08-05-2020 | Sailing with kids, what's going on? We asked Zeger van der Zel, proud captain of the Albatros and even prouder father of a 10 year old son. Zeger has received many families, with children of all ages. A real expert in experience!
What questions do parents often ask about sailing with children?
Parents ask three things: isn't it dangerous? Aren't they going to be bored? And they want to know if there are life jackets on board. I can always comfort them. The ship has railings everywhere and there are life jackets in all shapes and sizes. If the boat rocks too much on one route, we just take a different course. Children who are not yet able to swim independently have to wear a life jacket. I have thirty years of experience and never had the feeling that a child was at risk of going overboard. And bored? Parents are always surprised that this doesn't happen on board. And that you don't have to organise or take all sorts of things with you to do that'.
So what's there to do?
"Children like to help hoist the sails. If some tubular water comes overboard, it's extra fun. From the age of 10 they can help navigate. My son has just steered for the first time. He thought it was fantastic and very cool! Usually I go with families to calm, quieter places where the children can swim, play soccer or play. Oh yeah, and swinging on the jib boom, that's always a favorite too. Dangle on a long rope and then plunge into the water. On the Wadden Sea, they can also choose to fall dry and walk on the mud flats.'
What do you like about sailing with children?
'Oh that's easy, water fights! Parents sometimes feel a bit embarrassed, but to be honest, I'm often the instigator. If we go from salt to fresh water, for example, and we have to scrub the deck. Yes, that often turns into a lot of fun, complete with water pistols. What I always like to see is that adolescents do everything with enthusiastic reluctance, but later still have the ship as a profile picture. And just post on the social media.'
What makes it so special?
I think what makes it special is that you all experience the same thing. Not that part of the family is on the campsite and the other part in the swimming pool. It's really a family experience. You've got the space. Fresh air. You really experience the water and the weather because you're outdoors a lot. I've got two cabins connected by a hatch. There's six kids out there who can go nuts. The hatch can be closed again, of course.'
What if it rains?
'Well, if you've rented a cottage, go to the swimming paradise. That's no different on a sailing trip. You don't have to sail, you can stay in the harbour of a village or town and go shopping or dive into the local swimming pool. Or seal watching in Ecomare, exploring the beachcomber museum or cycling on Texel in between the showers. I also have loads of games on board'.