I distinctly remember at the start of one autumn term at school, listening to a friend’s heady tales of a summer spent sailing with her family in Greece. To someone such as myself who had spent the entire summer repeating the phrase “I’m bored!” to my crazed parents, this was the most adventurous idea I’d ever heard and I was deeply jealous!
In our early teens as we were then, it seemed that my friend had enjoyed and partaken in what, to me, was an adventure of epic proportions without a moment of boredom, ample time away from the ‘oldies’ and in the company of enthusiastic and encouraging sailing coaches and teachers. She may have been green with inexperience at the start of the holiday but she was tacking and gybing with the best of them by the end of it.
Along with her family she’d visited beaches, ports, quiet anchorages in balmy settings, dived off the side of the boat into crystal waters, snorkelled, explored, you name it, she’d done it and was talking about it! It was more than I could bear!
Along with all the sailing adventures and hi-jinks, was a menu of water activities of which I could only dream – water skiing, swimming, dinghy racing, everything. It made my summer pale into one long memory of moping and boredom. With grim determination I duly signed up for sailing classes and went on to learn how to sail toppers, wind surf and help crew a Wayfarer and yes, then badgered the olds to take me on a sailing holiday!
My point being, of course, that as family adventure holidays go, you really can’t go wrong with sailing if teens are in the mix. It really can appeal to that awkward phase where our younger generation isn’t quite old enough for this and too young for that and, well you get the picture. It can be a frustrating experience all round.
On board however, what the skipper says is what goes and this usually means that everyone pulls together as a crew: kids and adults alike. This equality of responsibility and expectation can really appeal to our teens who often crave being ‘treated as an adult and not as a kid’! Responsibilities are shared and let’s face it, the term cooperation doesn’t often go hand in hand with the word ‘teenager’ but in this environment, it really can!
It’s not all hands on deck every minute of the day and sailing gives teens plenty of time away from the adults to experience other activities on or off shore when anchoring. These days the options are far more adventurous than in my youth – windsurfing, swimming and dinghy racing really are old school when it comes to wakeboarding, jet skiing and the like.
Not forgetting the variety of more accessible, far-flung and exotic destinations these days. Whilst my friend and her family were lucky enough to go to Greece, nowadays the destinations are as far afield as the Caribbean, Thailand and Mexico as well as those slightly closer to home like the Mediterranean with its own cache of diverse destinations, chic sailing hotspots or quieter, more natural, anchorages.
Fresh air, keeping active, meeting other teens, visiting different locations, learning an exciting new skill, working alongside mum and dad; sailing holidays can really offer our teens a truly memorable experience and a great holiday to boot. Throw in some extra self-confidence and there’s no doubt this is a fantastic option for our, let’s call them, less-easy-to-please family members! And let’s be clear here, when our teens are happy, we’re all happy!
Biog: Charlie hopes to pass on her trimming the sails, tacking and gybing wisdom to her twin sons as soon as they become of age but she’s in no hurry for the teen years to arrive just yet.