Author Archives: A Family Afloat

About A Family Afloat

I'm a mother of 3 amazing kids (currently 18, 13, and 8) and a wife of an amazing husband. We sailed our boat to Mexico with a sail plan of going around the world. In August, 2015 we cruised out "the Gate" of San Francisco and spent 2 months going down the coast of California and 2 years exploring Mexico. From Mexico, we sailed down to Costa Rica and Panama, then across to the Galapagos. We crossed the Pacific to French Polynesia In April, 2018, from the Galapagos. Now we have landed in New Zealand, have been based here for 2 years, and where we are open to stay for a little while...

Afamilyafloat is still afloat

I realize that it has been a very long time since our last post and even more so since a last real update on our life afloat. We are indeed still afloat. Our life afloat, however, has transformed quite a bit since leaving our boat (Shawnigan) in New Zealand for sale, flying back and buying a new one (Malihini) to sail around on. Not only has our location and boat changed, but as our kids have grown older our family dynamic has changed as well.

Let’s first start with the boat change. Our lovely Shawnigan, the Steven’s 40 monohull served us very well and sold in February this year. We sailed many seas, and anchored countless wonderful anchorages with her. As a family of 5 on a 40 foot boat we managed pretty darn well in our opinion. Time aboard during the three years, basically stationary at the dock in New Zealand also served us well, but also lead us to appreciate the space teens desire. It’s different when living at a dock versus out sailing. For some reason the space actually seems smaller, but maybe that’s also because our lives were that of land lubbers, living in a “tiny house” in a damp and cold environment. Don’t get us wrong, we loved many parts about living in New Zealand, but after a few years of damp boat mold building up and time away from family and friends during COVID, it made the most sense to sell Shawnigan in New Zealand and buy a different kind of boat back in the USA .

After months of trying to sort out the best option for our family and find a new boat that suit our needs, we spotted from our online search SV Malihini for sale in Portland, Oregon. Long story short, we made an offer and started the process of surveys and such from New Zealand. We had already listed Shawnigan for sale by owner and then when we realized it might take more time than we had left in New Zealand, Christian sailed her up the East Coast of the North Island of New Zealand to leave with a broker in Whangarei/ Marsden Cove. (You can read more about that here) . During all of this, I accepted a nursing position back at UCSF, the kids were accepted at schools, our offer on the new boat was accepted, and we found a place in the San Francisco Bay Area to sail Malihini to and live aboard.

As Christian settled Shawnigan with the broker, we bought Malihini sight unseen. That being said, Christian’s dad did go take a peak at her for us and gave his approval. Christian flew back to the US ahead of us to go retrieve Malihini and sail her down the coast of Oregon and California to her new home in Emeryville. In the meantime, I stayed back in Wellington with the kids, lived in the Campervan “Sharkie” until that sold. Then we stayed in a friend’s Caravan while I finished up work and the kids finished up school.

Looking back, I’m quite amazed that we did all of that. From the end of July, 2021 we made the choice to shift our sailing plans and move back to the States. We shipped our stuff in a container, bought a boat, landed a job, organized school, left a boat to sell with a broker, sold car and camper. Christian did some hardcore sailing of the old boat and new boat, we flew back, saw family and settled on the new boat by mid November, 2021.

And now I introduce to you our lovely new boat, SV Malihini. She’s a Shuttleworth open 35, performance catamaran . For more details, see our updated “our new boat” page. Yes, we switched over to a catamaran, but she’s not your typical one…. We like our boats and most things in our life a bit different, would you expect any less from us?

So here we are, back in the USA, back in San Francisco, but still living afloat. Nina is now 19, working full time and going to a community college part time in Phoenix. Ellamae is now 14, and choose to go to high school out with her Papa in Alabama. When we flew back here she hadn’t seen her Papa for almost 2 full years due to COVID restrictions in New Zealand, so understandably, she wants this time with him and time living on a farm with lots of space: a big change from boat life! So we see her and have an extra cabin for her when she visits on the holidays. Taj is 9, and a little miniature Christian. He’s going to the Berkeley Rose Waldorf school. He enjoys it, but still prefers life outside and can’t wait to go sailing again. Basically, I still have my hands very full with just him and Christian and myself aboard. Christian is working some part time rigging and private boat jobs and getting Malihini dialed to set sail down to Mexico and beyond again. I took a slightly different and quite intense position as a nurse at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in the Pediatric Critical Care Resource team. I’m loving seeing the friendly faces I use to work with before we left in 2015 , meeting so many new ones, and adding a whole new skill set to my nursing repertoire.

