Five Years Living On a Sailboat

Catamaran on the water, Fiji

Five years flies by faster than you realize. Since moving aboard in December 2018, we’ve logged a lot of miles and anchored in many bays. We’ve also spoken – or tried to speak – several languages, and met countless people in the last five years living on a sailboat. As many of you know, we’ve also made changes and mistakes. This year we visited countries we hadn’t visited or even heard of before moving onto a boat. We’re happy to spend the rest of 2024 in New Zealand, over 8000 miles from where we started in 2018. Here’s a small recap of what we learned this year, after five years living on a sailboat.

sailing in Fiji
One of our last sails on board Sava in Fiji

Wind and Weather

We finished our year in French Polynesia this May, and looked forward to heading west to other South Pacific islands. After French Polynesia, we skipped the Cook Islands because of limited anchorages and strong winds. In fact, the weather this winter all throughout the South Pacific was bad. We got battered by storms en route to Niue, shivered through record-breaking cold in Tonga, and were poured on in Fiji. Our friends in French Polynesia dealt with the same conditions. Fortunately, we left Fiji before a cyclone, and are supposedly safe in New Zealand as long as last summer’s storms don’t repeat.

sailing to New Zealand, sunset
The sky on our sail from Fiji to New Zealand

Taking Breaks

Since hauling out Sava in Papeete in 2022, we hadn’t slept off the boat in almost a year when we arrived in Fiji. You know what we’ve realized after five years living on a sailboat? Even though it seems like a vacation, moving around and seeing different sights, we still need a break! We took some time away this July and August to visit friends and family and sleep in beds on land. Boat breaks are a must, just like vacations from home and work.

Making Changes

While we didn’t sail across an ocean this year, we had long passages, including a nine day voyage from Fiji to New Zealand. On our new boat! It’s strange after so many years on board Sava, but we’re living on our catamaran and enjoying our new home. Even though some people say we’ve moved to the dark side, we’re happy with this change. It’s still a sailboat!

Catamaran on the water, Fiji, living on a sailboat
Waving goodbye to friends in Fiji as we depart for New Zealand

The best thing about change is learning, and I endeavor to never stop learning. Since starting this blog, I’ve been learning, and sometimes failing, which is part of learning. This year, we’re learning how to sail a catamaran!

Take It Slow

Another thing we’ve learned is to take our time and enjoy a place. We spent our first year racing through the Caribbean to get somewhere safe for hurricane season, only to endure a tropical storm anyway. Being in lockdown taught us to slow down and savor each place. Yes, we’re still going to find safe harbors, but we’re done rushing. Getting to know a country over six months or a year, whatever the maximum our visa allows, is how we like it.

It’s been three years since Two Years Living on a Boat and this was one year ago

Do What You Love

You’ve read about our five years living on a sailboat, and though we’ve moved boats, our journey continues. We know many other people who live this lifestyle, some who’ve lived on boats for decades, so we know we can too. We’ll continue as long as we can, and enjoy the lifestyle.

Brian and I love exploring new places, meeting new people, tasting the local cuisine, and being outside in nature. When we reach a new country or island, we love to explore. Markets and parks, beaches and bars, all are places where we can learn about a culture. If we are fortunate to be in town for a ball game, local festival, or musical show, count us in! Our excitement at experiencing new cultures hasn’t ebbed, and while we know people are much the same, we look for and celebrate the differences!

Cultural Show, Niue
Performers in the cultural show in Niue, South Pacific

People say we inspire them to be more adventurous or maybe just a little braver about trying new things. I hope that’s true and that sharing our life on a boat, even the problems, shows that pushing boundaries can be rewarding and fun. Let me know in the comments.

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Author: Mel

Living aboard a sailboat, scuba diver, cat parent, cyclist, blogger, love the water and exploring new places.

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