Top six resources to prepare for cruising with kids

    "I want to cruise with kids. What resources do you recommend?"

     While this should be an FAQ, it deserves more prominence. You may have been planning an adventure since they were teething or experienced a recent epiphany. You're tentatively exploring the idea or have already outfitted your cruising boat. While each family has different needs, desires and constraints, here are some of the most valuable resources we used. 

     1. If school isn't working, cruising probably won't either. Get comfortable ahead of time with how you're going to boatschool.The Link Homeschooling Conference offered a broad spectrum of information about homeschooling, from religious to secular curriculum and book-based to internet-based texts. You might choose a Great Books approach, enroll in a college's distance-learning option for high school students, or create your own hybrid.

     2. Usborne  reference books and the expertise of a good children's bookstore employee will contribute hugely to your kids' education and happiness at sea. The onboard library will become incredibly important for school, entertainment, and family time. Your kids will read books over and over, so plan a few years ahead, stock up on more than you think you could possibly need, and ration - if they'll let you.

     3. Beth Leonard's The Voyager's Handbook,  2nd Edition, for just about anything boat-related. Check out the sidebars on pages 4-5 about good ages to go cruising and page 9 for my notes about cruising with kids.

     4. John and Amanda Swan-Neale's weekend cruising seminar. While not specifically directed toward kidboats, they will prepare you so well for other aspects of cruising that you'll be able to focus on the kids' needs.

     5. Track down and talk to any experienced offshore kidboat cruisers you can find.  Ask them to tell you everything they have learned.

     6. Practice flexibility. Sounds odd at first. Self-reliance is a common goal of all cruisers, right? Yes, but. You will meet other compatible kidboats who will suggest you buddy-boat. At first you will think, love to, but we're going somewhere else. After years of planning, you are completely follow-the-plan-oriented. Try, try, try to be flexible for the kids' sake. You'll cruise longer if your children are happy, and changing plans is a first step in letting go, letting yourself relax into the rhythms of discovery that are so key to the cruising experience.