My fondest sailing memories are taking my kids out sailing on our boat when they were all under 10. Having spent some years sailing as crew on other people’s, I bought my first boat (a Niagara 35) when the kids were young. Specifically 5, 3 and 1. It was an exciting time for all of us and the summers were filled with an adventure every possible weekend.
I have fond memories of thinking up clever ideas to keep us going: Lashing Ellen’s car seat to the aft stanchions gave her an early perspective of being at the helm, Nadia was nick-named SOS for ‘Stomach of Steel’ as she wielded crayons down below in heavy following seas without a care and James instantly dawning Popeye’s sneer whenever he took the helm – standing on a pedestal I made so he could see over the wheel. The kids were never babied, they had their assignments and their skills grew quickly.
The height of it may have been topped off one summer when we did a two-week stint to the Thousand Islands. They were still young enough to believe in Santa when I came home one day with maps filled with clues leading to a treasure on an island. The truth is that they were photocopies I had made of charts of the region we were headed to near Gananoque, Ont. I had marked them up, crumpled them and burned the edges with a lighter. There ensued 2 weeks filled with a full-on treasure hunt. Learning to read charts, planning out the days and heading ashore to find clues. In the end, of course, we found a bag of loot (carefully buried the night before after the kids were asleep in their berths!
Happy to say we all sail on. All three are fine sailors in their own right with Ellen and James now competing internationally. When we are together on the boat now – an Alden 44, Louisiana – I take as much advice as I give and I couldn’t be prouder!
Best piece of sailing advice – “Don’t delay. Just go.”
by: Frank Juhasz
Bronte Harbour Yacht Club