Skip to main content

Cat People: at Home on The Water

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.
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

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. 

Sailor: Diana Hill

Port of Origin: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Sails onboard: One White Tree

Sails with: my partner, Ross Haggart

Ross 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 onewhitetree.ca.

Sailor:
Laurie Bowers

Port of Origin:
Alberta, Canada

Sails on board:
Alberta Crewed

Sails with:
my husband, Craig Acott

Aside 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 albertacrewed.com

Sailor:
Laurent Devin

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

Sails on Board:
Letitgo

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

We 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 svletitgo.com

Sailor: Deb Eldridge

Port of Origin:
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Sails on board:
Neytiri

Sails with:
my husband, Chuck

Our 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 sailneytiri.com.

Sailor:
Mike Sweeney

Port of Origin:
Kingston, Ontario Canada

Sails aboard:
Zero to Cruising

Sails with:
my wife, Rebecca

Rebecca 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 zerotocruising.com.

Sailor:
Lori Rackliffe

Port of Origin:
Essex, Connecticut

Sails aboard:
Ortolan

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

We 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 esc-pod.com.

Sailor:
Sid Clark

Port of Origin:
Annapolis, Maryland

Sails Aboard:
El Camino

Sails with:
my wife, Michele (pictured) 

Our 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 elcaminoblog.com.

Sailor:
Michael Porter

Port of Origin:
St. Simons, Georgia

Sails Aboard:
Mandolin

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)

I 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!

Sailor:
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)

We 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 threelittlebirds.org.

Sailor:
Tina Dreffin

Port of Origin:
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Sails Aboard:
Freebird

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

My 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 freebirdsailingadventures.com.

Sailor:
Cindy Wallach

Port of Origin:
Annapolis, Maryland

Sails Aboard:
Majestic

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

Doug 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 zachaboard.blogspot.com.

Sailor:
Diane Selkirk

Port of Origin:
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Sails Aboard:
Ceilydh

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 maiaaboard.blogspot.com

Related

01-LEAD-Ancients-3-2048x

Cruising Lake Superior

Almost anywhere a sailor drops the hook someone else has been there before. We are hardly ever the first. That remote Maine harbor without a soul in sight: there’s a lobster trap. The south coast of Newfoundland: the crumbling remains of a fisherman’s cabin lie hidden among the ...read more

01-LEAD-Tablet-Holder-4

Fabricating a Tablet Holder

During the pandemic, I was stuck aboard Guiding Light, a Lagoon 410, in St. Lucia for over a month. During that time, as I worked on the boat, I started by doing a spring cleaning in my spares locker and finding some parts and material that I forgot I had. As soon as I saw them, ...read more

00-LEAD-AdobeStock_486335954

A Catamaran for a New Era

Anacortes, Washington, is an unassuming sea-salty town near the San Juan Islands of Puget Sound, and the Betts Boats yard is easy for a passerby to miss. But within Betts’ facilities, the dawn of an era in Pacific Northwest production boatbuilding could be breaking with the ...read more

X5_plus_slide-01

Boat Review: Xquisite X5 Plus

The Xquisite X5 Plus is a major update of the boat that SAIL awarded Best Large Multihull and Best Systems titles in 2017. The changes were not just cosmetic, but genuine improvements to an already fine boat, making it lighter, faster and less dependent on fuel. The builder’s ...read more

01-LEAD-AdobeStock_40632434

Cruising: Offshore Prep Talk

When I began preparing Minx, my 1987 Pearson 39-2, for extended Caribbean cruising, I had to balance my champagne wish list against my beer budget. Every buck spent on the boat before leaving would be one less frosty can of Carib down in the islands. On the other hand, I had to ...read more

m5702_RACE-AREA-6

Barcelona Venue Shaping Up

The decision to host the next America’s Cup in Barcelona ruffled the feathers of some fans, but the Defender is happy with how the venue is shaping up. The process of allocating team bases, spectator zones and the race village is underway. “I cannot speak highly enough of the ...read more

ELAN-GT6---273

Boat Review: Elan GT6

Elan’s first sporty “Grand Turismo” yacht, the 43ft GT5, launched in 2017, and was actually a bit of a mash-up. It combined an existing go-fast hull from Elan’s sexy E5 racer with a new deck and interior optimized for cruising comfort, and a somewhat detuned rig to create a ...read more

OVI-Gyre-22_KH_Crew-clean-deck-and-catch-nets_260622-11

Ocean Voyages Institute Recovers Nearly 100 tons of Plastic Waste

After 45 days at sea, the sailing cargo ship KWAI has docked in San Francisco with 96 tons of recovered plastic, including ghost nets and derelict fishing gear from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Ocean Voyages Institute, a non-profit organization based in Sausalito, CA, uses ...read more