In the beginning it was just a dream, a conversation. Driving near their home along the Southern California coastline, Andy and Marina (aka: Maki) were watching boats sail around Dana Point. Andy remembers, "Marina looked at me and asked 'Do you have to be rich to own a sailboat?’ To which I replied, 'Well, yes and no.’ That conversation ignited thoughts, ideas and a dream of doing something truly special as a family.
Within a week the couple had signed up for sailing classes and were learning how to sail. "Once we passed all of the tests we were able to sign the sailing association's boats out and go sailing on weekends. And the more we went sailing, the more we realized that we love being on the water."
Goals, dreams and hard work pays off
Andy and Marina came from humble beginnings. But after years of hard work building a business they found success in life. Andy recalls, "For 13.5 years we worked seven days a week. When you're running at that pace you don't realize how burnt out you are. Our identical twin boys were 7 years old and we decided we needed a break so we took a family vacation to Miami."
It was around the same time the couple had learned about catamarans. On a whim they called the Leopard office in Fort Lauderdale. They didn't have a 45 on the dock, but there was a 51 Powercat. They decided to make the drive up, and ended up spending six hours sitting on the boat, talking, dreaming, thinking...'what if we could make this happen?'. "There was an owner with his Leopard 45 at the marina and he kindly offered to let us climb aboard. It was not just the first time we walked a Leopard 45, but also our first glimpse into how kind the boating community is. Before leaving the docks the Leopard Agent shared that a new 45 had been ordered as the display model for the 2020 Miami Boat Show which hadn’t sold yet.
Sitting on Miami Beach for the following three days watching their boys play in the sand and surf, Andy and Marina just couldn’t get the thought of a boating adventure out of their minds. Andy recalls, “We had serious conversations about life, about how quickly children grow up, how short life really is and being honest with ourselves as to how much longer we wanted to work like maniacs and when would enough be enough?" "After arriving back home to California, we were never really able to get our heads 100% back into work”. "We wanted to make a significant change in our lives.” Shortly after their vacation to Florida, the couple decided to put their company up for sale. Andy recalls, "We put a board with a map of the world in our hallway and started putting pins in all the places we wanted to go”. After talking at length, they decided to put a deposit on the Leopard 45. That’s when we really began watching YouTube Sailing channels, living vicariously through others adventures and bringing our dream to life.
The gift of sailing
Andy and Marina are parents to Oliver and Lukas, two energetic nine-year-old identical twin boys. And to be able to give their kids the gift of adventure is nothing short of amazing. "We really wanted this to be a gift for our children, to allow them to see the world. And from an educational standpoint the possibilities and opportunities are endless," Andy explains. And the fact that they are doing this aboard a sailing yacht that they absolutely love is just the icing on the cake. "We love everything about the boat. The quality, the comfort, Leopards are just different. I feel confident taking my family around the world on our boat. Safety is paramount and it is always on my mind. Knowing how well built this boat is, how well it sails and how great all the onboard systems are is what allows us to be able to relax and enjoy the adventure. We are really glad our journey brought us to the Leopard family."
Sharing Knowledge: The Pass it on Mentality
Andy and Marina spent a fair time seeking the help of other sailors while going through the purchase process. And it was the kindness of other people in the sailing community that inspired the couple to start their YouTube sailing channel, Sailing SV OliLuki. "We wanted to be able to pass it on. We want to share as much relevant, real world information as possible. We want to educate, motivate and inspire. And that is simply what drives each video. Our goal is to provide honest and helpful information. We are a family on a catamaran sailing around the world. And if there is an audience for that, great. Our subscribers happen organically. If people subscribe, that's great, but you'll never hear it from us."
I would say that with over 13,000 subscribers, people really appreciate the authenticity of their sailing channel. The videos are in-depth and they answer all the questions that someone might have about outfitting a yacht, shopping for insurance and so much more! And the channel will only flourish from there. "We will eventually become our own version of Nat Geo. There are endless possibilities of what we can learn and we have no interest in becoming a drama YouTube channel," Andy assures.
Whenever we pull into a marina, people walk over and ask us if we mind answering a couple questions," Andy laughs, "Marina thinks I should pour myself a cup of coffee and sit in a chair outside like a little lemonade stand and answer peoples questions, because there are so many people that are curious and want to ask us questions about the boat."
Sunny skies ahead
As this sailing family of four looks towards the future, their future looks very exciting! After the Bahamas and the Caribbean are conquered, the family will sail over to the Mediterranean where they intend to spend years exploring the Greek Isles and beyond. "Our true hope as a family and especially for our boys is that they get a good taste of different cultures, religions, foods and traditions. And we want to experience all of that from local communities. We will spend time in each place so they can experience the flavor of that part of the world," Andy continues, "Our sons call themselves the floating chefs. They are hoping to one day become chefs on a super yacht. Will they continue down the path of culinary arts? I don't know, but that's where they are at right now. So we let them flourish as much as they want to, and they've really enjoyed it."
Andy , Marina and the boys have fully embraced the liveaboard lifestyle, and their journey will continue on for years to come. Andy confesses, "Originally, we said three years but now, there's no end in sight. We count ourselves extremely blessed and we are grateful that this has all worked out this way. If along the way we can help others that are chasing their sailing dreams, we’re happy to"