Cat People: at Home on The Water

Sailor Diane Selkirk's cat, Ceilydh

From a family of five cruising the South Pacific, to a pair of exercise fanatics filming work-out videos on their Caribbean-based cat, to a solo sailor exploring the Exumas on his trimaran, these liveaboard cruisers decided that two (or three) hulls were better than one when it came to creating a life at sea. Here, we visit them on their boats, which are as varied in design as they are location, to learn more about their decision to cruise, their life on board and the places their multihulls have taken them. 

Diana Hill sailing One White Tree


Sailor: Diana Hill

Port of Origin: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Sails onboard: One White Tree

Sails with: my partner, Ross Haggart


One White TreeRoss and I have lived aboard our 40-foot 2003 Fortuna Island Spirit 400 catamaran for three years. Ross made it clear when we met that this was his dream, and together we’ve made it a reality. We’ve sailed up and down the East Coast and have recently made longer passages around the Caribbean and Central America. The best part of our life aboard is the people we’ve met and the friendships we’ve made, from local islanders to other cruisers. Of course, it’s not all drinking margaritas in the sunshine! Plans to set out for a new destination can be easily derailed by repairs. To enjoy this lifestyle, you have to enjoy working on your boat as well. But once you get on your way, many wonders await! Follow Diana and Ross at



Laurie Bowers sailing Alberta CrewedSailor:
Laurie Bowers

Port of Origin:
Alberta, Canada

Sails on board:
Alberta Crewed

Sails with:
my husband, Craig Acott




Craig Acott enjoying the viewAside from the few summer months that Craig and I spend at our land home, we have lived aboard our 44-foot Antares 44i—our first and only boat—for the past three years. We’re both prairie-born landlubbers, and the leap aboard took plenty of confidence and humility. We bought Alberta Crewed after leaving demanding careers and vowing to seek a more challenging and enthralling lifestyle. Two years of research and sailing lessons later, we commissioned our Antares for construction in Argentina. Since then, we’ve explored the coastline of Uruguay and Brazil and, despite the language barrier, have been welcomed with grace and generosity at every turn. We’ve had our fair share of unexpected encounters, some awe-inspiring, like the pilot whale that swam alongside us in the Virgin Islands, and others bizarre, like the Shrimp Festival we stumbled upon in Fernandina Beach, Florida. We’ll see where the wind takes us next! Follow Laurie and Craig at

We've enjoyed exploring the coastline of Uruguay and Brazil


Laurent Devin and family Sailor:
Laurent Devin

Port of Origin:
Originally, France;  currently, Vancouver, Canada

Sails on Board:

Sails with:
my wife, Valerie, and son, Benjamin (16). Emma (20), my daughter, lives on land and attends university



It's a great life for a familyWe never wanted to retire on a couch in front of the TV, and the cruising seed was planted seven years ago when we met a couple who had just returned from seven years at sea. After three years of sailing part-time in the Pacific Northwest, we set out aboard our Lagoon 380 S2 200 in August 2012. According to some self-described “experts” online we should have sunk by now, but our boat is the perfect compromise between performance and comfort. Being a family with teenagers can have its challenges on land, so add in the smaller living quarters, extra stimulation, adventurous parents, strong sun and unusual situations aboard, and there’s never a dull moment! We’ve each had to adjust. We no longer ask, “What time will you be back?” or yell, “Get up, it’s time for school!” Instead, it’s “What’s the wind doing?” Our priorities are different now, and the opportunities for adventure are limitless. Follow the Devin family at

Our priorities are different now


Deb Eldridge sailing NeytiriSailor: Deb Eldridge

Port of Origin:
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Sails on board:

Sails with:
my husband, Chuck




NeytiriOur Iowa origins left us feeling water- and adventure-deprived growing up, so after spending time working in Minnesota and Wisconsin, we decided to do some unconventional traveling and began living the cruising lifestyle. Almost two decades ago we spent three years aboard a monohull, Sanity, and more recently decided to give living aboard another shot, this time on a cat. We bought our 2001 Privilege 435 two years ago and set sail from St. Maarten in October 2011. We’re still translating the French owner’s manual and the labels on the boat.

