It started with the love of a lake, and a bit of a cliché.

Tim and Silke Whittaker, and their two children, Luca, 12, and Nina, 9 are packing up their life in Hastings, and setting sail.

The family have sold their house and quit their businesses in favour of sailing around the world, indefinitely.

Tim said for him, it started with a bit of a clichéd realisation: that life is short.

The family has spent a lot of time sailing their trailer-sailor yacht on Lake Rotoiti and after considering the idea of a tiny house, or a caravan, the pair decided a yacht on the ocean was the place for them.

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What's even braver is they have no plan B.

"There's no nest egg, no rental," Tim Whittaker said.

If the plan fails, the family are not "coming back" to regular life so much as starting from scratch.

The house has sold so Tim and Silke Whittaker are sailing off with their young family. Photo / Warren Buckland
The house has sold so Tim and Silke Whittaker are sailing off with their young family. Photo / Warren Buckland

They say the time is right, while they both have their health and their children are living with them.

"We decided we would really like to slow down and make the time we have with our little family with our kids, 9 and 12, make it really count," he said.

"So for the next few years we want to slow down and we thought a good way to do that is going sailing."

Silke said it was about being able to "have time to be really present for our children and have experiences together, rather than everyone having their own little world."

"Tim has his work world, I have my work world, the children have their school classes - it feels like we are all living separate lives at the moment," she said.

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"I can really feel that separation."

Silke, Nina, Luca and Tim on their recently sold yacht. Photo / Time Whittaker
Silke, Nina, Luca and Tim on their recently sold yacht. Photo / Time Whittaker

She said more than half of their children's classmates' parents have separated.

"There is a real possibility of it happening to us as well because we don't actually get all that much time to connect as a couple and family.

"So it is really just getting away from the pressures of society and looking at who we are."

Both children say they will miss their friends but are excited at the opportunity to see the world.

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They will still be part of the New Zealand education system, enrolling in the Correspondence School.

Tim said socialising with children would be a priority.

Lucy the dog already has her sea legs. Photo / Tim Whittaker
Lucy the dog already has her sea legs. Photo / Tim Whittaker

"We are a member of the Facebook page of Kids4Sail, so there is a high possibility that we will team up with some of those other boats. In fact, right now there are about 30 of them crossing the Atlantic together in a rally."

The Whittakers have sold their trailer-sailor yacht and will start their journey in a bigger boat in the Mediterranean Sea, to gain sailing experience before tackling bigger oceans.

Their son Luca is "pumped" to be visiting Italy.

"That's where the best things are made: gelato, pizza and pasta," he said.

Nina said preparing for the trip was "weird" and her parents were more stressed then ever.

She said she would never be lonely.

The family loves spending time on their yacht on Lake Rotoiti. Photo / Tim Whittaker
The family loves spending time on their yacht on Lake Rotoiti. Photo / Tim Whittaker

"I will always feel like I've got somebody with me, the ocean is one of my big friends."

While the children say it will be tough farewelling their friends, there's one they couldn't say goodbye to - their dog Lucy will be joining them.

"We have just fallen in love with her and we just really wanted to take her and experience it with us."

"She takes up so much of everybody's time with pets and hugs," Tim said.

"She is deeply territorial and if she is sleeping out in the cockpit and somebody decides they want our dinghy in the middle of the night, I'm sure she will let us know that's about to happen."

Lucy has earned her place on board. Photo / Supplied
Lucy has earned her place on board. Photo / Supplied

Of course, they are not the first family to up sticks and sail around the world.

In 1982, David and Linda Trubridge took their two young sons and spent years sailing the world, before eventually settling in Hawke's Bay.

"David and Linda, with two little toddlers, in a Sexton, set forth, and I go 'man that was ballsy, that was huge'," Tim said.

Nowadays, technology has improved and the family is already connecting with others living on yachts across the world.

The Whittakers have enough to fund two years on the high seas, but the yoga teacher and photographer/videographer hope to pick up some work along the way.

"Other than that, we are going to be doing a weekly video," Tim said.

"More or less a record of our trip and also to show family and friends - show them what we are up to.

"We are finding that excites people that would never do this. People around me tell me they would never do that 'but we would love to watch you doing it'. Live their dreams through us.

"There are various platforms available for there to be a return on that effort. One of them is Patreon on which people will support with small amounts of money.

"If there is enough people giving their support, that could help us continue to buy camera gear, which gets a hiding in the salt, and yacht equipment.

"We are not expecting people to support our living but just to help keep us going in those departments would be amazing."

"Tim is off to Greece at the end of December. He'll buy a boat, register it under the New Zealand flag before returning home to fly one way with his family to a Mediterranean spring and a whole new life.

• The Whittakers can be followed on The Sailing Freedom Family Facebook page, Freedom Sailing YouTube page and supported on Patreon.

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