boat 358295 1920



For many parents, the main topic before going on a boat holiday is: children on board – is that even possible and if so, what should you pay attention to? With the following rules of conduct and tips, we want to make it easier for you and the “little ones” to step from the pier to the boat. Some points may seem mundane to you, but if you follow them, they will prove to be an important piece of the puzzle in the overall “family vacation on the water” structure.


  • Prefer a quiet, also sturdy cruising boat to a racing boat with a lot of horsepower. Your family’s safety is paramount, there are no speed records to be broken
  • If in doubt, opt for the boat with more interior space so that each family member has their own space, there is the possibility of an undisturbed nap or meal and a place of retreat in bad weather
  • Avoid a boat with a side entrance to the saloon, which is only possible via a gangway. Prefer a boat with a cockpit on the rear deck with railings so that you have a continuous view of your child while you are driving
  • Make sure that there are handrails or supports at child arm height
  • A bimini or awning on board provides pleasant shade. The bimini is often part of the standard equipment of a yacht, but a sun sail is not always automatically on board. Retrofitting is recommended in any case if you will be traveling in hotter latitudes
  • If you want to protect yourself and your family from spray and uncomfortable wind, you should make sure to get a boat with a sprayhood
  • A non-slip deck surface prevents nasty falls
  • If there is a gas connection on board: Check whether the gas bottle can be stowed safely and is inaccessible to children
    A bathing ladder makes it easier for you and your protégé to get in and out of the bath
  • If the boat is equipped with a dinghy, this is a good opportunity for additional fun: For little water sports enthusiasts, it is a special adventure to whiz over the water at berths and anchorages
sail 4120455 1920


The “A” and “O” in family-friendly trip planning is the selection of the right area. An area with not too much wind (especially not a storm) and few waves is ideal. Take a look at the weather data from previous years and weigh up. If your child likes to swim, areas with clean water are recommended. The starting port of your trip should be accessible by (rental) car. There are children who don’t mind spending the whole day on the boat with their parents. Others are overwhelmed after four to five hours of driving. You should therefore plan enough stops. Remember: Your destination shouldn’t be the chic yacht club or the great restaurant, but a berth, e.g. with easily accessible playground, swimming pool or amusement park. In order to avoid conflicts, it is advisable to involve children in the organization of the daily routine.

Are you a beginner in boating and do not have your own boat yet and are wondering whether a longer vacation trip is suitable for your family? Then either borrow a friend’s boat or charter a suitable family boat. Flotilla trips with other families who are in a similar situation to yours are particularly suitable for the first trip with children. Charter agencies already have a number of special family trips and offers in their program.


Equipment and useful utensils

  • Get yourself a faint-proof children’s life jacket (from 20 kg), if possible a fully automatic life jacket with an integrated lifebelt that is precisely tailored to the body weight of your child. If you use a fully automatic life jacket, get replacement cartridges for the vest in advance to be on the safe side
  • An additional solid vest for swimming trips ensures all-round safety
  • Put together a small children’s first-aid kit (if necessary in consultation with your pediatrician) and have it always ready to hand
  • Think about adequate sun protection: a hat (hat, cap, etc.), sunglasses, waterproof sunscreen with an extremely high sun protection factor, light cotton suits and regular drinking of water protect your child from being sunburned or stung
  • Bring all the food (e.g. baby food) and hygiene items (e.g. diapers) necessary for your child on board, as these items may be difficult to obtain on your houseboat route
  • Let your child wear boat shoes with soft, non-slip soles. They ensure a good hold on deck
  • When children get wet, they feel the cold faster and more strongly than adults. Sufficiently changing clothes is therefore a must

Baby special

  • Take a child bike seat with you, ideally with a seat belt and a parasol. It can be attached to the railing and offers safe seating for curious babies and toddlers
  • Take the shell of your stroller (be sure to secure it from slipping!) Or a baby hammock, your baby is in good hands here and sleeps best
  • A travel cot on deck can be useful as a catwalk at times when you are busy steering the boat
  • For safety, equip yourself with bottled water for making bottled milk. Fresh water on board is not always suitable for babies