When we set off cruising we didn’t really know what we would end up doing. We had somewhat though we would circumnavigate in one go, but as it goes with sailing and life, you go where the wind takes you. We have had so many great adventures so far and our kids have seen so much. Flying back from New Zealand was a hard choice, but we feel it was the right one. It’s our time to work a bit, save money for more sailing, fix the new boat up, spend time close to family and friends, be near(ish) to Nina while she’s in college, support Ellamae as she goes through high school from afar and keep Taj entertained with school and sports. It honestly feels surreal in many ways, and it’s all perfect the way it is.

A few of our farewell wishers.

Finally, we can let the cat out of the bag…

I know the suspense is high in finding out exactly what we’re planning to do next, but to be honest, we weren’t quite certain therefore we decided to wait to tell all.

Are you ready for it?!?!?!?!

We bought a new boat!!!! Her name is Malihini and she’s a Shuttleworth 35 catamaran. Yep, you ready that right, we bought a CATAMARAN and its official as of the 9th of October, she’s all ours!!!

During the latest lockdown here in New Zealand, it became clear to us that our nomad desires to set sail to new oceans and new lands would be very difficult and different with COVID lurking about. Sure, there are some places we could go, but we would likely to get “stuck” there like we are here in New Zealand. When I say stuck, I’m not really complaining about being here at all, it’s more that we can’t go visit family and then come back. So long story short, after many years of not seeing family and friends and no signs of that being a possibility anytime soon, we decided we will go back to the States for a while! That lead us to looking for boats to buy there. S/V Malihini was there waiting for us to find her in Portland Oregon.

Christian boarded his flight on the 10th of October out of New Zealand to fly to LAX on the 10th of October (time travel) , to drive up California to pick a few items for Malihini up along the way, see his dad and friend Jonah. He stocked up at Costco (picture a kid in a candy store after being in New Zealand for 3 years. Actually, Christian hasn’t been back to the US in 4 years!) Today, he drove drove up to our new boat … our new home! She’s been floating in Oregon, at St. Helens Marina, along the Columbia River, which is closure to the ocean than Portland is. He will get her all prepped and set sail to arrive in San Francisco with the earliest weather window.

More pictures of Malihini!!!

I can’t really describe the feelings we are having. It’s overall really exciting and we’re are looking forward to seeing our friends and family again. With the uncertainty of where New Zealand was heading (All things Covid related) it feels good to have made this choice. There will be many things about New Zealand that we will miss, to name a few: the Māori culture, the slower life, the clean and crisp air with its bright and vibrant colours, the accents, the not so crowded surf breaks, the bird songs, the happy cows grazing along with a billion sheep and many red deer. The list goes on, which is great, I’ll just have to finish my post about our time in New Zealand to show more about that. We made a few life long friends here too and parting with them (for now) has been hard, but it truly feels like we will return at some point to the lovely Aotearoa (New Zealand).

One step at time…. Or one ocean at a time. But first, Oregon to San Francisco!

S/V Shawnigan is for Sale with a broker in Whangarei, New Zealand (Sold!!!!)

Christian made it safely up to Marsden Cove Marina, where Shawnigan has been tidied up hauled out and placed in the hand of a broker to sell (link to come soon) to some lucky person/family.

The sail up the east coast was pretty much as to be expected around these parts of New Zealand, with gusts into the 50’s off of Castle point. 2-50 in 30 seconds kind of situation. The East Cape was slightly better, but not much. He thankfully had crew, Nick from Mana to Napier, and Jamie, from Napier to Whitianga (Coromandel). Of course… he did manage to surf both in Napier and in Whitanga. A very much deserved farewell gift for him. From Whitianga, he just had an over nighter to arrive with the right tide and current into the Whangarei heads.

After catching up on some much needed sleep, Christian spent almost the whole week straight cleaning up the boat, going for a sail to take drone photos, and sorting out a bit of last minute departure details for himself. He also managed to fit in a few social events with friends we know from up there.

Hi Deb!
Hi Deb and Phil from SV Costal Drifter

A special shout out to the crew (Nick and Jamie) for pulling through, swapping their lives around and helping Christian and Shawnigan get up the east coast of New Zealand safely.

As for myself and the kids, we’ve been doing a little local sightseeing during the school holidays and then they have one more week of school and I have 6 more shifts of work before we fly out to California to reunite with Christian.