Three Items You Need on a Boat with Kids

By Adria Carey Perez

Windblown hair, sun-kissed cheeks, open ocean swimming, and fresh fish for dinner are the dreamy side of the boating coin; the other side is full of, “get away from that edge!” and sun poisoning and the joy of being confined in a small space with your family for a whole day with no escape, unless you have the swimming prowess of Diana Nyad.

With the hope of a day out on the boat with kids landing more on the former side, I checked in with a few friends who regularly boat with their children. From a family that took off for parts unknown in their sailboat with their eight- and ten-year old kids, to summer weekend boaters, I asked, “What are three things you need on a boat with kids, life jackets and rum notwithstanding?”

Waterproof Wildlife Guide or Chart

If your children are anything like mine, they love to be the expert on something. Knowing the names of the local wildlife, from fish to frogs and turtles to tiger sharks, your little David Attenborough will regale you with facts about each and every one with the aid of a waterproof wildlife guide or chart, such as these. There are guides available for almost every type of marine life, so choose your child’s favorite, and enjoy a boat day filled with expert nature analysis, kid-style.

Peppermint Oil

If you do not suffer from motion sickness, it can be difficult to understand the nausea some people experience on a boat. I am one of the lucky ones who does not get seasick, but I don’t know what’s worse–experiencing seasickness or taking care of a child experiencing seasickness. If your little one spends your boat day “feeding the fish,” you may shy away from taking her or him out.

Because children should not take Dramamine or other seasickness medication, our options are limited. However, many parents I know swear by peppermint oil as a remedy. Using a high-quality essential peppermint oil, rub a bit behind your child’s ears and on the wrists. You can also soak a cotton ball in the oil and keep it in a plastic storage bag, taking a whiff when nausea strikes. A Quease Ease Stick can also work.

A Great Bag

I have three children, and anytime we have to go anywhere that requires towels, I end up carrying three bags. In my quest for a lightweight and large bag where I can carry everything from snacks to sunscreen to sandals, I have lugged around my fair share of bad bags. To be honest, an Ikea bag can work, but the big blue can often turn into a black hole (I have tossed car keys in there that I’m pretty sure have made it to the fourth dimension).

Now, while I love my extra large L.L. Bean Boat and Tote, when I load it up for the day, it often weighs forty pounds. And while I also have a few Kate Spade beach totes that I adore, for a day out on the boat, nothing beats a lightweight canvas or mesh bag with a few pockets. They are fairly easy to find (such as this, this, and this one), and they get bonus points for being easily packable for travel.