Parent & Youth Sailboat Racing and Games
Parent & Youth racing is where the kid is in charge of the boat, and the parent is there to help with whatever is needed. Not only is this type of sailing literally the most fun sailing you will ever do -- but the experience of building & sailing a boat with your kid will be something they remember for the rest of their lives.
The key to making it work is you really gotta let the kid be in charge. They tell you what to do, and you do it.
How Old To Get Started
Every kid is different, and you will have to make the evaluation yourself. With my kids, we started doing the parent & youth racing at 6 years old. They were old enough to grasp simple concepts of working the tiller and sail controls, and were eager to have fun.
SafetyI trained my kids to swim in lifejackets long before they could swim without them. We started at the YMCA and they would wear their lifejackets there so if they fell out of the boat, they would know how to right themselves. Not only back then, but to this day I always wear my life jacket at all times around the boat, I put it on at the dock and wear it the whole time. I try to lead by example.
I think that sails that have a high boom are safer, such as the Leg-o-mutton sprit or the traditional 4 sided sprit. The boom is high enough that even if the kid is standing up, it won't whack them on the head.
Take a set of oars so you can quickly row back to shore incase the wind dies.
If you look around, at every lake usually has atleast one family friendly launch point with a playground and picinic benches near the ramp. So take lunch and snacks so the kids can play after the sailing is done.
Take along plenty of water to keep the kids hydrated. You can even screw a couple of PVC pipes to the corners of the cockpit to hold water bottles.
Get Your Pirate Groove On
Lots of people fly pirate flags on their sailboats, but with a puddle duck, you can do so much more than that. Go ahead and paint your whole duck like a pirate ship, decorate the sail, wear pirate hats, carry squirt guns to fire broadside at other boats, and throw marshmallows.
Not only to the marshmallows get sticky and slimy when you get them wet, but you don't have to clean them up afterwards. Just let the carp and other fish eat them.