Parenting While Sailing, Sailing While Parenting

January 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

Joe and Deb do them both, and Joe explains what happens:

my best memories and greatest laughs came from sailing with kids…

I read your piece in SA this morning and I had to comment. I agree with you completely that mentoring is key. I am not writing to toot our horn, but my wife and I have involved many kids in sailing. We thought we could not have kids. Then after being married for 14 years, we had a wonderful child.

During those 1st 14 years of marriage, we sailed any where and any time we could. When we bought a new boat, my Mother called it her grandchild. During that time, many of our very close sailing friends left sailing because they had kids. As we watched that happen we recognized that in order to keep sailing, we had to keep our son involved. We figured that including as many of his friends as possible would ensure he always had a friend (or 6) to bring to the boat.

Now, 20 years later, he and his friends have sailed multiple Bayview Mac races, many regattas on all kinds of boats up to and including 70’s, and sail on their respective University sailing teams. Many have been involved with the local community sailing association, taking several years of lessons, and a couple of them are US Sailing certified instructors.

I am confidant that more than 10 young adults out of the 40 or 50 that have sailed on our boats over the last 20 years will be lifelong sailors (good ones too for those detractors). The best part for me is that some race, some do not, but they all sail for the pure joy it brings them. They also have learned to maintain and repair the boats they sail on and are considered invaluable crew members because they are willing to tackle any job needing to be done.

Suffice it to say I am very proud of them all and I believe sailing has taught them the life skills they need to be very successful. The only sad part is that they now sail with others and not so much with Deb and me. I have personally sailed on many boats and in many racing programs, and my best memories and greatest laughs came from sailing with kids. A good friend of mine said it best one dark midnight to four watch: “I have been a goof off all my life, I decided it’s best to hang out with the best goof offs of all: kids. They don’t judge me too harshly.” This person is very successful and many of you know him so we will leave his name out of the story.

Please keep working to develop the mentoring attitude, it will turn around sailing and make the next generation more likely to mentor those in the generation following them.

Hearty round of applause for Joe and Deb, for all they do.

Do you have a parenting while sailing story to share? Please email me, or share on Facebook.

– ndh (

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