BOOKS, Cruising with Kids

Books to take your family cruising

There is no topic that we have covered as often and as thoroughly as going sailing with children aboard.

Why? The answer lies in the children that we have met living aboard boats with their families.

The cruising kids that we have known have been active and knowledgeable, curious about the sea, other people, and the great big world they sail. They tend to have loving, respectful relationships with their parents, and are at ease with adults as well as children of different ages and backgrounds. We have seen them grow up to be creative, engaged, caring adults.

Society is all too ready to discourage families that want to go cruising. So, we want to counteract that by giving families as much information (and inspiration) as we can to help them decide whether to go sailing, and if so, how to do it.

Quite a few cruising families have told their stories and shared their advice on Women and Cruising. 20+ families have participated in our “12 Questions for Sailing Families” series in the past 6 years.

Five children so far have written in our “Cruising Kids Speak” series. And a growing number of cruising Moms and children have written for the Women and Cruising blog.

 If you are thinking about going cruising as a family, explore the Women and Cruising site and get to know these sailors through the articles that they have written.

And here is another resource: Several of these cruising families have written books that will inform and inspire you in pursuing your dreams and your plans. Enjoy!

Voyaging with Kids – A Guide to Family Life Afloat
By Behan Gifford, Sara Dawn Johnson and Michael Robertson, 2015

Behan Gifford and the s/v Totem family were one of the first contributors to our “12 Questions for Sailing Families”.

When they first wrote in 2010, they were just starting out.

Since then, they have circumnavigated, maintained an excellent blog, and together with two other cruising families, written an excellent, thorough guide on voyaging with children.

The book is available in both print and ebook.

Lesson Plans Ahoy (Third Edition): Hands-on Learning for Sailing Children and Home Schooling Sailors 
By Nadine Slavinski, 2013, 2014, 2015

Nadine Slavinski and the sv Namani family have taken two extended “seabatticals” aboard their 1981 Dufour 35, sailing from Europe to the Caribbean, North America, and on to Australia.

A Harvard-trained educator who home schooled her son aboard, she has developed a series of excellent lesson plans and activities for children.

Nadine also wrote:
- Lesson Plans To Go: Hands-on Learning for Active and Home Schooling Families
- Cruising the Caribbean with Kids: Fun, Facts, and Educational Activities

Merlin’s Voyage
By Emmanuelle Buecher-Hall, 2014

Emmanuelle and the Merlin family also contributed to the original “12 Questions for Sailing families” series.

They built a catamaran in South Africa, then sailed away crossing the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, before settling in Australia.

Inspired by the voyage, Emmanuelle wrote the delightful Merlin’s Voyage, a book written for young children. In the story, Merlin is a curious catamaran which carries a family with young kids from South Africa to the Pacific.

It is available as an ebook or paperback, in French and in English.

Child of the Sea: A Memoir of a Sailing Childhood
By Doina Cornell, 2012

In 1975, when Doina was 7, the Cornell family left their home port in London, England, and set off cruising.

Over the next 6 years, the family circumnavigated. This is the story of their experiences from the child’s perspective.

Doina is one of the many wonderful examples of the formative effects of a cruising childhood.

As a mother, teacher, writer, and district councilor in England, Doina is a passionate champion for the environment and for tolerance and diversity.

Child of the Sea is available in paperbook, ebook and audiobook.

Boat Girl: A Memoir of Youth, Love, and Fiberglass
Melanie Neale, 2012

Melanie and her family lived aboard a 47-foot sailboat, from birth until she she left for college. During the 1980’s and 90’s, the Chez Nous family spent their summers along the US East Coast and their winters in the Bahamas.

Melanie has written two memoirs of her experiences growing up aboard – one oriented toward adults, and another for children.

Melanie continues to be active involved in boating, as a boatowner and as a boat broker.

She still regularly has fiberglass in her hair…

Melanie also wrote:
Boat Kid: How I Survived Swimming with Sharks, Being Homeschooled, and Growing Up on a Sailboat

Convergence: A Voyage through French Polynesia
By Sally-Christine Rodgers, 2014

This beautiful book written by Women and Cruising contributor Sally-Christine Rodgers comes with a bonus: all proceeds from the book are donated to marine conservation.

Sally Christine and her husband, Randy Repass, founder of West Marine, designed and built a custom Wylie 65 ketch.

Sally-Christine describes the design of the boat and then the 3,000 mile voyage to the Marquesas they undertook with their new boat, accompanied by their 9-year-old son, and another family with two 4-year-old twins. She describes their experiences in the beautiful islands of the South Pacific, which she illustrates with superb photography.

The journey she recounts is both descriptive and personal – throughout she writes as a sailor, wife, mother, lover, and passionate advocate for care of the marine environment.

Next week, I will highlight another collection of books for sailors and sailing wanna-be’s on the theme of Voyage Planning.

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