Matt sent over a good question about what it’s really, honestly like to sail on our Hanse 388 with children aboard (“realistically, how organized can it be?”). I started to write down a few thoughts, but there were so many that I decided to write a blog post instead.

Now, this is not a post about sailing with children in general. (It’s great, everyone should do it! 😊) Rather, it’s a post specifically about practical issues we’ve encountered sailing with four children on the very boat we own, a Hanse 388.

As Little Stuff as Possible

The amount of stuff, I think, is crucial to keep at a minimum.

We have about a week’s worth of clothes for everyone before needing to do laundry. Additionally, the children took just a few toys and a few books each.

The aft cabins do have a decent amount of storage space, so we have been able to fit all the children’s things neatly in their own cabins.

Because they mostly like to hang out in the lounge, though, most of the things travel there every day. And then every evening back to their cabins again. (Sometimes after more, sometimes after less irritated demands by me or Charlotte.)

Typical lounge view. J, little L and M playing on the lounge table. Port sofa stacked with things that don’t fit anywhere else. Kitchen tabletop with unwashed dishes and cereal.

Leave the Extra Beds at Home

We have the layout version where you can get additional beds in the saloon by lowering the chart table on one side, and extending the sofa on the other. This was quite useful for our delivery sail from Greifswald, but have been of no particular use for our family sailing.

To construct these additional beds, there are two separate hard sofa components (one big, one small, you can see the larger in the picture above, on the left sofa). We are constantly moving them between the master cabin (daytime) and the lounge (night time), and it would have been much better to leave them at home.

(Well, the children do have fun building cabins with them, but still, we should have left them at home).

Fit the Extra Sail(s) … Somewhere

Another cumbersome item to store inside, eating up our living room, is the code zero sail (in the picture above on the sofa as well).

We’ve used the sail a lot, and after using it we’ve often left it outside on the deck in its bag, just to get some more space inside. I don’t know how well the bag actually protects it from the sun, so I suspect it would be better to have it inside as much as possible.

There isn’t much room for additional sails on a Hanse 388. We’ve been looking into a rough weather headsail, so that would be one more item to drag around from A to B to A inside the boat. (Sails are a bit extra tricky, obviously, because they may get wet, and we really want to avoid bringing sea water into the boat.)

Eating

Cooking food and doing the dishes for the lot of us, works well. Charlotte and I share the cooking task, but I do most of the dishes because she dislikes it more. (The pull-up tabletop over the gas stove is a good place for drying. I put a thin kitchen towel on the tabletop to soak up the water.)

Hanse’s microwave option is great! They provide a high quality microwave and it does make cooking and heating up leftover food for the children much easier.

When out sailing, though, the gas stove is unbeatable, since it is gimballed and the microwave isn’t. (Charlotte tried to use it once, but stopped with a laugh when all her hot dogs fell off of the plate and started crowding the leeward wall of the microwave.)

Head & Bathroom

We were a bit worried, beforehand, about how the children would cope with the marine head and shower. Luckily, everything turned out fine.

Showering is a bit more cramped, obviously, but they all manage. J by himself, the others with some assistance.

Using the head isn’t a problem either. Sometimes we help with the flushing. Sometimes Little L and M forgot to not throw the paper in the bowl, but we’ve survived and the toilet isn’t clogged. (Yet 🙈)

When Children Eat and Play …

We have beautiful, light colored sofa and cushion fabrics, and— quite unsurprisingly— some of it is already a bit dirty.

The children (equally unsurprisingly) don’t always manage to keep the food on the plate, on the table or in their mouths, and then it ends up on the sofa. Also, when playing with each other and running around like wildlings, they jump up and down the sofas, with less than sparkling clean feet. (I tried to say ‘no’ a few times, but then gave up.)

End result, our beautiful upholstery isn’t that beautiful any more. We’ve tried a couple of ways of returning it to its earlier glory, but so far we haven’t achieved any perfect results.

With hindsight, maybe we could have tried to implement some kind of protection for the fabric. (We’ll talk to some local cleaning enthusiasts, and see what they think. I’m sure we’ll get it sorted out in one way our another.)

Four Children and a Dog

Charlotte, especially, was really afraid it would all turn into a disaster, to try to fit us all aboard our new boat.

To sum it up: it really hasn’t.

I don’t think our living on the boat has been that much different from living in our apartment.

Certainly, we could use some extra space, and upgrade this to that and that to some more, to make everything more comfortable. (Charlotte is dreaming about washing machines for both cloths and dishes.) But, truth be told, two adults, four children and a dog— our merry little bunch, fits quite nicely in a Hanse 388.

M’s and Little L’s cabin. It’s the port cabin. We divided the four children in two based on age. Then they got to decide themselves on port or starboard cabin. It, surprisingly (!), went without argument.