products which won’t destroy your interior. Stock up with kits that don’t involve paint – stitchery, scratch boards, beads…and get plenty of pipe cleaners. Stay away from model airplanes with glue and paint, but find a good book on paper airplanes. In a pinch, challenge your little guests to see how high they can stack poker chips.

Kids are gross. Even the most well behaved tykes will challenge your ability to keep up with cleaning. Freshly made beds will be rumpled, every glass surface will be smeared with gooey fingerprints, mysterious stains will bloom on fancy cushions and remains from food you never even had on board will appear in crevices for months afterwards. Don’t fight it or it will break you. Be strong, use the Force…and a lot of elbow grease.

Children are a complex species, like cats, they know when they are getting to you and will work to push you over the edge. Try to find a common ground with your age-challenged guests. Do you both love Harry Potter? Do you hate Justin Bieber or root for the same sports team? Collusion and coercion are equally helpful tools to win over this demographic and make their time on board a bit easier for you.

Do you have any great kid tips and techniques or do you just want to share a brilliant child induced disaster?


Related Topics:

Too Close for Comfort? 
Tears, Tantrums and Flying Crockery 
Alcoholics on board 

Rating  Average 3 out of 5

  • simple, treat the kids like adults, they respond well, treat the adults like kids. Period.
    Posted by tubby 18/01/2011 22:32:38

  • .... NANNY 911 PLEASE!!!
    Posted by ROSEMBERG 14/01/2011 21:34:15

  • Most kids idolize the crew, so if they are old enough, ask them if they want to help you. We had a 9 year-old charter guest who wore out his only pair of Khaki shorts and white oxford he had with him because he insisted on dressing like the crew. We gave him his own chamois and he was possibly the best temp deck hand we ever had! Likewise, kids like to help in the galley and some even like to have their own swiffer to help you dust. I have seen a lot of kids on boats that have parents who are used to other people looking after their kids. These poor kids are desperate for attention, and if you give it to them, they will adore you.
    Posted by TiffanyS 13/01/2011 22:25:24

  • Kids like to be involved in activities and need just as much attention as the adult guest do. I have made kid feel special just by learning animal towel folds. With one family through out the charter we made a crawfish aquarium and decorated it with umbrellas, sand shells in a large container. Throughout the week we collected over 20 crawfish that were later released at the end of the charter. The kids were entertained the whole week.

    Most of the time was spent off the boat, by the time the guest returned there was an quiet activity related to their vacation prepared for them. I once prepared a week long calendar. Everyday the kids had to write down what they did. The Calendar was kept in the living area for the parents to see.

    Preplan your trip and research activities. When the kids are happy the parents are happy too
    Posted by Antonika aka Ninja Stew 11/01/2011 13:28:56

  • Kids provide a whole new list of issues. Some kids may not be thrilled to be aboard. It may sound like a dream come true to you, but maybe not to kids. They may have little idea what a Superyacht is all about. Don’t miss the prime opportunity to finding out if they are thrilled or bummed by paying attention to demeanor as they come aboard for the first time. Most kids will wear there emotions on their face, or show them by the way they walk or stand.

    “Don’t run, keep one hand for yourself and one hand for the boat” has been used for years on yachts with kids, it may seem old fashioned but it is worth it’s weight in gold if it stops a kid running into a closed glass door or tripping and getting a concussion!

    Kids sight level was not in the designers mind when the Yacht was built, some kids can not see the things that you can, but can see and get into places that you can not (nooks and crannies). So remember, situation awareness, and assertiveness, climbing and hanging over cap rails may be required for them to see stuff, so be aware and score brownie points by seeing these problems and offering safe solutions.

    For kids 3-12 creating some form of special place (small tent, made from a spare sheet over a line tied off) on deck or in a cabin will save you a lot of “wondering what they are up to now” time.

    Kids are explorers, so saying they are not to venture into the engine room or go into the the crew’s quarters may just be setting this up. There’s always one, be proactive and think about using this as a special treat for kids in the 8-16 range, checking out the engine room (if the Cap allows) with the chief is always cool.

    Electronic games are great for evening or bad weather but you will find parents thrilled to see their kids not touching the PSP etc while aboard because you found alternate activities.Fishing from tender or over the side is great or crabbing is in port for younger kids is great as no hook is required, line, sinker and bait (bone or bacon work
    Posted by simongb-N2 07/01/2011 18:18:35

  • Oh come on having kids on board is great fun! Keep the kids happy and the boss or charter is happy!

    Fine so they might have loads of energy but so should you, this is not a walk in the park this is yachting!

    Pull out all the plugs and have some fun, far too many boats dont and it shows!

    Kids rule!
    Posted by AlltoSea 04/01/2011 21:04:22

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