Unsurprisingly, sailing with children on board requires a markedly different approach to cruising - read the editor's welcome to the October 2020 issue of Yachting Monthly, now on sale

Last year, my wife and I would have relished the long run across Lyme Bay at the start of our cruise this summer, carried as we were by a warm easterly, the setting sun above a billowing spinnaker.

The arrival of a new crew member in the spring, however, meant a day of rolling downwind until well past bedtime was rather more stressful than the exhilarating experience we remembered.

Our decisions about how much sail to set were also subject to change, since trying to secure, soothe and entertain a baby at any appreciable angle of heel is less than relaxing.

As a result we spent much of our time afloat with sails reefed down to little more than handkerchiefs.


We became well-drilled at putting in reefs and shaking them out, as Pete Goss describes in his masterclass on reefing this month (p26).

The surprising discovery was that the impact on our speed was much less than I thought it might be.

I know an overpressed boat is rarely fast, but as long as there’s a bit of breeze, it seemed that being under-canvassed didn’t slow us down too much.

For short hops, delaying our arrival by minutes rather than hours was a sacrifice we were happy to make — even if we longed to send the sea fizzing in our wake.

Brian Black

Having children on board also opens the door to new pleasures. I challenge you not to be heartwarmed by the halcyon pleasures (and honest scrapes) that Brian Black describes as he reflects on 50 years of family cruising — rockpooling, dolphin spotting, and the hiss of the Tilley lamp at story time (p64).

Continues below…

We are lucky to have these recollections; as we were going to press, we heard the tragic news of Brian’s death (p8).

He was an inspirational sailor and a good friend of this magazine over many decades. He will be sorely missed.