For skipper it is important to predict and prepare himself and also inform complete crew for what can, and can't, happen during sailing-regarding manouvering, docking etc. It is very important to keep calm in every situation - avoid yelling and screaming because it is not helpful and others will only get stressed and start doing the same.
So, before you start your trip, it would be great to discuss and talk about possible situations with complete crew. What happens if someone falls overboard? Is everyone able to carry the sails, start the motor and bring up the ladder, etc.?
What happens if the engine stops, or if the sail tears up in the worst possible place? These situations can be prevented with some simple common sense.
If possible, bring another couple or family with you. This way you will have another ‘set of eyes and hands’ to make the charter experience much easier and more fun. If you will be doing all of the boat handling by yourself, it's nice to have someone to watch the kids while you're busy. Preparing meals and dinners aboard is much more fun with some grown-ups to talk to :)
If it's not possible to bring someone else with you, think about what you'll do with kids while docking, anchoring, etc. For a baby or toddler it will be great to utilize the car seat or a portable high chair to keep the baby safe when both parents are needed for handling the boat.
Keep your sailing days short and plan plenty of time ashore to explore. Beaches are great, and swimming is fun too. Croatia offers so many hidden bays and great spots for exploring. Bring some toys and books that are new for them. Consider bringing a tablet or another gadget (for down time, bad weather, or to keep them occupied during anchoring).
In Croatia, use more sunscreen than necessary and don't forget hats and sunglasses for kids. Long sleeved sun suits and rash guards are awesome and don’t forget the most important rule: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
If you think that they might be feeling seasick, keep them topsides as much as possible. Proper clothing and avoiding an empty stomach are always good ways of preventing or coping with seasickness. A little bit of candy, a sandwich or a thermos containing tea or soup (but not carbonated drinks, etc.) can be good to have in handy if needed. Kids usually cope well with seasickness and get over it quickly even when it does occure.
Sailing requires a high level of safety, with or without children. Everyone on board should have a lifejacket, no questions asked. Children usually want to remove their life vests once they are inside the boat. This is fine as long as the conditions are good and the child is able to put their lifejacket on by him or herself. Don't forget that kids should be wearing lifejackets even when on shore. After having been 'trapped' on board all day, kids will need a chance to "run free" on the pier, preferable alone, but they should still keep their lifejackets on so that both you and they are feeling safe.
In Croatia, most of charter companies provide child life vests on board and it is standard equipment. But if you want to have your own bring them with you so that the children have the right size and type. Don't forget to take a swim and let the children try out their life vests!
At the end, the benefits of sailing for children are undeniable. Think how your kids will get self-confidence, sense of direction, some weather knowledge and other skills which they couldn't learn anywhere else.
So, if your kids haven’t tried sailing yet, give them a try with you, and if you haven't tried sailing with kids, feel free to plan your holiday right now and have fun!