Our boat’s name, Neytiri, is inspired by the character in the 2010 movie Avatar—she’s a strong warrior with a connection to the environment. Most recently, we’ve been spending time in Central America, making stops in places like Guatemala, Cayos Cochinos and Honduras, mingling with cruisers and locals and spending time being regular ol’ tourists. Follow the Eldridges at

Neytiti's name is Inspired by the character in Avartar



Mike Sweeney sailing Zero to CruisingSailor:
Mike Sweeney

Port of Origin:
Kingston, Ontario Canada

Sails aboard:
Zero to Cruising

Sails with:
my wife, Rebecca




We've Come Along way since our early beginningsRebecca and I decided one evening, after drinking a bit too much wine in our hot tub, that we should sell everything, buy a boat and sail south. We registered the domain name for our blog, “Zero to Cruising,” that night, which we chose because neither of us had any sailing experience. On our blog we documented our preparations and the process of learning to sail, then purchased our PDQ 32 cat and moved aboard in 2009. After departing Canada in July 2010, we sailed to the eastern Caribbean via the ICW, island-hopping our way south. We’ve come a long way since those early beginnings—we were recently recruited to captain a 46-foot catamaran that will be available for charters in late 2013. These days, our blog not only covers stories of our cruising, but also includes how-to videos on staying in shape while cruising. Anyone for partner push-ups on a deserted beach? Follow Mike and Rebecca at

We sold everything and bought a boat


Lori Rackliffe sailing OrtolanSailor:
Lori Rackliffe

Port of Origin:
Essex, Connecticut

Sails aboard:

Sails with:
my husband, Russ. Our college- aged son spends the summer aboard with us in Connecticut and his winter breaks with us in the Bahamas



Each Year Around Columbus Day, we journey south down the ICWWe bought our Maine Cat 41 in 2010, and it’s been our home ever since. We were new to sailing when we bought her: our previous boats had all been powerboats no bigger than 32 feet. Each year around Columbus Day weekend, after our summers in Connecticut, Russ and I journey south down the ICW and cross over to the Bahamas. When our son graduates in 2014, we plan to extend our time spent “on the move” and sail even farther. A monohull was never an option for us. If we ever need time apart, we move to separate hulls, which we’ve found to be a definite plus of owning a catamaran! We’re cautious cruisers, so we also appreciate the double engines, anchors, fuel tanks and water pumps. Follow the Rackliffes at


We bought our Maine Cat 41 in 2010


Michelle and Sid  sailing El CaminoSailor:
Sid Clark

Port of Origin:
Annapolis, Maryland

Sails Aboard:
El Camino

Sails with:
my wife, Michele (pictured) 




One dog and three cats keep us companyOur story was a two-year dream in the making. Michele and I got rid of most of our belongings and put what was left in a 5x10ft storage unit—though we still think we have too much. In November 2012, we purchased our Lagoon 410 and began our journey aboard. Our dog and three cats keep us company, and they’re troopers—only one gets seasick when it’s rough. We sail all over the East Coast and the Caribbean—in the Chesapeake, the Keys, the Bahamas and more. It’s been incredible. We’ve anchored in places where there was no evidence of humanity anywhere, where the only sounds were the dolphins breathing and the pelicans mating. Follow Sid and Michelle at


Relaxing aboard their Lagoon 410, El Camino



Michael Porter sailing MandolinSailor:
Michael Porter

Port of Origin:
St. Simons, Georgia

Sails Aboard:

Sails with:
currently solo, since the demise of my last relationship a few years ago. (Applications cheerfully accepted from ladies over 50 who want to go to the Bahamas)



Mandolin is in her element in the BahamasI live aboard my 40-foot Norm Cross-designed trimaran. Multihulls are, in my opinion, a good geriatric cruising solution. I’m 68 and in fairly good health, but my legs are not what they used to be. The lack of heeling on multihulls is a huge bonus. Plus, she’s fast and reliable in adverse weather conditions. Mandolin—and multihulls in general—is in her element in the Bahamas. On her initial trip to the Exumas last year, with strong southeast winds, having three bows piercing the waves instead of one was a great way to discover unknown topside leaks. My plans for the next few months include going north a bit to visit friends in various places. As a solo sailor, I can plan as I go!



