Family gets feet wet in worldly adventure

Three adults and six children will embark on an ocean journey to become closer and circle the globe.

January 24, 2013|By Jeremiah Dobruck
  • Lil' Explorers, a 58 foot long and 29 foot wide catamaran, is lifted into Newport Bay on Thursday, Jan. 24.
Lil' Explorers, a 58 foot long and 29 foot wide catamaran,… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

A catamaran floated through the air Thursday.

A crane lifted the 35,000-pound vessel over the side of Lido Park Drive and placed it into Newport Bay between Lido Isle and the peninsula, launching it for the first time.

Courage and Shannon Winter, along with their six children and Courage's brother Loyal, watched their new home float. They'd moved out of a hotel that morning and planned to sleep on board the 58-foot craft Thursday night.

In March, the family from Bakersfield will head south to Mexico. Then they'll decide where to go next.

"It's something we always wanted to do," Courage said, with family and friends gathered around him to watch.

The Winters' life on water has been decades in the making — much like their new boat, the Lil' Explorers.

In 1990, Gil's Catamaran in Costa Mesa started work on the custom vessel that would run about $1 million at market price, the shipyard's owner, Wayne Iwamoto, said.


Eight years later, the man from Utah who contracted the work was inundated with medical expenses. He decided to sign the partially completed catamaran over to Iwamoto.

For more than a decade, the boat sat at Gil's waiting for a buyer.

"It takes a special person for this boat," Iwamoto said. "It's designed to sail around the world."

Eight months ago, the Winters contacted him after seeing the catamaran online.

"When we found the boat we said, 'Well, you could live on that,'" Shannon said. She and her husband decided it was time to follow through on their ambition to live at least part of their lives circling the globe.

"We're both a little bit nontraditional," she said. "We both love to travel and definitely we would like to do this sort of thing."

Shannon and Courage have six kids between 6 months and 14 years old. Their names offer a glimpse of that nontraditional bent.

Cassidy, Intrepid, Integrity, Innocence, Vitality and Valiant will join their parents and uncle Loyal sailing south.

They have no timeline, no ending destination, Shannon said. They will homeschool the kids, maybe find a mission along the way.

"This is just a much better way to learn geography," said Shannon, an emergency-room physician. "And I would love to do some humanitarian work, if we can figure that out."

She left a private medical practice in February and started working part-time soon afterward in order to stay home with the kids. They've technically been without a home the last two weeks while they waited for their new home to launch.

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