Riding the Sea: Organizing an Unforgettable Family Sailing Adventure

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family sailing holiday

The sound of ropes tinkling against the mast, boundless horizons met by pristine waters and remote coves beckoning you for a private dip – sailing vacations offer families the chance to break away from everyday life and see the world from a fresh viewpoint. However, if you’re a novice to maritime adventures, it can be a little daunting to begin planning.

What’s so extraordinary about a family sailing vacation?
A sublime blend of exhilaration and tranquility, a sailing vacation provides families with an unparalleled opportunity to bond and possibly acquire a new skill in a serene, secure setting. Not only does it offer a novel view of the coastline from the water, but also the freedom to wake up in a new location every day – without the hassle of repacking. It grants you the choice to be as active or as leisurely as you prefer, thus offering a chance to enjoy undisturbed quality family time.

How should I begin?
If sailing is a brand-new experience for you, a skippered flotilla holiday could be an ideal choice. A flotilla is a group sailing vacation where you navigate alongside other yachts following a recommended course, with a lead crew – consisting of a skipper, host, and technician – available for assistance. You can either take charge of steering yourself or hire a skipper to sail the yacht, allowing you to sit back and savor the voyage. Any enthusiastic young crew members can learn the basics from the skipper.

Alternatively, if you wish to sail at your leisure, a bareboat sailing vacation is a more private option, permitting you to chart your course and hire a skipper if you prefer. You might also consider a fully skippered package, which includes all the basics in your reservation, perfect for beginners. Skippers provide smooth sailing experiences and invaluable local knowledge, enabling you to uncover the area’s best beaches, eateries, pubs, and secret treasures.

For newcomers, sailing can be intimidating, but companies like Sunsail can offer seasoned skippers and reliable yachts with numerous proven itineraries. They also occasionally include a children’s coordinator on specific departure dates for additional fun. Therefore, it’s always advisable to consult with a holiday planner who can guide you to your family’s perfect destination, be it to uncover hidden snorkeling spots, scout the best local eateries, or locate the most scenic anchorages for a serene sunset.

A family sailing holiday grants you the opportunity to discover some of the planet’s most stunning locations, learn new skills, and create unforgettable memories.

Do we require specific equipment?
When you choose a trustworthy operator, there’s no need for any specialized sailing gear. All safety apparatus, including lifejackets, are provided. However, it’s important to pack ample beach towels, a generous amount of reef-safe sunscreen (as sun reflection off the water is much more intense than on land), sunglasses (ideally polarized, to reduce glare), and rash vests/shorts/suits for water activities. Non-marking, grippy shoes that can get wet are also useful. A lightweight windproof jacket for occasional sea breezes is a good addition too.

What type of yacht should I opt for?
There are two main yacht types – monohull, the conventional single yacht design, and catamaran. Monohulls are arguably better suited for seasoned sailors and single families as they are typically more compact and sail at an angle in the wind. Catamarans, on the other hand, are more novice-friendly. They provide a more stable sail, reducing the likelihood of sea-sickness, and have dual hulls, making them ideal for larger family groups.

Where can I locate the best family-friendly ports/destinations?
The Mediterranean and Ionian seas are matchless for family sailing, with tranquil, warm waters and a mild breeze. Countries like Greece and Croatia provide exciting opportunities to explore islands inaccessible by land-based vacations.

Sailing the Ionian Coast offers a unique view of iconic isles such as Kefalonia and Ithaca, while Marina Agana in Croatia serves as an excellent launching pad for exploring the Dalmatian Coast and its 1000+ islands. Further afield, the British Virgin Islands are an excellent choice for families, owing to their year-round warm weather, sheltered harbors, short distances between islands, and a fascinating pirate history.

A sailing vacation is an ideal opportunity to enhance your family’s confidence both on and in the water.

What other off-yacht experiences should I think about?
A family sailing vacation is not just about swimming, sunbathing, and learning nautical knots. Off-yacht activities can include beach barbecues, snorkeling, island walks, cultural excursions, and cooking classes. Perhaps consider blending your sailing vacation with a historical journey departing from Dubrovnik, one of the best-preserved medieval cities, or indulging in exquisite cuisine at Europe’s top-tier restaurants – the coastline truly is your oyster.

Plan your voyage
Sunsail offers a variety of sailing vacations, from sailing schools to sociable flotillas, bareboat charters, and skippered packages. Operating in over 20 destinations globally, Sunsail caters to every kind of traveler, be it a seasoned sailor or a complete novice, a solo voyager or an extended family. Learn more at sunsail.co.uk.
To subscribe to National Geographic Traveller (UK) magazine click here. (Available in select countries only).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about family sailing holiday

What makes a family sailing holiday special?

A family sailing holiday offers a unique blend of action and relaxation. It provides a bonding experience for the family in a safe environment, with opportunities to learn new skills, see different places, and spend quality time together.

Where should I start if I’m new to sailing holidays?

If you’re new to sailing holidays, you could start with a skippered flotilla holiday. You can sail along a suggested route with a group of other yachts, and have a lead crew, including a skipper, host, and technician, to support you.

What equipment do I need for a family sailing holiday?

A reputable operator will provide all necessary safety equipment, including lifejackets. However, you should bring beach towels, a good supply of reef-safe sunscreen, sunglasses, rash vests/shorts/suits for the water, and appropriate footwear.

What type of yacht is suitable for a family sailing holiday?

There are two main types of yachts suitable for a family sailing holiday – monohull and catamaran. Monohulls are more compact and ideal for experienced sailors and single families. Catamarans are more stable and suitable for beginners and larger family groups.

Where can I find the best family-friendly sailing destinations?

The Mediterranean and Ionian seas are ideal for family sailing, with calm, warm waters and mild breezes. Countries like Greece and Croatia provide exciting opportunities to explore islands that are inaccessible by land-based vacations.

What off-yacht experiences should I consider during a family sailing holiday?

Off-yacht activities during a family sailing holiday can range from beach barbecues, snorkeling, and island walks to cultural excursions and cooking classes. You can also explore historical sites or dine at some of the top restaurants along the coastline.

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JennyAdventures July 19, 2023 - 2:11 am

never tried sailing before, but this makes it sound so fun and easy! Think i’ll start with a skippered trip, thanks for the advice.

SaltySeaBird July 19, 2023 - 8:21 am

Just got back from a flotilla holiday in Greece. Best. Trip. Ever. You won’t regret it, trust me.

Wandering_Wind July 19, 2023 - 12:39 pm

I can vouch for Croatia, amazing sailing there. And the food…don’t get me started, yum!

NewbieNavigator July 19, 2023 - 4:55 pm

wasn’t sure about the whole sailing thing, seemed a bit daunting. But this really puts things into perspective, might give it a shot!

HappyHolidays July 19, 2023 - 8:31 pm

Sunsail, huh? Heard good things bout them, might check out their packages. Thanks for the tip!

DaveTheWave July 19, 2023 - 11:36 pm

wow, this really makes me wanna take my family on a sailing holiday! Might just look into it for next summer.


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