National 12 - find out more...

Sailing with young kids

Started by Guest (Guest), 16 Nov 2011, 10:03

« previous - next »

Guest (Guest)

Just lookng at an N12 to return to sailing. Would like to slowly introduce my kids as well to short gentle fun sails (4/5 year olds)
Have looked at some double bottom boats on here (and Apollo Duck). Just wondered on your opinions as a family boat? I also would like to do some racing with it (prob around a 150-160kg helm/crew) What should I look for? Are there any must haves or things to look for? Any particular preference on sail manufacturer? Are they competitive in handicap? Any achilles heal?
The Merlin site members recommended the Crusader or Design 8. Having a young family would like more time sailing and less keeping on top of or restoring a wooden boat. See 3415 is for sale and looks a good (competive) spec?
Any advice appreciated! Looking to sail at either Staunton Harold SC or Swarkstone SC Derbyshire (New to this area).
Kind regards and thanks in anticipation.


A National 12 works well for sailing with young children. You do need to ensure that the helm can cleat (and uncleat!) the jib sheets if neccessary. For stronger winds, replace the full size main with an old Mirror mainsail. The next stage is to sail with the Mirror main and no jib. Finally cut down another Mirror main to remove about 60 cm from the foot (just below the bottom batten) and sail with this alone. That gets you up to force six without scaring the children.


You dont mention your personal sailing/racing expereince - this is an important factor.


National 12 is an ideal boat to sail with kids, I would be inclined to go for an AC boat unless you are really seriously competative.  I stared off with a china doll when by lad was about 8 and had a couple of crusaders before getting a Freak out which is by far the most fun but unfortuately by son no longer wants to crew for me. I have always found myself reasonably competative in the handicap fleet as long as it is not too windy and if your club is prepared to give you the age related handicap you will have no problems.
Choice of boat does depend a bit on sailing experience but crusader or design 8 is a good starting point if you want something a bit more stable then may be chesire cat or china doll or tiger. If going for an older boat it is important to get one that is well set up so you can depower easily as the wind gets up. That was the mistake I made with my China doll and as a result anything above about force 2 and we were blown away.
We had a mirror bedore the china doll and my son never wanted to sail in the mirror again after we got the doll even if it ment coming last.
All smoke and Mirrors. N2153, 2969, 3411


I bought a Baggy Trousers to solve the childcare issue. Now my wife can take one boy in our Mirror and I have taken the two smaller boys in the 12, although only one is better.
I would say that you need to make sure that you are comfortable sailing the boat single-handed and then you are in a good position when the crew just gives up.

Roly Mo

Sailing the 12 with James and now Ellie has been fantastic.  James was about 10 when he started crewing, Ellie much younger.  The 12 is great for young crews because there's loads of room (not like the Mirror) for helm and crew and the jib is small and therefore easy to handle.  It does help if the helm can reach the cleats for the jib, if only to give it an extra yank when going upwind (interestingly Ellie now does this to crews who sail with her - what a dreadful example to have set!!).  Ellie (now 10) is happy to helm our Sparklet and D8 in light winds and I am pretty convinced that within a couple of years I will have lost the right to helm in the D8 and she will have someone crewing for her.  She's crewed in our DB Chapter and in many ways is the best size for the Chapter as she can actually manage to sit on the thwart in comfort! 
Happy sailing
PS  N3447 is for sale - a great boat at a great price!

Antony (Guest)

I think that the 12 is perfect for what you want, assuming your past sailing will cope with a slightly tippier than average boat.  My views on single vs double-bottom boats with small children are complicated, you trade a more stable platform (as Design 8 or similar) but a bit of a climb up to the deck for the somewhat wobblier DB boat that they can climb up to the side on more easily. 
We down-sized from our DB boat that we raced for years to a Design 8 to keep at the club and sail with the boys.  I am not actually sure this was the right decision as they still (now 7 & 5) stuggle to get back on to the side deck after a tack.
A 12 of any sort can win pots at club level on handicap, especially if you sail it a little light, inland, and there are plenty of light wind beats and runs.  Given your suggested all up weight you will be out of the class again in 5 years as the children grow.

Roly Mo

Antony is right re the climb back on to the side decks,  and getting things like toe straps properly set up is incredibly important if the child crew is to gain confidence in their ability to sit out.  E is now happy to hike out pretty hard and I have to say that when we got back in the boat together for the Frostbite series (we've been sailing single handed in other boats during the Autumn series) it was noticeable how much more 'in control' she was and how a couple of inches of growth have made a big difference to ability to get out, and to tack quickly.  I still give the jib that tug - but am now told it's not necessary (and she's probably right!)


