Making sailing safe for kids

If you’re a sailing enthusiast that also happens to have kids then your top priority will be their safety on board. You want to be able to spend days or even weeks out of the open sea and have your kids enjoy the feeling of being under full sail while also being able to concentrate on actually sailing and also enjoying the ride with out the constant worry of the, being in immediate danger. Of course as a parent you will always have a bit of worry and always instinctively be on the lookout for their safety but there are things you can do to really minimize the risk of accidents happening to give you more peace of mind and also to give the kids a bit more freedom.

The first thing we think about when we think water safety is of course life jackets. These are essential and worth investing in good quality and comfortable jackets that kids will not want to rip off, but there are also a lot of other products around to think about that can help your child stay on board and if worst comes to worst, be able to survive in the water while waiting to be rescued.

Bellow is a guide to some of the things we’ve found most useful when sailing with children.

On Deck Safety

Let’s start by trying to keep your kids on the boat! Having a good tethering system is the best way to ensure your children can enjoy being up on the deck while you are sailing but also be safely away from edges and without risk of falling overboard.

Jacklines

Depending on your vessel you will have your own way of putting in a jackline. Many think the best way to put it on for children is straight down the middle and using a shorter tether to ensure they are at no risk of getting close enough to go over the sides. This can be tricky however when it comes to navigating the mast. You want to minimize unclipping as much as possible, so one suggestion we have heard is to create two jacklines down the center either side of the mast, this will give the children a little more freedom to get around without them having to clip and unclip to get around tricky areas.

Wichard LYF`Safe Jackline comes in a range of sizes to suit your vessel and can also be adjusted in size. It has an easy setup and can be fitted with almost every deck fastening. It features reflective stitching that is wonderful at night and the adjust casting has a special locking mechanism to prevent accidental webbing release. A great and lasting product.

Children’s Harness

Now once you have your jackline in place you’re going to need a harness and tether to keep your children in. It’s important you choose a harness that fits correctly and is comfortable for your child.

The WEST MARINE Child’s Safety Harness is perfect for young sailors. They have cut down on some of the hardware so that what they have is close to a weightless product but that can withstand a 1000lb pull on the chest strap. Using strong nylon Nexus webbing it is made to be worn tether forward while a cross back strap kept it firmly in place. There is the option on a between the legs strap which can help stabilize the harness.

Tethers

A good tether is also very important. The Wichard Proline Tether with a 1m 1 Clip and 1 Loop is our choice. This features a snap hook that can be used one-handed. It has an ErgoLock system where the snap hook automatically locks and closes with a wider opening so it’s a lot easier for young hands to use.

They also have an interesting feature called Overload Indicator Stitching. This is stitching that shows where it is more used and when it should be replaced. This way you’ll always know that your child’s tether is in good working order.

Children’s Lifejackets

When it comes to life jackets for children you really don’t want something that will be too big and bulky. It a child can’t move freely in their jacket then chances are they will take any opportunity to take it off. Lifejacket shopping is something you should really do with your children so they can try on different types and styles to see which one fits their size and body shape the best. Having said this, it is also an item where you cannot compromise on quality, so at the end of the day that will be your main focus. You need to consider the age of your child also, for preteens and teens you will not need as much neck support but for a smaller child, it’s great to look into jackets with the neck support that can turn their face floating side up. These tend to be a bit bulkier but the extra safety feature can be worth it.

One that we love for kids in the older age bracket is Austral’s Otter 2.0 Youth PDF. As well as being a safe and comfortable jacket is also environmentally friendly, using organic Kapok that is extremely buoyant as its fill. It’s a great jacket that allows older kids a bit more room to move and comfort, so they won’t mind keeping it on all day.

MOB Signaling Gear

As much as we don’t want to think about worst-case scenarios it is something we have to prepare for. MOB (man overboard) signaling gear is something worth investing in and teaching your children how to use. To start with, never underestimate the simplicity of a whistle. A whistle does not rely on batteries and electronics, simply a child’s blow. This can still be an effective and not too expensive piece of safety gear. A floating knife for older children can also be something that comes in handy for having to cut their way out of and ropes that may be surrounding them or tying them down. Not a nice thought, but like I said, we need to think about worst-case scenarios.

You can also get Man Overboard gear that can transmit signals containing your position and ID via an Automatic Identification System. The McMurdo SmartFind S20 AIS MOB id one such device. It is designed to be fitted to lifejackets and manually activated but there is also the option to get it properly fitted with an inflatable jacket so that when the jacket is inflated it automatically sends out your signal. It also has a flashing LED light on it that makes it easier to spot your child. These devices while expensive, should not be overlooked. As much as we can plan for good weather and calm seas we are still at the mercy of nature and need to be as best prepared as we can be.