As a solo sailor, I can plan as I go



For the Leonard Family, achieving the right balance has been fairly easySailor:
Scott Leonard

Port of Origin:
Hermosa Beach, California

Sails aboard:
Three Little Birds

Sails with:
my wife, Mandi, and our three boys, Griffin (13), Jake (12) and Luke (7)



Luke, Griffin and Jake aboard Three Little BirdsWe started living aboard our Lagoon 500 in Florida in June 2011 and have been all over in the years since. In 2013, our plan is to sail from New Zealand to Fiji, with stops in Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Australia. One unique thing about us as a liveaboard family is that I own and run a financial services firm from the boat and fly back to the States every quarter. Technology has enabled us to do a lot more aboard, and our lives are much simpler than they would be back on land: there are no after-school commitments, TV or play dates. Because of this, achieving the right work-family balance has been fairly easy. Come December 2013, we plan to end our journey and move back to the mainland to get settled in time for Griffin to start high school. Follow the Leonards at

The family that provisions together, stays together



Peter and Tina Dreffin sailing aboard FreebirdSailor:
Tina Dreffin

Port of Origin:
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Sails Aboard:

Sails with:
my husband, Peter, and our dog, Bella




The Dreffin Family and their dog, BellaMy husband and I have been cruising for over 30 years, though our crew has changed a bit during our time aboard. It all began when I answered an ad in a Ft. Lauderdale newspaper for a crewmember—I’d never sailed before in my life! After a month of bluewater cruising, my would-be husband noted my affections and said, “Don’t fall in love with me if you want a house, dog, 2.2 kids and a driveway!” Later, he admitted he had met his match—I’m always saying, “Let’s go farther! Now!” We completed our circumnavigation with our two now-college-aged sons who we raised in the Exumas. In 2008 in Australia, we found Bella, our third Schipperke. Schipperkes are known for being superior guard dogs. Once, en route to the Marquesas from the Galapagos, Bella’s barking alerted us to a too-close-for-comfort giant container ship nearing our 42-foot Grainger performance cat! Follow the Dreffins and learn more about chartering with them at

Our 42-Foot Grainger performance cat, Freebird



Naia onboard MajesticSailor:
Cindy Wallach

Port of Origin:
Annapolis, Maryland

Sails Aboard:

Sails with:
my husband, Doug, and our two kids, Zach (8) and Naia (2)



Our current home, a 1999 St Francis 44 MkllDoug and I have been living aboard full-time since 1998, when we moved out of our apartments and onto our first cat, a PDQ36. We were only familiar with monohulls at that point and spent two weeks in the school of hard knocks figuring out everything from cooking in heavy seas to plumbing underway to sailing off an anchor. When I became pregnant with Zach, we sold the PDQ and moved aboard our current home, a 1999 St. Francis 44 Mkll, just 10 days after he was born. We cruise seasonally around the Chesapeake and own nothing on land. At age 40, I can’t imagine living any other way. Read about Cindy’s home decorating tips for liveaboards starting on page 30 and follow the Wallachs at


Doug and Zach Wallach cruising



Diane Selkirk, Evan Gatehouse and MaiaSailor:
Diane Selkirk

Port of Origin:
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Sails Aboard:

Sails with:
my husband, Evan Gatehouse, our daughter, Maia (11), and our cat, Charlie



We sail a heavily modified 1987 Woods Meander 40-foot cat with a central cabin that we added. We moved aboard in the summer of 2009, and sailed across the South Pacific to our current location in the pile moorings of Brisbane, Australia [as of April 2013]. We lived on a smaller monohull Ceilydh for eight years, so when we moved aboard big Ceilydh, all the space felt palatial, especially with a growing child. A favorite aspect of life aboard is the front deck space. I’ve always wanted a home with a big front porch and the feeling of being part of a neighborhood. Our big foredeck—we don’t have much of a cockpit—is perfect for lounging, dancing and parties. Follow the Selkirks at

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