Four Years Living on a Sailboat

Sava at anchor in French Polynesia

This may be hard to believe, even to us, but we are commemorating four years living on a sailboat. On December 5th, 2018, Brian, Domino and I moved onboard Sava in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and now we are in French Polynesia, on the same boat!

Four years ago Sava sailboat Florida
Sava when we first saw her in Florida. She’s come a long way

High Highs and Low Lows

We’ve had some high highs and low lows living on a sailboat. I’ve learned that in nature everything is more extreme. I have felt more awe and joy on the ocean and at anchor than I ever imagined, mostly when interacting with wildlife.

This year alone we experienced noteworthy nature shows. One of the most memorable was being surrounded by hundreds of eagle rays leaping out of the water in Las Perlas, Panama.

One of the highlights of our life on Sava: watching eagle rays leap out of the water all around us in Las Perlas

One of the worst experiences was the crazy lightning storm on our entry to Panama. No lightning since has been as frightening so you could say it inured me. When you have to go down below, put all the electronics in the oven, and cuddle with a cat to keep your sanity, that’s not something you want to repeat.

The Places We’ve Been

Since moving onto Sava, we estimate we’ve traveled at least 10,000 miles on her. We went mostly upwind from Florida to Grenada in our first season. Our second, more relaxing, season living on a sailboat was even further slowed by the pandemic. After a lockdown in Antigua we eventually made it to Bonaire for hurricane season. It’s funny to think that the sail to Bonaire was our longest sail before we crossed the Pacific! Our third year was busy with other cruisers in Curaçao, Colombia, and Panama, and trips away from the boat on our own.

We’ve learned countless fun activities from paddleboarding and freediving to Mexican train dominoes and beach bocce ball. Recently we’ve taken up foil boarding and are close to buying our own, maybe when we return to Tahiti.

Learning to foil in Fakarava

This last year was notable for our biggest adventure yet! The Sava crew ventured through the Panama Canal with stellar crew to another ocean. Crossing the Pacific in thirty days was a challenge and an achievement.

I guess it wouldn’t be an achievement if it wasn’t challenging. That longest of passages was worth it as we are mostly loving French Polynesia, especially now that the sun is back.

Rainbow sailing across the Pacific ocean
A rainbow off Sava’s bow on our Pacific passage

Improving Sava

Thankfully over four years, we’ve had time to improve our sailboat. We spent the first year learning how to fix our boat, but in year two we started upgrades. And last year, we switched to lithium batteries and boosted our solar power, not to mention the work in Papeete! We have plans for more makeovers for Sava to keep us all comfortable in the cruising years ahead.

Sava anchored in the beautiful waters in Fakarava, oceania
Sava at anchor in Fakarava


When you move to a new place, you build roots. Obviously, things are different when you live on a moving boat.

In the close confines of the Eastern Caribbean, we continually saw the same friendly faces from Grenada to Antigua. It was easier to build and nurture our cruiser community, and we loved it.

Out here on the South Pacific, in the furthest outreaches of civilization with minimal population spread out across hundreds of islands, finding that community is harder. We reunite with boaters we first met in Curaçao or Panama, and then split apart for distant shores, and the people we met in The Marquesas moved ahead at a faster pace. Our community is fluid, and we’ve gotten better at accepting that, and appreciating the friends we find and spend time with along the way. Sundowners with friends are almost sacred. A ritual we are happy to repeat. Cheers! Or as they say in Tahiti, manuia!

Looking Ahead to our Fifth Year

Our fifth season has begun and we’re watching many of the friends we made in Panama and The Marquesas sail on to the next destinations on our agenda: The Samoas, Fiji, and beyond to New Zealand. While plans change, New Zealand sounds perfect for us to relax and unwind for the next cyclone season. Wherever we go, we know there will be fun cruisers to teach us new tricks, salty seas to stem our swagger, and animal life to amaze us. Subscribe to the blog to be included on our journey.

Do you remember when we announced we were moving onto a sailboat? Can you believe we made it four years? Share your thoughts about our adventure in the comments.

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Author: Mel

Living aboard a sailboat, blogging about the places we visit and the adventures we have. Love hiking, cycling, scuba, animals and adventure.

12 thoughts on “Four Years Living on a Sailboat”

  1. Hi Mel, Thanks for sharing. I especially like the day to day activities that you probably take for granted. We hope to be following in your wake in the next 18 months or so.
    S & T


  3. We are happy and feel privileged, that we crossed your tracks. It is sad, that we lost tail waters – but hopefully it is just for now and we are looking forward to more sundowners on the Sava or the Lupina. Pia and Köbi / SY Lupina (from Makemo on the way to Gambier)

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