Teaching safety

You can have all of the right equipment and have your children in lifejackets 24/7 but the most vital thing you should be doing before taking them out of the water is teaching them the importance of safety. Swimming lessons are a great place to start. These days there are swimming lessons even for babies! So there really is no excuse to not have your children learning how to swim from an early age. Having them familiar with the water can help them to not panic in a dangerous situation and of course, help them stay alive. If they are only having lessons in a pool it could be a great idea to also take them to the ocean and get them swimming in different kinds of water. Getting familiar with being in waves can really help them navigate rough water. Also giving kids lessons about currents and rips will help them in knowing the dangers that they can face in the water and have the confidence to stay calm because they know what to do.

Being able to have full command of your kids on the ship is also of utmost importance. Your children should know that when you give a command it should be followed immediately because it is for their own safety. If your children can’t obey orders then consider not taking them out on voyages until they can. If you are preparing for a big trip, or even just, in general, it can be a good idea to run through some safety drill with your children first, do some role-playing and help prepare them as best as you can for what can happen in an emergency and how to deal with it. Showing them things like how to radio for help could be a life-saving skill.

Sail with Peace of mind

Once you do have your kids and yourself kitted out with safety gear you’ll find the whole experience a lot more relaxing. Knowing that you have taken all the precautions you can for the safety of your children will be a weight off your shoulders and help seriously reduce the risks of dangers and heighten the likelihood of survival if things do become out of your control. Now all that is left to do is enjoy the amazing feeling of being out of the water with your family.

Five Cabin Essentials for the Crinan Classic

The Crinan Classic is the annual race that takes place within the Crinan Wooden Boat Festival held annually in July in the port town of Crinan on the West Coast of Scotland. Crinan was originally names Port Righ which means ‘kings Port’ so you know it must be an amazing place! The Port Village is situated on loch Crinan and has a maze of canals perfect for exploring. Sailing around Crinan is about as picturesque as it gets and being surrounded by wooden boats of all shapes and sizes and ages is both fascinating and wonderful. The wooden boats bring back a real sense of nostalgia and remembrance of ages past as well as celebrate the amazing craftsmanship of new master boat builders and the fun of people making their own boats as hobbies. Set on the stunning backdrop if the mountain Mul, you’ll have plenty so feast your eyes on. It’s a wonderful family event and a must for wooden sailboat enthusiasts.

Now that you are excited to get to the Crinan Boat Festival and be apart of the Crinan Classic we’ve put together a few cabin essentials that are a must for the Crinan Classic.

Maps and a GPS

Maybe it goes without saying but even at a fun event like this one it’s good to be fully prepared with maps of the area. When all else fails a good old traditional sailors map will still help to get you out of and sticky situations. So make sure you bring with you the relevant and up to date maps of the area. A GPS is also an essential. It’s always more comforting to know exactly where you are and be able to tell others your exact coordinates easily. Make sure your GPS is in good working order before bring it on board. And lastly a compass is an essential! No good trying to read a map without one and if you’re traveling during the day, well that rules out simply steering by the stars! Make sure you have a options with your navigational equipment because even as reliable as your GPS may be you never know when you may have a malfunction or some bad luck renders in useless so it’s always important to have back up.

A Heater

A cabin heater is something that may seem like a luxury, but even in summer the temperature in Scotland can get cold, particularly at night and if you’re planning on staying onboard your vessel then there’s no way you want to be awake and shivering all night. You can get great cabin heaters to suit about every size of cabin, and it will have you in a lot more comfort which will in turn give you more energy for sailing. If you are unable to have a cabin heater on board for what ever reason, then give the humble rubber hot water bottle a go to pre warm your bet or even stuff under your jacket if you’re sitting out in the cold. They are inexpensive and all you need is some hot water which you can boil your self on your stove top.

Sanitation Systems

A proper sanitation system can be again a bit of a luxuary seeming item, but there is nothing worse than trying to find privacy when you feel the need to relive yourself in the middle of a busy boat harbor. Trying to scramble to the harbor toilets can be just as bad and at a busy event like this one there are bound to be lines. So make sure you have your own system in place which is hygienic and will make your life a lot easier. There are plenty of different models you can choose from and boat harbors will have waste disposal unit also to make your life easier.

A Cooker

Getting a good cooker can be a game changer and something you will always use. Even if you are only using it to heat water for your coffee or tea it’s already a good investment. There is a range of cook tops designed specifically with sailing in mind so you down have to stress as much about and open flame finding a wooden surface in the rolling and lurching. Although of course with any cookers you need to be careful and not leave them unattended. Getting a cooker on board will make your life so much easier because you’ll have the flexibility and freedom to make your own hot breakfast lunch and dinner if you so choose which is great if you are staying out on your boat for a few days during the Crinan Classic. Do your research and find one which suits your cabin space and needs and it will not be an investment you regret.