Design 8 is good and comes in plastic.
I have been a member of Stuanton Harold and have family members at Swarkstone. Staunton is a cut and thrust racing club. It has easy launching and the water presents no problems.
Swarkstone is a good relaxed family club, Overnight camping and caravaning is no problem.Racing is good and there is sail training every Saturday.(Run by members of my family). 
Launching is by slipway and pontoon.
If you ring me on 01775 714129 I will  arrange a visit for you.

Jerry G (Guest)

For the very young (ie. pre hiking age!) a single bottom boat is probably better as they can sit securely on the thwart.  My job moved to the midlands in 1978 and so my Hornet had to go and I bought an old Proctor IX in which my 7 yr old son crewed.  From 1980-85 we took our N12 to Scotland for our summer holiday.  Sailing on the Seil Sound and later Loch Slapin, Skye.  Initially this was the Proctor IX, later a Cheshire Cat.  I used to sail happily with 2 boys aboard, Simon by then 10+ and his brother 3 years younger.  Children of single figure age are not heavy enough to have any significant effect when hiking so having 2 sharing the centre thwart was not a problem.  The N12 designs I sailed were probably not the ideal ones for sail training.  A Design 8 would be more stable and also low maintenance.


I have just returned to active N12 sailing this year after 15 years away; sailing my refurbished 51 year old Mk9 with a variety of children as crews ranging from 8 up to 16. My 16 year old son finds it a bit cramped in light airs (he is 6') but anyone up to 12 or 13 years old had plenty of room and I also have had a number of outings with two kids up front sitting on the thwart. The boat still seems very competitive at Club level (but does have new sails) so i think your choice of boat could potentially include a vintage design....

Interested Party

Next year I intend to continue to teach my 10 year old daughter how to sail in my vintage Holt 500 series N12.
My 16 year old son can continue to crew for me in my Classic Proctor Mk VIII Merlin Rocket - until he is strong enough and heavy enough for the helm - bit of a gangly stick insect....He is hoping to secure a British Moth this winter after 8 years in Cadets.
Steve Hawkins <br />N12 - Planet 672 -1948 (Holt modified 500 series)<br />N12 - Spider 2523 - 1971 (Spider) <br />N12 - Sparkle 2383 - 1967 (Starfish)


Dave Croft

Looking back to when I were t' lad (and yes dinosaurs roamed the earth...), I remember a number of my pals who were "encouraged" to crew for Dad and as a result happily gave up sailing a few years later. My parents encouraged me to sail and importantly to sail my own boat which worked for me and has worked for both my children who are now pretty much grown up and live to sail.
Certainly the best thing we ever did was to buy an old Cadet at the club for a few hundred pounds (The same boat went to the world championships last year in GBR team so you can get a cheap boat and make it competitive). The children just loved sailing their Cadets and they have made some great friends of their own age who they regularly see, sail against and communicate with (across the world in some cases). Don’t underestimate the friendship part, it’s key to having fun and wanting to go an sail on a cold, windy winters day. Remember in other sports you don’t see 10 year olds playing football, hockey, rugby etc., with 40 or 50 year olds!! I am sure this camaraderie with their peers has cemented their love of sailing so I would encourage anyone with young children to try this approach. Both my children still like to crew for dad and others occasionally and they don't mind a spot of cruising either. We have left Cadets now but I look back on the class and our experience there as a golden time.
My advice would be: by all means take them out in the 12, let them crew, teach them but also let them sail their own boats too with and against people of their own age and then do what we all love and race against our pals and enjoy the breeze, hopefully for many years to come ....  :)

Gavin Willis (Guest)

The 12 is the perfect boat to introduce kids to sailing. If you give them cleats and warm clothing anything is possible.
Probably the most important part for me was taking each of my three girls away for weekends doing the open meetings and camping in a variety of boat parks etc. You get very close to your kids when you have them one to one in a competitive and social environment together.
The sailing can be competitive as well, I had 1st round the 1st mark (in light winds) in championship races in Tenby and the following year in Looe in an old Baggy 2. I'm not sure Jazzie - who was crewing for me on both occasions actually felt as excited as me but it just shows that you can still have flashes of success with an old boat and a very young crew. Only 12's can do that.
Gavin  :)

n12 Bottom Banner

  Back to top