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The Coles family on Portland Island. (Courtesy Kate Coles)Kevin Walker, left, Shawna Walker, Kate Coles and Mick Coles enjoy Christmas Day at the beach. (Courtesy Kate Coles) Three generations shacked up in a 45-foot sailboat may sound like a nightmare to some, but it’s a dream come true for one Saanich Peninsula family.
After months of work and retrofitting, Meraki hit the water in Sidney Friday (June 18) with a splash of fanfare to the joy of her crew: six family members spanning three generations. Kevin Walker, 62, Shawna Walker, 60 and their daughter Kate Coles, 32, her husband Mick Coles, 38 and their children Thomas, 10, and Bentley, 7, traded in a four-bedroom home for essentially a tiny house on the water and will set sail this fall.
Meraki is a C & L explorer 45 designed by Stan Huntingford. The 45-foot vessel was built in 1977 in Taiwan. (Courtesy Kate Coles)
Kate and Mick wanted to travel with their kids. Kevin and Shawna always had a vision of sailing around the world. In 2018, when all six family members were on a week-long boat trip, those visions aligned and germinated the dream of three generations sailing two boats around the globe.
READ ALSO: Victoria-based solo-sailor breaks record for oldest person to sail around the world unassisted
“We lost our ability to dream some years ago and it snuck back up,” Kevin said. “It is such a wonderful wonderful thing to be working with our kids on a project of this magnitude.”
The goal is Australia first, where Mick was born and raised, then sail ‘round the rest of the globe. With hopes of exploring off the beaten path, they expect to take two or three years.
While Mick admits to being less experienced than his in-laws in the sailing realm, learning comes easy and he draws on years of experience with cars and his professional work in cabinetry. Kate said he has the mind of an engineer, and that’s been handy.
“Every boat kind of has a way about them,” Mick said. He’s been hands-on learning about Meraki – beyond the fact she is a C & L explorer 45 designed by Stan Huntingford and built in 1977 in Taiwan – through renovations started in February.
“She’s crossed the Pacific a few times with her previous owners and we do not doubt her capabilities to show us around the globe,” Kate said.
READ ALSO: German couple sailing the world find unexpected refuge in B.C.
Connection to Mick’s side of the family also inspired the YouTube channel where fans and friends can follow along from retrofitting to the years-long trip.
Kate always cut videos of their lives to share family news and updates with her in-laws. Now she just edits and posts for a more diverse audience, and a larger one than they anticipated. The Cruising Meraki channel went live in March and has 700 subscribers with some videos watched more than 3,000 times.
“We think it can be inspiration to others,” Kevin said. It’s a sentiment echoed by each of the other adult sailors and a theme Kate’s already seen online.
“The response has been crazy. It’s kind of blown my mind a little bit,” she said. It’s mostly fun, with a little emotional overwhelm at times and a ton of networking. They’ve already connected with a couple other families already sailing around the world.
They plan to start small and spend much of this summer in Desolation Sound working out any kinks. They’ll head back to Greater Victoria to rejig and stock up a couple of weeks before the fall departure – to be determined based on weather.
READ ALSO: Canadian family to call Sidney home after sailing for seven years
“That will give us time to provision and fix anything that needs fixing,” Mick said.
The current plan is for all six to set sail on Meraki, with Kevin and Shawna in line to buy a vessel along the way. As always, plans are flexible and fingers crossed the borders will be open for the three generations to sail two boats chasing one dream.
Find the channel and follow the dream at youtube.com/c/CruisingMeraki.
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