A Ladder

Simple as it sounds it one of the biggest must have’s. Even if you are not planning on taking a dip in the Scottish Lochs you never know when an unexpected man overboard situation may occur and it’s good to have an easy way of getting back in the boat. Not only for safety reasons are they a must but also just getting gin and out of the boat on a regular basis, during the Wooden Boat Festival there are a lot of vessels around and you may not always get the ease of being right up against the dock, getting into a tender may have to be an option for you so it’s best to have a ladder to make life as easy as possible.

Get Racing!

Now you’ve got the basics together its time to get on over to Crinan, get out into those picturesque lochs and get your wooden sailing boat racing. With your Navigation equipment and cabin essentials you’ll be ready to face anything and do it with ease and comfort. Enjoy all that the Crinan Classic Has to offer and enjoy the majesty and craftsmanship of the amazing wooden Sailing boats you see around you. Have Fun!

How To Get The Most From Your Day Sail

If you are like most, have a full time job and family and don’t have the luxury of sailing whenever you get the whim, then chances are if you are wanting to get out in the water you may only get the chance to go for a day sail more often than not. While we would all love to spend a week out at sea every few months for some of us it is just not possible so to still get our fix we have to head out into the open seas as often as we can even if it means only being out there for an evening or a day. So how do you make sure you can get the most out of your day sail to optimize your time on the water and make it as stress free and fun as possible; here are a few suggestions that will have you out on the water and as relaxed and ready for fun as possible.

Plan ahead

Now It’s not always possible to plan ahead too far in advance as weather patterns and swell conditions can change, but there are still a few things you can have ready and prepared so that when you see the perfect conditions head your way just in time for the weekend you can almost ready to jump on board and set sail.

– cleaning

This may sound like an obvious one, but making sure your boat and equipment is clean can be a real time saver. This is always best done straight after your last sail. Make sure to really clean the deck and cabin, if cushions need washing them take them back with you and get it done. As you know with sailing it’s important to keep everything, no matter how weather proof, clean of salt so take the time to give your ship a good clean out after each trip, this way you wont be hurrying to do it the night before. If it’s been a while in between sails then make sure to do a check up and clean out every few weeks.

– Checking equipment

Every sailor knows you need to keep on top of equipment maintenance. If you are not sailing to often still do regular check ups of your equipment to       make sure everything is working especially your safety gear. Electronic equipment is made to be reliable but still with a lot of exposure to sun and sea things can go wrong. So make sure before each sail you do your own checks ups, that way if there is a problem you can get it fixed in time for your next adventure and don’t get caught out finding you have malfunctioning equipment the only day you have off to go sailing all month!

– Plan your route

If you are able to have a bit of foresight into the weather before you go out then it’s great to pre plan your route. Knowing where you want to head, if you will be mooring at all and going to shore. That way you will be able to make a suitable list of things you will need to prepare for your destination.

– Have a checklist!

Most importantly make yourself a checklist. You can make a basic one that you can use for every sea voyage, reminding you about safety gear and other things you may keep at home but need for the boat. If you have a good checklist then it’s a lot easier to keep track of exactly what you need and not get caught out once you are on your sailing boat by something you’ve forgotten.

– Book Ahead

If you are going to be doing a day trip that involved mooring off somewhere for a while, then make sure you book ahead and check with the right authorities if there is space and if you are able to moor on those dates. No good turning up and not being able to tie up.

Get Out Early

To make the most of your day trip, get out on the water as early as possible. If you’ve done all your planning in the week leading up then you should be able to just roll out of bed and head down to the harbor at first light. If you only have your one day of sailing every month or so then you want to be making the most out of it. So set sail and dawn and don’t come back until dusk. Make sure you have the rest of your weekend planned and sorted before you go out so that you can stay out as late as possible without spending the afternoon stressing about being back in time for dinner or to prepare things for work or a gathering the following day. If you’re all pre planned not just for your trip but also for your next few days then you will be able to have a stress free day adventure.

Going Ashore

If one of your plans for your day is to go ashore then make sure you have everything prepared, for the picnic or hike you may be doing. Take a few small backpacks and remember to bring water bottles so you can stay hydrated on land. Pre plan where you will be going ashore so that you know where it is safe to moor or drop anchor.

