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At the beginning of the summer I told you all that I’m an Ambassador for “Discover Boating!” in my post “Family Fun-Boating!“. I shared photos from the last 3 years vacations–all of which revolved around boating. Well this year we spent our vacation at a cabin at Big Moose Lake in the Adirondacks–and again, the highlight of the trip for both the kids and us was BOATING!!
(NOTE: both kids are very strong swimmers who have taken lessons each summer since they were toddlers. I don’t think either of them can remember a time when they couldn’t swim. While of course you can boat even without knowing how to swim, being proficient does allay a lot of concerns. Regardless, children should always wear approved flotation devices while on the water)
The big news this summer was that Princess, who is 12, started skiing on the adult water skis! Last year we had purchased some kids skis. They are shorter and were tied together with a short rope (which meant she didn’t have to worry about fighting to keep her feet together), but they are also flat bottomed and harder to steer. So this year we stuck her in a pair of socks (to help her feet fit in the shoes) and got her into the big skis! Yankee Bill is a champ at coaching folks on how to ski–he had her up and out of the water on the first go!
Buddy on the other hand still preferred tubing. He just isn’t interested in trying the skiing yet–so why push him? As he grows older I’m sure he’ll want to try. If not, well, no problem. He doesn’t have to ski and he’s always welcome to just keep on tubing behind the boat. Yankee Bill is a great driver–he can whip that boat around in circles, break across his own wake and give who ever is on the tube a wild ride (assuming that’s what they want of course).
The kids just LOVE it. They are always whooping and yelling back there (Princess actually sings to herself)–and frequently they give us the hand signal to speed it up!
When you are towing anyone with a boat, communication is key. We have a standard operating procedure for our family:
1. We assign one person (usually me since Yankee Bill is driving the boat) to be the spotter. The spotter’s job is to sit in the boat facing the rear and keep an eye on the rider (person tubing or skiing) at all times. When the rider gives a hand signal or falls the spotter immediately and loudly relays that to the driver.
2. The kids wear a ski vest at all times on the boat, so of course they are wearing it when they ski or tube.
3. We use 4 simple signals to communicate. A thumbs up means to increase speed, a thumb down means to slow speed, a cutting motion across the throat means to stop and if you fall you immediately raise your hands or ski into the air so that the driver can easily locate you.
The kids have gotten to be very responsible and helpful boaters over the years. Princess and Buddy can help tow each other in when it’s time to change tubers, and are good about holding on and climbing safely.
Yankee Bill has also taught both kids how to do a basic hitch so that they can help him tie up the boat. He could do it all on his own, but we feel it’s good practice to have the kids help and be involved. I think it gives them a sense of accomplishment!
Both of our kids have spent at least part of the summer on the water all their lives. By being consistent and enforcing a few simple safety rules (wearing a flotation device at all times, remaining seated, not hanging over the side etc) they have grown into safe and responsible boaters who we can take out on the water and enjoy without having any worries.
I honestly can’t imagine the summer without boating. It just wouldn’t seem like summer to us. I encourage you all to learn more about boating and add it to your summer fun. You don’t have to run right out and buy a boat–every lake we’ve ever vacationed on has had a marina, and just about every marina we’ve seen has rented boats (and skis, and tubes. . . you get the idea) . The Discover Boating site has a great page all about “Rent a Boat– Try before you buy” that includes some great tips. Totally new to boating? Check out this quick 1 minute video by Discover Boating called “Learn all you Can“.
Remember, the Discover Boating website has a ton of great information to get you started. They have a free Beginner’s Guide to Boating you can sign up for that includes boat type descriptions to help you find your perfect boat, useful tips when it’s time to purchase a boat,advice & tips on operating a boat, information on maintaining & storing a boat and even boating terms to help you learn to speak boat! There is also information on boating with kids, a boat selector tool to help you pick out the perfect boat for your needs, information on fishing and watersports and much, much more!