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Top 5 Things to Think About When Boating with Your Pre-teen


Anyone who has ever boated with an 11-year-old in tow knows that a pre-teen can make or break the trip for the entire family. That’s why, for boaters that are also parents, the mantra is; “If the pre-teens are happy, everybody is happy.”


Now don’t get us wrong, pre-teens can be the most enthusiastic of crew members, but their interests and schedules don’t always line up with their parents or younger siblings. A good example is that while you might want to start the engines, head out and explore at the break of dawn, your pre-teen would likely prefer to sleep in, fill up on a huge breakfast and maybe even watch some TV before starting their day. These realities can make boating with your pre-teen challenging – but by no means impossible. The key to many enjoyable days of boating, lies in what you do long before you set foot on your boat. Here are a few tips to ensure family bliss on the water:


Top 5 things to think about when boating with your pre-teen


1. Choose destination marinas with plenty of activities

With a little pre-planning you can select marinas that are not only located in areas with lots to do, but particularly with lots for pre-teens to do. Most marinas know that boating and families go hand-in-hand and are well prepared to offer suggestions about hosting family-friendly activities nearby.


2. Take particular care when planning your voyage

Pre-teens can certainly entertain themselves – for a limited time. For that reason, unless you have sufficient adult support, don’t choose an outing that takes all of your attention for safe passage. Make sure you always have some time to interact with your pre-teen, and enjoy the journey. And it goes without saying that you shouldn’t take children on any voyage you have doubts about.


3. Involve your pre-teen

Children learn by example, and watch everything you do – even if you think they’re ignoring you. So, take this opportunity to teach your pre-teen the rules of boating. Show them how to sail and navigate, as well as proper boat etiquette. And be sure to show them what to do in an emergency. Teach them how to prepare the boat before a trip and what to do when you return. While you’re at it, enroll older kids in a boating safety course. Better yet, enroll with them.


4. Think like the kids!

Boating parents are a creative bunch. Back in the day, they would tie an inner tube to a ski rope and kids would have a blast holding on! Today, you can buy every kind of fun boating toy, from floating mats to three- and four-person inflatables you pull behind your boat. When setting up your sailing itinerary, be sure to leave time for activities like these, that pre-teens will love. We all know that kids love to explore too! That’s why kayaks are just the thing to help them paddle along the shoreline and around islands. Today’s inflatable kayaks are perfect for boats since they fold down into compact bundles. It’s also not only educational, but great quality time together.


5. Stockpile this time and the memories

Few activities bring families together like boating. It gets everyone away from their digital devices and out into the beauty of nature. Simple activities like sharing onboard jobs brings families together and teaches kids teamwork. You can find little things that let you just hang out together, or you can simply do nothing much at all. As parents of pre-teens already know, they grow up fast. Cherish this time together before they are off doing their own activities without you.


There you have it, 5 relatively simple things to think about when boating with your pre-teen, that can make a boatload of difference. Now get out there and make boating memories!


Written by: Jo Montgomery