Measures before departure

  • Make sure that your partner and both of you are equally skilled in handling a boat. If necessary, use courses or trainings in one of our member clubs or recognized training centers to acquire or refresh the necessary knowledge
    Distribute the tasks on board: whoever controls the boat cannot take sufficient care of the safety of children. Always supervise your child as if they were playing on a busy street or on the beach
  • Check the railing for stability
  • Tighten the safety belts over the entire length of the boat so that your child can always be kept on a leash
  • Provide sharp-edged objects with a child safety device or pad them with foam
  • Attach a safety net to the railing. It prevents people or objects such as toys from going overboard
  • Show your offspring the MOB (Man Over Board) button on the GPS device and explain how to use the VHF radio to call the coast guard in an emergency
  • Practice using the life jacket with your child on land and in the water
  • First of all, walk calmly down all the paths with your children and explain dangerous places to them, tell them what to watch out for when driving

Rules of conduct for on the go

  • Make it clear that a life jacket must always be worn on deck; this also applies to everyone who “can swim well”. If you don’t wear a life jacket, you go below deck
  • Set a good example and wear your life jacket throughout the journey
  • Agree with your child that they should be within sight of you as much as possible while driving. To be on the safe side, the bow, stern and roof of the cabin should be declared taboo
  • Before swimming, always pay attention to possible currents and switch off the engine to avoid accidents with the propeller
  • When taking a trip to a lake or an oxbow lake, watch out for the presence of blue-green algae on warm days. If there is a greasy, greenish-blue film on the water, your child should not come into contact with it
  • Explain to your child that running on board is not permitted and that excessive romping on deck should be avoided
  • Make it clear to your child that they should not lean against the railing and crawl under the net
  • Always keep hatches closed and ask your child to clear all toys from the deck in the evening to avoid the risk of falling or tripping
  • Warn about closed hatch covers, they can crush little fingers and toes and represent a frequent risk of injury
    Point out that anyone disembarking (including in the dinghy) must deregister
  • In bad weather, strong seas or storms, children have no business on deck; small children should never be left unsupervised in this situation
  • Always keep the companionway clear

Baby special

  • The safest place for babies on board is the middle on board
  • Always let your child sleep within sight, a baby monitor is not helpful with the background noise on the boat
  • When entering and exiting the boat, babies and toddlers should be carefully passed from one adult to another


Always remember: If children (and sometimes teenagers) are bored on board, it is not always their fault. Take appropriate precautions:

  • Pack books for reading aloud or for yourself to go with your boat holiday (e.g. “Treasure Island”, “Sindbad the Seafarer”, “Wicky and the Strong Men”)
  • Crayons, paper and other handicraft utensils must not be missing on board. So your child can let their imagination run wild and record their impressions
  • For bad weather: bring board games for the whole family. However, avoid taking games with tiny characters with you, they can cause a lot of trouble if they disappear in the bilge, never to be seen again, and clog the bilge pump for years
  • Take a familiar cuddly blanket or a cuddle pillow and possibly a favorite cuddly toy with you for smaller children, this can work wonders
  • Put in an underwater camera and binoculars so that your child can easily explore the area
  • Small children have a lot of fun when you fill a small, inflatable swimming pool on the aft ship with lukewarm water and let them splash around
  • Do you have a spray gun in your luggage, this provides the necessary cooling and fun
  • A fishing rod on board provides additional fun, as does anything you can pull behind the boat, such as a mascot and “towables” (banana, hot seat, etc.)
  • If your child has a real water rate, their own snorkeling equipment and fins should definitely not be missing in their luggage
  • For trips to beaches and bays you can take classics like Frisbee or a bucket, sieve and shovel with you
  • Bicycles are also recommended for boating holidays with children. If possible, you should bring your own bikes, as children usually ride them the safest. Don’t forget your bike helmet!
  • Under certain circumstances, your offspring can enjoy being able to chase a remote-controlled electric boat across the water. Take one with you
  • If your child is already of school age, include them in “important” maneuvers or let them lend a hand. Tasks can be: setting flags, clearing lines, attaching fenders, discovering landmarks, passing on maneuver commands, scrubbing the deck, helping with logbook entries (providing compass data), determining course, “reading” maps
  • Explain to your child the navigation instruments such as compass, sea chart and GPS and learn the knots with him
  • Take a play friend with you if your child is an only child
  • Have barbecues on the bank

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *