Summer on the Hook: Anchored Out Family Fun for Kids

boat jump

Spending a fun day anchored out in your favorite spot is sometimes all kids need for some family boat day fun [as seen in Lakeland Boating with VIDEO]

While boats are of course built for cruising, we don’t always want to be on the go. Although we like to plan weekend cruises as a family, it can sometimes make a weekend hectic with travel plans.

Some of our family’s most memorable days at the boat are when we have no plans to go out on a cruise and we simply drop the hook for the day. We trade in a busy day of cruising or exploring a new waterfront destination for a relaxing day of family together time afloat.

When we are simply anchored out the boat becomes our home base for a day of play on the water where the whole family can kick back, relax and unwind.

Watch the Video! (narrated by Emma the Boat Girl!)

Finding the perfect anchorage

A day on the hook for us typically starts with a very short cruise – not even leaving the no wake zone by our marina – over to our favorite anchorage spot (also known as “our spot”).

Our ideal anchorage spot is a sandy bottom cove away from the main channel, within the no wake zone and just hugging the shoreline. It’s the ideal depth where the adults can stand chest deep in the water holding a cocktail behind the boat, and the kids can easily swim from our boat to shore playing on the small sandy beach. That’s the sweet spot.

After we maneuver into the cove we drop anchor, ensure it has a good grip on the bottom and then toss in a stern anchor to keep our boat perfectly positioned facing the shoreline. As soon as the engines are powered down we immediately hear the kids start to beg “can we go in now?!” as they scurry toward the swim platform.

A day of fun on the water

Once we are settled into our spot, we turn on the tunes, slather on the sunscreen and suit up for some water fun. On a warm summer day a gigantic cannonball from the swim platform is the best way to enter the water (at least when you are a kid). With a big woo-hoo followed by a giant splash, our day on the water begins.

boat jump fun

Of course it wouldn’t be a day of water play without unleashing a boat full of water toys. As the kids start to splish & splash, mom and dad get busy inflating enough tubes and floatables for everyone. We inspect the strength of the current and then tie off them off so the floats (and the kids) stay within a boat line’s length from the boat.

water float fun

Many times we’ll also be rafted up with other boats from our marina and our kids play together. It can get tricky with multiple lines leading to multiple floats behind the boats, but the kids love climbing around on float to float. And if they are lucky there’s sometimes a new water toy around to try, like a kayak or stand up paddle board.

Most of the afternoon entails the kids swimming around the boat, climbing on and off the floats a few hundred times and then inevitably engaging in a big jumping session off the swim platform. With a GoPro in hand, the jumps in the air become more animated in their attempts to catch the ultimate swim platform performance on camera. And yes, mom and dad have also been known to get in on the action.

go pro boat fun

By mid-afternoon the kids make their way to the beach with sand buckets & shovels ready to dig up whatever treasures they can find along the coast. It’s the perfect time to start firing up the grill to prepare dinner.

After a gourmet dinner gathered in the cockpit – that likely involves summer time favorites like hot dogs and corn on the cob – everyone is ready for one last cool down in the water. Late afternoons on the boat tend to get hot and it’s not entirely unusual for someone to dump a bucket of water on their head.

water bucket cool off

The anchor out routine on our boat never seems to get old. It’s time to unwind, unplug and connect as a family.

At the end of the day, we make our way back to the marina and watch the sun glistening on the water as it turns a glowing orange setting in the sky. We may have never gotten our boat up on plane, but we had a full day making fun family memories on the boat.

Watch the Video (narrated by Emma the Boat Girl!)

This article Summer on the Hook originally appeared in the July 2018 issue of Lakeland Boating magazine.

SEE THE FULL ARTICLE (PDF opens in new window)


Lakeland boatingCruising with Kids Column in Lakeland Boating Magazine

As a boater with two boat kids I am thrilled to share my experiences in a summer Boating Kids column for the regional boating lifestyle magazine Lakeland Boating.

More Boating Kids Columns

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Diane Seltzer

Founder at BoaterKids.com
Diane is the founder of BoaterKids.com as well as the boating lifestyle site MyBoatLife.com. Active in the boating industry, Diane is the founder of Marine Marketing Tools, a collaborative site for sharing marine marketing best practices. Diane is also author of the children's book The Amazing Adventures of Boat Girl.

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