Family Magazine

Great Games for Cruisers

By Behan Gifford @sailingtotem
games on Totem
Entertainment on our cruising boat is pretty low tech. Oh, we watch some of the movies and TV series, but a lot of our fun and games as a family are the kind that doesn't have a screen or need a power supply.
It occurred me this last week, as I watched our kids playing with their new friends from sv Water Musick (that's Bananagram happening in the Totem main cabin, above), that having some idea starters for those games to bring on board would have been one of those really nice-to-knows before we went cruising. 
Cards are a great way to pack a lot of fun into a minimum of storage space. We have always been big card players and spread the fun of our family's Chicago Rummy tournament to three continents. Priorities, you know. The kids have started playing in adult tables around age 9 or 10. There seem to be a lot of pictures on the hard drive of Chicago Rummy being played at lovely anchorages between here and Seattle: this one in Fiji, with Oso Blanco and IO.
What a surprise... we're playing cards!
Simple card games like Uno and Spot-It are a great way to make friends when you don't share a common language. When we have a spare set, it's a great gift to leave behind after a fun afternoon- something to remember you by.
Playing on Totem
We'll play cribbage pretty much anywhere. Siobhan (age 9) skunks me if I'm not paying attention. She continued her streak of cribbage domination on the beach in Langkawi last week.
Apples to Apples (which will always remind me of rainy afternoon funfriends on board Ceilydh), Pirate Fluxx, and Dutch Blitz are more card games that while aimed for kids, are absolutely fun for Jamie and me as well. Lately we've had fun playing the card gamne version of Monopoly as well: the themes are the same, but cards fit on a locker more easily than a playing board. 
One game that is decidedly not for the junior set is Cards Against Humanity. When I saw this picture of my bloggy friend Charlotte playing, I knew we had to give this one a try. I can almost guarantee: you WILL laugh as hard as she is laughing here.

Great games for cruisers

photo thanks to Charlotte and Eric of sv Rebel Heart

To quote Charlotte: "If you haven't played this game yet, strap on your big-kid panties, imbibe something potent, and play it with some whip-smart friends. " Her advance warning that this was NC/17 was is good to know... it might not hurt to be of generally the same shade of the political spectrum, too. The McCanns brought a set when they came to visit us in Borneo and we've been looking for excuses to play it ever since. I have never heard Jamie laugh so hard!
In Mexico,we were introduced to Mexican Train dominoes. I don't know that this is particularly Mexican, but it was popular among cruisers and a great all-ages game where the kids could compete with adults. It doesn't use any old set of dominoes, so it took a while before we had our own set. I've lost count of the times we've played dominoes in our cockpit, washed by a warm breeze.
Great games for cruisers

We do have some board games: they've grown up and moved along as they were no longer age appropriate. Our days of Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, and Sorry are over. Max the Cat was just passed to our friends with a younger age of kids on board. Settlers of Catan, Axis and Allies, and chess have taken their place. Scrabble, too, but we find Banagram to be even more fun and easier to play across different spelling levels- not to mention,  much more compact and travel friendly!
When we started cruising, we migrated a subset of the games we had onto the boat. Before we left, I used a box cutter to cut and score boards so that we could stow them in quarter size, not as the default half. Use a bag for the playing pieces, and it all fits MUCH better in a locker that way.
The simple truth is that we have a lot more time to play games together, with our friends or as a family. I don't remember playing games nearly this much as a child. It's certainly nothing we had the time for in our fully scheduled lives before cruising. Why not make plans for family game night this weekend?

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