Cruising Teens and Social Life

      Willy, who is planning a family cruise with two daughters, wrote from Ibiza with lots of thoughtful questions. Here's one:

      "One of my daughters is in her teens now -- she needs friends. Was it easy to find teens boating?"

      It depends where you are, and when. You will never know exactly under what circumstances you will meet a cruising boat with teens. Once you do, you will certainly change your plans in order to meet again. 

       When we cruised the Mediterranean during the summer, it was quite difficult for us to meet the teens on other boats at all. During school holidays, they're on a short family vacation with a schedule to keep and a different mentality about making friends.
        When our kids volunteered at an English school in Kalamata or joined a choir while wintering in Antalya, though, they met local kids which made for more authentic contact.

      In general we found that boats that were trying to finish a circumnavigation came through the Red Sea in March, then dashed through the Med in order to be in the Canary Islands for a November departure.

      As a west-moving boat, we usually met kid boats in ports where boats traditionally gather before or after a passage: Gibraltar in October, Gran Canaria in November, Panama in January/ February, Tahiti in July, Tonga in October and New Zealand during the hurricane season. Yet we also met them in Sevilla, Khania (Crete), Kemer (Turkey), Bonaire, Norway, the Galápagos and the Marquesas. 

      But not everyone crosses the Atlantic at the same time, or at all. We wintered on La Gomera in the Canaries along with 23 other boat kids. Some were European boats just down for the winter; others left for Brasil or the Cape Verde islands in late January, when the trade winds were better established.

      By the time we reached the South Pacific there were a dozen boats that we knew of with teens cruising at the same time we were. Once we made friends, we set up SSB radio schedules for the older children and teens to talk and make plans regularly, especially during long passages. For those who especially like racing, surfing, or diving, they will make friends as they pursue their favorite activities.
     I suggest you join a few cruising associations now, such as SSCA, and scour their publications for mentions of boats with children. Take note of their boat names and the general direction they are moving -- even e-mail them -- before you leave. Cruisers are friendly and easygoing. Nobody cares whether you are 'official' yet. and those with teens will welcome the contact. They will know of other teens and kidboats and will be happy to pass along any information they have. Before you know it, you'll be part of a network.

     One last thought. Even though teens and older kids on land are accustomed to spending time only with same-age peers, every cruising teen I met was more flexible. Through contact with different cultures and ages, they form bonds and deep friendships with others who are both older and younger, who speak different languages, practice different religions and come from very different backgrounds.
      And isn't that why you're taking them cruising?



About halfway down in your article, the paragraph that begins with "After crossing...", did you mean 23 boat kids, or 23 kid boats? (no need to post this)

 23 boat kids. About a dozen kidboats.