The Shaw family sailed into Canada on Oct. 21, anchoring in Prince Rupert after seven years sailing around the world. (Facebook/Max Shaw)

Canadian family to call Sidney home after sailing for seven years

The Shaw family has travelled around the world and is ready to put down the anchor

For seven years, a 47-foot sailing vessel has been home, school, nursery and vehicle for the Shaw family. The SV Fluenta has taken the family of five around the world to 14 different countries, covering enough mileage to have circled the globe twice. Now the family is setting course for Sidney, to put down the anchor, but not before reflecting on how the journey all started with a crazy idea in 2010.

Max and Elizabeth Shaw were both working successful jobs in the military as engineers, but found themselves so busy that they barely had time to see their two children.

“We wanted something different, not to be so much in the rat race,” said Elizabeth. “One thing led to another and we came up with ‘we should just go away.’ Once that idea came out, there was no putting it back in the bottle.”

Two-and-a-half years later Elizabeth and Max sold their home, fixed up the vessel and set sail with their children Johnathan (then six) and Victoria (then eight).

They proceeded to head south, making many stops along the way through North America, before heading east to the Polynesian Islands.

ALSO READ: Victoria-based solo-sailor breaks record for oldest person to sail around the world unassisted

Two years into the trip Elizabeth gave birth to their third child, Benjamin, in Mexico, before continuing onward.

Often when the kids were younger, the Shaw family would pick up a relative or fellow sailor to help them as a hand on the vessel when they were making longer trips, something that worked out very well but which is no longer required.

“Now that the kids are older it works really well, because they can pitch in and help,” Elizabeth said. “They sail, stand watch, sand and repair the boat. It’s much easier than when we left.”

The kids have continued a B.C. education throughout the trip, using both SIDES and Self Design as a homeschooling option, though a lot of education came from first-hand experience.

“I don’t have a huge comparison to what land life is like, since the life of an eight year old is rather different than that of a 16 year old,” said Victoria Shaw. “But, it’s pretty freeing. It makes you make friends really fast; it’s not like at home where you can say ‘oh I don’t like that person,’ and form your own group. You don’t really have a choice.”

The sailing community is small but close, watching out for one another, the Shaws add. In addition, the places they visit also offer hospitality and a chance to look at new cultures.

ALSO READ: New hop on, hop off electric boat tours coming to Victoria’s Inner Harbour

“It’s certainly very interesting, but it can also be kind of overwhelming sometimes,” Victoria recalled.

One of her favourite spots they’ve visited is an extremely remote island called Tikopia, in the southwest Pacific Ocean. The residents of the small island live a traditional lifestyle in huts made of palms and wood. Victoria said residents were really excited, because they would soon be getting Internet.

“We kept trying to tell them that it’s not always that great, that they’d lose some self-reliance, but it was hard to get them to understand,” she said.

Elizabeth echoed her daughter’s thoughts on the freedoms of being away from the internet, adding that it did come with challenges.

“It’s like two different spaces– being connected and not,” Elizabeth said. “If you’re trying to order parts or look up how to fix things that’s when it gets tricky.”

Max Shaw agreed that living on SV Fluenta made you have to be more independent, something he hopes his kids will carry forward.

“If our boat breaks we have to fix it. If we’re sick, we have to figure it out,” Max said. “It’s not necessarily relaxing when you’re trying to keep a 38-year-old boat operating, constantly watching the weather and thinking of the logistics of fuel and food.”

Now the family is winding down its journey as it aims to settle into the marina in Sidney, still living on the ship but getting back into the workforce and attending regular schools.

VIDEO: 76th annual Swiftsure sets sail

As engineers with a high amount of maritime experience, both Max and Elizabeth hope to find some kind of regular job, though they don’t have concrete plans.

For Victoria, attending a regular high school could be interesting, though she’s seen it often portrayed pretty negatively on TV. She’s more excited, however, to see her extended family and explore more of Canada.

“I couldn’t tell you much about camping in B.C., so I really look forward to being able to explore the province.”

The Shaws arrived in Canada on Oct. 21, and will slowly make its way to Sidney by the end of November. While the Shaws are now dropping the anchor, Max said they’ll probably go on another adventure after the kids finish school.

“It’s early now, but never say never,” he said.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook Send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

Boat HarbourBoatingMarinerstravel

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The SV Fluenta is a 47-foot sailboat which the Shaw family used to sail around the world for seven years. (Facebook/Max Shaw)

Just Posted

Soccer player Ethan Finnigan juggles the ball at Oak Bay High. The Grade 12 student was injured much of last year and was relying on his senior year to score a scholarship and play at university. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
High school athletes remain on sidelines across B.C.

Recruiting for university on hiatus, future unknown

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

The street value of the more than one-and-a-quarter kilograms of cocaine seized by VicPD officers was over $150,000. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police seize fentanyl, more than $150,000-worth of cocaine

Charges laid against two Victoria men in months-long investigation

Investigators seized sophisticated equipment including credit card embossers, credit card PIN machines, heavy duty printers and computers used to create fraudulent cards. (West Shore RCMP handout)
West Shore RCMP arrest two, find 1,000 pieces of stolen ID in Langford

Investigation began after fraudulent bank draft used to buy vehicle in Colwood

Police continue to investigate a break-and-enter in this Sidney jewelry store in the 2500-block of Beacon Avenue. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Thieves hit Sidney jewelry store

Sidney/North Saanich RCMP says incident is not part of a larger trend

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Oct. 27

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Cowichan Search and Rescue set up near the Silver Bridge in Duncan on Wednesday morning, Oct. 28, 2020 to rescue a dog from the Cowichan River. (Citizen file)
Cowichan Search and Rescue save dog from icy Cowichan River

Search and Rescue’s swiftwater team was called in

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

The Calgary Zoo is aiding in recovery efforts for the Vancouver Island marmot, an endangered species. Pictured here, a marmot at Mount Washington. (Black Press file)
Despite challenges, 2020 good year for Vancouver Island marmot population

In 2019, the foundation counted 60 pups; this year, it reached 46

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

The duffel bags were found to contain 84 pounds of cocaine, valued at approximately $1.2 million and 198 pounds of methamphetamine, valued at approximately $960,000. Photo courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
2 men accused of fleeing border agents near U.S.-B.C. border with $2M in drugs

Cocaine and methamphetamine seized by U.S. law enforcement in remote Idaho area near Canadian border

FILE – The Queen of Alberni ferry leaves the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal in Delta bound for Vancouver Island, Sunday, July 29, 2007. (CP PHOTO/Richard Lam) CANADA
Mechanical failure leaves nearly 200 passengers stranded on BC Ferries ship for hours

A tug arrived after dark to safely nudge the vessel into a berth so travellers could finally disembark

Ridge Meadows RCMP (Black Press)
Maple Ridge X-ray tech convicted of sexual assault dating back 30 years

Allen James Brooks is expected to be sentenced in January 2021

Most Read