Staying on Deck

Don’t be afraid to keep your day trip a strictly on board affair. If you only have a day out on the sea why not make the most of it and enjoy lounging around on deck. Pack a picnic lunch and even dinner and a little wine and just enjoy being out on the open seas without the stress of having to jam pack too much in to your day trip. It’s okay to not do too much and just relax, this is your adventure after all!

Be Flexible

You can be the most planned person out there and still something can go slightly wrong and your plans will have to change, so it’s important to be able to be flexible. Always have a few other options in mind, and if you’re not one hundred percent certain about the weather then make sure you have a few plan B’s and C’s in mind.

Enjoy Yourself!

Remember to relax and enjoy just being out on the open water. Your day trip is the perfect way to rejuvenate yourself and get back your excitement for adventure and love of the ocean. Let the salty air calm you and let yourself just   be present in the moment.

The Rise and Fall of Wooden Sail Boats

The start of boating history as we know it, was wooden. From all corners of the globe, civilizations begun their sea explorations and voyages on vessels carved from all kinds of wood, favoring what ever was native to their lands and coming up with unique hull and sail designs created to suit their needs and the oceans around them. From small log canoes on the amazon to great tall ships coming out of Europe, wood was the only option for boat building. In modern times sailing boats became not just a means to an end and a way to get from A to B, but a pleasurable craft for personal adventures and day voyages. Beautiful wooden craft came onto the market, made for aesthetics and comfort just as much as practicality. These boats came in all shapes and sizes but the one thing they all had in common was the craftsmanship that it took to create them. In the 1960’s the Fiberglass sailing boat started to become popular, due to its ability to be made quickly and by a mold, which would see a sort of mass production taking place. It seemed overtime fiberglass would take over the sailing world completely. The ability to create identical boats that could preform on more elite levels was appealing to most. So what space did it leave for the humble wooden sailboat? And are it’s days over completely?

Why Wood?

Wood was originally used in the creation of sea vessels for it’s buoyant properties and it’s abilities to be sealed and become somewhat waterproof.

Each boat as made by hand and even in more modern boat making practices, no two can be exactly the same. Wooden boats were made to suit the individual’s purposes and certain trees were often planted and farmed to make the best boats they could.

So now in this day of fiberglass and plastics, why would you chose wood over a streamline often cheaper version of the sailing boat you wanted?

Out of Fashion

One of the reasons behind the fall of the wooden sailboat is the invention of fiberglass, which brought on a whole different way of creating boats. With the fiberglass boat came a cheaper option and also an option to not spend so much time and money on repairs as was one of the downfalls of the wooden boat. People liked the practicality that fiberglass had to offer and that the constant need for repainting and sealing was gone, and instead a quick scrub down would suffice. So Wooden Sailboats went out of fashion in favor of the sportier easier model. Some argued the new model was more reliable and less stress involved in the maintenance than using the timber version.

The Art of Bespoke

Many people are turning back to wood because of the beauty of have a bespoke craft. The aesthetics of a wooden boat hold a certain nostalgia that have people thinking about sailing in more of a dreamy romanticized way, taking them back to simpler times when sailing was purely about the pleasure of being out on the water. A bespoke sailing boat is a one of a kind affair, and many people are going back to the old ways of wanting custom made, not only in sailing boats but in their clothing and furniture we are seeing a comeback to the old ways of crafts and a new appreciation for artisan goods. Having a wooden sailing boat made ensures a one of a kind lux that many people enjoy and to see the process and to have a story behind the making of the vessel is just as important to some as the vessel it’s self. In now more than ever a certain glamour has been places back upon ‘vintage’ and ‘handmade’ That is bringing the wooden boat back into fashion once again.

Advantages of Wood

Apart from pure ascetics there are some advantages to the wooden sailing boat that many enjoy. These days the way that wood can be used and treated has helped the modern way wooden boats with a lightweight and good strength to weight ratio. The design of a wooden boat can also be so much more flexible than getting it made out of other materials. With the right wood your boat can be both strong and flexible and will not fatigue. Wood, when farmed correctly can be a great renewable source.

The Modern Wooden

There are not as many master boat builders round as their use to be, due to the lack of demand but when you find a skilled boat builder then you will see the true art form that is wooden boat building. Many modern day boat builders implements some more modern technologies into their work like a layer of epoxy and fiberglass to sheath the wood and keep rot at bay. But you can still find boat builders that take on only the traditional approach using old tools and modeling their boats on traditional ships.

Would You Choose Wood?

So having seen it’s advantages and disadvantages would you choose wood? If you were after a beautiful vessel that holds the love of nostalgia for daytime cruising, you really can’t go past the beauty of a wooden ship. There is nothing quite like having a one of a kind hand made vessel to get you underway and slipping through the water.