Both of our kids’ grandfathers own boats, so in our family, boat rides are a given in the warm summer months. Jasper and Magnolia each had their first ride before they could walk. And boat safety is a whole other animal when little kids who can’t swim are involved. Amps the potential “danger!” factor way up.
Do a little childproofing — move all potentially dangerous boat paraphernalia (winches, ropes, gear boxes, flares) out of reach of the kids, but accessible to the captain or other people helping run the sail- or power boat in case they need them.
Drop some bucks on a good, age-appropriate life jacket for all kids who’ll be on board — They aren’t inexpensive; we just had to upgrade since the kids are older and weigh more, and we spent $70+ on each jacket. Ouch. But sticker shock beats the heck out of the alternative. Look for a jacket that will turn the child face-up in the water (there’s an extra floating flap behind the neck) and has a handle on the collar. Bring the child with you when you go to make your purchase to ensure a good fit.
Keep everyone hydrated (ie: pack plenty of drinks and bottles!), especially if you’ll be out on a long ride or sail.
And have fun! We’ve been loving our rides this summer (thanks, Grampie!).