Did you know that retail sales of boats were up 13% in 2020? That means that more people than ever are buying new boats for themselves and their families so they can get out onto the water.
Are you one of those people?
Buying a boat is exciting, but what do you do with it once you have it? Not all activities are suitable for the whole family, but you don't want to leave anyone out, right?
There are plenty of boating activities that you can share with friends and family members of all ages as long as you use the proper safety gear! Need some inspiration? We've got you covered.
Keep reading for some of the top boating activities that you can do with your family.
One of the most popular boat activities for people of all ages is fishing. There's nothing better than a relaxing day out on the water with good company and a few fishing rods.
If you or another adult on your fishing trip is already well-versed in fishing, this will be easy. You'll already have all of the necessary equipment for a fun day out on the water and you'll be able to educate everyone else.
If not, do a quick research session about fishing before you get started to make sure that you're prepared. You're going to need (at minimum):
When you're fishing with children, it's likely that they'll get bored if you aren't constantly engaging them. Fishing is a slow activity, so it's helpful to have other things for them to do on the boat so they can take breaks.
Teach children to cast a line and reel it in. Always be ready to support the child in the event that a fish bites.
You don't have to keep the fish that you catch. There are many fish that you're not allowed to keep at all, so make sure to check local fishing regulations before you start.
Looking for something quicker and more casual than a full-fledged fishing trip? Why not take a "stroll" around your local waterways with the family?
You don't have to make an entire day out of your boat activities. Sometimes the best boat activities are brief enough for a break from responsibilities and a bit of sunshine.
Take a slow drive around your local area to experience it in a whole new way. Try to pay attention to things that you normally gloss over.
Tubing is a fun way to engage the entire family. It's easier than water-skiing, it's better for children, and it's a lot of fun for adults too!
You're going to need sturdy and towable tubes. For young children, you may want to consider tubes with solid bottoms, but this is down to personal preference. Young children should always be with an adult while they're tubing.
Attach the tube to the boat with a sturdy line. You can drive fast, but it's best to start slow when you're first trying it out. Too fast and you may flip the tube.
Make sure that the tube is far enough back that the rider is far away from the motor and any water that sprays back at them. It's crucial that children wear life jackets while tubing (though ideally, everyone of all ages would wear one).
What's better than going swimming out in the deep blue sea or in a favorite lake? As long as the people in your family are strong swimmers (or you have reliable floatation devices), swimming is a great family boating activity.
If possible, go to an area that's close to a sand bar or dock so there's easy access to land. Even strong swimmers can run into trouble in the ocean.
Make sure that you all know how to swim in the ocean. It's different from swimming in a pool or lake. You need to consider the wake from other boats, waves, and the potential for sea creatures to show up.
Most sea animals won't harm you, but they can be surprising if you're not prepared for them.
If you're confident with swimming, consider snorkeling or scuba diving! When it comes to scuba diving, it's good for people of most ages, but you should take a class first to make sure that you get your footing. Never let a child scuba dive alone.
Snorkeling is a good middle ground between swimming and scuba diving. You can see things underneath the water without going too deep. It's safer for children and more affordable to start.
If your children have never gone swimming before, it's always a good idea to have them take a swimming class and wear floatation devices while they're in the water.
Children are inherently curious and you can use this to your advantage when you're trying to plan fun boating activities for the entire family.
Many children, before they're teenagers, want to know about boats. They may want to learn to drive the boat (or at least hold the steering wheel) and how the boat works.
Children under the age of 14 can not legally operate a boat in many areas, but you can let them steer with you (though you should only do this when you're driving slowly). Always follow local regulations.
This requires that you already know a lot about the boat, so be sure to do your research before getting out onto the water. With older children and teenagers, you can learn together.
If your boat isn't yet on the water, you can also teach your children all about maintaining, cleaning, and securing the boat. This might sound boring to you, but children love to learn new things.
Teach them how to tie knots, how to prepare the boat for the water, and more.
Who doesn't love a good scavenger hunt?
Again, children often get bored during all-day boat trips. They need frequent entertainment and activities. This is the perfect time to assemble a family-friendly scavenger hunt that you can do from your boat.
The contents of your scavenger hunt will depend on where you're going and what you're doing. If you're out on the open sea, you won't see the same things that you would during a stroll around the harbor.
For small children, you can also make a scavenger hunt for the boat itself. Consider hiding small objects around the boat that will be easier for the child to detect alongside things in your surroundings.
So what kinds of things should go on the scavenger hunt? If you're staying near the harbor or other buildings, consider things like:
If you're out in the water, you can be more creative. Keep in mind that it's likely that not everything on your list will show up, but that makes it more of a challenge! Consider things like:
This is a great way to keep kids entertained and attentive while adults are relaxing or fishing.
Do you like to go camping? Even if you've never been one to enjoy a night in a tent on the cold hard ground, boat camping might be right for you.
This is best for older children. Young children need a lot of supervision, and you don't want them to be able to leave the boat without an adult. This makes sleeping complicated.
If your boat has an indoor living area, this is a great time to use it. Set up a fort, turn on some movies with aquatic settings, and get ready for a night out on the water.
If you'd rather be out in the salty air, consider setting up a fort or tent on the deck of the boat. You can listen to the sounds of waves lapping up against the boat and enjoy the stars.
Older children and teenagers love water skiing, but it's not easy. If you start while they're young, though, they'll be pros in no time. Children pick up skills quickly!
This is similar to tubing, but far more work. You'll still start with a line to tow the skis, but you'll start in a crouching position instead of a sitting position. Make sure that you're deep enough in the water and that there are no obstructions nearby.
For kids, it's best to choose skis that are tied together. It's easier to learn when you don't have to figure out how to keep your legs in place, and children don't yet have the core strength to keep themselves up otherwise.
The boat does most of the work when you're skiing, so don't panic. Let the boat get up to an appropriate speed (about 30mph) and you'll find that it's easier to stand up and glide.
Always wear a life jacket when you're water skiing and don't let children ski without supervision.
Are there any events going on nearby? Watching events from the comfort of your boat is a great way to bond with your family members!
Talk to your local boat club representatives about any local boat-friendly events. Whether it's a sail-in movie night, a fireworks show, or even a light show, you'll be shocked at how many events cater to boaters.
You don't have to fight for a spot in a crowded field to watch fireworks when you have a boat.
So with all of these boat activities in mind, it's important to know a few helpful tips before you bring your family out onto the water. You want everyone to stay safe and happy.
We've mentioned it before, but this is a big one: make sure that everyone (especially children) wears a life jacket and that you know how to fit and secure the life jacket. Life jackets save lives.
Children often resist wearing life jackets because they're cumbersome, but make sure that they don't get onto the boat without one. It's also helpful to have spare life jackets and other floatation devices on the boat at all times.
Keep a first-aid kit on the boat as well. You never want to be out on the water without any way to get help in the event of an injury. Even minor injuries, like scrapes and bumps, can ruin a fun afternoon on your boat.
Teach children about boating safety before you get onto the water. Make sure that they know what they have to do to stay safe and why they have to do it.
Make sure that everyone wears sunscreen when you're out on the boat. Reapply it every few hours, even if you aren't going into the water. It's easy to forget about harmful UV rays when you're relaxing on deck.
There are so many boating activities that are a lot of fun for adults and children alike. If you're ready for a family outing or day on the water, try one of these family boating activities!
Remember, you should never bring children onto the boat without proper safety gear. A safe boating trip is a happy boating trip!
Are you ready to bring your family out onto the water? At Freedom Boat Club, we have everything that everyone needs to enjoy the wonders of boating. Contact us to learn more about what we have to offer today.