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A Guide to Sailing with Kids

a group of people wearing costumesWhen schools close for the summer and your children have had enough screens and schedules, sailing with kids is a rewarding outdoor pastime for the whole family. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when you bring children onboard. Here are some tried and true tips to ensure everyone has a blast sailing while staying safe:

Safety First!

The chief consideration for every sailor is safety. This is even more important when sailing with kids. 

  • Life jackets are essential to your child’s safety, and it is recommended that children wear life jackets at all times while on the water. Life jackets must also fit properly and be appropriate for the size of the child. 
  • Before climbing on board, adults should have a focused conversation with their children to discuss rules on the boat, for example, that they cannot lean overboard. It is important that adults set a good example by following their own rules too!
  • Safety nets can usually be installed on the front and sides of the boat to prevent children from falling overboard. Ask your charter or boat rental agency about this in advance because installing them can be time-consuming.
  • Sign your kids up for swimming lessons. Studies consistently agree that swimming lessons significantly reduce the risk of drowning.
  • Plan to keep your kids entertained to keep them from getting themselves into trouble. Little ones have short attention spans which can be a challenge in a confined space like a sailboat. Restless kids will benefit from activities like I-Spy to keep them from getting bored.

Be Prepared!

A little extra packing goes a long way when sailing with kids. Activities such as games and coloring books will combat boredom. Make sure to bring enough food so that no one becomes grumpy, bearing in mind that the sun and physical activity will increase appetites. Likewise, make sure your boat’s first aid kit is well stocked, and bring medicine for motion sickness and headaches. 


Kid-friendly sunscreen is a must! Children’s skin is more sensitive to the sun, and they are not as aware as adults if they need a break. 

Other Tips for Sailing With Kids

  • Children are curious and absorb information easily when they are interested in something. To share your love of sailing with your kids, include them in the planning and preparation before your trip. Show them maps, ask their opinion, bring them to inspect the boat, and get them excited about the wildlife they might encounter. Then, find age-appropriate ways for them to help on-board. Don’t be shy to give this a try when sailing with teenagers, too.
  • We recommend that you keep your first trips short and easy so that neither the kids nor the adults become overwhelmed. 
  • Make sure you have a sufficient adult crew to manage both the boat and small children. Sailing with teenagers or another family is a great solution. 
  • Waterproof as much as you can! If you haven’t already, secure your electronics in waterproof cases, and attach keys and sunglasses to floating accessories. 

Why Sail Flathead Lake with Kids?

Flathead Lake is one of the cleanest and largest lakes in the United States. Sailors from all around appreciate the lake’s steady wind and manageable waves. Montana is famous for its protected, rugged landscape. The breathtaking scenery around Flathead captivates children and adults alike, and its lush forests and diverse wildlife will inevitably inspire a lifelong love of nature. Likewise, our welcoming sailing community is an opportunity for families to meet and form friendships with like-minded people who share a passion for sailing.

How Old Should My Kids Be to Go Sailing on Flathead Lake?

At Go Sail Montana, participants must be a minimum of fifteen years old to enroll in ASA classes. Discover Sailing Tour Charters can be booked for children nine and older, as long as they are  accompanied by an adult. For Custom Sailing Charters, children must be at least five years old.

Book A Sailing Trip With Your Kids on Flathead Lake!

Interested in getting your kids involved in sailing? Contact Go Sail Flathead Lake to discuss which sailing options may be best for you and your family. We look forward to having you all aboard!