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Meet the Hills family

The Hills family: Brian and Melissa, Oliver (9 years) and Elliot (4 years) berthed in Fairway Bay Marina for a week to shelter from Cyclone Gabrielle. This is their second visit having gravitated back to "the friendly atmosphere and sheltered location of the marina", says Brian.

The family are from Toronto, Canada and have been cruising the eastern US seaboard and the Pacific for the last 4-5 years in a St Francis 50 catamaran. It’s the realisation of a lifelong dream for both Brian and Melissa, with another 2-3 more years ahead - all going to plan, with their pre-fixed budget.

Both Brian and Melissa come from a competitive dingy background where they met. Brian was a sailing coach at the time and Melissa was hired as an assistant. After their racing career and numerous racing boats later, their first 'big boat' was sailing a production Jeanneau 45 monohull on Lake Ontario.

Lake Ontario was a great cruising start, however the lake was only 130 miles long, or 24 hours sailing end to end. It's a beautiful lake, but it didn't take long before it was time to go to sea, down through channels to the Hudson River and New York City. Their journey to this point helps explain the big demand for catamarans as they both come from racing and monohull backgrounds.

As Brian explains, "We loved our first monohull, however what we noticed on longer passages, was that the friends we made along the way on catamarans had so much more comfort. A catamaran provides a very stable platform. However as a sailing traditionalist, a catamaran loses a lot of the feel for sailing, and that I miss. I see a catamaran as the right tool for the job when living and venturing with your family at sea", adds Brian.

The journey and adventure in their own words: "we have had many great experiences in the two years that we’ve been cruising. Some of our highlights include: Anchoring our boat at the Statue of Liberty! Having previously lived in NYC it was extra special bringing our own boat there. And being able to anchor at the Statue of Liberty with the boys was even more exciting. We ended up spending a week in NYC and took advantage of our fantastic location to show the boys all of our favourite spots and discover new ones as a family.

Fiji’s Lau group, and especially the gorgeous island of Fulaga (image above). This was a magical, remote island with incredible coral and sea life, and a fantastically welcoming group of villagers. Our boys even got to attend school in the village for a day. It was a great cultural experience and we never wanted to leave.

Sea life. We’ve seen some really great things, but swimming with a variety of sea life has been magical. Whales! Dolphins! Octopus! Whether that was with giant spotted eagle rays in the Bahamas Land and Sea Park or the majestic manta rays of Fiji, we’ve been lucky to show our boys some pretty special creatures. They’ve even grown accustomed to swimming with reef sharks. Family life at sea is just the best.”

Fairway Bay Marina is the Hauraki Gulf's best kept secret. Tucked away in a sheltered corner of the Whangaparāoa Peninsula with a unique and exclusive community of berth holders. We have berths available for single and multi-hull vessels 10 - 24M. Enquire today about renting a berth at Fairway Bay Marina.

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