When I was young……
You know that you are getting
older when the driver next to you at the traffic
lights looks not a day over 12 as he burns off in
his souped up Vauxhall Corsa. What next? Kids racing
powerboats and taking powerboat courses – never!
Kids, water and boats go
brilliantly together. Visit any marina or river and
you will find children of all ages pottering round
in their dinghies either rowing or with a little (or
sometimes big) outboard hanging off the transom.
Kids can also go racing too, the K-Class kids
powerboat racing was started as a means to get
children into the sport. Go to a sailing club and
you may find children practising for the RYA Honda
RIB challenge – a competition to test their handling
skills. No shortage of chances for the youngsters to
handle a powerboat then!
So against this background it
was ironic that whilst children could go boating, go
racing and enter handling competitions they couldn’t
take any courses to improve their knowledge and
enjoyment of the sport. To address this the RYA has
recently extended the National Powerboat Scheme
courses to be open to children aged 8 and over.
Children aged 8 and above may
now take the Level 1 course. This is the same as the
adult course with the exception that the children
will only watch launching rather than participate.
This 1 day course covers safety, preparing the boat
and crew, boat handling, launch & recovery, securing
to a mooring buoy, leaving and coming alongside
pontoons and being towed. It’s a great introduction
to boating for children.
For older children (aged 12 and
over) there is the 2 day Level 2 course. This covers
the areas covered in the Level 1 syllabus but adds
in subjects like anchoring, man overboard, collision
regulations, charts and tides and many other areas.
Is a Level 2 course best for your son or daughter?
Why not let them do the 1 day Level 1 course first.
Also, could they attend with a friend?
Upon successful completion of
the course the children will be issued with RYA
certificates ‘endorsed’ to show that whilst they
have passed the course they should only handle a
boat under the supervision of a responsible adult
who with younger children should be on board the
Going boating with kids
Whether or not they are taking a
course as long as they are interested, having fun,
feeling safe and warm, children can have a great
time boating – easier said than done sometimes!
Keeping them involved is key to their (and your!)
enjoyment and happiness.
.For children of all ages try to
introduce children to boating in stages; a long
coastal passage in rough seas may be fun for you but
a short hop to the beach in sheltered waters on a
warm day when the sea is calm will be more likely to
ensure they enjoy it. The key is to take it slowly
introducing them to longer and rougher conditions
gradually as their confidence grows. Before you know
it, all they will want to do is to jump waves and
race at top speed.
Appoint them skipper!
Keep them amused and interested
by teaching them knots and getting them to help
mooring and cleaning the boat. A five year old
teaching the adults how to tie a bowline is a sight
to behold! Another good idea is to delegate
responsibility for your trip or day out to your
children. They can be in charge with you as their
crew – you never know they may even let you drive! –
they can plan the passage, calculate tidal heights,
execute the passage and look after the anchoring
when you arrive. Make sure you explain that you
have the right to take over at any stage though.