“LET IT FLOAT AWAY”…
…is the motto of the globe-trotting Whitaker family from Texas. In 2016, they did what many other families only dream of doing. Parents Jack and Renée Whitaker left the corporate world, sold their home, liquidated most of their other assets, took their four kids, Anna, Jack, Finn and Kate, and simply sailed away. And they did it without any prior sailing experience!
One of the first lessons that the Whitakers learned at sea was that a multihull sailboat fit their needs better than a monohull. So, in Greece, they bought a 59-foot Privilege 585 catamaran named Zatara. She has proven to be a great platform for their adventures as they have navigated both the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, watching more than 45,000 nautical miles disappear in their wake.
Today Keith, 50; Renee, 46; Jack, 18; Finn, 14, and Kate, 13, are living aboard Zatara in Fiji. (Eldest daughter Anna, 19, left the boat to start her freshman year of college in Texas.) The remaining Whitaker family members take turns filming their adventures above and below the sea. To date, they have posted more than 135 “episodes” of their popular YouTube video blog, “Sailing Zatara”, which they call their “Z-Log”, and have more than 340,000 subscribers. “Z-Log” topics range from providing serious how-to information for fellow world cruisers on topics such as home-schooling and applying for visas, to breathtaking kite-boarding footage accompanied by a rockin’ soundtrack. The primary vehicle for their kite-boarding sequences and many other water-sports adventures is Zatara’s tender, a Highfield 420 Ocean Master RIB (In 2021 Classic 420) with a 60hp Honda outboard.
The first year of their voyage, the family had a small inflatable tender manufactured by a competitor, but, “It wasn’t the right boat for the mission,” says Keith. So, they moved up into the Highfield, which they call their “expedition dinghy”.
“We have the biggest tender in the anchorage,” he says. “It’s the workhorse of living on the water. It has a lot to do with how we film and where we film.”
Unfortunately, COVID-19 currently also has a lot to do with where they film – and don’t film. The Whitaker family had hoped to continue exploring the South Pacific this winter, stopping at Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands before heading to New Zealand and Australia. But since the latter two countries have closed their borders, Zatara is more or less stuck in Fiji for the time being.
Still, if your passion is diving, kiteboarding, wakeboarding, walking the beach, and enjoying life in an island paradise, you could do a lot worse!